March 22, 2017 Yael Hart

The Phone Line is Dead. PR in the Digital Age

Ring ring… Hello? Hell-no! While everyone you know probably owns a phone, when’s the last time you used your phone to actually call one of your friends/colleagues/acquaintances? For better or worse, and for reasons that I can’t even really communicate, I’m not the biggest fan of talking on the phone. But, thankfully, unless I’m catching up with my family or friends overseas, I don’t really need to use my phone for actual phone calls (sorry, Alexander Graham Bell). And, I’m also lucky enough to work in a field that may very well have deep roots in its connection to the old landline, but has moved away from the phone as its main mode of communication.

We’ve come a long way from traditional PR. In today’s ‘digital age’, it’s all done online. We are in touch with reporters via email, and aim to get our clients covered in online publications of top tier media outlets (and outlets that don’t even have a print edition) instead of print publications. But, while some (including myself) may breathe a sigh of relief that we no longer have to “smile and dial,” it’s not as easy as it might sound.

Here are a few tips for getting your message across without having to raise your “voice”:

Construct the perfect email subject line

When you call a journalist, you know who you are speaking with and that they are present in the conversation, and you can often get a pretty quick response. However, when you send an email, you don’t even know if they received it, let alone actually opened it. Your perfectly written email could just be floating around in cyberspace. People are bombarded with emails every day, so you have to put some effort into creating a catchy and relevant subject line to get your email opened (and hopefully read). Feel free to get creative, but don’t be deceptive (we all hate click bait) – what’s in the subject should be elaborated on in the email itself.

Keep it short and sweet

People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and, for better or worse, people rarely read an entire email, article or book word for word – we’ve mastered the art of skimming. Journalists don’t have time to read a novel of an email – get to the point, and do it quickly. Hopefully you have piqued their interest, and they will come to you for additional information.

Put social media to use

Many companies start Twitter and Facebook pages just for the sake of having them. However, they do not utilize them to their full potential. Social media creates a two-way communication channel, which, if used properly, can be extremely beneficial. For example, you can reach out to reporters, potential clients and influencers. Social media creates a somewhat informal platform even when dealing with more formal business matters.

While the internet isn’t a new phenomenon, it doesn’t mean that we know all of the ins and outs perfectly. However, the more we know, the more we can use it to our advantage. Like it or not, the phone is dead. It’s time for PR professionals to take their communications online to have the greatest effectiveness.