A Reflection: The Power of Listening

February 24th 2015

Fast Company recently published a powerful article by Art Markman on how to become a better listener. Entitled “How One Simple Change Can Make You a Better Listener,” the opening paragraph states “listening is a skill that can make you a better colleague and a more effective leader,” and in our case, improve our media relations skills.

Markman advises us to “stop focusing on what you’ll say next.” This can be a very confusing concept for a PR professional who strategizes on the right pitch for specific editors and tries to be prepped withanswers for any possible question.

Of course, it is imperative to be prepared when reaching out to media surrounding a specific story, breaking news, etc. However, if we heed Markman’s advice on taking the time to listen, we’ll uncover important cues from the media we speak to on a regular basis – how they like to be pitched, new trendsthey are looking for and when to just sit back and let them talk. By truly listening to all feedback – both the good and the bad – you will become a trusted source for story ideas.

Markman concludes his story with this final piece of advice: “Ultimately, the ability to extract what people mean from a conversation is one of the most important tools of any leader.”

In today’s fast-paced media culture and ever-evolving digital platforms, it can feel as though listening is in danger of becoming a lost art. By taking a step back and taking the time to hear what our peers have to say, we will become more effective PR professionals, both in our media interactions and in working with colleagues and clients.

By Kori Kalbacher, Director, Media Specialists

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