Business Social Media

Are we hiding behind email? A new study shows young people prefer emailing clients to calling

A recent post on Young Entrepreneur quoted a survey showing that young entrepreneurs prefer using email in business.

It was found that when going after clients the rate of phone use drops by 30% for entrepreneurs in their 20’s compared to their counterparts in their 40’s.

Are we hiding behind our email or is it simply an evolution in the way our generation prefers to do business?

Growing up in a pure Internet social network, many young people getting out of college today probably consider it the norm to communicate through Web 2.0 tech and instant messages rather than an in-person meetings or phone calls. We all grew up socializing on instant messenger clients outside of our regular school day. We ran Xangas and blogs for our friends to keep up with our daily actions. We even got the benefit of Facebook and Twitter just before graduating, so that even when we were busy finishing up classes and getting a job, there was always a social network online for us.

Whether it is this upbringing or not, I realize in business that I prefer to email first and call later. In an email, I feel like I can fully introduce myself and establish a rapport without interrupting someone’s day or badgering them. Once intros are aside, I can move on to the phone.It would seem like our first instinct would be emailing others. In that way, I don’t fully rely on email as my only form of communication.

Does our Internet-first nature make us bad business people?

The study points out that face-to-face meetings are more successful in business and that email is slightly less effective–20 percent less–than these face-to-face meetings.

I don’t personally believe that preferring to communicate through email is that detrimental to business. In sales, one might argue that phone time is the best way to close a deal, but in other business functions, email can certainly be more productive because of the multitasking and less intrusive approach. Email has caught on the primary communication tool for business, so barring getting caught in the spam filter, I feel like it is the most effective way to communicate with business associates and clients throughout my day.

I can email seven people in the time it might take me to make one phone call, so by using email, I manage my time better and get more messages across to others. When a matter is urgent or a relationship is there, I can also jump on the line and use the phone.

If you are about to break into the world of business, think about your own use of email over the phone. If you are a completely email-centric person and use it as a crutch, you should make an effort to build up your skills on the phone. Even if you do think email is a more effective way of communicating–as I do–you have to keep in mind that your bosses and superiors will most likely be of the generation that prefers to go to the phones more often. They will want to see that you are able and willing to handle the phone side of business in addition to your tidy inbox.

Social Media

Public Relations 101: Don’t be lazy

Not to offend anyone who was caught in the crossfire of Wired’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson’s backlash recently, but one of the most important rules of media relations is knowing your target journalist and tailoring your message to their outlet/beat.

Anderson recently posted the email addresses of anyone who had emailed him as editor-in-chief rather than trying to find the correct beat writer or editor at Wired to contact. Many of the offenders had, unfortunately, purchased his email address from a list service of people to contact for their industry or freelance service–which is unfortunate considering his email is publicly available. It is horrible that list services charge just to compile a list for you.

It’s part of a growing problem in the industry that journalists are getting more and more mail since they don’t have what Godin describes as the “friction” of adding a stamp. An email is free to send and requires no commitment other than one click of the Send button, so spammers and ill-advised public relations professionals can send hundreds of emails and find themselves on the naughty list of many an editor.

The moral of the story: Don’t be lazy!

While Chris Anderson certainly went a little extreme by posting the email addresses and may have puzzled many PR professionals while being championed by journalists, the easiest way to avoid getting on anyone’s bad side is to do your homework and develop your own mailing lists from scratch.

Having a personal relationship is the best way to have any sort of profitable connection with a journalist. Even if your first email message is just an introduction about your company/business and a request to keep them in the loop, that is a better email to send their way than including them in a blanket pitch that may or may not be directed to the right person. Irresponsibility damages the relationship journalists have with public relations professionals–and hurts public relations as an industry.

If you can avoid it, try not to send out anything besides a press release update to a mass mailing list. Personal emails make a much better impression and can be tailored for each individual outlet and journalist based on your relationship. The most successful PR professionals are able to use their relationships and connection with journalists to keep them informed–no spin required.

Keep that in mind when you are starting up a new business or developing a new media list for a client. Doing your homework pays off far greater than trying to contact as many journalists as possible with little personal touch.