In a digital age, there is no denying that our relationships are deteriorating. There has been a major shift away from verbal communication to texts, video messages, chats, social media messaging, and facetime and with this shift comes both negative and positive consequences. In an industry that places such a strong emphasis on the formation of true and solid relationships, it is important to acknowledge that “soft skills” are the new sought after traits. These skills rely on communication, empathy, positivity, humilty and so forth. In order to build relationships in an age that is predominantly tech-based, these skills play a major factor in the work that we do.
Although there are numerous perspectives on how to build these relationships, there first needs to be a distinct line drawn between two PR buzzwords. For both new and old PR pros, the terms “connection” and “relationship” have been used interchangeably at some time or another. However, these two terms are distinctly different and have two distinctly different definitions of what it means to build bonds with clients or brands.
The term “connection” refers to the initial stages of building a relationship. This doesn’t mean that there is a relationship already formed or solidified. This is the stage where these “soft skills” come into play. By utilizing these traits, you can turn those in your space or network into acquaintances. It is important to note that this “connection” is more surface level. It involves likes, retweets, shares, and follows in order to make these initial interactions. It is the initial encounter that you share with others and the initial actions you take to build that encounter into a relationship.
On the other hand, the term “relationship” is a fostering of these initial “connections.” This term comes with the idea of this higher-level “connection” being transactional, meaning you are offering impactful information to each other through collaborations, features, referrals, guest posting, etc. This level is not always reached and this can be directly attributed to those initial “connections.” If you move past the surface level encounters in the “connection” phase and then move into offering more substance and influence to your client, users, followers, or brands, that is when you strike gold with a strong “relationship.”
With meaningful relationships becoming virtually nonexistent, it is essential to recognize the weight that the term “relationship” holds. It is not a term that can be interchangeable, and quite frankly, it is not a term that should be used lightly.
In the PR space, building strong relationships with clients does not happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and impact in order to move past the initial “connection” phase and offer each other meaningful transactions and an overall meaningful relationship. It is this idea of fostering “connections” in order to build “relationships” that is the foundation of PR and journalism alike.
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