Cultivating Relationships – Virtually

People communicate and interact today more so than ever before. Email, Facebook and Twitter allow people to instantly connect. But is it possible for people to collaborate and, most importantly, succeed without ever meeting in real life (or “I.R.L.” as they say on the internet)?

Writer Jian DeLeon says it’s quite possible. In early 2009, DeLeon sent story pitches from Washington, DC to the Los Angeles editors of Valet, an independently-published lifestyle website that delivers, in its words, “all the style and substance of a contemporary men’s magazine without all those irritating subscription cards.” By that summer, DeLeon had pestered Valet editor Cory Ohlendorf over email enough to get his first article – a quick, 150-word review of a sharp-looking, button-down shirt – published on the site.

The rest is history. DeLeon became a regular contributor to Valet, covering new products, stores, and events. At times, PR professionals and the designers themselves would pitch him and this is done almost entirely virtually.

“It becomes a long email chain of files, photos, and drafts,” said DeLeon. “The thing that’s great about Valet is readers can email the authors of articles directly. So you can imagine the avenues of communication that opens up …  and the amount of spam I get.” DeLeon also is routinely contacted via Twitter and Facebook. He describes Facebook as being more personable, while Twitter is more effective.

And it’s not just the designers and PR professionals with whom DeLeon has an exclusively virtual relationship. It was a full year into writing for Valet before he even laid eyes on editor Ohlendorf, during New York’s Fashion Week.

DeLeon’s story isn’t particularly unique. Most people today rely on virtual relationships to get their message across and their goals met. Even the interview for this blog post took place over Google’s g-chat.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Webtreats.

Authored by Tom Hynes, PR Newswire’s director of blogger relations.

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