We all know that an essential part of public relations is building strong relationships — it’s in the name of the game. Strong relationships set you up for success through connections with members of the press, key stakeholders, colleagues and clients — all of which contribute to building trust and credibility. However, as many companies have moved to remote and hybrid work environments, maintaining and growing relationships has become more difficult and needs to be even more purposeful and thoughtfully done.
One of my hobbies is photography, and one of the main drivers of this passion is that photography causes me to slow down and find the interesting details and compositions around me — often the things that are normally way too easy to just pass by in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Similarly, to build quality relationships, we need to slow down and find the important details that make a person who they are. These relationships are not built overnight; it takes time and effort to nurture them. You need to understand people’s needs and interests, as well as create connections through shared values or experiences, and that often takes a concerted effort to find.
Here are a few areas that every PR professional should look at to ensure they’re not letting relationships with their teammates, clients and media stagnate while they work from their bedrooms, basements and home offices.
Make it personal
Take the time to connect with your teammates on a deeper level than just checking the boxes. You can explore this topic further in our post about embracing flexibility in remote and hybrid workplaces.
- There are several ways to achieve this including 1-on-1 conversations, taking a few minutes during each meeting for “watercooler” talk, or commenting on shared interests with a quick Slack message.
- Just because you’re on Zoom doesn’t mean everything needs to be all business all of the time. Several past and present colleagues and I have bonded over a shared love of cycling and have spent hours together out on the road and trails, creating a deeper connection than would ever be possible if limited to just the office.
- Some organizations provide reimbursements for team meals or 1-on-1 coffee chats over a video call. It’s a great way to connect, relax and discuss things other than objectives and deadlines.
Pay attention to the details when building relationships
Every PR pro understands the power of details, whether it’s a press release, a pitch, or talking points for an executive. Pay attention to details such as life events or daily memories and jot them down so you don’t forget. Did a client talk about their dog going to the vet? Or did a teammate mention their kid’s baseball game? Remember those details and use them to build trust and show that you care. The details can make all the difference.
Consistency is king: Building a successful relationship doesn’t just happen.
- Be ready to demonstrate dedication, effort, and consistency. Consistency is a key factor in any relationship as it builds trust and shows that you’re willing to put in the time and effort and makes it clear that it’s not transactional.
- Don’t just take someone to lunch once; set a schedule, make a plan and take the time needed to be thoughtful and consistent. For me, this means scheduling frequent one-on-ones with several of my teammates and those I mentor and then taking extra care to ensure those meetings are rarely bumped or moved — showing that they’re important and that they matter to me.
As you make building strong relationships a priority, you can create lasting foundations for successful public relations programs, happy colleagues and clients that really feel like you’re on the same team. As long as you’re doing good work, this is the way to truly ensure long-term success and satisfaction for everyone.