Skip to main content

PR people tend to talk a lot.

In fact, to be less polite, we can be REAL big mouths.

The more I learn about this game though, the more I realize that listening is the most important part of the profession.

Here are 4 reasons PR pros need to listen more:

  1. In the era of social media, tribes of people form in complex ways. You want to break into that tribe and get them to talk about you? You better know a) who’s who; b) what their norms of behaviour are; and c) what the dialect/language of the group is. You can’t learn this by talking – only by prolonged listening/observation.
  2. You don’t learn a thing about how you can help people by talking. PR is actually about giving before asking. And to give properly you have to observe and record the needs and wants of your targets.
  3. Listening has become easy and free. Yes, you can spend loads of money on media monitoring, or a myriad of social media monitoring sites, but you needn’t. There are a zillion free tools that will help you track what influencers are saying about you AND what they’re saying to each other.
  4. PR has a rep problem and it can be fixed with less talking. PR’s reputation problem is now a cliche. However, many elements of the overall perception can be fixed with more listening. (Think about it – PR people as spam bots, PR people as used car salesmen etc)

What do you think? Will more listening make us better AND help our rep?

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Hi Jackson,
    Listening is important indeed and this is a very good post!
    I would like to add that listening is about harnessing the conversations that are important to you / to your brand / business / sector, and extracting the information which will be helpful for you to decide how, where and when to engage with your community. Listening helps us to stay current, to find out new tendencies, to explore new professional horizons, to find new ideas, to get inspired, to figure out what your clients want as well…
    It is important to listen first and then to speak, act or react.
    Best wishes,

  • Good points Petya! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • As an independent consultant who spent a lot of time in sales training, I learned to listen not to talk. Ask questions. Get answers. This helps to figure out the client’s needs. Only then, when the prospect asks, present some ideas to help. It creates trust. Now it’s intuitive. I hope more PR consultants learn to do the same.

  • Two ears, one mouth – use them in equal proportions. That’s how PR pros best serve clients. Decades into a PR career – after ignoring a college advisor who deemed me “too quiet” to succeed in the field- I hold that listening is an even more important skill to cultivate today. There’s already more than enough meaningless chatter to go around — and people don’t always say what they mean. Skillful listening helps us get to the root of the problem or find the less than obvious opportunities. Talking may get you a client but listening retains them and best gets the job done.

  • Great post! I’m a public relations student and right now I truly just need to become a sponge to soak up all the information I can. Like many other people involved in the field of communications, I enjoy talking. However, especially right now I need to just stop and listen to learn whatever I can about public relations. But I also believe that there is a certain extent of give and take as far as communication goes because although you should be soaking up information, I think that an individual also needs to contribute to the field. As you say though, PR is in the end about meeting people’s needs, and how will you learn what people want or about them without listening?

Leave a Reply