Phone Skills—A Thing of the Past?

10.16.2013 | Christie Melby

Over the summer, while I worked at Communiqué full time, I would receive upwards of 40 emails a day, and I’m just an intern. Emails are one of the most commonly used forms of communication because we now live in a world where large amounts of information need to be shared in very little time. Everything from scheduling to pitching to advertising can be done through email. With a strong emphasis on technology and efficiency in today’s world, emails appear to be everyone’s favorite mode of communication. What does this mean for old-fashioned mediums of communication such as the telephone? Is it a device of the past that will soon be forgotten?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article discussing phone use in the world of business. Millennials, typically defined as people born between 1981 and the early 2000s, are constantly texting, messaging or emailing. Offices seem to be quieter with the constant ring of the telephone replaced by the gentle tapping of a keyboard. Some would argue that speaking on the phone is disruptive and email is not only the preferred way to communicate but also the only way they choose to converse. Kevin Castle, a 32-year-old chief technology officer at Technossus, finds his phone so bothersome that he unplugs it and places it in the closet. Is the phone that inferior to email?

Personally, I do not share the same hatred for the phone that Kevin does. Though I regularly use email and find that it is beneficial in its own way, I do think the phone offers things that emails fail to. I have always enjoyed speaking to people on the phone because it is more personal, easier to convey your message, and is more efficient when you are on a deadline.

This summer I did my first set of call downs. We had pitched a story to a large number of journalists and I was asked to follow up with them a few days later. Though I was intimidated before I began, I found that most people were direct and honest about their interest or lack thereof in the pitch, allowing me to quickly decipher what the next step would be. During this process, I reached one journalist who expressed interest, but had never received the initial email. It turns out his email address had not been updated on the website. Had I not called, we would have missed an excellent opportunity for our client.

After this experience, I realized the importance of the phone. It is easy to get wrapped up in technology and forget that the phone, a dated mode of communication, is still an effective one. After staring at a computer screen for the majority of their day, most people appreciate the personal interaction that the phone provides. It allows you to build relationships and catch errors that technology will not. Obviously, there are situations in which email is the appropriate method to use, however, phone skills should continue to be developed and practiced because the phone is a valuable tool that should be relied on and not forgotten.


Filed under: COMMUNIQUÉ PR

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