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Making a Worthy Investment: Interpersonal Relationships in PR

Posted At: April 15, 2012 12:45 PM
by Margaret Bishop

A quick hello on the elevator, a short tweet, a brief phone conversation: these are all everyday interactions that we have with colleagues, friends and clients. It is always a strength to be friendly and polite – but how deeply do you know your co-workers and clients?

Establishing and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships can be vital to PR practitioners. In order to communicate efficiently with a colleague or to best represent a client, it’s important to establish trust. In order to establish trust, it’s imperative to remember the foundation that relationships are built on.

Making an interpersonal investment in your professional network could vastly improve both your skills as a PR professional as well as a communicator. The investment model, a stem of social exchange theory*, states that the success of relationships depends on the investments made in them. These investments could be time or attention, or maybe even something along the lines of effort or disclosure. Pretty simple, right?

Developing interpersonal relationships is one of the most overlooked tasks on a PR professional’s never-ending to-do list. Get to know your colleagues; it will help your productivity and ability to work in a team. Furthermore, learning more about them may help to spark some creativity. That great local band your colleague saw perform last weekend? They could be your next fundraiser’s headliner — you’ll never know unless you ask.

Establishing trust with a client may help them to disclose a worry or sensitive information that may be crucial to your mutual goal. The more open you are with them, the more trusting they are of you. Creating or simply sustaining interpersonal relationships could move a campaign along by leaps and bounds. The importance of having a strong interpersonal relationship is clear: sometimes, this overlooked occurrence can be a “cure all, end all” to your client’s or campaign’s problem.

So the next time you’re in the elevator with a colleague or in a conference call with your client, take the next step. Ask them to share a cup of coffee with you. Become familiar with them; learn more about their interests and expertise. This will make your job not only easier, but also a pleasant learning experience.

When considering relationships, are yours worthy?

*Social exchange theory states that worth is equal to the rewards minus the costs.

References: Guerrero, L. K., Andersen, P. A., & Afifi, W. A. (2010). Close encounters, communication in relationships. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.


  1. Post comment

    Interpersonal skills can not be excluded when we are talking on the managerial skills necessary for the pharmacy students. Interpersonal skills are to be developed for the creation of good relationships in the personal life and the professional career.

  2. Post comment

    I enjoyed this post and absolutely agree that it is vital to establish a relationship with the client. I interned in Washington, D.C., this summer, and the company also stressed the importance of building relationships with the client.
    However, I found it difficult to build a relationship with the client over the phone. Email was the best mode of contact for the clients that I worked with, but I also found it difficult to build a relationship with the client via email.
    Also, what advice can you give me about strengthening client relationships as a starting employee not yet recognized in the office?
    I did get to have lunch with one of our clients this summer while I interned, and I found it was extremely beneficial to meet with them face to face. I recognize a name with a face when working for the cause and trying to meet their needs.


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