A few weeks ago, while preparing for a new business meeting, it got me thinking about the importance of audience engagement – on multiple levels. In the world of PR, it is essential to know who you’re speaking with before you pick up the phone or head into a meeting – what are they interested in, what are their goals, how do they want to be communicated with.
First impressions are everything and it is nothing less than common courtesy to know the basics before you engage. With the online tools available today, simply doing a Google search or taking five minutes to review someone’s Twitter handle can give you more information than you could ever need.
For example, before I call Clint Boulton at the WSJ, I can quickly learn that while he previously covered Google for eWeek he is now is looking for customers to speak with for the WSJ CIO Journal. I also know that his Twitter handle is @ClintBoulton and a UConn alumnus.
Having even these basic pieces of information can make my conversation much more meaningful than if I called him and simply asked, “What are you working on?” I can offer him a compelling case study with strong ROI or we can discuss some of the current uneasiness around the UConn men’s basketball team and its recent player defections. Otherwise, I’d just be wasting his precious time and would likely irk him rather than show how I (and in turn my client) could benefit him.
Taking your time and doing your homework can do a world of good – regardless of the situation. Preparedness not only makes you sound more confident, but it also shows the person that you’re reaching out to that you care enough to take a moment to think before you act. The results will be worthwhile, just as they were with that business meeting I mentioned. Due to the preparation and efforts of the team, the prospect is now a client and we’re putting all of that upfront research to good use in our media efforts.