The following is a guest post from Amanda DiSilvestro, Online Content Editor at Business.com.
Along with many other industries, the practice of public relations is changing due to the rapid growth of email and social networking. As a whole, this change is good for those working in the PR field. Emailing allows a pro to work with multiple clients at once, it logs a record of all conversations so it’s easy to go back and double check any information, and it helps experts prioritize all of the work that needs to be done. You can email someone when it is convenient for you, and they can email you back when it is convenient for them. Social media is also great for the PR pro because it allows for the same type of convenience on a more personal level. You’re always connected to your clients through social media and can help promote your clients’ company through these popular channels.
However, this technology has distracted from the importance of face-to-face communication for many solo PR pros. I much prefer email because it’s faster and more convenient than setting up a meeting, yet this doesn’t mean that face-to-face meetings aren’t sometimes the best option.
There are certain situations where talking with a client face-to-face is necessary for success. Although many PR pros try to solve problems electronically, face-to-face interaction can add a lot to a conversation including facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. Consider some of the topics that warrant a face-to-face meeting for the best results:
- Miscommunication – If you’re going back and forth with a client about a problem or an issue, and you simply can’t seem to understand each other, it’s time to call for a face to face meeting. Although these take a bit longer at the outset, they will help both parties solve the problem quicker and with less frustration overall.
- Negotiation – Negotiation is supposed to be a back and forth. You don’t always want to give your clients time to talk themselves out of a potential new business arrangement, and email makes this easier. In addition, body language and eye contact can be important when negotiating, and this is lost with a phone call. Face-to-face meetings will help make sure that you can negotiate successfully, the way it was meant to be done.
- Apologies – There is typically an idea that goes awry, or something that backfires, at one point in a PR pro’s career, and this often warrants an apology. A face-to-face apology shows that you’re willing to put yourself out there and do what you can to make things right. An email can sometimes seem cold and it can be hard to hear sincerity, so a face-to-face meeting will certainly make the apology more heartfelt.
- Celebrations – If you’ve been working with a client on a project that has concluded successfully, celebrations are in order. A thank you email will seem anti-climactic, and you want to make sure they know how much you appreciate working with them. Taking them out for lunch or after work drinks helps strengthen your human connection.
It’s up to the PR pro to decide when face-to-face communication is appropriate and when digital communication will do the trick. Although it’s often easier to sit behind a computer screen and interact, it’s important to remember face-to-face meetings can make a difference.
Amanda DiSilvestro writes on a wide range of topics for Business.com, the leading business directory that gives advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs.