Get Real in 2012: The Secret Longings of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
By Robert J. Geline, President, 144 Media
For some time, I have sensed that the more technology is empowering us with the ability to communicate virtually anything to anyone and everyone at any time, the more the digital age is taking the personal touch out of communications and that something important is being lost as a result.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that the Internet is a beast that needs taming in the name of humanity. I recognize full well that the digital domain is fertile ground for moving human relations and civilization forward in wondrous ways. Accordingly, I would ask that the digerati hold their fire.
Nor am I suggesting there is anything revelatory here. The tug of war between technology and humanity is an often-visited theme. I am simply suggesting that as a species, we find sitting around an actual camp fire and shooting the breeze more fulfilling than watching the Yule Log burn on HD-TV, and that it would be too bad to see the real flames go out.
While the evidence is admittedly anecdotal, a recent list of New Year’s resolutions by PR professionals compiled by Andrew Cross of Walker Sands Communications published in PR Daily seems to indicate my perceptions are shared, at least by some. The list reveals a yearning to get away from technology and put the human contact back in the communications business. It’s an old school “less is more” attitude about technology that I find, if nothing else, refreshing in a culture that increasingly worships digital dexterity as the Holy Grail of competence.
First on the list of resolutions was “Pitching the Media the Old Fashioned Way.”
The resolver in this case was Michael Emerton, founding partner of BridgeView Marketing, who said he would make it his business to “get a new ribbon for my antique Underwood Typewriter” to facilitate pecking out actual paper and ink pitches to the media. “No links, no social media and no video. Just a well-written idea of a story for their readers” delivered in an envelope with a stamp on it by the U.S. Post Office. I suggest that even the most flack-averse journalist will appreciate the approach.
Next on the list was “Meeting the Media.” John McLaughlin, an account executive at Jones Public Relations, resolved to meet one new beat reporter and an editor every month, noting that the effort to meet people in person would net 24 great new contacts over the course of the year. No Facebook friending, Twitter following or LinkedIning for Mr. McLaughlin. He’s going to get out there and get face to face with people. Why? I suspect his gut is telling him things work better that way, and he’s decided to listen.
The third listed resolution was “Reading More of the Greats—from Dickens to Solis” submitted by Raegan Gillette, account coordinator at Anson-Stoner, Inc.
While reading the classics can be done via e-book and not necessarily hard cover texts, I’d suggest that Ms. Gillette is communicating a yearning to get in touch with some of the original storytelling greats and the richness of their work that you just can’t get in 140 characters or less.
The rest of the list includes “Becoming More Active in Real Life,” “Unplugging Regularly” and “Attending More Industry Events,” all of which seem to repeat the intention to seek more human as opposed to electronic contact in the New Year.
While statistical evidence teaches us that the resolvers will have pretty much broken these resolutions by the end of January, I applaud their intent and suggest that their strivings do reinforce the validity of this notion: There is still no substitute for the personal touch in effective communications.
I suspect that even the popular culture’s current incarnation of digital dynamo as heroine, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” would agree.
Robert Geline is President of 144 Media LLC (www.144media.com), a New York consulting organization that specializes in media coaching, message strategy and presentation performance enhancement.144 Media clients benefit from Bob’s decade of coaching experience and his perspective as an Emmy-winning network journalist and former national newsmagazine correspondent and editor.