Don’t get me wrong, we know that face-to-face meetings can be a massive time suck and can distract agencies from executing the strategy and tactics of a PR campaign that garner the results the client is looking for. However, there is definitely a time and a place where physical meetings are critical to success and still very important in this digital age.
Here are a few reasons on why we think they are more important than ever:
Establishes trust and authenticity
At the beginning of any campaign, we meet with our clients for an initial face-to-face strategy session where we discuss PR objectives/desired outcomes, key outlets and audiences, key messages, the overall strategy, processes and tactics. When all of you are in the same room, it helps each side express their ideas and overall vision for the campaign more easily, it allows you to showcase your expertise, and it builds stronger relationships.
In terms of meeting with journalists, face-to-face meetings are so invaluable. Journalists literally get hundreds of emails a day from PR’s vying for their attention and it helps a lot if you already have an established and trusted relationship. At Agent99, we organise one journalist coffee catch up each month where we find out how we can be working with them better. This helps create a meaningful long-term relationship as they’ll understand and know how you work and can rely on you for future stories. Also, it will ensure that your email sticks out (apart from having a good pitch of course).
Meetings conducted over the phone or via email can increase the likelihood of misinterpretation. Tones, non-verbal communication and body language can be missed and might affect the overall outcome of the meeting. Face-to-face also encourages engagement and attention amongst everyone as it’s obvious when this isn’t the case. We have also found that it is easier to jump between topics or bring up new ideas as the conversation flows better.
If you’re presenting an idea or proposal, having physical displays or presentations can help get your point across faster or help attendees visualise your concept. It will also lessen the back and forth between each party, as you’ll be able to pick up cues on when to interject with your comments or feedback. And if you’re not the biggest tech fan, physical meetings decrease technology dependency and you can focus without having to fuss over this.
Clients and journalists will appreciate it
Lastly, in the digital age, everyone spends most of their time using computers and smartphones for their tasks. Breaking up your day with a physical meeting occasionally helps and can even stimulate better conversation and creativity. It is also nice to show your clients that you care, so any gestures such as providing a coffee or morning tea will give it a nice personal touch. Positive attitudes are contagious and if you come to a meeting excited about the agenda, your client will feed off this energy and bring their A game.
Although it takes more time to organise and attend a face-to-face meeting, we encourage you try it a few times a month with your clients. At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships and human interaction, so make sure you don’t just rely on a digital relationship.