Do online PR campaigns and offline efforts mix, or do they make strange bedfellows? Over time I’ve realized it’s hard to have one without the other, despite the whole industry moving ever towards keeping their nose up against a tablet or smartphone. While engaging online can count for a lot, a real world interaction once in a while can make a big difference.

Trusted partnershipWhy does it make such an impact? And with a busy schedule, how is your company supposed to make time to actually interact with your fans out in the “real world?” Let’s take a look at what it all could mean for your business.

Why It’s Important

Human beings still get a lot out of face to face interactions. We pick up on about a million subtle clues and hints to our conversational partner’s mood and meaning from body language, tone, and other factors. There’s simply no replacing this kind of conversation, no matter how many emoticons you throw in.

When you talk to a customer out in the field, you’re showing them what kind of company they’re dealing with very quickly. First impressions are a big deal, and if you’re bright, fun, happy, and/or helpful, they’ll figure the business you work for is the same way. On the other hand, if you’re grumpy or don’t seem to know what you’re doing, it reflects poorly on the business.

This can bleed over to your online campaign. If this customer meets you at a social event and enjoys your conversation, they will naturally be more forgiving when they interact with you on Facebook after their product breaks. Or they will be sure to mention you on Twitter when they get a chance simply because you were a “delight to chat with.”

Simply seeing a representative of a company could be a huge deal for your customers. Everyone is looking for companies to be more open and “human,” and actually meeting real, live human beings can go a long way in creating new customers and brand loyalty.

Tricks to Making it Work

While you might not have time to go out to every social or business event in your area, it’s not hard to make some time to go out in the real world and meet some people. Look and see if there are any conferences or other business-oriented meetings you can attend and take some swag to hand out.

Your community wants to meet you too, of course, so it might be time to volunteer your time! See if there are any community-based activities you can get involved with, like trash cleaning, fundraisers, or even city council activities. Not only does this expose your company to the area, it shows them what kind of people you are. Just make sure you put 110% into the activity!

If you really can’t make it out of the office, why not hold an online video chat? While this isn’t necessarily 100% “real world,” it still gets your face out there which is the important thing. One idea is to hold a video conference on a topic you know your customers want to hear about. For example, if you work in the hotel industry, hold an online video chat about important lessons you can learn (or silly mistakes you shouldn’t make!) from watching Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel.

How often do you make it out into the community as a representative of your business?