January 31, 2011

In The Eyes of a Public Relations Marketing Firm “Face Time” is Still the Key to Success

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:16 pm by Public Relations Class

 

         When we think of what a public relations practitioner must deal with on a day to day basis do we still hold “face time” as the most important goal?  When dealing with the media, prospective clients, or current clients face time should be utilized when possible to “foster stronger relationships and make you and your firm memorable in the long run,” said Tom Ciesielka.

         Tom Ciesielka is the President of TC Public Relations and has written an article titled:  Are You Making Time for Face-Time.  Here he tells us the importance of still keeping that face to face factor a main component to a public relations firm.  “While we embrace new technologies and are thankful for how easy it is to connect to with others’ nothing can compare to the impact of talking to a reporter, client, or prospect face-to-face,” stated Ciesielka.

         Public relations have adapted to the changes that have happened so rapidly over the past few decades with the internet and social media now transforming the way people communicate and even make contact with one another.  Our text shows this change in chapter 18: Public Relations and Social Media. 

         Email is the most commonly used form of non face time communications by public relations firms.  According to our text 90 percent of adult internet users regularly use email as a form of business communications.  As an admissions counselor I can relate to this first hand.  When students are looking at our school they usually start out by emailing us certain questions such as major availability, admission requirements, and campus features.  This is an easy way to hear more about a particular college without leaving your house or office.

         Although email can help you receive answers about a college the face time that you would spend at a campus taking a tour and having an interview with an admissions counselor would not only be more beneficial, but would give you the ability to see in your own eyes what this college can really provide for you.  This scenario relates to a public relations firm by looking for clients or potential clients looking for you.  One point that Ciesielka makes is that searching for possible clients is very important and that there are a few ways to do it.  One way is to attend a prospective client’s event to speak with them face to face.  Another way would be to join local organizations that put you in a room with hundreds of possible clients who see you as a colleague even before they get roped into future business deals with your company.

        When meeting with these prospective clients face to face it force the public relations practitioner to be caught up on certain tools that are imperative to this type of contact.  For example, talking with someone over email, blogs or other social media allows you to have breaks within the conversation.  When you are face to face you have to really be on your game so to speak.  To do this you have to be knowledgeable of the client you are dealing with and you have to be familiar with the art of persuasion which our book categorizes in 4 parts. 

  1. Facts – You have to come prepared with facts about your company as well as facts about the client.  You must be able to be truthful in telling them what you can accomplish for them.  Any lie in person is an instant deal breaker.
  2. Emotions – In an email you can sound only so emotional, but in person you can really show the person how you feel about helping them with their situation and goals.
  3. Personalizing – Come prepared with personal experiences from previous or current clients that relate to the person or company that you are dealing with.  It always helps to have the individual know that this is not your first time dealing with this type of company or particular situation.
  4. Appealing to “You” – Making this face time about the person you are speaking with is where you can really shine with a face to face talk.  Speaking in length about their company will allow them to realize that you are really serious about helping them and are serious about taking the time to learn about them as well.

         This type of persuasion can also be used towards the media.  “Instead of emailing a long pitch to a local reporter, ask about a meeting at a nearby coffee shop where you can present your story and find out what the reporter typically looks for.  This strategy can also work whenever you are traveling for business,” stated Ciesielka. 

          Understanding that the reporter, client, or prospective client may not be local or on the way during your travels each public relations firm has undergone dramatic changes.  As our book discusses public relations and the internet it states that in most public relations companies they now have employees who are trained interactive specialists as well as have whole departments responsible for communicating via the internet.

         It is those types of departments and the company as a whole for that matter that need to also follow face to face meetings.  Especially at a public relations firm there must me face to face meetings with employees to ensure that nothing is heard through the “grapevine” that can distort the company’s or a client’s image.  Our text shows us that a rumor mill in a public relations office can be devastating.  The idea is to keep everyone in the loop.  If you are having a problem within your own organization how are you going to aide a major company such as Wal-Mart if they are having the same problem. 

         We are living in a different time where we can get by in our daily tasks without seeing clients and in my case students face to face.  If we are to keep adapting to the changes of technology and social media we must not forget this basic but important part of public relations.  Making face time with clients, prospective clients, and the media should be one of the main goals each and every day in these companies.  After all what better way to know the people we are working with than to see them face to face.

By: Dan Fogarty

Source URL: http://www.natlawreview.com/article/are-you-making-time-face-time

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19 Comments »

  1. branfaltt said,

    Where would new tools such as the iPhone’s Face Talk app and Skype come into play? Would these be considered as beneficial as face time?

    I think so. A reporter with Skype or an iPhone may be more willing to meet with someone via these methods because reporters tend to be very busy, especially as news rooms slash staff and reporters have to shoulder a larger load.

    Video conferencing is quickly replacing tele-conferencing, although it is not replacing phone calls, texting, or e-mails at the same speed. A client may want the face to face meetings, they are more personal. However the potential client may just want to hear what you have to offer. The potential client may have scheduled many meetings with different PR firms. It seems to me that a video chat would be a far more effective way to hold these meetings. Face time is still happening, but the potential client can conduct these meetings from the comfort of his office.

    I do think face time is extremely important, and I also think that in this age of nonstop communication video is just as effective.

    • prclassblog said,

      Dan what happens if organizations, businesses, etc… don’t have access to these tools? Gina

      • Dan Fogarty said,

        Organizations and businesses that do not have access to these tools that allow face time should still use a tool that allows them to talk in real time. The telephone still allows people to connect on a level that will allow you through verbal communication to unserstand where the person is coming from through the way that they say each statement.

    • Dan Fogarty said,

      I thought about these devices after I submitted this post. I believe that these devices and applications such as skype and face time on the Iphone are acceptable under certain circumstances. For example, if you are unable to meet with a client faace to face than this would be the next best thing.

      • prclassblog said,

        Skype does lend a personal touch. I think though they need to get better connections beyond one person being logged in. Just a personal side note. Gina

  2. Nick Zarrelli said,

    Dan,
    Great job with your post. I also totally agree with the face-time. There is really no substitute in business than a face to face meeting. As you mentioned, the emotion and sincerity is tough to grasp when no talking face to face with someone. This face time may set future businesses apart from one another as our generation seems to do anything in his/her power to avoid face to face conversations.

    -Nick Zarrelli

  3. aoifeherbert said,

    I think Dan’s post is very valuable. In this new age of technology and social media, its all too easy to hide behind emails, blogs, twitter responses etc. Face to face communication is still the most personable, real and often the most challenging way to interact in terms of PR but if mastered correctly can definitely leave a more positive, impressive impact.

    • prclassblog said,

      Aoife, can one really hide with social media? The whole point of social media is that a company becomes almost transparent – that literally consumers can talk with the company. How can a company hide? Gina

      • aoifeherbert said,

        In retrospect I take your point that social media is a step towards transparency but I have to agree with Nick, and emphasize that face time may be the thing that distinguishes businesses from each other. While not attempting to discredit the importance of social media as a PR tool, I simply think that face to face conversations and communication shouldn’t be completely obliterated and replaced in our hyper social generation of new media.

      • Dan Fogarty said,

        I agree Aoife, Nick, and Gina. One thing I was not trying to do with this blog post was to say that face time is need over social media; rather that social media should be used to make the company transparent. Face time is how you can really separte yourself from just social media. How you treat your clients in person can really go the distance above and beyond other firms who are just relying on social media.

  4. Dan I really like this post. Today’s world is becoming less and less personal with all of today’s technology including blogs, Twitter, Texts, and Facebook. Even with all of this convenience there still is something special about a face to face conversation that is different, more special, and more lasting. Think about nice it is to run into an old friend, and have a quality face to face conversation with them as opposed to a facebook chat. For an organization, the face to face conversation holds the same value. It is more personal, and it makes the target audience seem to be of greater value than just a plain old e-mail or tweet. If done right, a face-to-face conversation can seem more credible than electronic or text based mediums. The key for the organization is getting the message just right, and having a person that people believe is credible to do any kind of face to face interaction. This can be very difficult and oftentimes expensive for an organization. Perhaps a large expansion of affordable online video conferencing technologies will help to combine the convenience of email and Twitter with the more personal feel of a face to face conversation.

  5. Brittany S said,

    While I agree with the comments made about social media giving companies and their clients a sense of transparency and accessibility, I do not think that it replaces personal contact like face to face meetings. And while Skype, face chat, etc may be a great substitute for a business meeting, I do not think it can ever replace human contact.
    For example, I recently ordered an article of clothing around Christmas time from an online clothing store. Not only was the service great, but when I received the package, inside was a personalized hand written note thanking me for my purchase, and wishing me a happy holiday. I was sincerely taken back (in a good way!)
    So the personal contact we refer to doesn’t even necessarily need to be face to face communication, just something as simple as a note gives business relationships a personal touch/connection.

    I also believe it is important to maintain personal contact with your client for the pure fact of being able to speak clearly and intelligently in actual conversation. While e-mail, facebook, texting, blogging, etc is all amazingly convenient and instantaneous – it is also very casual. Presenting yourself in person is very different than you may communicate online, so I think maintaining that face to face time is important, even just for practice sake.

  6. christinekenyi said,

    Great post Dan! I definitely echo what everyone else has already said about the importance of face to face interaction. I also think your point about the PR field’s ability to adapt to changes in technology is true. These days the success of initiatives a company or organization is promoting can be extremely reliant on tools such as social media and other methods of communication and networking. Failure by a PR practitioner to integrate these tools in their day-to-day happenings can therefore make their job a lot more difficult than it has to be. Despite this, face to face interaction is one thing that certainly never go away, and its value is evident. I think the most successful organizations are those that find ways to exploit new media for their purposes, but keep face to face interaction a vital part of their overall strategy as well.

  7. bethyf25 said,

    I know for me, picking up the phone or meeting with donors at work can be almost intimidating, because when I do have face to face meetings, I’m usually asking for something out of the person that will ultimately benefit my organization. Sending an email where my ideas are well thought out is always the easier way and less nerve racking way to go.

    I think my generation (I’m 27) grew up communicating through a computer, so when I first entered the professional world, I dreaded having to pick up the phone or meet with someone in person because, like Dan said, I had to think on my feet.

    On the other hand, fundraising, like Public Relations, is all about building relationships. Meaningful and trusting relationships between and business and clients is essential to being successful and I do think social media helps build those relationships.

    I recently planned an event and received an email from an attendee that didn’t like the event and had no problem being very blunt via email. She left me her phone number so I called her to get more feedback, answer questions that she had and ultimately apologize and refund her money. We ended the conversation well, which I think will benefit my event next year. Instead of having this attendee say bad things about the event to her friends, co-workers and family, she will say that, though the event wasn’t her cup of tea, the people behind the event were willing to talk to her about what she didn’t like and ultimately refunded her money. My organization’s reputation won’t be damaged because I reached out to her and in a way, built a relationship with her.

  8. Derek Gibbons said,

    Dan,

    After reading your post and everyone’s reply, there are just some many different ways to communicate and you are right, nothing beats face time. Face to face just shows so much more emotion and satisfaction. There is no break inbetween talking, there is a bond going on, and a sense of trust and stabilzation within. Always meet in person, no matter what if possible. Tools such as Skype I believe is good for international conferences and talks. If it is within the same country, face to face is the most important way. It all depends on the circumstances, and there is always a circumstance. With today’s technology, all circumstances can be taken into account because there is so many ways to communicate. Whenever possible, I would always go with face to face, but in some cases, maybe an email, text, or some other type of social tool is the right thing to use.

  9. Steve Felano said,

    Dan,

    A good point with this post. With the electronic tools currently available to practitioners, interpersonal and public speaking skills can sometimes be neglected or take a back seat to other means of communicating. While preforming my day to day tasks at the office, I often find the pitches brought up by practitioners who have stopped by to accompany their clients on a media appearance are the easiest to recall a week or more down the road. The ones sent by email with no personal follow-up easily get lost in the shuffle. This is not to say that social media and email are not valuable communication tools. The point here is that, to have an impact in today’s environment, face-to-face communication needs to compliment social media tools and email communications.

  10. alicialegg said,

    Dan, I liked this post because it speaks a great deal about how we are de-humanizing our relationships when we rely on online communications only. Electronic communications are devoid of facial expression, tone of voice and body language. You make great points to emphasize the value of face to face communications.

  11. prclassblog said,

    Good blog, Dan. I particularly appreciated you bringing personal experience into the blog and share how you interact with prospective students via email. Having personal experience added into your fact-based writing, rounds things out for me nicely and give me your real-world experience. As you point out in your blog, sharing personal experience can be an important component of PR.

    It is interesting you did this effectively via a blog. It made me think that if we were talking face to face I would also see the animation in you face and /or appropriate gesticulations that often accompany face time.
    Leslie

  12. prclassblog said,

    Dan,

    The response was well written.

    I agree, face time is extremely important for any PR person. The whole industry is built on communicating with people; and there is no better way for people to get to know one another then through seeing each other in the real world.

    I also think you are right in saying a PR person needs to know who they’re talking to. Knowing your audience is important in any field, but especially so in one where one party is trying to influence the decisions and opinions of others.

    -Nick Antz


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