PR: The Good, Bad and Ugly
6 Ways to Rock Potential PR Clients at New Business Meetings
by Ryal Curtis on 07/21/2010
You have landed the opportunity to pitch new business – congrats, you’ve obviously done something right. The meeting is confirmed and all the decision-makers are gathered, ready to give you an hour of their precious time. It’s time for you to sell yourself and your PR firm. It’s time to articulate exactly why public relations is important to the future growth and success of their organization. Best to not blow this opportunity, right? Here are six questions to ask at new business meetings when pitching PR.
1. Don’t ask that!
First and foremost, let’s address what questions you should NOT be asking at new business meetings. Don’t waste anyone’s time asking questions such as: when were you formed; how many employees do you have; what makes you unique? If you’ve done your homework, you’ve already answered those questions yourself. If you are going to address those questions, do so in a way that shows that you already know the answers – you simply want to know more from their current perspective. This approach establishes the fact that you’ve come to this meeting prepared and ready to talk high-level strategy.
2. Let’s make this work.
Ask what type of public relations, if any, the organization has rolled out in the past – in-house or with a former agency. What worked and what didn’t? What were the goals, how were goals measured, and if a former relationship didn’t work out, what were the issues that ultimately broke the camel’s back? Having this type of information is invaluable, especially when it deals with the smaller nuances, such as agency-client communications, or the larger problem areas, such as the lack of understanding – or execution – of PR goals.
3. What are your business goals?
It’s 100 percent appropriate to bring up business at PR meetings. In fact, if you don’t discuss business, you’re entirely missing the larger PR conversation at hand. PR is a support tool for a company’s overall business goals. It’s an arm that impacts the bottom line. Ask what the organization’s business goals are – short term and long term – as well as what they perceive are the most significant challenges to successfully reaching those business goals. Immediately relating public relations goals to business goals will establish you and your firm as having some serious PR chops.
4. Let’s get specific.
Ask what the company has going on at this very moment (new hires, events, sponsorships, new deals, etc.). This will give you the opportunity to articulate specfic examples of your overall PR philosophies. Plus, its gets the client jazzed about PR opportunities that they didn’t know existed until you walked through the door.
5. Let’s avoid the spray.
Increasing general visibility for an organization is fine, but if your message is not hitting the desired vertical markets, you may be missing a number of important PR opportunities. Ask what vertical markets are important to reach as it relates to the company’s business goals. Who are the decision-making organizations and influencer individuals? Where do we need to focus our conversations? Where do we need to plant new communications seeds for future growth? Who are we talking with? (Important note: we should be talking “with,” not “to,” in PR.)
6. Following meetings down the foxhole.
Suggestion number six isn’t a question. Rather, it’s a suggestion of strategy. My final piece of advice for new business meetings is this: make sure to allow your meetings the freedom to evolve organically. Don’t let an agenda stand in the way of having a great meeting! Some of the most successful, creative and energetic meetings are when everyone has left the agenda page, even if only momentarily, and taken the conversation somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to follow the client down this hole.
In fact, jump into this as often as you can. This is where the excitement can be found. And that’s what we’re talking about here, right? Excitement. New business meetings should get the potential client excited about PR, and most important, excited about doing PR with you!
Photo Source: Star5112