Pointless PR pitches, time wasters, fishermen and snoopers.
It’s around that time of the year again when public relations agencies review their business development plans for the next calendar year, and start to put in place their strategies, budget and approaches for finding the Holy Grail of the next big client win.
Aside from the ongoing outreach- through advertising, cold calling, networking, meet the brand manager events, PR programmes and so forth- there’s nothing more satisfying than an inbound new business enquiry out of the blue. But before rushing in to respond to the brief and even assuming you’ve got the interest, capacity and know-how to service said enquiry, there are other key areas to consider first.
Agency heads regularly sanction the use of major resources in both time and production during the pitch process so before you say yes, take time to consider if this prospect is really that hot, or risk pouring resource into the proverbial chocolate tea pot.
Five tips for spotting time wasters:
* They’re not prepared to meet you to discuss the brief in more detail (assuming they’ve even got as far as writing a brief) – what does that tell you about their investment in the potential relationship?
* If they’re unable to tell you what success from the programme looks like – they may want their chosen agency to stretch them and introduce them to new techniques and approaches, but nevertheless they need to be clear on how they want their comms to effect their business objectives.
*There is no written confirmation that they will provide detailed feedback on your proposal. We’ve all suffered the ignominy of delivering a pitch only for that to be the last we ever hear from the prospect. If you invest the time and resources into preparation it’s important to know what the prospective client liked, and what they didn’t like about the pitch.
*Ask why they’ve approached you. If it’s simply that they’ve stumbled upon you via Google, is that enough? Have they researched your business and do they know what your strengths and weaknesses are? Always ask specifically how many agencies are pitching; do you get the feeling you’re a wildcard approach? If so are you prepared to gamble, and can you afford the wager?
*Controversially for some, always insist on being given a budget to work towards, even if it’s a banding, as a failure to declare the proposed investment is another red flag signal. With no budget guidance how do you decide if this is a relevant lead for your agency right now? Carrying on regardless can mean a lot of wasted time and effort in the pitch process.
So next time the agency phone rings with a caller offering a new business opportunity, think twice before rushing in. There is such a thing as a bad new business call.