Let’s Bring the Human Connection Back to Communication

Jan 15, 2020

We’ve all seen articles in the press about overuse of social media and technology by our kids and teens. It’s absolutely pervasive in school, during classes, and in many homes.

I’ve had numerous conversations with my high school sophomore about her generation’s overuse of technology as a communications tool and how it’s leading to shortfalls in interpersonal skills. These kids don’t really know how to interact with each other without their phones. In fact, they don’t even use their phones for actual phone calls. I could go on, but I won’t. If you have a teenager, I bet you can relate.

Technology can be a great thing for business. We use email universally and texts are even becoming more common. But perhaps like our kids we are overusing it a bit. Maybe we should take a step back and remember the importance of “conversations” either over the phone or ideally face-to-face.

Back in the day in high tech PR, we used to conduct press tours and analyst tours so our clients could have face-to-face meetings with key influencers. It was a great opportunity to educate them about new products or services. And more importantly, it was an opportunity to build or cultivate key relationships.

Through the use of technology, press tours are no longer needed not that the media have a ton of bandwidth for meetings these days. Nor are they concentrated in a few media hubs like they used to be.

We have learned to rely on email pitches, phone interviews and if it’s really something special, maybe a video conference call so we can screenshare and provide a product demo. Again, a great use of technology that saves time and travel budgets, but what about the relationship building?

In healthcare IT, we have conferences and tradeshows such as HIMSS, HLTH, AHIMA, and so on, where we try to schedule a few minutes with very busy journalists and analysts to get some “face time” for our clients and their customers. But these are rushed meetings where we hope to communicate the news ““ fingers crossed that the editor or analyst retains what we talked about along with their 20 other meetings that day. They don’t call it #HIMSSanity for nothing.

We are in public relations, but do we take time to actually build and nurture the relationships anymore?

I’m lucky that I have a local client here in Atlanta who I get to have face-to-face meetings with occasionally. We could certainly conduct our check-ins over the phone and quite often we do. However, when I get the chance to go meet with them and brainstorm in person, plan strategy, discuss new ways of talking about their solutions, and even talk about the weather and learn about their families, it builds bonds. And quite often we end our meetings with hugs not handshakes maybe that’s a Southern thing.

This is a topic that I have been thinking about a lot lately and I’ve tried to incorporate it into my daily work. When I’m planning to send a colleague a complicated, wordy email that would be better discussed live, I choose to pick-up the phone and have a conversation instead. There is no lost nuance that can often result in an email or text communication, and I leave the conversation knowing my colleague a little bit better. And we begin to develop a bond. And hopefully that bond, that communication, delivers a better outcome for our clients.

As entrepreneur Paul J. Meyer said, “Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”

How can you spend more meaningful time communicating and building business relationships? Let’s not be like our kids.

Linda Healan

For more than 20 years, Linda has provided strategic PR and marketing communications services to B2B national and multi-national clients in the technology, healthcare technology, real estate, travel & tourism, and professional service industries. In 1999, she established Healan PR following a successful career as an account and client services manager for several PR agencies. Notable clients included Craneware, ReachHealth, Oneview Healthcare, Flo Healthcare/Metro a division of Emerson and CenTrak, among others. Prior to entering the public relations field, Linda earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Georgia State University in 1993. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and active in the PRSA Georgia Chapter. She is also a member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and served on the public relations committees heading Georgia Technology Forum 1998 and 1999, and Georgia Technology Celebration in 2003.