Latest does not always equal greatest

I recently had an issue with a job applicant whose email I overlooked and deleted without reading.

I recently had an issue with a job applicant whose email I overlooked and deleted without reading. Instead of using it as an opportunity to re-send her information, perhaps in a way that might grab my attention, she fired off a nasty-gram that effectively ensured I will never consider her no matter how desperate I am for help.

To my recollection, I never received a call from her, nor did I receive a letter. The only communication was an email, one of hundreds I typically receive on a daily basis.

It made me wonder whether those who are just getting a start on their PR careers might be too reliant on the latest and greatest communications tools (not that email can be considered latest or greatest). I wonder if the focus on the newest social flavor of the day is leading some to forget the old school communications techniques that not only still work, but also still demand a place in any PR professional's toolkit.

Too many PR pros forget that the ‘R' in our profession stands for Relations. This is a business built on relationships, and not all relationships can be built in neat little 140-character bundles. This is especially true when the audiences with whom we need to build relationships aren't on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest (such people actually exist).

For instance, we're managing a project right now in which a critical audience includes some of the poorest residents in Central Florida, many of whom lack access to technology that would allow them to participate in social media.

For such audiences, it comes down to old school techniques: door-to-door outreach, personal meetings, and group presentations. Hosting a tweet-up isn't going to cut it.

It's a good lesson for all of us – young and old – to remember: just because a communications tool is new and popular, doesn't mean it's the most effective. Strategy and message are paramount, and the tools you use must fit your audience.

Dan Ward, APR, is vice president and partner at Curley & Pynn Public Relations Management in Orlando.

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