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Westminster University Lecture: New Business Pitches - Art or Science?



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A lecture that by Richard Houghton to first year undergraduates at Westminster University studying PR and mass communications. Tips and pointers on how to build and sell compelling new business pitch. @rhoughton

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Westminster University Lecture: New Business Pitches - Art or Science?

  1. 1. PITCHING: ART OR SCIENCE? Richard Houghton (@rhoughton) 11th March 2014
  2. 2. Who is the guy at the front?  Associate partner, AgencyPeople  Management consultancy: ‘We help agencies grow’  PR Week’s – Agency Doctor  25 year PR consultancy track record:  Founder specialist agency, Carrot Communications  MD – Ketchum London  CEO – Shandwick Public relations  SVP – Fleishman Hillard  Chairman, PRCA  President, International Communications Consultants Organisation
  3. 3. Engage in the next 60 minutes and decide for yourself... Pitching Art or Science?
  4. 4. Three parts of pitching puzzle 1. Brief & Objectives 2. Insight & Strategy 3. Presentation
  5. 5. Brief and Objectives
  6. 6. Understanding What the Prospect Wants
  7. 7. Getting the Full Brief  Objectives  Audience/stakeholders  Messages  Supporting data  Timescales  Budgets  Evaluation criteria  Keep my boss happy  Help my career  Win an award  Bring some fun to my work life  Help me build my network Overt Expectations Covert Expectations
  8. 8. What will have happened in the next12 months for the programme to be a success? The golden question
  9. 9. Working the brief  Get it in writing  Confirm it with the prospect BEFORE preparing your proposal  Share it with ALL the pitch team  Check it against your programme and presentation:  EVERY step of the way  The prospect will expect you to tick every box!
  10. 10. Objectives  Develop measurable PR objectives:  If not measurable how do we demonstrate value and success?  Can be understood by no PRs in client  Lets you charge more or negotiate a fee bonus  Development:  Specific  Measurable  Achievable  Relevant  Time bound = SMART
  11. 11. Sample objective  Estate agent business objective:  Increase the number of house buyers and sellers signing up with them  Communications objective:  Action – attract more people to estate agent’s web site to see benefits of using them  Audience – ABC 1, Birmingham and Manchester, £28k+ per annum  Timescale – six months  Measurement – 12% increase Communicate the benefits of using estate agent member in order to increase number of visits of ABC1 in Birmingham and Manchester by 12% to website in next six months
  12. 12. Insight & Strategy
  13. 13. Insight  Insights help us cut through noise to reach audiences  Can shift ‘stuck behaviour’  Move understanding of trend, client research or customer behaviour:  From – ‘What it is’  To – ‘What it means’  Motivating and provocative way of looking at situation  Wide range of data sources
  14. 14. Forms of Insight  Changes in behaviour  Sector trends that fit with or could lead media agenda  Consumer patterns  Revisit existing research  Why do consumers do what they do?  Blockages to change
  15. 15. Using Insights  Output  Aha! moment  Trigger strategy  Basis for brainstorms  Write down – short sharp sentences  Specific not general  Not hard sell  Are emotive - resonate
  16. 16. PR Strategies  Build it around the insight  Make sure it runs through the whole presentation;  The ‘red thread’  Make sure it fits with the PR objective  Consider:  Does you PR objective and strategy support a client business objective?  Is it simple enough to explain quickly and clearly in the presentation?  Do you believe it will work?
  17. 17. Presentation
  18. 18. Before you present  Match your team to the prospect  Ideally you need to meet the prospect BEFORE pitch  Find out:  Where you are presenting?  How long do you have?  How many you are presenting to?  What the budget is – no budget no pitch  Audio visual and props  If possible:  Pre-test your strategy with prospect  Get to know as much as you about the client’s personal needs  Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
  19. 19. Presentation content  Make sure you have a big opening and close!  Think like a magician  Consider what you want to be remembered for:  There will be a minimum of three agencies pitching  We often look and sound the same!  Make sure every one on your team has a clear role and speaks  Listen hard to the questions you get asked:  Agree before hand who will answer what
  20. 20. Final thought...think broadly and creatively
  21. 21. If you want to learn more..
  22. 22. Pitching Art or Science?
  23. 23. PITCHING: ART OR SCIENCE? Richard Houghton (@rhoughton) 11th March 2014