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The Importance of Face-to-Face Meetings

How many times have you sent a text or email and that was later misinterpreted, either by a friend, family member or even a client? Although the world is becoming increasingly digital, the benefits of face-to-face interaction are irreplaceable—despite Skype and Apple’s aggressive efforts at video chatting! The following are a few reasons why you should think twice before scheduling your next call with a client.

1)            Body Language

Digital communication with clients and the media has its perks. It’s quick and straight-forward; however, digital communication can be tricky, especially when the relationship is new or a special project is at stake.

Let’s say you have a scheduled call with a client to propose a new outreach plan that includes pitching a product or aspect of the business through non-traditional angle. Once you finish laying out the strategy, there is a long pause on the line followed by, “Yeah, sure that’s a good idea.” You’d probably wish you wish you were sitting face-to-face to witness their initial reaction and body language? Instead of having to dig through a series of follow-up questions hoping to figure out your client’s actual sentiments, a face-to-face meeting would have allowed you to sense their attitude from the beginning and address the issue accordingly.

2)            Quality Collaboration

When was the last time you woke up without dozens of unread emails? While ubiquitous, shuffling through emails can often suck time and creativity from your work.  Do you think that world’s most creative teams come up with cutting-edge campaigns through an email thread? Unlikely.

Creative collaboration through email can prevent the natural flow of ideating, a vital component of any successful brainstorming session and project management discussion. A face-to-face meeting allows you and your team to bounce ideas off each other on the spot, rather than having to navigate an overflowing inbox.

3)            Establishing Trust

Trust is a critical component of any working relationship. In vendor relationships, which have the added pressure of expected results and the need for effective counsel in order to push a business’ bottom line, this trust needs to be developed especially quickly.  Face-to-face interaction goes miles in establishing this trust.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology measured the effectiveness of a face-to-face request versus an email request and found that face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective than emailed ones, due to nonverbal cues and perceived trustworthiness. Although technology has done wonders for society’s overall progress, the fact remains that we like facing each other. Technology isn’t going anywhere – we don’t want it to—but it’s important to realize the power of face-to-face communication isn’t backing down either.

Public Relations Agency’s Common Challenges and How to Avoid Them

Kicking off a Public Relations program with a new client is always an exciting time at an agency! We quickly start wrapping our heads around the ins and outs of the company and shortly after, get to tout their unique qualities to our media friends. Although this is an exciting time, it is also a crucial period to develop a relationship with your client that will pave the way to success. The first month of a working relationship can be the most challenging, so we’ve created a cheat sheet to minimize speed bumps and increase success during the ramp-up stage.

Amount of Review Samples

When working with tangible goods, more often than not, the media will request a sample unit to review to validate the attributes that make a product special. In an era of fly-by-night companies that do not deliver, it is more important than ever to substantiate the claims of a good or service. Journalists have been burned by writing about a product that never comes to market, so in order to best serve them, and especially their audiences, we provide them with the sample unit they need to complete their piece. If a company delays sending review units, they also run the risk of delaying the PR program and affecting the steady stream of press.

Not all consumer goods are created equal. Varying prices and manufacturing costs can affect the amount of samples allocated to a given program. For high-priced consumer goods or goods with limited quantities for the media, it’s important to utilize a Product Loan Agreement, a contractual obligation to send the review sample back to the company once the review is completed in the amount of time defined in the agreement. By circulating the review units, we are able to maximize the review opportunities.

Public Relations Messaging and Materials

A crucial element to the success of a Public Relations program is the translation of the brand’s identity into messaging used throughout press materials. The messaging used will be the first impression a media member has of the company, as well as what they will use to help them write their story. It is important to provide an agency with all the proper messaging, and work with them as it is being developed to ensure the best and most accurate information possible.

Concise and effective messaging and press materials will help set a company apart from competitors, especially when being compared directly to them. In order to ensure that we see the best possible results from a secured media opportunity, we provide the media with any and all press materials including press releases, custom quick-start guides and a spokesperson from the company to comment on any questions that may arise.

Published Press

Once the press materials are ready for public consumption, we can aggressively hit the ground running. As ongoing discussions continue, we often hear this question from the client, “When can we expect to see press coverage?” The answer to this question will largely depend on the publication and journalist. An outlet’s lead times, editorial calendars and a journalist’s editor all contribute to the timing of when a piece will publish. Another major factor to take into consideration is the piece’s timeliness in the news cycle as breaking news often impacts scheduled stories and secured opportunities.

Ensuring that coverage converts in a timely manner is the key to any successful program. Here are a few ways that we ensure press publishes:

  • Open Lines of Communication – By following up with the journalist to check in, your brand will be top-of-mind and we will stay up to date on the progress of the story. In addition, if the journalist is encountering any problems with our product or service, we can stay ahead of the issue by offering a quick solution.
  • Avoiding Industry Announcements – To ensure the success of a pitch or a slew of press during a product announcement, we will advise on industry announcements, tradeshows, and other major events that could affect the timeliness of our story.

A Symbiotic Relationship

A successful Public Relations program cannot exist without engagement from the client. A lack of communication between a Public Relations agency and company can be detrimental to the overall success of a program. With a proper relationship in place, we can pivot on the program as needed and stay in line with the priorities of the company and leverage all angles, including newsworthy opportunities that could get prime real estate in a media outlet that may have been previously overlooked.

Letter to Future Public Relations Practitioners

So you want to work in Public Relations? Great, but do you really know what that entails? As someone who has a few years under his belt, let me tell you.

Public Relations practitioners are tasked with much more than media relations or writing a speech for an executive. Clients hire PR practitioners not only to garner their company valuable media coverage but to also be a trusted advisor to their company.  That means at all days and hours you must be ready to help guide your client through any situation, good or bad.  All it takes is one bad news story, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook post, etc. to set off a chain of events that can ruin a company or person’s reputation.

A major key to success in the industry is that you have to know what your clients’ goals are. Without that, you cannot be successful.

Clients come from all over the world and that is one of the most exciting and challenging parts of the job. In this industry, I’ve interacted with people from every continent in the world (besides Antarctica), and each client has different goals for their company. For example, one client may be focused on broadcast coverage and featuring one company spokesperson whereas another may be a family run business that is more interested in being featured in business publications highlighting them as a family.

Knowing what media outlets can move the needle for your clients, what their sales goals are and what messaging they want conveyed to the public are all examples of goals that both the client and PR practitioner need to align on.

In today’s data driven age, having a free flowing information channel with your client can help to refine your PR program to yield better results. Sharing statistics and analytics with your client helps track sales and other trends. For example, I worked with a client that makes a fitness product. They found out from their sales and social media analytics that the majority of consumers purchasing the product were female. That information is crucial as a practitioner. You can use that to pivot your marketing strategy and target more of a female demographic.

Being a PR practitioner can be challenging and stressful because you have to expect the unexpected. If it was easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Now I hope I didn’t scare you away. Anything can happen at any time but that is also part of the fun! In first couple of years in the industry, I’ve been able to do some amazing things.

Here are a few of the highlights for me:

  • CES 2016-This January, I worked at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas or as I’d prefer to call it, “The Super Bowl of Tech.” Spending a week out there with a variety of clients was an extremely beneficial experience. The show had almost 200,000 in attendance and was even more massive in person. I was able to learn a lot and have fun (it is Las Vegas after all!)
  • Media Training Athletes-During my time at Florida State University as an intern with a sports-focused agency, I had the privilege of helping media train NCAA athletes from multiple Division 1 schools. Like I said before in today’s digital and social age, this is HUGE for any university.
  • New York Media Tour-I’m getting ready to go to New York to do a media tour on behalf of multiple different clients of the agency. I’ll be meeting with influential journalists from publications including The Wall Street Journal, CNET, Sports Illustrated, SELF and Golf Digest and talking about their editorial calendars and how I can be of help.

Public Relations is an evolving landscape and an integral part of any successful business. To be a successful PR practitioner, it takes a good personality, motivation, passion, patience and skill. If this sounds like something you are up for, go for it with all you’ve got because anything’s possible!