The power of conversation

If you’re a BBC Radio 1 listener or have scrolled through Twitter this week, chances are you’ve heard about ‘pass the pasty’; a light-hearted yet effective challenge that was launched following a simple conversation on the radio. This got me thinking about the power of conversation and the impact it can have on communications.


Presenter Greg James, who recently took over the Radio 1 breakfast show, sent an award-winning Cornish pasty from Padstow all the way to Aberdeenshire so a Scottish woman could taste one for the first time. The challenge had the nation hooked, with listeners volunteering to take the pasty on different legs of the journey and then pass it on, like the Olympic torch in 2012.

It also sparked interest on social media, with people using #passthepasty and sharing pictures and videos of its 675-mile journey across the UK. The pasty was transported in a glass box and travelled by car, truck, ferry and even had a stint on a rollercoaster, the Flying Scotscman steam train and briefly led the Tour of Britain.


As bizarre as the ‘pass the pasty’ challenge was, one thing it highlighted was the power of conversation to spark an idea. The entire campaign was the result of an on-air chat between Greg James and a listener when he discovered she had never tried a Cornish pasty.

We all have different ideas and talking to one another allows us to share perspectives, take the strongest aspects of each suggestion and bring them together to create something great.

At Target, we place great emphasis on the art of conversation. Whether it be talking to clients, discussing suggestions in team meetings, generating ideas for a new campaign or networking at business events. We are constantly developing and improving our ideas with input from others, often discovering angles we hadn’t considered before speaking to each other.


However, methods of communication are rapidly changing and the digital landscape is developing every day. Does this mean conversation could become a lost art? It could be argued that the ease of online communication is compromising the power of conversation, making it more vulnerable now than ever before.

Regardless of how you choose to communicate with customers, whether you’re doing so effectively is the question that really matters. With such a large audience to reach, particularly online, it’s also not as easy to measure as it once was.

This change does not only pose a threat to communication with your target audience, it has implications in other aspects of work too. With more meetings, conferences, interviews and focus groups taking place online and colleagues emailing about projects and campaigns rather than talking, you’re potentially losing the catalyst for excellent ideas that comes from face to face conversations.


Conversation produces an opportunity to create, develop and innovate. In order for it to remain a powerful tool and improve your business, it’s vital that, while the landscape might be changing, it remains a part of the communication mix.

Having a clear and consistent message should be a top priority for any business. Now that we have such a wide spectrum of channels, consistency is more difficult to manage. Conversations on social media can portray any message and once something is posted – it’s permanent. Even though it can be edited or deleted almost immediately, it’s important to remember that anything can be saved elsewhere the second you post it.

What’s just as important, if not more, is the evaluation process. It’s crucial to establish if your messages are reaching the right people, and whether or not those messages matter to your audience. This analysis will determine if communication with your customers is genuinely effective.

It seems that a balance between focusing on the power of conversation but also keeping on top of modern day communication methods could be the key to success in your business. Who knows, perhaps your next conversation will result in an idea that grasps the attention of the nation #passthepasty.

Shannon O’Brien

Account Executive