The Conversation, Continued

Shea Anderson / April 11, 2012

By Sierra Hansen

I recently joined a group of friends to support a statewide organization, Futurewise, that advocates for open spaces and urban places in Washington. The program had all the usual ingredients – speeches from board members, keynote speaker, staff and a short live auction – and it was a great opportunity to hear from the new Executive Director Hilary Franz. I go to these events throughout the year, but I always make sure to arrive early so I can visit with colleagues and friends before the program begins.

In the public relations world, we spend quite a bit of time thinking about fresh ways to build relationships with people through social media. Clients appreciate it, some of them need it, and we’ve become extremely adept at getting them up to speed.

Now, I love Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter because they allow me to stay up to date with the myriad kids, jobs, news articles and vacations. But anyone who tells you that’s all a PR professional needs to have in their toolkit these days is missing the whole picture. While Facebook does help cut down on the time searching for recent, cute photos of children, pets and house projects, it doesn’t replace personal connection with actual friends.

At the same time, in public relations, we would be selling clients short if we forgot entirely that core piece of our work: Talking to people. I find that a simple handshake or hug, a short conversation or joke and a glass of Washington wine at an annual fundraiser can be as important for reconnecting with friends and colleagues as 100 Facebook posts.

I’m proud of our facility in the social media. The recent purchase of Instagram by Facebook shows the value our culture places on social media, and we are right to stay on top of the trends. But social media, it’s worth remembering, is all about conversations. And as we’ve said here before, those conversations are essential to public relations. Just don’t forget to include a few of the old-fashioned kind in your quest for connectivity.