It has been said that ‘Life is a pitch.’ For many PR professionals, nothing beats the adrenaline rush that accompanies new RFPs (Request For Proposals), with their attendant brainstorming sessions, creative debates and final exciting delivery… all fueled by copious amounts of caffeine!
Formulating and delivering a winning presentation to potential clients is a major aspect of what a PR professional does. With that in mind, here are the five steps I have outlined for that all-important process:
Step 1: The idea: Think Big
Once you receive your brief, you need to formulate a strategy that will successfully highlight your potential client to the public. Various components can be incorporated, such as creation of a brand identity, staging of unique events, thought leader positioning and social media activation. Brainstorming the concept is an important part of your planning. Your big idea should have a ‘base,’ meaning it must be strong enough to be disseminated meaningfully to your proposed audience. To establish your base, spend time visiting your client’s website to understand their vision and mission. Undertake extensive industry research to ensure your campaign is unique and one that will catch their eye.
Step 2: The Execution: Time is ticking
The creative brainstorming sessions and planning meetings typically involve teams being split up to generate different ideas and angles, thereby creating a number of themes and options. This process often take up the lion’s share in meeting the proposal timeline, meaning that there is usually a race with execution to ensure everything is finalised ahead of the deadline for sharing with the client.
Step 3: Presentation: ‘The look,’ ‘The Packaging’
Even though you might have mind-blowing concepts and ideas, you need to package them in such a way that they will sweep the client off their feet in 15-30 minutes. Your pitch should consolidate international and regional case studies, competitor analysis, strategic insights, target audiences, PR strategies, SEO analysis, media plans, communication tools, timelines and more… all contained in a concise and highly attractive presentation.
Step 4: Let’s do this – it’s showtime!
Driving to meet your potential client for the pitch you will probably feel your stomach in knots and ice water running through your veins! On arrival at the client’s HQ you may well bump into your competitors in the lobby. If this is the case, you wish them well and say: “may the best agency win!” Once it’s your turn to enter the room, you do what you came to do… deliver your carefully thought out presentation the best that you can. You harness your belief in your proposal to sway your audience, captivating them with your zeal and enthusiasm.
Step 5: It’s not over yet…
The client may not be ready to finalise their choice of agency immediately following the pitch. If this is the case, you should undertake a follow-up consultation a minimum of two to three weeks after presenting. The worst that can happen is that they will say no. The best that can happen, naturally, is that they will accept what you are offering. If this is the case, congratulations! You now need to focus on the next stage, which is building a great business partnership with your new client that that will last for years.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin