Love and Media Relations: How to Connect Online
At Nebo, we talk a lot about being “human-centered.” It sounds simple, even instinctive. But in reality, it takes a lot of effort – especially in the digital world. For PR professionals, this means remembering that the job is about relationships, not just blasting out a press release, getting placements and moving on to the next project. Human-centered media relations aims to establish lasting connections with journalists, influencers, thought leaders and their audiences. But how do you make meaningful connections with people you’ve never even met face-to-face?
This same question has plagued online daters since the dawn of Match.com, and many users continue to struggle with it. Some people may even think it’s impossible to find love through these services – but 20% of committed romantic relationships begin online, so some users must be doing it right. It’s difficult to form a real bond without in-person interaction, but there are certain tips that can help users begin building successful relationships before meeting offline.
In this series, I’ve shown how creating an OKCupid profile is a lot like key messaging and how reaching out to other users is similar to pitching media contacts. In the final installment of Love and Media Relations, I’ll explore what online dating can teach PR professionals about genuinely connecting and bringing humanity back to the digital industry.
Dating / Building Relationships
Digital dating shouldn’t be too different than traditional dating, and you’d think we would have figured it out by now. Still, most of us remain clueless when it comes to proper behavior on online dating sites. Perhaps something gets lost in translation traveling from one person to one screen to another screen to another person. There is space for things to get lost, like social cues and even basic human decency. But no matter how much the medium changes, success in dating will always require certain skills: anticipating others’ needs, voicing our own needs and compromising when necessary.
PR is relationship building, so it’s no surprise that the same principles can guide us both romantically and professionally. As PR specialists, it’s our job to navigate between the needs of the client and the needs of the public, making sure that both align and everyone is satisfied. Clients rely on us to promote brand awareness and positive brand sentiment; meanwhile, media rely on us to provide them with relevant, interesting stories. The digital ecosystem depends on our ability to form these symbiotic relationships. And whether it’s on eHarmony or at the office, making a connection is all about communicating effectively:
- Follow up. – So many online daters give up after one try. They send an initial message and assume that no response means no luck. While that may sometimes be true, it’s not always the case. Sending a quick and friendly follow-up can be surprisingly effective. As long as you’re not trying to guilt trip the person (“I guess you’re not interested” is an easy way to make someone not interested), a second message is not pesky. In fact, it may make a huge difference in showing that you really like someone. Like online daters, media contacts can get busy and forget about old emails. Or they may just need a little more convincing. Getting a producer’s attention often requires at least one follow-up, and positivity and persistence really do pay off.
- Deliver the goods. – Singles looking for “the one” should woo with long conversations about literature and the meaning of life. Singles looking for a casual hook-up should not woo with long conversations about literature and the meaning of life. Nothing’s worse than the old bait-and-switch. In the commitment buffet of online dating, you have to be completely upfront about your intentions and what you can offer. Otherwise, you’re a jerk – and nobody likes dating or working with a jerk. Great PR does what it says on the box. When a pitch promises a great story and the materials to back it up, we make good on it. We are cautious not to offer more than we can realistically provide, and when a reporter asks for something extra, we do our best to make it happen.
- Be empathetic. – Scrolling through endless pages of singles, it’s easy to objectify them and to forget that they’re all real people with real hearts. Every once in while, you have to stop and remind yourself that dating online is not browsing Amazon. You’re not just there to satisfy your own desires but to make someone else’s life better, too. You have to re-sensitize yourself. Likewise, human-centered PR acknowledges that journalists do not exist merely to transmit our alerts and releases. Reaching out to media contacts to say hello, to send an interesting link or to congratulate them on recent achievements is a great way to show genuine consideration. It’s adding value without asking for anything in return.
- Use common courtesy. – Online dating is ultimately “just humans talking to humans.” Etiquette still matters. It’s not okay to make pervy comments to a stranger’s face, and it’s not okay to make them on Tinder either. Seriously. Rude words are just as rude in a text box as in person. The same manners that apply offline also apply online – for members of dating sites, digital PR specialists and everyone else using the Internet (trolls be damned). In any human interaction, you should treat others with respect. Say thank you. Be polite, even when you’re on a deadline or in a high-pressure situation. Soft skills are just as important as technical chops.
A Final Note
Online daters who have made it this far are probably ready to transition into offline dating. That’s another topic for another series, but the basic lesson you’ll learn is the same: Be a good person. That’s the bottom line. Whatever your goal is – whether you want to get engaged or create an engaging brand campaign – you have to approach it honestly and authentically. As long as you are true to yourself and respectful of others, you should always be on the right track in love and media relations. Go get ‘em, tiger.