The digital media has shaped our lives and redefined human connection and communication. One study has shown that the average mobile device user checks his/her phone approximately 40 times a day. The ability to communicate without any limitation of time and distance has made us hyper-connected. As a PR pro, we have to consume media and be aware of latest news, so why check out? Stepping away from the screen can seem counterintuitive but we must learn the importance of balancing screen time with face time. Here are 4 reasons why every PR pro should find a healthy balance with both:
1) That balance starts with environment
The first step to finding a balance between screen and face communication is to practice what we preach for better communication. The PR industry is rooted in the ability to successfully interface with an audience and equally with the person sitting in the next chair. When spending most of our day at the office, an entire day may pass without even acknowledging our coworkers. Sometimes we send emails for things that could easily have been addressed in person.
As a result of the evolution of communication dynamics within company cultures, a common tendency in the office environment is for everyone to enter individual zones. While it might seem a highly efficient way to get work done, it also tells us our relationship with digital media.
2) It boils down to convenience
Every PR professional has to know exactly what we want to say and when it needs to be said. Therefore, sending a text or an email is easier and comes with a sense of security. There are no long pauses or questions to catch anyone off guard and you are able to re-read a message 5 times over before sending it. Each concept and phrase has been thought through and the words are tailored to convey exactly what they’re meant to.
Communicating, pitching or promoting through a screen feels more convenient when any misstep in language could alter the entire meaning of a message.
3) Creating a balance seems simple
Try to set up a meeting over breakfast instead of a conference call. Put the effort to schedule a dinner rather than check in via email. Making more time for face-to-face communication is key to foster relationships, build a good network and grow your business.
However, everyone in the PR industry is eager to see results and are too busy to be in touch with 10 different clients, 40 different reports and still find time within the day to eat and (hopefully) sleep.
Although the high level of communication leads us to look for shortcuts, try to remember that a lot of digital communication can be more impactful when delivered in-person.
4) The goal is to create opportunity for significant conversation
Quantity doesn’t mean quality. What gets said during meetings is far more important than the number of meetings. In order to maintain current relationships and develop new ones, you have to consciously choose to utilize mediums of interactions beyond the digital realm.
Regardless of the setting, transferring a message from one mind to another can be challenging. It is our job in PR to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding and accurate interpretation is more likely with physical presence.
Remember: although our preferred method might be the written word, a face makes more of an impression than an email signature.