Why PR must balance screen time with face time

by | Jun 30, 2017 | Analysis, Public Relations

We’ve made digital media an integral part of our lives and it is important that we examine its impact. It is a luxury to be able to communicate free of limitations of time and distance.

A study done by Deloitte reflects that the average mobile device user checks his/her phone 40 times a day.

The consumption of media is central to our practice of PR. It is in the nature of our business to be aware of latest news. So why check out?

The New York Times recently published an analysis on the anxieties tied to digital media. For a busy mind, the uncertainty of minimal device usage is maddening. However, it might be possible to use anxious energy as a means to maximize productivity.

Particularly as PR pros, we are required to digest news at a high rate. It can seem counterintuitive to step away from the screen, but a healthy balance is possible.

That balance starts with environment

We witness evolving communication dynamics within company cultures. Our leading role as PR pros involves constant psychological, behavioral and organizational development. It is vital that we practice what we preach as role models for better communication practices.

Our industry is rooted in the ability to successfully interface with an audience and equally with the person sitting in the next chair. Most people spend more time in the workplace than anywhere else. The better part of a day might pass before coworkers acknowledge one another. Emails are sent for things that could easily have been addressed in person.

A common tendency in the office environment is for everyone to enter individual zones. As soon as the computer turns on, any outside interference is drowned out. This can be a highly efficient way to get work done, but is also telling of our relationship with digital media.

It boils down to convenience

It is easier to send a text or an email because there are no long pauses or questions to catch anyone off guard. There is a sense of security that comes with the ability to re-read a message 5 times over before sending it. The words are tailored to convey exactly what they’re meant to. There are no slips or accidents because each concept and phrase has been thought through.

This is a practice that PR professionals relish. It is our job to know exactly what we want to say and when it needs to be said. PRDaily recently published a relevant piece on stewardship of pitching, promoting and communicating. We are conditioned to look at things in terms of perception. Any misstep in language could alter the entire meaning of a message.

Creating a balance seems simple

make more time for face to face communication. Put forth the effort to schedule a dinner, rather than check in via email. Set up a meeting over breakfast, rather than conference everyone in on speaker phone. But as we know, it can be easier said than done.

In business, everyone is eager to see results. But in order to get there, relationships must be fostered and that can take some time. Schedules are packed and constantly changing. We have to be in touch with 10 different clients, 40 different reporters and still find time within the day to eat and (hopefully) sleep.

The high level of communication at which we operate makes it easy for us to look for shortcuts. The key is to remember that a lot of digital communication can be more impactful when delivered in-person. If you plan to eat anyway, why not make it a client lunch?

The goal is to create opportunity for significant conversation

The number of meetings is less important than what gets said during those meetings. Focus on quality over quantity.

It must be a conscious choice to utilize mediums of interaction beyond the digital. It will not only help to nurture and maintain current relationships, but will be useful in developing new ones. A face makes more of an impression than an email signature.

Communication can be challenging regardless of the setting. The transfer of a message from one mind to another always holds opportunity for misunderstanding. It is our job in PR to minimize that possibility and while our preferred method might be the written word, accurate interpretation is more likely with physical presence.

Beyond that, it is human nature to crave physical interaction, even in the form of a handshake. There is a lot of positivity to be absorbed in the absence of a downward gaze. Positive energy fuels productivity. So look up.

Lana Rodriguez
Lana Rodriguez is an Account Executive at Gotham PR. She is a media graduate of New York University.


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