This post was prepared for Michael White’s blog nonsuchpr.
In public relations, pitching to a potential client is one of the most important things you will have to face in your role and is integral to the success of a PR agency. More often than not, the pitch is the one chance you get to really wow an organisation and tell them why YOU are the best agency for them.
Recently, a team made up of me, Jo Trimmings, Georgia Reilly and Chloe Wise were crowned the winners of Grayling’s annual competitive pitch competition. Working on a real-life brief from the agency, we were chosen out of 18 groups and made it into the top four groups selected to pitch in front of a panel of judges at Grayling North’s Leeds office.
Christine Emmingham, Director Grayling North, said ‘This year’s winning team were clear winners; they had the right strategic approach brought to life with workable ideas and creative flair.”
It was a fantastic achievement and provided practical skills and confidence we can all apply to future pitches and in our new roles outside of University. Using this experience, I have devised some top tips for new business pitching.
My top tips for being ‘pitch perfect’:
1. Form a team: Working as a team is essential and it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each member and choose accordingly who will work on the brief based on these. Does someone have a fantastic creative mind? Is someone a confident speaker and great with people? Or is someone better with presentation design and research? Drawing on key skills will result in a smoother process.
2. Understand the brief: During a new business pitching process, the organisation or individual will begin by sending you a brief summarising their business goals and what they want to achieve through their work with you. Take time to really read and comprehend this – greater understanding of the brief will lead to more realistic strategies and tactics that are sure to impress the client.
3. Do your research: It’s important not to use the brief as your only information throughout the pitch. Be aware of external issues that may be affecting the organisation including environmental issues and prevalent topics in the news. The beginning of your pitch should demonstrate a great understanding of the company and the environment that they operate within. Start with the client’s issues, aims, objectives and goals and then how you will achieve or solve them.
4. Be concise: Remember, the client isn’t in PR so don’t overwhelm them with fancy jargon and whole-world promises. Make sure you are addressing their needs and do this in a clear, concise way in a language they can understand. Show that you really understand their business.
5. Engage: Whilst you shouldn’t spend TOO much time working on the slides, make sure they are clean and not overloaded with text. They should give an overall summary of what you are discussing, but maintaining eye-contact with the client and adding information vocally is very important and demonstrates and encourages engagement.
6. Creativity and personality: It’s important to be practical and realistic with ideas based on the brief and the budget, but make sure you add some creative flair to really inspire the client. You might even want to do something different from a presentation. Is their brief heavily social media based? Why not create a video or interactive social media pitch?
Finally, stay human and ensure personalities shine through throughout the presentation. After all, the client wants to pick an agency they believe they can work with – so be personable and friendly!