January 31, 2011
In The Eyes of a Public Relations Marketing Firm “Face Time” is Still the Key to Success
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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