As a public relations major, I have studied and learned many important lessons about strategic communication. I have come to understand the importance of research, to appreciate transparency and to value tactful writing. Furthermore, I have developed sincere appreciation for my professors’ intelligence, fellow students’ dedication and group projects where everyone has an iPhone (thank you, iMessage).
My studies have revolved around becoming an effective communicator and developing skills to handle any situation that deals with interpersonal interaction. Therefore, I feel proficient to read situations and communicate accordingly.
However, there is one area of communication that continually stumps and bewilders my peers and me. It almost seems the more I study this topic, the less I know. Its ambiguous nature is what draws me in and yet, continually frustrates me.
What’s the subject some may ask? Dating. And how does one accurately communicate their interest?
My parents keep telling me the trick to successful dating and communication is to be kind and say thank you, but that just seems too old school. After all, they didn’t grow up in the communicative age of Snapchat and texting, which are the stepping stones of millennial relationships, so what do they know?
Despite living in Provo, Utah, a young and vibrant town full of dating opportunities, the majority of young adults are single and frustrated. However, are they the ones to blame for this dating hindrance?
Growing up in a technology-reliant society, young adults have reconstructed dating to become a vague paradigm of admiration and distance.
Similar to the PR field, young adults have come to heavily rely on technological tactics to convey interest or attention (e.g., messaging someone on Facebook or adding someone on Snapchat). However, at times these submissive strategies can result in miscommunication or confusion.
Nonetheless, understanding social and technological norms can help us become better communicators in the PR and dating world, as it eliminates ambiguity from our communication and (hopefully) diminishes singleness among the young adult population.
Among Brigham Young University students, there is one prominent social norm that is identified as a critical component for a relationship to flourish: the post-date text or what is better known as the PDT.
The PDT is defined as a follow-up “thank you” text that girls are to send to guys after they are taken on a date. Though it appears as a simple gesture, BYU males say that receiving a PDT underwrites flirtatious signals and insures the possibility of a second date.
BYU advertising student Nick Sorensen shares that a PDT is an act of gratitude, demonstrating that the girl had a good time on the date.
He says, “Though it’s not a mandatory action, it’s a nice to gesture to receive. A PDT provides me feedback, and receiving one shows me that she’s interested and would want to go out again.”
Psychology Today explains that texting among 17-25-year-olds is a primary element to the development of young adult relationships, validating that nonverbal communication can cultivate a new relationship.
Conversely, females say the social norm should not be expected of them, arguing that expressing gratitude verbally while on the date should be a substantial demonstration of their interest.
BYU public relations student Joann Distler says, “I believe the task is redundant and impersonal, but I do it to give my date validation.”
So, is a PDT important because it demonstrates interest or because it provides validation?
BYU graduate Tyler Cook says, “The reality is, men have insecurities and we don’t want to be rejected. Receiving a post-date text prods us along and gives us the confirmation and courage we need to take girls out again.”
However, if a girl doesn’t send a post-date text, will that take her out of the running for date number two? BYU finance student Nate Sorensen says, “It’s not a black and white rule, I would still ask a girl out again if I felt the date went well. That being said, society has made the PDT a standard that allows guys to gauge girls’ feelings.”
Analyzing this social norm unveils that though a simple gesture will not make or break a potential connection, it has the power to build and progress relationships.
Similarly in the public relations fields, the art of “following up” with clients and associates builds and strengthens effective partnerships. A proper follow-up demonstrates respect, maturity, consideration and interest.
According to the The New York Times, following up after an interview leaves a memorable impression on prospective employers. Doing so exhibits attentive behavior, understanding of the company and professionalism.
BYU public relations professor Pamela Brubaker states that a simple “thank you” can go a long way. She shares that she recently received a thank you note from a recent applicant of the PR program and was immediately impressed. Though her decision to accept the student into the program had already been made, the simple note accentuated the student’s good character and vast potential.
Though the dating world appears to be consistently changing and evermore ambiguous, the roots of effective dating have remained the same. The foundation of any reputable relationship, professionally or personally, is composed of respect and consideration. By following up with clients or dates, one demonstrates thoughtfulness and in turn will reap worthy results.
Effective communication, in the dating or PR world, will be a subject that is ever changing, constantly boggling the minds of society with new tricks and tips. However, maybe it’s not as complicated as young adults make it. Simply by being kind and saying thank you — even with a PDT – young adults can eventually get the relationship they are hoping for.
Shoot, my parents were right after all. Don’t let them know I said that.
Since a young age, I have been fascinated with the power of effective communication and strategic planning. Growing up in an entrepreneurial home, I have witnessed stumbles, triumphs and countless steps in between. I found those transitional steps to be greatest building blocks to my academic and professional career, as they have shown me that success isn’t given, it’s earned; victory isn’t spontaneous, it’s planned; and teamwork isn’t optional, it’s essential. I appreciate the public relations field as it enables me to pursue business aspirations through building and sustaining relationships with others, which I consider to be the most imperative purpose in my life. Since I have begun studying public relations, I consider my life to be one huge group project- full of plot-twists, rough drafts and awarding challenges- I couldn’t love it more.