The worst (and best) things to do in an agency pitch

‘If I may, I’m just going to spend a few moments talking about my company’. The words that send a panel’s heart sinking into their boots. It may be hard to believe, but the pitch is not about you, it’s about the people and company you want to work for. Remember, the client will have spent time and trouble researching the agencies they feel are – potentially – the right fit for them. Give them a little credit for having done their homework. By all means include information about yourselves in a printed leave-behind or an email presentation but don’t waste precious time outlining your amazing office recycling policy in the pitch itself.

Be relevant

Award winning – aren’t we all? Even my seven-year-old son has won awards. Only mention something that is relevant to the pitch.

Who should go?

Presentation team. Please, please, please do not exhume your elderly chairman, even if he has been awarded a CBE for Services to Champagne. The clients want to see who they will be dealing with on a daily basis. Make sure you bring the team who will be running the account. There is nothing more crushing for a client than meeting people you like only to never see them again.

Do research

Know who you are presenting to. Make sure you know all the people in that room. Their names, their roles, their interests, their experience and how your ideas will sound to them.

Ask questions

Interrogate the brief. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about the brief beforehand. A good client should provide you with time for a face-to-face chat so you can speak to them directly before the presentation. It might seem unnecessary but it can save a huge amount of time later on and stop you presenting something wholly unsuitable.

Don’t over-run

Never over-run. Practise and time your presentation. If you can’t do it in the allotted time, take something out, perhaps that huge chunk about how the company started up in your back bedroom 15 years ago.

Be prepared

Be ready for anything and everything to go wrong. It can still happen even in our over-connected age. Be prepared and relaxed and know that you can still do your work justice in another format. Oh, and spell check. It’s so easy to overlook this when you’ve been up half the night brainstorming fantastic ideas.

Don’t use clichés

The most over-used phrase in PR presentations? ‘What makes us unique is…’ I have sat through days, weeks, years of presentations and each and every agency said the same thing.

Rapport is vital

Most PR agencies I have come across in my 25 years in the industry are highly competent and filled with lively, intelligent people. Your team needs to communicate passion and understanding of your potential client’s work. And at the end of the day it really comes down to chemistry. Who would you feel happy working with?

Article by Rebecca Snow.

Before working as in-house PR manager at the architectural practice Stiff + Trevillion, Rebecca Snow managed the public relations agency roster for the government’s Central Office of Communications.

Originally published in Influence magazine, January 2016.

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