By Angeline Boyer, Account Executive, R&J Public Relations
In an age where email, Facebook and digital connections are the rule, face-to-face interactions start to become the exception. With the ability to exchange information via email, chat on social media sites and even give presentations over web conference, face-to-face meetings with clients and media may seem unnecessary. Unfortunately, this is a harmful assumption that many people make.
A recent study by researchers from George Mason University and the University of Illinois found that digital communication strips away the personal interaction needed to build trust. The study involved 200 students who were given two hypothetical teamwork exercises, some face to face and others through e-mail and videoconferences. The research revealed that face-to-face contact yielded the most trust and cooperation while e-mail achieved the least.
You can certainly build and foster relationships over digital connections, but in my experience the first time you meet a person face-to-face you develop a new level of familiarity with them. Email and virtual communication are effective tools for getting things done quickly, but eliminate spontaneous communication.
Spontaneous communication can reveal interesting details about a client or editor that you may not have uncovered through task-oriented emails. I have worked with a number of editors and reporters solely over email and through phone calls, but once we met at a tradeshow or at a one-on-one meeting, it changed the whole dynamic of our relationship.
While it may be more of an investment to travel out to see a client at their office or meet an editor for lunch, the fact remains that the natural conversations and shared experiences in new surroundings are unlike anything you can accomplish solely through virtual interaction.