Technology & Relationships

18 02 2009

Technology has changed the way all of us in business-to-business communications work. When I started in the PR field a number of years ago, we spent countless hours each day on the phone with clients and media, wrote with a typewriter and sent press releases by snail mail, and in very special cases, by fax.

(In fact, at my first corporate PR job, there was only one man in this Fortune 500 company that had operational authority of the fax machine, which was sequestered in a small office in the bowels of the headquarters building. And we were required to make special arrangements in advance if we wanted to send a fax!)

Needless to say, times and technology have changed!

But as technology has enabled us to be more productive and more responsive, it has also made it easy to forget an important aspect of marketing communications and PR, relationships. Due to the pressures of the day, the increased workload and the frantic pace of business, we’re finding less time to build real relationships with our clients/customers, our co-workers and the reporters we seek to influence. E-mails and voice mails rule.

How many of the people you contact every day have you actually met? How many have you actually talked with in real time? Live interaction is almost always a richer experience. More memorable. And often, more effective. How many times have you volleyed e-mails back and forth repeatedly … and then realized it would have been better, and faster, if you had just picked up the phone – or walked two cubicles down – and simply talked with the person?

Technology is terrific. It can help us build upon our relationships, but it’s that personal interaction … one-to-one … face-to-face … that truly helps start relationships and provides a foundation for them to flourish.

The lyrics from a popular Jimmy Buffett song, “Fruitcakes,” ask the timeless question: “Relationships? We all got ‘em, we all want ‘em. What do we do with ‘em?”

The simple answer, but tougher challenge, is: We need to nurture them … using both live interaction and electronic outreach.

 I’ve resolved this year to do a better job on both! How about you?


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