From Zero to Hero with Face to Face Meetings

By Emily Mckay

Despite the recent nationwide lockdown, I am still a huge believer in face to face meetings and can’t wait to begin meeting journalists and colleagues for coffee again, socially distanced of course!

The world is ever evolving, and recent circumstances have confirmed that there is definitely a need for conference systems such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams; these solutions have played a vital part in strengthening relationships with journalists, clients and colleagues throughout lockdown. However, this doesn’t mean that we should overlook the power of meeting in person.

The last few months have highlighted our need for human interaction, in the same way a Zoom call with your friends isn’t quite the same as going for a coffee or to the pub together, working relationships also benefit from getting together for an informal catch up.

Emma and Emily with Melissa York, Assistant Property Editor at The Times and Sunday Times

As well as providing a great excuse to get out of the office, meeting in person provides the perfect opportunity for us PRs to catch up with our connections and make sure our fingers remain on the property pulse. Here are the five main reasons I am such a big fan of face to face meetings and why I am so looking forward to being able to have them again soon!

  1. Building relationships – meeting in person or picking up the phone and having a conversation is so much more effective than sending an email. Conversations flow naturally helping you to get to know each other but also opens the door to new opportunities.
  2. Clearer than email – working in PR involves a lot of email pitching to journalists, and more often than not you won’t receive a reply. Emails are great because you can pitch to five or six journalists in the space of 15 minutes BUT sometimes a phone call or face to face chat is better. Journalists are able to listen to what you have to offer and say yes or no quickly, resulting in a higher success rate than emails in my experience. And often leading to discussions on other stories that they are working on.
  3. Small talk – I always find that small talk is a lot less awkward in person or on the phone than on email! Sometimes speaking to someone about a hobby or what you got up to at the weekend can lead to a brainwave, and when you’re with a journalist this could result in some ideas that they’d like to feature in their publication, or even a mini brainstorm which can be like gold dust!
  4. Meetings are memorable – When getting together with journalists they’re more likely to remember you. In a similar way that visiting a site is more memorable than reading a brochure, meeting with someone face to face leaves a lasting impression. Now when I speak with Melissa York (The Times) or Deborah Stone (The Express) they know who I am because we have previously met for coffee. They come to me asking for client’s comment or developments if they’re working on relevant features and are more responsive to my emails because we have built a far stronger working relationship and am not just a name without a face.
  5. No technical issues! – you remove the issues associated with conference calling such as camera problems, background distractions, connection issues or wasting time trying to get the microphone working, goodbye robot voice, hello clear friendly conversation!

So, as we embrace the new normal of socially distanced meetings and mask wearing we mustn’t forget that although things have changed a lot in a short space of time, meeting in person or picking up the phone is always better than email and whilst it means time away from the laptop, it will lead to better results for our clients.