Digital Tools Still Need a Human Touch

By Kelsey Balimtas and Rachel White

While technology is driving change in our industry, there’s still no substitute for relationship building. Our time spent at the Convergence in Communications Conference (3C15) on March 6 illustrated that a human touch is necessary for communicators to effectively conduct research, establish and maintain partnerships, and design communication strategies.

Play Well with Others

To establish and maintain partnerships, it is crucial to understand that—ultimately—people drive relationships and create content. Knowing what partners care about and value is critical for building relationships. It’s also important to give credit where credit is due. Everyone has an ego, which means everyone likes seeing their name in print (said Krista Germano from NetApp, and Don Goldberg from Bluetext). When someone sees their name in an article, they’re more likely to share the piece with their followers. When a partner shares your content, it gives you access to a new audience. There is power in collaboration.

Dig Deeper

There are algorithms to determine just about anything now. Want to find top tweeters? There’s a tool for that. Looking for LinkedIn influencers? Here’s an app that can help! Despite these shortcuts, you will never be as successful as when you conduct organic searches. Adrienne Sheares from Cision agreed that digital tools can jump-start online influencer research, but manual searches are crucial for success. Combining digital and manual research methods can help communicators create substantial and dynamic outreach lists.

Pay Attention to Your Audience

It’s easy to be swept up in quantitative data. They are easy to visualize—as charts, graphs, and infographics, just to name a few—and reaffirm the fact that statistics are powerful. However, equally as important (if not more so) are qualitative data. In a world where a bad Yelp review can make or break a business, keeping customers happy is crucial. The best way to determine how a customer feels is to monitor and interact with them in real-time. Frank Eliason, global director of customer experience at Citi and 3C15 keynote speaker, said it best: “You have to LISTEN to customers to find out what is wrong and make it right.”

Put “Relations” in “Media Relations”

The new media panelists talked about telling stories across multiple platforms. They also discussed how communications professionals need to understand that all newsrooms are digital and move quickly. But the key lesson was, “Know what we do, know what information is valuable for our audiences.” Hager Sharp’s Debra Silimeo put it this way: “New tools are constantly being introduced. But the value of a good story, and a good relationship with the media, is constant.”

Tell a Story

Metrics don’t tell a story by themselves and charts and graphs can only go so far. It’s up to people to transform numbers into insights. From social media analytics to website analytics, it is important for communicators to combine their understanding of an organization with the data in order to fully understand what the metrics mean. Adding the human touch to metrics allows us to tell a story with actionable insights.

This post originally appeared on Capitol Communicator.