Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Pitches are the lifeblood of PR agencies, but Jim Hawker, co-founder of Threepipe PR, flags 10 telltale signs that say it's better to walk away...
There seems to be lots of advice out there about how to discover new business leads, network and hopefully win a few pitches but I thought I would explore a different angle on the new business front - when not to pitch. Here are some top tips (I may get to 10 or not!).
1. If the potential client won't spend the time putting a decent brief together, then do not pitch. Why waste days putting a pitch together if the client has not invested time in thinking through what is needed. Most of the time this ends in disaster - you and the potential client often end up working to two different agendas.
2. The prospect won't or doesn't have time to meet you before the pitch. Again, similar to the above. They will clearly view the agency as a 'commodity' rather than a business partner - and we all know how that ends up.
3. Budgets - do not pitch if you are not given a budget to work to. The whole 'don't feel constrained creatively by the budget' conversation is one every agency dreads. It still happens today that an agency will win a competitive new business pitch and still not know what the budget is - crazy - and I am sure you will agree, not the best way to start a commercial relationship.
4. Gut instinct. You have met the prospect and for some reason it doesn't feel right. Perhaps it is something they said or an attitude that you picked up on. Always trust your instinct - if you feel that something could be a problem further down the line then it inevitably becomes a problem.
5. The long list. If you are one of more than four or five agencies pitching then stay away. The client clearly doesn't know what type of agency they want. They haven't spent the time to really think about the PR problem and what sort of agency should pitch for their business.
6. Who is the incumbent? Do you rate the incumbent agency? If you know someone there, then call them and ask what the problem was with the client. Most agencies are good at what they do so what are the real issues they are moving their business away - find out!
7. You know in your heart of hearts if there is a good fit between the prospect and your agency. Do you really have the skillsets to do a great job or are you wasting time you could be better spending elsewhere.
8. Give yourself enough time. Push back on how long you are given to pitch - if the client wants a response within 10 days or less then forget it - they don't value the time and effort that is required to go into solving their problems - alarm bells should be ringing in your head.
9. Prioritise your new business efforts. Go for everything and you will win nothing. Pick your battles wisely.
10. Finally, don't pitch the day before Easter, Christmas or any other holiday - they will have forgotten everything by the time they get back and make a decision - not ideal!
See more from Threepipe here.