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In the age of AI, it’s critical to put relationships back into public relations

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Public Relations

The word “relationship” is key and core within public relations, yet communicators often overlook forging and nurturing mutually supportive relationships with staff, clients, and the media. With the proliferation of tech communication tools, it seems many PR pros sacrifice human connections in the interest of what they think is higher productivity.

Some PR pros may use mail merges, mass email blasts, or AI-generated emails, eliminating one-to-one customized outreach. While all of these tools are a great addition to your PR toolbox, and can significantly increase your productivity, they are only a companion to your own ‘human’ input and oversight, not a replacement. Despite the efficiency these tools can realize in reach and volume, they lack personal touch, which has contributed to the erosion of media/PR relationships over time. In addition, creating long-lasting, meaningful relationships with your team members, clients, and the media is extremely important for success.

Media matter

As mentioned previously, modern communication tools make it easy and tempting to cut, paste, and blast blanket pitches to the media. Sadly, though, software can seem to make our lives easier because it allows us to do things much faster. Truthfully, the constant use of certain software can inhibit our ability to create personal relationships with media and thoughtfully reach out to them with individually focused pitches.

When creating relationships with the media—namely journalists, editors, producers, and other media personnel—it’s crucial to establish strong connections and build a lasting relationship through thoughtful outreach. Media pros are human and like to be treated as such, not sent mass email pitches, especially if it does not align with their previous work. Getting to know the people you intend to continuously pitch is fundamental in PR to successfully establish media contacts. Understanding their expertise and specified beat(s) will not only build your credibility but will leave a lasting impression which can lead to a long and successful relationship.

The client to agent alliance

Establishing regular contact with the businesses and clients you represent is essential, especially in the current digital environment we’re in. Executives you work with must be informed at all times, know when things are taking place, what exactly is happening, and how they can better help with the process. Clear and thoughtful reporting, agenda creation, meeting notes, and more can really help this process and ensure your client trusts your ability to keep them on track.

In addition to building a business relationship with them, it is also beneficial to establish a personal connection, find shared interests, and stay up to date on upcoming life milestones and special occasions. One way we do this at NRPR is by sending gifts on special occasions as well as sending endearing messages during hard times. It’s inevitable to have disconnects and hiccups in business, but creating meaningful, personalized relationships with all your clients will make it easier to overcome issues and have trust in one another. This will allow company executives to feel comfortable reaching out if there’s a crisis and will also establish respect, ensuring they will reach out in advance about company news or changes.

With every interaction—whether oral or written—and every result delivered, an agency solidifies trust with the client. We build a client’s trust by listening closely to their needs, using that understanding to work with relevant media and garner valuable coverage—often exceeding agreed-upon business goals.

Nurturing your dream team

Communication is the most important and effective way of creating lasting relationships with your team. Whether you are working in person or remotely, it is important to establish good rapport, effective communication, and “esprit de corps” with your team. This should be implemented in the very beginning stages of employment with training and onboarding.

Creating a positive yet effective working environment for you and your team will not only make work something enjoyable, but it will also open a door of communication with your employees as they will want to do their very best every day, making them open to asking for help, asking questions, and finding solutions.

Goal setting, regular performance evaluations, and fun activities must be part of the virtual and in-person office cultures that will help build your team up and hold everyone accountable for their assigned duties. As employees progress, they should receive more opportunities to learn and grow on the job, combining empowerment and responsibility with oversight and guidance so they do not feel overwhelmed. Creating a positive work environment will help your employees not only understand you but will also make them want to continue working with you.

Why putting relationships back into public relations matters

In the end, technology is evolving and has tricked many people in our profession that tech makes things more ‘efficient.” Unfortunately, that efficiency has made PR pros more like robots and less like the humans who are needed to tell thoughtful stories. This is why personal interactions with media, clients, and employees that are highly effective will help you be more successful than anyone relying on quick tech shortcuts will lead you to believe.

Respecting everyone within your circle and offering a both genuine and business connection will promote trust, opportunity for growth and understanding. Take advantage of what these tools offer, but ultimately, putting relationships back into public relations is what will help everyone feel more connected and valued—which will ultimately produce success and great professional outcomes.

Nicole Rodrigues
Nicole Rodrigues is founder of NRPR Group and the Young Dreamers Foundation.

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