Building Relationships: Phone-Phobia

What is Public Relations? When asked this I’m sure the most common responses will be ‘building reputation’ and most importantly ‘building relationships’. And it most certainly is. There is many roles and responsibilities that come under the Public Relations umbrella, but the three most important keywords to remember in PR are ‘reputation, trust, relationships’.

But for this post, I am going to stick to one; ‘relationships’. So these so called relationships we have to build, how do we do it? Well, through communication of course. Now for all you newbie PR’s out there, the word communication will bring to mind Facebook, Twitter, E-mails, blogs, BBM etc etc. And it certainly did for me too, until I started my year placement at a PR agency.

Since working here I have successfully managed to contribute towards the ‘gaining’ of a new client and this has been an eye-opener for me. The first couple of weeks and months with your new client is an unknown terrain. It is like any other relationship; you have to get to know each other, and gain one another’s trust before you begin to take a step further into your relationship. When you gain a new client, you have to introduce this client to the media, and sometimes to journalists you’ve never met before. And the best way to do this? Pick up the phone. 

Through my work experience I have slowly begun to notice a little trend I like to call Phone Phobia. The take over of social media, new technologies and the digital age means that the old-fashioned tradition of picking up the phone and starting a dialogue with your client is a dying a slow death. People find it a lot easier, and a lot less scarier, to just send an e-mail back and forth, back and forth. But clients, and especially journalists, in boxes fill up very quickly and yours can be lost within the sea of other e-mails they may receive, so don’t be surprised if you never receive an e-mail back.

When it comes to journalists, it is of utmost importance that you begin a relationship with them before you begin sending them pitches and press releases. A journalist is a very busy person and will probably never look at your press release if they don’t know you, or you have not contacted them beforehand. Journalists are only human beings like us (not scary four-headed monsters) and you will be pleasantly surprised at how nice they can be, if you just pick up the phone.

I admit, I before have been a little afraid of picking up the phone. But once you do it, and you get past your initial fear – you realise there is nothing to worry about. Getting a dialogue going between you and another person on a more personal level can be done through e-mails (but it may take a few) but it won’t ever really happen until you pick up the phone or meet them face to face.

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