The fixation with social media in all business sectors is understandably relevant. However, in our quest to be ahead of the curve it’s important to remember to always look for ways to engage the publics (audiences) that matter to our organizations. I work for a local government association. While I think we have done a pretty good job with engaging our members who have adopted certain social media platforms, it is critical to remember that some members are just not there yet. And we still have engagement problems that need to be addressed.
As Ronald Smith taught in Strategic Planning for Public Relations, interpersonal communication tactics such as face-to-face communications are among the most useful tactics for influencing change; that could be a change in a belief system, moving someone to action, etc.
A personal success story
In my work as a public relations director for my association I have seen how face-to-face communications have increased member engagement.
One challenge we faced in 2013 was increasing participation in a very important annual data survey from one segment of our membership. I studied participation data from previous years and found that there were a handful of members who, year after year, had not participated in this survey.
The strategy we implemented involved planning face-to-face meetings with these members during our spring district meeting travel season which occurred during this survey period. During one such meeting, I had – in my mind – written this person off because he did not appear to be engaged in our face-to-face conversation. To my surprise the very next Monday, the survey from this person arrived in my inbox!
Never underestimate the power of public relations strategies, especially those involving a hand shake and a kind word.