Why delay doesn't pay when it comes to pitching
Part of the #PRPitchPerfect blog series on how to crack the often stressful and nightmarish PR pitch process
A typical scenario in PR agencies when a new brief comes in…
The brief is directed to the most relevant senior person. It sits on their desk while they are <delete as applicable> in board meetings / knee-deep in another pitch / on holiday /distracted by running the business / generally procrastinating.
When it’s finally looked at, a few more senior people are brought in to discuss strategy but before you know it a whole week has gone by before any real work has begun.
Add to that another week or more of throwing ideas around and before you know it, you’ve got just a few days to brief in the team, do the research, create the campaign, write the pitch and rehearse.
Dive straight in
It is therefore really important to put in place a process where work is set in motion the minute a brief lands. In my experience, the best way to do this is by including account managers and directors in the process from the start, so they can get the team to work straight away.
This always means starting with research, such as:
Competitor audit – what are their competitors doing, where and to what levels of success. Where is the gap in the market?
Messaging audit – what messaging are currently being used and how successfully? What angles have media warmed to and which are not working?
Marketing audit – what is the wider marketing context? Have they recently taken a new direction or have they been running the same campaign for a while now?
Social media audit – what channels are they using for which products? What conversations are they a part of? Which are they missing out on? Who is talking about them?
Key people audit – who will be in the room and what is their background? Useful insights of previous experience, media profile or their own blogs will give you a lot of insight into how they tick which will be invaluable in shaping your response.
Starting this work early will be be hugely beneficial when it comes to developing your strategic approach.
Bringing more people into the fold from the start also means you have more people thinking about it, so more opportunities will be spotted and more ideas will flow.
Time and tide waits for no man
Getting the right people in the room for a brainstorm in an agency can be like herding cats. Time and again you hear “Well, let’s just do it tomorrow morning instead when they can make it.” or “We need to push it back as there’s another priority.”
Again, valuable time can be lost.
Yes you need to get the right people involved in the pitch, but it doesn’t have to be everyone together at the same time. Run a series of brainstorms. Kick off the thinking then test it with another creative. Run dual sessions with different teams then come together to compare and discuss approaches.
I strongly believe pitches shouldn’t be kept within the senior agency team - bring in your junior team from the start and challenge them to contribute. They’ll often have great ideas you wouldn’t have ever thought of.
What’s your experience?
Do you thrive on the adrenaline of a last minute pitch effort or do you agree delay doesn’t pay? What are your top tips for kickstarting the agency response? I’d love to hear your views on here or on Twitter using #PRPitchPerfect.