The mountains of Southern Arizona recently jolted me with a wake-up call on the importance of listening – a caffeine-fueled reminder from the makers of my new favorite fair trade coffee, Café Justo (www.justcoffee.org).
What does the world’s best robusto bean brew have to do with business-to-business public relations strategy? On that visit to the Arizona-Mexico border region, I was reminded that listening is the world’s most unifying common denominator. Even within communities caught in the throes of polarizing issues such as the immigration debate, a unifying call for attention to a challenging issue is something everyone can agree upon.
From the Minute Men to the illegal immigrant advocates, people throughout the immigration debate’s spectrum agreed: if only the public at-large would give the immigration issue the attention it warrants, a solution would be in the making. While the solutions envisioned differed greatly, everyone in Southern Arizona agreed that listening could get us closer to a solution, and that getting the story told was critical to moving forward.
As professional communicators, we are charged with reaching audiences with “our” (or our clients’) side of many different types of business and economic stories. Consider: how have you woven listening into your communications strategy?
- Have you listened in all relevant social media forums?
- Have you listened to traditional sources of news?
- Have you listened individually to prospects and influencers?
- Have you listened “live,” sought to experience current issues at their source?
As I walked around the border region and talked one-on-one with people on all sides of the immigration debate, I realized how important the human factor is in today’s world. Regardless of how sophisticated our online listening tools become, there will always be value in a well-rounded listening program that includes a human analysis of the issues at-hand.
How have you listened to your important audiences today?
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