Relationship building has long been the cornerstone of PR, and the rules have barely changed. But with social media’s sphere of influence continuing to rise and the comfort that lies behind perpetual e-mailing, is there a danger of PR professional forgetting the rules of building meaningful relationships?
When I joined the PR world, almost 10 years ago, I was taught one simple and golden rule – you are only as powerful as the relationships you have, be that with journalists or your clients. However this was at a time when financial/investment journalists weren’t utilising social media to its fullest potential and clients expected a phone call as opposed to a quick email.
Ten years on, social media has changed our landscape and the way we communicate, it is, however, not the golden ticket to a journalist.
Yes, thanks to the openness of social media, it can be easier to reach out and make an impact on someone, but relationships with journalists are neither sprints nor marathons, but journeys. They are long-term investments and must be nurtured. As is the case with any relationship, in any setting.
Of course, the primary goal of any interaction with a journalist will be to eventually generate coverage for clients, but in my experience, being able to pick up the phone to ask a journalist how their dog is or how their recent holiday was means so much more and ultimately sets you up for a career-long relationship. It’s how we as PR practitioners can create value for clients in the long-term.
And then there’s the clients.
The client relationship is different to any relationship you’ll ever have with a journalist but it’s equally, if not more, important. That scene in ‘Jerry Maguire’ where Tom Cruise utters those magic words to Cuba Gooding Jr. is important here – it’s all about the ‘help me, help you’. Building a strong, lasting client relationship is not just about providing results when due.
No, it’s about going the extra mile to convey that you are to be trusted and can be trusted, that you are thoughtful and sincere, and you just ‘get them’.
As with any relationship, professional or personal, there are no shortcuts in life. Sharpening relationship building skills is like polishing a diamond. The work will lead to the reward, and you’ll shine brighter.