The start of the New Year signifies the beginning of RFP “season” for PR pros, since many consumer and B2B companies are looking for fresh marketing direction. During this time you can expect to hear catch phrases like “out of the box thinking” and “disruptive innovation.” It’s not a good idea to embrace creativity for creativity’s sake, but you can make your proposal and pitch stand out to demonstrate that you understand the brand and its target audience. Here are a few pointers.
Dress to kill. We don’t mean put on your best suit (but do that if appropriate); we mean, dress your presentation. Banish boring templates. Jettison jargon and be so comfortable with your concepts that you could sell them in your sleep. But not so comfortable that you come off robotically reciting. Take breaths, make jokes, if you’ve read the audience and it feels right, and encourage conversation. Just as the comments section of a blog post are often the most compelling, the same goes for the conversation sparked during a dialogue with a prospective client.
Be in the know. What’s the latest fad these days? Tebowing? Twerking? A healthy dose of pop culture – when used correctly – can go a long way to demonstrate that you are constantly current and know how to make a brand relevant and keep it in the news. Same goes for suggested platforms – if Twitter chats are no longer the “it thing” figure out what is. Gif, anyone?
Gather round the campfire. Recently, no doubt, you’ve heard the term “storytelling” ad nauseum. But when you think about it, it’s true – even the most dyed-in-the-wool corporate types would rather be told a story than “presented” to. So treat your presentation like a story. Include these five components:
Incident (illustrative of challenges and opportunities)
Stakes (what client has to gain and what you recommend they must do)
Main event (Big idea!)
Resolution (proof points)
When in doubt, enthusiasm wins out. Even if you feel less than confident, focus on enthusiasm. Heartfelt and genuine can trump cold and precise anytime. Even if you skip a slide or cover something twice, if you’ve already got the audience on your side, it will be hard for them to resist your passion and easy for them to remember you when decision-time comes.
(Don’t) bask in the afterglow. No matter how awesome you and your team were, never laurel-rest. Perform a post-mortem with the group to see what worked and what didn’t and keep notes for the next presentation. Stay in touch with the prospect in a polite way to determine next steps. Congratulations if you win and on to the next, if someone else does!