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Should Face-to-Face Meetings Matter?
New social tools have replaced personal touch with tech.
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 by Amanda DiSilvestro
Resource Nation

Amanda DiSilvestroNo doubt social media and email have made the life of a PR professional easier and quicker. This is in part because it allows PR agencies to do business with those from other parts of the country (or world), but also because clicking a “tweet” button or writing an email is so quick and convenient.

Email allows us to prioritize our business and get to things at the most opportune time, while social media allows us to interact with customers and clients without having to drive to a meeting place and have an hour long lunch. With the time saved by digital communication, more business can get done.

In fact, I almost always prefer email over a face-to-face meeting because I can take the time to really think about what I want to say, and then review it once I’m finished. This is something I can’t say for a face-to-face meeting—where I have been known to stumble over my words out of nervousness.

This led me to wonder: Is meeting with a client face-to-face as valuable as
it used to be? Furthermore, does anyone even really want to meet face to
face? I am part of the generation that grew up with technology, so I have
learned to become comfortable with this sort of communication. I once worked
in an office where co-workers who were sitting one or two cubicles away from
each other would email in order to communicate. Is this a problem?

I decided that, no matter how much I may value technology, this is a huge
problem. The general population has tricked themselves into thinking that
face-to-face meetings are overated. After all, maybe I stumble over my
words in person because I am not used to looking someone in the eye when
they speak. Our country needs to become more well-rounded, and this goes for
the PR workplace just as well.

When Face-to-Face Meetings are Crucial

The most beneficial thing face-to-face interactions can give a PR
professional is body language, facial expressions, and tone. This can be
extremely important in certain business interactions. Ironically enough,
these situations are usually the ones we cower away from the most, and
therefore hide behind our computer screens. Nevertheless, if you want to be
the best PR employee you can, these are the situations you need to master

Negotiating — This is far more effective if done in-person because it is an
ongoing conversation. Negotiating is about getting fired up about a topic,
bouncing ideas off one another, and coming up with a compromise. With email,
two people often lose this passion because they are doing so many other
things at the same time. In the end, negotiating would likely be faster in
person than through the Internet.

Thank you — If a company (or even a client) goes out of their way to do
something that benefits your agency, a thank you is obviously in order. If
something nice was done via the Internet, then it might be appropriate to
thank them in the same fashion; however a two week project that has finally
come to a close, or a month long deal that was done well deserves something

Apologizing — We all know that in the PR world, apologies are sometimes
necessary. If your firm made a mistake, a face to face apology will show
that you care enough to go out of your way and be put in an uncomfortable
position to make things right. I think you would be surprised by just how
much this would mean to the other party. In fact, the other party may not
realize the importance of a face-to-face apology until after your meeting,
but either way you will make a difference.

Selling — If you want to pitch an idea to a client, face-to-face is the
place to do it. Sometimes people can get so caught up in their thoughts that
they start to overthink things. If you send a proposal through email, your
clients may analyze it to the brink of destruction. Worse yet, you will not
be there to help calm a client’s fears. If you have a face-to-face meeting,
your client will be able to see the confidence you bring to the table, and
this could make all the difference.

Although these tips may seem obvious, many companies are starting to ignore
the obvious. I think every once in a while it is a good idea to go back to
the basics and think about why you became a PR employee in the first place.
Loving people means more than just loving their typing skills—it always has
and it always will. Is the Internet good for many types of communication? Of
course, but do not forget that in person meetings have an important place in
the PR field.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for Resource Nation, that gives
advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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