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Public Relations is a competitive industry and for agencies to succeed, they must continually hone their skills of pitching for new business.  Selecting a new PR agency is a big decision for any company and organization.  Your first decision therefore needs to be whether to pursue a prospect or not with a realistic assessment as to whether you will be able to meet their needs in terms of sector knowledge, breadth of experience, and service offering.

It is not enough to be creative in your approach to a new business pitch. You need to provide evidence of a strong track record with a high calibre team of PR experts who have the right insight to be able to deliver the client’s objectives.

Here are the key steps to securing a PR client and building a winning client partnership:

Discovery Meeting

The first step in building the client relationship and to prepare for your pitch is a discovery meeting with your prospect.  This is where you need to ask as many questions as possible to establish who they are and what their objectives and expectations are.  This is also the time when you need to start talking about budgets to help the client understand the scope of work you can deliver within that and see whether they are willing to go higher for the sake of achieving the best possible results.

Know Your Prospect

To be able to tailor your proposal to your potential new client, you need to gain a clear understanding of their current issues and needs. Search for any media coverage the brand has received, browse the client’s website and social media to learn about their perception and position in their industry. Part of knowing your prospect is also to know their competition, so ensure that you include a key competitor analysis and overview to show that you have done your market research.

Set out Your Proposed Strategy

Show the client that you are focused on maximising impact and how this will be achieved.  Include the key messaging to show that you have a clear understanding of the client’s business and how to communicate it to their various target audiences.  Demonstrate how your proposed tactics will build and enhance the overall communications strategy, backed up by the rationale for your approach.

Be Results Focused

Clients want to know about the results you can deliver for them, with a plan of the outcomes their investment in your services will provide them.  Outline the challenges you will address and the solutions you will bring to enhance their business.  Include your PR measurement approach as part of your strategy for demonstrating your agency’s long- and short-term impact on business outcomes.

 

Demonstrate Your Credentials

The most effective way to explain to a prospective client that you are the right agency for them is by summarising your credentials. Prospects do not need an extensive history of your agency. Instead highlight case studies of successful client campaigns and the impact your agency has had on their business in terms of increased sales, enhanced reputation, increased profits, and other positive outcome. This is your opportunity to shine with success stories that will impress and allow you to showcase your agency’s creativity and USPs over others.

 

Introduce the Account Team

PR is a people business, so the client needs to know who they will be working with. Humanize your pitch by introducing the dedicated account team, their roles and responsibility on the account and the key skills and experience they bring.

Practice Makes Perfect

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Run through the pitch with your team before the client presentation to test whether it flows, whether it is too long or poses more questions than it answers. Allocate the relevant team member who will be responsible for executing certain elements of the campaign to deliver their part of the presentation, as they will be better equipped to field questions on the topic.

 

Agree Budgets

The more value you put into your PR proposal, the easier it will be for you to have a realistic conversation with your new client about budgets.  Present a detailed plan with the value of the various elements of your campaign set out individually and the total at the end. Breaking your fees down empowers the client to decide on whether they may wish to prioritise specific activity if they cannot accommodate the full budget required to run your proposed campaign.

Working with a PR agency depends on a successful partnership and the pitch to any new client is the first important step in building the necessary rapport and connection to establish a strong relationship that will last and deliver results.

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