Marijane Funess December 12, 2014 | 02:38:51

5 Taboos Of PR Business Pitching

As the year comes to a close, there has been a whirlwind of new business opportunities in the PR agency world, inspiring us to share our wisdom about selling and closing to prospective clients. To end the year on a high note with some exciting wins, here are some moves to avoid.

Scripting the presentation too tightly. There’s no greater turn-off than a group of presenters who’ve memorized their portions like they’re auditioning for a telemarketing job. The presentation has to stay flexible to allow for changes in mood, comments, and spontaneity. Presenters should be like the best improv performers in reading the room, comfortable with one another, listening actively, and confident enough to offer impromptu comments and responses.

Presenting too formally…or too casually. It’s a good idea to decide ahead of time about wardrobe, introductions and speaking style, but a good rule is to base the conversation on input from the prospective client, coupled with advance intelligence and insights based on research and experience. Any team presenting to client-side execs should have a detective’s dossier worth of knowledge about the crowd  and be able to seamlessly match or complement them in tone and demeanor.

What, no questions? The intellectually curious win the day here, so plan intelligent, thought-provoking questions that show how well the presentation team did their research and how much their insights and experience bring to the table. It flatters the client and helps bring the conversation to new places, which will help the team stand out from the crowd.

No discussion of outcomes. It’s a mistake to put time and energy into PR strategies, tactics, and accompanying budgets without including a definition of success and how it should be measured. Another mistake is relying on “outputs” or deliverables such as earned media placements and white papers, instead of actual outcomes that support business goals.

Failing to follow up. Of course, the gracious post-meeting thank you is a given, but if the days drag on and there has been no communication about a decision, find smart ways to stay in touch. For example, we often follow up with a journalist query that fits well into a prospect’s area of expertise or highlight a news story we think they will find of interest. Be creative and clever but not overbearing.

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