By Christie Zielinski
When I first started out in PR, my agency used AOL as our email platform – and we were lucky. Some of my clients and media contacts didn’t even have email, so if I needed something, I had to call them. And it wasn’t always fun. Phone tag, reporters’ tirades, suspicious receptionists, disconnected numbers. I welcomed widespread email, and eventually texting and social media, with no hesitation. Why would someone want to bother with the phone when this other stuff is so much easier – and less stressful?
Now I know why.
There have been so many times in recent months when I’ve been cc’d on email chains that go on 10 times longer than necessary because the topics were subject to interpretation or the responses required multiple follow up questions. Everyone got what they needed – eventually, but not before flooding inboxes needlessly and frustrating the folks on the chain. And every time, I thought, why don’t they just pick up the phone? Can’t they tell it’s time to end the email back and forth?
Email still certainly has a place in the office and it can make our lives easier, but it shouldn’t be the default communication. Not every conversation is right for email; some things are simply better handled via direct conversation. But the deeper we go into the age of electronic communication, the more it seems like we’re losing our ability to judge when real conversation is required. With that, we’re losing opportunities to build and solidify relationships, and for PR people especially, that’s a waste. So do yourself a favor and pick up the phone today – and challenge your team to do the same. Your contacts might be surprised, but you’ll stand out, you’ll get the job done faster and they’ll thank you for your efficiency.