Don’t Forget the Importance of F-to-F

The Arthur W. Page Society inducted Ketchum Chairman Emeritus Dave Drobis into its hall of fame today. That’s no mean feat considering the Society invites only the best and brightest of the industry to become members, and inducts only the creme de la creme into its hall.

In his lunchtime remarks, Drobis reflected on his many achievements and the road he’d taken to arrive at the podium today. It was poignant and provocative at the same time.

Drobis kept returning to the importance of relationships in his career and his life.  He made the point that, amidst all the social media hoopla and its importance in B-to-B and B-to-C communications, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fundamental importance of F-to-F communications (that stands for face-to-face, says Drobis).

Drobis’s remarks are especially important considering the rise of Millenials in the workforce. We have a new generation of employees who have grown up communicating digitally and, in some cases, are less comfortable with face-to-face conversations. And, that could have a profound, long-term impact on an industry and a profession that prides itself on face-to-face contact. 

I think management development programs need to factor "face" time into their training content. For PR agencies, that would mean better preparing our people to succeed in in-person meetings with clients and the media, and suggesting less reliance on e-mail or voice mail.

I think Dave was spot on with his remarks today. I, for one, came away thinking that, instead of sending an e-mail or leaving a voice mail, it might make more sense to go the F-to-F route. That’s the way relationships have always been built. Facebook and its ilk notwithstanding, that’s the way I’d like to think business relationships will continue to be built in the future.

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