This week (18-24 March) is National Conversation Week. It might have passed me by – had it not been for a chat with Maggie Newton of Red Clematis who highlighted the topical calendar reference (so thank you). And so, it seemed fitting that as communications specialists we should be embracing the topic. Or, talking a little about it at least.
In our world of PR and communications one of our main outputs is often the written word, yet our outcomes are frequently the generation of conversations; to engage, encourage and elicit action. Indeed, one of our popular aims for clients is to create ‘talkability’.
But while we (PR practitioners) might be masters of making conversations, have we to fallen foul of neglecting to natter?
If I shift my memory back to when I first started out in PR it’s not hard to see how the digital era has impacted on our spoken word. Today, it’s all too easy (and arguably quicker) to send an email, text or comment on social media rather than pick up the phone or go see someone in person. Sometimes I stop myself from sending an email to a member of the team – when I’m sat just a few metres away – and go speak to them instead.
The advent of more flexible working could be impacting on conversations too. As a regular remote worker, I find I’m actually picking up the phone more, keen to speak to someone other than the dog (whose conversational skills are weak), but wonder if I’m an exception?
Conversations are so important. Honest and real they help to build trust. Whether that’s nurturing a relationship with a client, understanding what a journalist really wants, discussing a consumer’s experiences to gain insight, or understanding how an employee is really doing.
Yes, there are occasions when a conversation may be best replaced with an email. A busy journalist on deadline may not appreciate a call to chat through an idea I have, or a client in America might not want to be woken to discuss their latest social media results.
But we shouldn’t take time pressures or digital advances as a nod to speak less.
We need to talk – enough said.