For many, pubic relations is about media impressions and article placement. While that is necessary and valuable, it is not the foundation of public relations. The very essence of public relations is relationships. Liking people and engaging with them. So many jobs have you locked away in an office with little interaction with the outside world. As public relations professionals we have the pleasure of meeting people from all walks of life and developing relationships with them: the media, elected officials, my clients, potential clients and their customers. Knowing these people add richness to life and in return we get to facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and its audience and help our clients accomplish their PR goals.
To be successful in the PR world you need to like meeting with and getting to know people. You can learn a lot about a person, company, issue and end goal when you engage in conversation, ask questions and listen closely. This simple task allows you to develop messages that personalize your client to their target audience, whether its consumers, voters or legislators. And in the same vein, as a PR professional, building relationships with the media is equally as important. If reporters know you, respect you and trust you they are going to be more inclined to work with you, listen to your pitch and run your story.
To get PR right step away from the computer, put down your phone and invite a client, potential client or reporter out for coffee or a drink. Get to know them in a social setting so that it doesn’t feel like a sales call or a pitch. Find out who they are and let them know who you are, too. Build the foundation first, and then make the pitch.
In the end, brand awareness, sales and/or media impressions are the measurements of our success. But those goals will be far easier to achieve if we invest in human relationships and communication. It’s an investment of time as well as resource, but well worth it in the end. Relationships matter. And quality relationships will result in successful PR campaigns for you and your clients.