It’s good to talk…
There it sits, crouched at your desk, intimidating in all its plastic-coated glory, coiled, ready to pounce at any moment… the office phone.
As 9:00am hits, paranoia sweeps up and down PR and marketing offices across the UK, certain numbers are committed to memory and received with reluctance. What new surprise could it be? A miffed client, a disgruntled stakeholder, a nagging journalist (chasing a story/copy) or, horror of horrors, a young sales rep asking if you’re happy with your stationery provider?
So often this fear of what could be waiting at the other end of the line is completely unfounded, after all we work in communications, the phone should be our friend. Over the years I have observed the art of one-on-one conversations (not the dreaded conference call, more’s the pity) has somewhat diminished, a result of the proliferation of digital alternatives.
For me, the phone is the most useful tool in my trade, a trusted ally which has helped deliver some cracking results. Whether it’s clarifying the aims and objectives of a client (emails can so often be full of ambiguity), or pitching in a piece of editorial which would have otherwise been lost in the deluge of messages which collate in an editor’s inbox on a daily basis, it’s my firm belief that when you talk to someone, you immediately establish a personal, human connection.
Anyone involved in a communications-type business should be a phone expert and, in fact, relish the opportunity to use it. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Here are a few possibilities:
‘No’ - I won’t pursue the subject further with that person
‘Go away’ - I’ll make a note not to call that person again
‘Call back later’ - This one’s pretty obvious
‘Tell me more’ - A great opportunity to communicate my subject, expertise and passion
‘I love it’ - Bingo!
There’s an old saying, ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs…’, and when working on the phone, you have to be prepared that not everything will work and not everyone will shower you with hugs and praise. But when everything falls into place you feel a real sense of achievement. Importantly, using the phone for business will give you a thick skin and a robust sense of humour!
So I say to those who shy away from that old-fashioned communications device sitting on their desk, all dusty and reactive, make it you primary communications tool (in conjunction with your digital platforms).
Here’s my rule of thumb: discuss and agree physically, confirm and verify digitally – you will soon find it’s a far more rewarding and reliable experience.
It’s good to talk, so let’s do more of it.