Behind the staging of the pitch and the showmanship of the presentation there are seven basic ingredients that can make or break a public relations pitch.
Creativity in pitching is important – it showcases an agency’s talent and it helps ensure attention during the presentation. But there may be a fine line between wooing the client with sensory enrichment on one side and plain overkill on the other.
Content is what really matters. It defines an agency’s approach – and should, without any further embellishment, enable the client to make an objective decision.
So, whether you are writing the pitch or considering a proposal that has been delivered to you, here are the guidelines for content and evaluation that work for me:
1 The situation: Demonstrate an understanding of the client’s organisation, markets, products and the business need for a PR campaign. This may be supplemented by a SWOT analysis.
2 The objective: Define the purpose of the campaign, together with a quantifiable outcome.
3 The targets: Identify the target audiences for the campaign as aspects may need differentiation to suit a range of needs across the audience spectrum.
4 The Messages: State the key messages to be delivered to each of the target audiences.
5 The Activities: Describe the various strategies and tactics proposed to convey the messages to the target audiences. This should include an aspect of PR campaign management to ensure that there is flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances during the campaign.
6 The Budget: Detail the cost of the campaign, including estimates of agency fees as well as products and services to be purchased for the campaign.
7 The Evaluation: List the measures that may be applied to give the client an indication of the campaign’s return on investment.
Don’t treat this as the ultimate definitive list: every pitch has specific needs and there may be some great ideas you would care to share. As an example, the agency’s credentials may be essential in a first-time pitch to a client.
Once the content is in place, give thought to the ‘staging’ of the presentation. Now’s the time to give free rein to creativity. There’s the talk-through, the visual aids, the work samples, the leave-behind document….
Don’t overpower the content with technology, simply use technology to enhance your message.
And a final thought: Don’t spoil your effort with errors of fact, spelling or grammar. It ranks you with a baker selling mouldy bread!
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.