Prediction #4: PR work still requires face-to-face meetings and interactions. Not 100% digital.
Dr. Tom Kelleher, in his book Public Relations Online: Lasting Concepts for Changing Media, noted the differences in a PR practitioner’s typical day between “then and now.” He describes the days of “yore,” the PR rep wakes up, drives to work, and attends a meeting. Then, Kelleher describes the modern PR pro, they wake up, log-in to their laptop, and sign-in to their virtual meeting via webcam. What a difference!
Sure, all this technology is a major convenience. However, the use of tech in Public Relations still has it’s limitations going into the future. Kelleher states that “Face-to-face communication is still the gold standard.” In other words, nothing can beat an in-person PR relationship or exchange. Kelleher goes on, “Having access to richer media (virtual web meetings, etc.) makes work easier for those trying to establish and maintain relationships online. Of course, both the public relations practitioner and the people she wants to communicate with must have access for these technologies to work.”
Remember, not everyone has the same technology as you!
I can attest the above statement all too well. Having been introduced to “Spreecast” this semester, I have had both positive and negative experiences. When it works, it’s a great tool! However, when it does not, everything goes downhill fast. A perfect example of this lies with my two Geneseo Airshow Spreecasts. The first time, the site was having problems and the sound was not working. This made the webcast very difficult, as I had to type everything. I was not able to relay everything that I wanted to our fans. However, during my second Spreecast, everything worked flawlessly! Now, that’s all well and good, however, what about the people who don’t have access to this richer media as Kelleher mentions?
This is where “Face-to-face” communication is the key. In Geneseo, we always encourage our fans to come to the airshow meetings. You see, with face-to-face, you get a lot out of the conversation than you do online. Over the web, things are missed. Body language, hints, detailed expressions, and posture are all absent. My Personal Selling class, last semester, emphasized the importance of these elements in a successful working relationship. This is not to say that I am against web meetings, I just do not believe that they have the same context as in-person meetings do.
With all of this said, I believe that despite the shift toward constant technology use in Public Relations, PR practitioners and the public will still understand the significance of “face-to-face” communications. People know what it means to talk in person, they know how powerful it is and the context it brings to a discussion. I don’t think that this is something that could ever disappear from professional relationships.