The Power of the Spoken Word

Recently I crossed over to the "other side" and played the role of journalist on evenings and weekends while keeping up with my PR life during the day.  Suddenly I was the person looking for just the right resources to contribute to my article so I could tell the story in just the right way.  If I were to name one major thing that I learned during the whole process it would be this: we must never underestimate the power of the spoken word.

While writing my article, no matter how much information I had already received over email, it was not until I spoke with each source over the phone that their stories really came to life.  It was their spoken words -- hearing their stories and engaging in an interview process by speaking, not typing -- that allowed me to tell their stories in the most compelling way.

So now my question is, how do we make sure the spoken word is not overlooked as email, text messaging and social networks become ever more pervasive? And further, how do we use online communication to foster more face-face interaction?  One of the companies I'm working with now, Eventbrite, is helping people use online communication to organize in-person events.  Social media is the tool, while the ultimate goal is face-to-face interaction.  Brian Solis talks about this convergence of offline and online as well. He writes the following:

"We’re forging new and relevant links online. It’s the metamorphosis from online to offline that validates and certifies connections and symbolizes true opportunity to develop genuine relationships."

Social media makes it SO easy to collaborate via keyboard, but everything we type is a slightly diluted version of what is said, seen and experienced.  We need to use writing to tell our stories, but we should also look to that writing, or written correspondence, as a means of bringing people together to talk about the stories and keep the conversation going.  Whether it's through events, phone conversations, radio, or good-old-fashioned house calls, we should build on our online communication by taking it offline.  And then keep the cycle going: online, to offline, to online, and back again.  That's called a relationship, and if your story creates a relationship, that's good storytelling.

I welcome your thoughts, and feel free to pick up the phone; "it's that black thing on your desk," as my boss would say.

- Contributed by Susan Wise.  Call her at 650.646.3268.