Whilst in the office earlier this week, a colleague called out to me to ask me something. I was just about to bite into my salmon sushi roll so shouted out “I’m at lunch!” ….however, this was met with laughter across the office with many thinking my response was hilarious. After all, isn’t it the norm now in PR offices up and down the country to eat lunch, whilst responding to emails, checking social media, reading the paper and speaking to someone if they walk up to your desk (don’t forget taking calls as well!)?
I started thinking about the evolution of the lunch break and where it has gone in the wonderful world of PR. When I first started working, the idea of eating lunch at your office desk was a big no. We took actual lunch breaks, frequented nearby cafes with colleagues and friends or went for a walk around the local area, looked in some shops or ran errands. What was even better, back in the good old days, PRs went to lunch with clients and journalists! Often given the opportunity to visit amazing restaurants, these lunches were highly desirable and enjoyable, whilst writing copious notes and taking part in the conversation.
Oh how times have changed. Having spoken to a national freelance journalist contact, I even asked his take on the whole situation, thinking perhaps that my observation on the whole situation was unsual. He said that he hardly gets taken out to lunch anymore, but if he is invited out its more for coffees and a quick bite. Where did it all go …..?
Whilst some would argue that it’s all down to budget constraints and that it’s no longer a ‘must’ in the world of PR, others might say that we have all become so busy that neither clients nor journalists have the time to spend 3-4 hours attending a lunch meeting and it’s far more productive and better use of limited hours to either chat on the phone or via email.
There has been plenty of research over the years stressing the importance of eating away from your desk, and if that’s not possible getting up at lunch time, and going to grab a coffee or just for a walk to get some fresh air to clear your head.
There has also been plenty of good research showing that face to face meetings can be far more productive overall than email conversations
So I think it is time for a new approach – or perhaps back to the old approach – to lunch time dining and perhaps meetings between PR people and journalists.