Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and mid-sized law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nowadays, there are so many ways to communicate with people that do not require face-to-face meetings, let alone getting out of a chair or using your voice. While we embrace new technologies and are thankful for how easy it is to connect with others, nothing can compare to the impact of talking to a reporter, client or prospect face-to-face.
The importance of face-to-face communication may seem to be fading fast, but next time you reach for the phone or your keyboard, consider logging some face-time with the following groups:
Every day, reporters, editors and producers receive hundreds of e-mails and phone calls, telling them about this story and that angle. Instead of e-mailing a long pitch to a local reporter, ask about meeting at a nearby coffee shop where you can present your story and find out what the reporter typically looks for. Chances are the reporter is a coffee or tea drinker, so why not suggest a quick five-minute meeting to put a face to an e-mail address, and more importantly, see how you can help each other. This strategy can also work whenever you are traveling for business. Think about which reporters you’d like to connect with in the area you are traveling to, and suggest coffee or lunch meetings. Meeting media face-to-face can also increase the chance a reporter or producer responds to your phone call or email the next time you reach out virtually.
When you are looking for new clients or potential clients are looking for you, you might send letters via “snail mail,” and they might look up your website. You might target certain Facebook groups while they might go on Yelp.com. One of the best ways to get in front of prospects is to literally, get in front of them. Every year, search your industry for potential speaking opportunities and events. Whether you work with program coordinators to sign you on as a speaker or simply sign up to attend the event, you will be put in a position to make strong face-to-face connections with others who could become clients and/or legal business alliances. Joining local organizations and frequently attending monthly meetings is another simple way to make sure people don’t forget your face – and the firm that employs your pretty/dashing mug.
Whether you’ve had a client for five years or five weeks, it’s easy to overlook in-person meetings since you are focused on getting results and making your client happy. However, making your client happy should include making time for them by meeting in-person. Some suggestions would be to hand-deliver birthday cupcakes to their office on their birthday or company anniversary, or set-up monthly lunches to review your work and plan. Also consider their interests and activities outside their day job. For example, if your client plays the guitar as a hobby and sets up a small gig at a local establishment, being in the audience should be a priority for you. Your client will appreciate you supporting him or her, plus you’ll get to enjoy the show! Sounds like a win-win to me.
Even though we’ve gone through a digital revolution and always wondering what will go “paperless” next, the art of communication is in the face-to-face. Making time for face-time is essential to foster stronger relationships and make you and your firm memorable in the long run.