There's no need to travel

The Mark Suster piece ballers on a budget really summarizes a lot of problems with people in general, but hey, it can of course apply to PR people in some hackneyed way if I ...

The Mark Suster piece ballers on a budget really summarizes a lot of problems with people in general, but hey, it can of course apply to PR people in some hackneyed way if I want it to. Especially in the incessant need to be 'seen at everything.' The idea that if you're not at SXSW, or Pepcom, or the other Pepcom, or something or rather, you're either missing out A) by not being seen there and thus are irrelevant and B) are missing some viable industry opportunity that will further your business, mind and body in unthinkable ways.

This used to be the way I'm sure before we all had computers and IM and portable telephones, but it really isn't anymore. In the last two years I think I've got to one event. I have clients I have never met, and in one case have never even spoken to. I don't know his voice. He could be a machine that sends me money. I have no idea. I have some that I've met, had drinks with, had long phone calls with, had great, deep conversations with, and others that I know strictly business-wise and in some cases don't even speak to that much.

I don't go anywhere. People come to me. Or I talk to them via email, or phone, or I get introduced. Writers I've met in person don't email me back any more than ones I've never met. Some writers I work with all the time don't even know what I look like. 

Some say "woah, you're British!?" when we finally do talk. I'm sure there's a degree of personal bonding that happens if you meet face-to-face, but there's just as much chance they'll meet you and it'll be a totally useless meeting. In some businesses there's a great value to the in-person meeting. In PR? Sometimes.

I suppose if you have a team you want everyone to meet, by all means do, but woe betide you if some aren't going to be working on the account. I wager that you could have a perfectly good business without travelling to every single event and being at every party. Here's an exercise - imagine you're going to CES next year. It's costing you $2000.

Here's what you could do with that money:

- Spend it on a $1500 sponsorship with The Loop. It got me more business than any conference.

- Take your significant other out to a really nice restaurant.

- Get a massage.

- Take a locally-based reporter out to dinner or drinks. Make it somewhere nice. I'll follow up with a post about why this isn't bribery and you shouldn't think that that works. Pompous money-spending aside, I really do recommend not traveling as much in PR.

You don't need to be at everything. You don't need to be seen everywhere. Pitch normal stories, good products or whatever you have that they'll actually like like a normal person and your contacts will magically want to hear from you. There will of course be times when they won't, but that's not because you didn't meet up with them at X conference on Y day.

There're always going to be exceptions to this, and no doubt someone will say 'HEH, THIS TOTALLY DOESN'T MAKE SENSE, AND ," but for the most part you can and should put your time into better things than forcing yourself to be in every single room with an open bar and a mediocre buffet. Obviously if you really like doing these things - if they make you feel special and wanted and happy - then that's a big reason to go. I don't want anyone to not feel happy or not feel complete. But if you're going in the hopes that you'll become exponentially better, just read a few books instead and spend some time with your family.

This also isn't to say that there's not a huge amount of value in travelling for the sake of personal growth. I'm just saying that for business, there's not always the biggest point. At least not for me.