Pitching to Potential Clients

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Apr 7, 2009 in PRSSA, Public Relations, Student-Run Firms

I recently had the opportunity to write for The Firm, PRSSA’s student-run firm newsletter. Here is my article about pitching to potential clients. Or, click here to read the entire newsletter.

Pitching to Potential Clients
The Firm, March 2009

Pitching potential clients is a good way to gain business for a student-run public relations firm. Before pitching a potential account, follow these three steps:

1. Research the account before the meeting.
Before you meet with a potential client, you should have a general idea of what type of work they do and who they serve. You also should be prepared to ask questions to further your knowledge about the account.

2. Research the industry and review competitors.
To come up with the best pitch, you should research the industry and the client’s competitors. Additionally, it is helpful to see what other businesses or organizations similar to the client are doing. This will give you competitive ideas.

3. Evaluate the client’s Web site, brochures, newsletters or other promotional material.
In addition to coming up with new ideas to help the potential client, you should tell them how you can help improve their current strategies and tactics.

The first meeting is very important. If possible, you should pitch the potential client face-to-face. This is when first impressions will be formed and the potential client will decide whether to work with your student-run firm. To sell your firm and services, follow these four steps:

1. Present yourself as a professional.
Although you are a student, you also are representing your firm as a professional. This not only means you should dress nice, but you also need to be prepared and act professional.

2. Be ready to explain exactly what public relations is.
Some businesses or organizations might think public relations is advertising or marketing. Have an explanation ready for the client about what public relations is and how it is valuable.

3. Bring a portfolio.
Have samples of work ready to show to the client. This will help you explain your ideas on how you can help.

4. Find out the client’s problems and areas of concern.
By asking questions and finding out problems and concerns, you can find ways to best help the client.

After the meeting, your job isn’t over. To show that you are proactive, you need to go beyond meeting the client and discussing ideas. The next four steps can help you bring in the client and build a solid reputation for your firm:

1. Send a thank you note.
Write a short, thoughtful note to thank the potential client for taking the time to listen to your pitch.

2. Brainstorm more ideas on what you can do for the account.
After mulling it over, you may come up with new ideas. Brainstorming will help you find more ways to help the account and will create a strong image for your firm.

3. Research strategies on solving the client’s problems.
If the account has a specific problem, researching how other businesses or organizations have solved it can be helpful. For example, if the account needs to increase awareness, find out how similar businesses or organizations have done this successfully.

4. Prepare a proposal.
Whether you’ve gotten the account or they are still on the fence, a proposal should be created to outline the exact strategies and tactics you would complete on a specific timeline. If you’ve gotten the account, then they will be impressed that you prepared a proposal quickly. If not, the proposal will be an additional piece of information to help the potential client decide if your firm is right for them.

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Ten Things I Learned As A Publications Intern

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Aug 29, 2008 in CMU PRM, Internships, Portfolio, Public Relations, Uncategorized, Writing

It feels weird not to be working for CMU Public Relations and Marketing every day. I miss it already. I’m really thankful that they are continuing my internship into the fall semester.

Here are ten things I learned as a publications intern, and I would like to thank every person at PRM for helping me learn so much over the past four months.

1. Adobe InDesign. When I started working with PRM, I had no idea how to use this program. I’ve now put together CMU Welcomes You, a tabloid for potential students and two flyers for the CMU/United Way Fund Drive.

2. Storytelling. I had been taught basic news writing in JRN 202. I could efficiently tell you the who, what, when, where, why and how. I could place quotes throughout the story. Dan constantly encouraged me to improve my writing by “telling the story.” Make it real. Make people go, “Wow. I want to know more about this person in the story.”

3. Write tight. Don’t waste any words. If you don’t need them, cut them. By removing the clutter, you can make the remaining words mean more to the reader.

4. Interviewing. What makes this person tick? How are they unique? I learned to ask questions beyond what the story required and then to listen to what people had to say to me. You’d be surprised at the number of the puzzle pieces of storytelling that would fall into your lap if.

5. Multiple entry points. People have busy lives. Write so they can scan the story and get the gist of what’s going on and introduce multiple entry points. Pull-quotes, boxes and subtitles are all easy, but effective ways of doing this.

6. Print it. I don’t know many hours I stared at a computer screen, trying to catch errors or rewrite a story. When you have a hard copy in front of you, you see the story in a new light.

7. Thin and trim. Quotes are a vital part of the story, but trim them down to the real meat. It will make it much more impactful if you paraphrase the less important information preceding the good quote.

8. Be active. Writing actively will engage your readers.

9. What’s next? Keep your writing relevant to your audience. Get them to ask, “What’s next?” and then give them the information they need.

10. Keep an open mind and be enthusiastic. I don’t know how many great portfolio pieces fell into my lap because of my positive attitude. Did I know how to design a tabloid and place ads, articles and photos? Certainly not. As a PR major, do I have much experience coming up with ad concepts? I didn’t, but I do now. I accepted any project they asked me to do, from writing copy to transcribing interviews. Some were certainly more fun than others, but my attitude, enthusiasm and drive is what opened doors for many great projects.

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