January 21, 2015
/ by Allen Mireles
The other day a Facebook friend posted the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” and it struck a chord. As with so many truisms, this one has proven true for me over and over again—especially in my work in marketing and public relations.
It just makes sense. Relationship building is one of the foundations of public relations and being cordial, respectful, kind and even generous draws people to you and encourages them to listen to your point of view. Or, to give you the benefit of the doubt. Or, the story opportunity. Or, the next fabulous new client.
It’s really easy to lose sight of this. Today, life feels heavy with pressure and people are stressed, anxious and often frustrated. You see it in traffic, in online conversations and in face-to-face interactions. I’ve seen a volunteer committee chairman use hostility and sarcasm to the point where he has driven members away and limited the group’s ability to do what it has committed to do for the organization.
And, as corny as the honey versus vinegar truism sounds, it really is basic human nature. We deal with the “vinegar people” and “honey people” every day. Which ones do you find you want to work with and help out?
Our PRSA chapter and Press Club held a panel discussion recently. Members of the media and PR professionals filled the room, eager to compare notes on best practices for working together. Among the topics discussed were how social media and digital tools have changed the way we work with each other. Members of the media described how deadlines have vanished with the need to be able to break news quickly, but accurately, in online social networks.
According to the panelists, strong professional relationships have never been more important—especially with regard to breaking news stories. Panelists speaking from the PR perspective described their understanding of the media’s need for immediacy and accuracy but reminded us of their obligation to represent their organization and get approval from stakeholders before going public.
Panelists from the media described the value of being able to trust a PR professional to provide essential information quickly and to demonstrate fairness wherever possible.
One of the media panelists talked about how difficult it is for them to attend press conferences and how much she values being able to follow up and get quotes or information from her contact when it works for her schedule. She stressed the value of flexibility from both media and sources.
And then here’s where the honey versus vinegar resurfaced: one audience member stood up and described how she has made it a practice to visit each of the media outlets during slower points in the day to meet face to face. She brings cookies or other snacks and just spends a few minutes making introductions, not only to the people who show up in a byline or on-camera, but to the other members of the team who play integral parts in the development of the news.
We laughed, but we all made mental notes. Note to self: bring these people snacks, show up when it works for them, meet the people behind the scenes, listen to their stories. Use the honey, not the vinegar.
The caveat in all of this? Most of us also work online with contacts across the country and often across the globe. We may not have the ability to grab snacks and just show up for a casual, friendly face-to-face visit. We can, however, do the next best thing and use virtual forms of honey.
Going forward, we can, each of us, make a daily decision not to be a “vinegar person.” We can reach out using digital tools, thoughtfully consume content shared by our networks, listen and comment and recommend their work to others.
In the end? It’s a choice. Try the honey. See what that yields.
What does PR stand for? Check out Brian Solis’ free e-book to see why the answer is People and Relationships!
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