In a world of Skype, Instant Messenger, WebEX and SharePoint, the need for face-to-face communication is often over-looked. For public relations people, the connection with your client is not something that can be sacrificed. Yet in the midst of improved technologies, there remains a gap between understanding what your client does, and really getting to know them.
Bottom line, we PR people understand that we need to know what our client does, and realize we can do better work if we learn more about them. Face-to-face communication is not always possible, so how do you make personal connections with your client without meeting them in person each week?
1. Get plugged in to their social networks. Follow their Twitter account. Like their Facebook page. Every good PR person will follow and like their clients, but take it to the next level and truly read what they have to say. Your client can communicate a lot in 140 characters and likely provide insight into the industry you’re working to understand. You can gain valuable information about your client and how to do better media outreach on their behalf.
2. Go out of your way to remember what they say. In the fast paced world of public relations, you probably don’t have time to remember each minute detail about your client’s daughter’s birthday party (if that is even a topic he or she would discuss with you). Do your best to remember the important things and highlight similarities between their life and yours. If you are taking the time to get to know them on a personal level, remembering what they say shows you are listening. This small act of listening and remembering past conversations communicates that you are also listening when they explain their dream list of publications, future press releases, and upcoming speaking opportunities.
3. Remember not to be too busy. Let’s face it, public relations is one of the fastest paced industries out there and it seems to get busier with each passing day. PR professionals must be on their toes if they want to place their clients in the news. In the midst of your hectic day, remember never to be too busy for your client. Respond to emails in a timely matter. Answer their phone calls. At the end of the day, whatever you were doing can still be completed, and you have taken another step in getting to know your client.
The reality is, good PR can still be done if you don’t get to know your client on a personal level, or care to make connections with them outside of routine conference calls. However, a personal connection will allow you better understand their expectations, and can even help you understand their product or services at a more in depth level. Don’t be too busy to get to know your client.