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In addition to loving really long speeches, this idiot has not listened for years. Coincidentally, he is widely hated.

In addition to loving really long speeches, this idiot has not listened for years. Coincidentally, he is widely hated.

In PR, we talk. A lot.

We talk when we have nothing to say. We talk because we see competitors talking. We talk to practice talking.

We’ve convinced ourselves that talking IS what we do.

Its gotta stop. I’m guilty. You probably are too.

Think about the successful campaigns you’ve run.  I bet the common thread was that you listened a whole bunch more than you talked. That’s because good PR has, at its core, two important fundamentals: 1) listening for a prolonged period before, during and after talking, and 2) giving before asking.

This era, where everyone is a publisher, has exacerbated the ‘PR person as incessant talker’ problem. This was not an inevitable outcome. In fact, today, the tools for listening are better, cheaper and easier to use than ever. This is true whether you’re a huge public organization with a deep social media team and dollars to burn on monitoring software or are a small business that can only afford free tools.   

I submit to you that, in the current era of social media/digital, the benefits that accrue to listening outweigh those that accrue to talking.

So why do we keep talking without real purpose and in ways that make us look like jackasses?

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Krista says:

    Once again, great post (and even better image) Jackson!

    Considering the volume of noise out there, it would behoove PR folks to step back and listen in order to not get lost in the shuffle. Listening for a period of time may also provide insights into how our communications (when we decide to “talk”) could be more effectively received by our intended audiences.

  • Danny Starr says:

    well for the same reason marketers don’t listen which is the same reason that people don’t listen in that we have become self-absorbed idiots that think more is the answer and louder is better.

    I’m going to stand up right now and say that 2011 for me is going to be all about listening. I have to say that in 2010, it was the big change in how I started to approach marketing and I have to say that people like Chris Brogan and Julien Smith really got me thinking down that road and since then, it’s been paying huge dividends in my marketing work. Here’s why.

    Although social media has this “fishbowl” thing going on the truth is that the more people get on social media, the more you can say that it begins to mirror what happens outside of social media. Look at all that “twitter predictions” stuff you see. While that’s a bit wonky, I think the idea is not surprising. What social media really strikes me as being best for is listening and get this one.

    I started working for a company that does cloud-based video monitoring for home and small business. Jax, I should send you one soon for Fait Ici if you want to give it a run. Anyways, I set up listening devices for “home security” and the like and realized pretty soon that nobody is out there going “gee, I wish I had better home security”… in fact, it’s the rest of my industry shout-casting on those terms.

    I then started listening for “stolen” and “broken into” and what do you know… I find REAL people talking about REAL situations. The truth is that most people don’t realize they need what I’m selling until it’s too late. Sure I have a strategy for getting to them before the problem and that’s the basis of my content strategy but much of my social media strategy is now starting to form towards listening for that mention about something being broken into or stolen and then offering a human response of “I’m sorry”.

    In the end. I’m going to turn this company into the most human, social and compassionate company in my vertical and socialize AROUND my competition who have been in market for year. And this call came about because I stopped thinking about what message I wanted to broadcast and started listening to what other people wanted to hear.

  • Krista: Glad you liked the post and image. Thanks for the comment.

    Dan: Sounds like you’ve got a pretty solid resolution for 2011. Sounds like a good product and company and that listening will be a beneficial activity in a business context. Thanks for sharing the example.

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