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The value of listening and empathy in PR

By Michelle Heatherly

PRWeb asked me not too long ago what the greatest lesson I’ve learned since working in PR. My response was in PR, I've learned that developing and maintaining relationships is key, along with doing your homework and listening.

Key word here: listening. Take it a step further: empathy. Merriam-Webster Online defines empathy as “the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else's feelings.” You don’t always have to agree with people to understand where they are coming from, hear what they have to say and appreciate their opinions.

The more I think about it, I believe that this PR lesson I’ve learned is applicable to life on a much broader scale. Not only do reporters and clients value these considerations in interactions with you, but so do your friends, family, acquaintances and any other people whose paths you cross on a daily basis. In order for any relationship to work, it has to be a mutually beneficial encounter, based on communication and trust – mutually beneficial as in both parties bring value and receive it.

When I first started working at Axia Public Relations, I was asked if I could have one superhero power, what would it be? My answer was that I would like two: The first would be the ability to cure diseases and ailments; the second would be empathy.

I think we all have empathy, to an extent, but could all sharpen, strengthen and develop this skill, which would give us much better insight and greater intuition toward others. Approach people thoughtfully. Empathize. You may not always agree with everyone – people have unique perspectives and positions – but they will appreciate you for trying to understand their views and for meeting them halfway. People value respect, and are much more likely to reciprocate it when they receive it first.

People want to feel like they are heard, understood, valued and belong. They react well to being treated well, plain and simple, which means taking a sincere and genuine interest in them. This is a good takeaway for life in general, not just the PR biz.

Michelle-Heatherly-axia-prPreviously the director of client engagement for Axia Public Relations, Michelle Heatherly’s worked to integrate clients into the firm and to ensure they are personally delighted and their expectations are exceeded. Her personal mission is to live a life that matters and to inspire others to do the same..

Topics: public relations, PR tips

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