Pitch-Perfect… Some Comms #101 (Part II)

Part I 
of this post took us through the prep and into the room on the day… this is the bit that no well-intentioned comms professor will tell you.

I’d love to hear your own take on pitches – mail me at frimframworld@gmail.com

Always be prepared to go the extra mile…

You have to be prepared to go the extra mile not because you have to, but because you want to. More than a couple of years ago I came down with a bout of food poisoning the night before a huge media briefing. It was a big deal. We were launching a report that was both long-awaited and politically significant. This was not the time to come down with gastro.

Fast-forward to fifteen minutes before kick-off and I’m throwing up into a waste-paper basket praying for a merciful ending to my suffering with a colleague holding my hair out of the way. That morning, going the extra mile meant leaving my poor colleague to manage the mess, taking a deep breath (and some rather strong mints) and just getting on with it. We got there and it was as much of a success as we could have hoped for.

It won’t always be gruesome (thankfully!) but talk to any long-standing comms pro and you’ll hear all sorts or war-stories. It might be how we tick or it might be that comms is a fairly ruthless business but the common thread… we’ve all gone above and beyond and then some for our clients, so be ready to get your game-face on!

Closing out and following up

If pitches are like relationships they’re also about asking for what you need. I’ve seen any number of pitches peter-out and dribble to an unimpressive end. You get to the end and the AD will stop talking – not having made any mention of budget or cost. The fundamental ask remaining unsaid. And, while it’s certainly true you need to sell prospective clients on the big idea first (budget will always be found for the one truly break-through idea) you also have to be able to talk about money.

PRs have historically been weak at knowing our worth. Often thought of as the “poor cousins” to marketing and ad execs, PRs can still be wary of naming their price. We shouldn’t be… we offer a professional and valuable service. Ours is a profession that takes skill, creativity, commercial sense and a huge amount of imagination and drive, but if we won’t close our pitches by being clear about what a quality campaign requires, we only have ourselves to blame.

And, as much as it’s about the close, it’s also about the follow-up. The by-now familiar message that it’s all about relationships resonates here too.

Follow-up. Say thank you. Suggest that even if you don’t have the opportunity to do business this time around, staying in touch and sharing future ideas is something you’re not only interested in but would value and it costs nothing. This is the long-game – businesses aren’t made or lost by a single pitch. If your shared passion – client and AD – is strategic comms and effective campaigns then nothing but good can come from building a solid relationship. Apart from any business benefit, it’s also polite. Never underestimate the basic human touch of manners.

Beware the post-pitch remorse

Last but not least, beware post-pitch remorse. Like any first date or exam, nothing good can come from an immediate post-mortem. Without doubt a debrief session including honest client feedback (whether you’ve been successful or not) is vital and can only help you grow and improve.  You’ll hear soon enough whether you landed it or not. But in the immediate aftermath, just let it go.

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About frimframworld

Total coffee fan, dedicated foodie & news hound. Strategic PR & political comms as a day job. All comments my own - blogging in a personal capacity only.

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  1. Pitch-Perfect… Some Comms #101 | Frimframworld - July 2, 2015

    […] an impact in the delivery of the pitch and building relationships during and after the pitch. Part II has a little more on relationships, a funny but painfully true look at going the extra mile for […]

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