Boosting your EQ (Empathy Quotient) in Tech PR
The NY Times featured an interview with Dev Patnaik, author of “Wired to Care”, about the importance of developing a sense of empathy with customers. His main point is that, despite all the noise that is made about the need to innovate, an “empathy gap” – the emotional and experiential disconnect between companies and the customers they serve – is often the real stumbling block for many.
The topic got me thinking about ways to show empathy in the PR agency world.
The first step is to really care about the client’s success. Without caring, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will not be successful.
Above and beyond that, you need to get a sense of what it is like to inhabit their worlds. This may come more naturally for those who have worked on the client side in PR, or have worked in other roles in industry (shameless plug, one of our best practices at Fusion PR is to hire people like these).
It means truly tuning into the conversations during briefings and resisting the temptation to multi task. It means observing clients “in the wild” by attending trade shows and other customer events, watching the demos, seeing how they engage with their customers and listening to the questions they get.
It means sometimes attending clients’ internal meetings, e.g. sales meetings are a great forum for understanding the marketplace realities that customers face. It means getting first-hand experience with their products where possible, and talking to friends who work in industry and are familiar with your client’s market space to get their take of “the word on the street”. It means becoming familiar with how your clients get info and actually reading complete articles that are relevant. Most important, it means being on the same page with clients in terms of goal setting and how they view success.
If this sounds too hard, or you think it will take too much time away from other activities, remember the goal is simply not to just to enjoy koombaya moments with clients (although that is a beautiful thing too, of course). In learning about your clients and the worlds they inhabit, you will actually do a better job because this inevitably leads to ideas that you can take to your other important customers, the media.
For an expanded version of this post, please see Flack’s Revenge
SteveFebruary 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm
Bob has really hit something here. I think it’s very important to get as close to your clients as you possibly can. And that inevitably means getting involved in as many aspects, at least as an observer, as possible.