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The Power of Listening
As someone who’s worked in the PR field for more than 20 years, I’m often amazed at the ever-changing and expanding menu of communications strategies used to pitch and promote clients. Amidst blogging, social media strategies, trade wires, and email blasts – all immediate avenues for reaching target audiences – I have to stop and remind myself that faster is not always better.
My colleagues and I embrace and practice the latest and greatest PR tools. But no matter how advanced the technology, we know the message itself can be substantially more meaningful if we dig a little deeper. By this I mean taking the time for some good old-fashioned listening. Sitting back and tuning in to what the client has to say provides the opportunity to grab hold of a seemingly fleeting yet innovative idea, or, the chance to identify a potential trend at its earliest stages. This is often what leads to successful PR campaigns and press hits.
Whether it’s a first-time presentation, a weekly input call, or a working lunch, good listening skills lead to effective communications, which will lead to exceptional ideas, which then lead to results. From my experience I’ve learned the power of listening can:
- Reaffirm to clients how much I value what they have to say
- Help develop ongoing and meaningful dialog
- Help develop relevant questions about topics I previously didn’t consider
- Help tap into hidden intellectual resources and talent I didn’t know existed
- Help me better understand what the clients’ needs are
When I first started working in PR I used a fax machine to distribute releases. Today, a news release can reach a global audience in a millisecond. One thing hasn’t changed. Putting up the antennae and taking good mental notes. While working as a reporter, I learned that every person, every small business, every large corporation has a story. And while it’s the quarterly reports and Fortune 500 lists that make for good financial news, it’s the story behind the people that make for impression-building news. It’s still my job to be an investigative reporter and discover that news.
To unearth the buried treasure, I know to pay close attention to what the client is saying. Then, like a reporter, ask a few questions, sit back, and listen again. I’m always amazed at what I discover. Namely… invaluable golden nuggets of information that could have easily passed me by if I was too busy talking.