Carly Rae Jepsen put out one of the iconic songs of our time — an instant cultural phenomenon. I resented the week that, along with the rest of America, I couldn’t shake “Call Me Maybe” from my head. But eventually, beyond the flirtatious battle cry, I came to find valuable career wisdom embedded in her lyrics.
Technology has no doubt enriched our ability to work. I believe those of us in the “not quite a Baby Boomer” but “not quite a Millennial” generation have a distinct advantage, however. We didn’t grow up entrenched in the touchscreen and mobile world (even my two-year-old tries to swipe left on the TV) but we’re not so far removed from it that we can’t easily embed technology into any facet of our lives.
Younger generations might have it a bit tougher. They simply didn’t grow up where the phone was the way to get in touch with someone. Email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter — the list goes on — have a powerful ability to drive forward tasks, create records of information and allow for mass sharing. But they equally sap us of the richness of dynamic discussion and in-depth relationship building that the phone has so consistently delivered. Put this into a workplace context — especially in the communications industry — and we start to see what we’re leaving on the table. I think of small talk on the phone with a client waiting on a conference line that gave me valuable insight into their lives or to reporters we’ve been able to switch gears with when our initial pitch didn’t interest them.
Plain and simple: phone calls make things happen.
Just last month, a client of ours issued a huge media challenge — ambitious by anyone’s standards. We went after it, sending beautifully crafted pitch notes and follow-up emails. One week later: nothing. After all, why would Fortune want this small company in its exclusive network of thought leaders? Then a phone call changed everything. The editor listened intently to my pitch for a minute, and then, 30 minutes into a great conversation, the client was deemed a regular Fortune.com contributor.
I can think of countless examples of this over my 12+ years in PR. I recall another team at a past agency that was under a lot of pressure to book media meetings for a client CEO who was to be in New York City the next day, but had zero success to date. The VP rallied the team of 20-somethings. “Has anyone actually called the editors?” No response. One hour of five people picking up the phones later, and suddenly the CEO had a jam-packed day of media briefings booked.
I focus here on media relationships but this extends into relationships with vendors, partners, clients and colleagues ... in fact, our personal lives too. So, next time you’re about to hit send on an email, text or post, take a quick pause. Should you pick up the phone instead? Just maybe!