The PRSSA 2011 national conference invited Timothy Howard, a communication professor at California State University, to speak as the conference’s first key note speaker. In the business world professionals must display some level of emotional intelligence; Professor Howard explained how to specifically translate to public relations. First, he introduced a quote from Charles Darwin, “It is no the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligence, but the most responsive to change.”

Times change. Fifty years ago, public relations practitioners did not have to worry about maintaining a presence online through social media and blogs. Now company owners “give up” some of the control of information about their companies. These CEOs don’t really have a choice in the matter, Twitter has made it possible to contact big businesses and receive a brief reply. Sometimes these tweets are from consumers who want to know they are being heard.

With in the last two weeks I went over to fill my gas tank and drove by a sign that said Buffalo Wild Wings, I could barley contain my excitement! I got hooked on their restaurant in Vancouver, WA when I went home for the summer but coming back to school (in Utah) I have not found a place that measures up. So I started sharing the news with my friends. They start asking me questions, having no answers for them but a deep passion for wings, I go online to find them. First, I find an article in The Daily Herald titled Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant chain chooses Lehi for launch keep in mind this article was written April 30th. Encouraged, I find myself on their web page, looking at when this location will open because this information was not given in the article. The problem is this location is not listed as an open location or a location to open. In fact there is no word of a location in Utah. Like any public relations student I tweet them my question with a link to the article. I have still not heard anything and all I want to know is when this location will open their doors. Before I tweeted my friend wrote on their Facebook wall looking for answers and they deleted his comment.

Charles Darwin’s quote applies in this situation. As a consumer I just want to know that there is someone at the big companies trying to listen. I realize the volume of messages can become overwhelming and maybe my message got lost in the mass of messages. If that is the case, I apologize. This is not the 1950s. As a modern public relations practitioner we must be confident and timely in conversations with our consumers. We also need to find places where our consumers are talking about our company so they know that we are listening and concerned with their problems. To accomplish this public relations departments must be listening on the channels their consumers are talking. This experience has made me realize that part of emotional intelligence is mostly knowing when and where to LISTEN.

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