The PR agency pitch is a selection process that has to be both effective and objective. In order to maximize its success, I recommend you need to take into consideration these 10 rules. Following these rules will not only facilitate finding the right PR agency for you but will also increase your reputation as a client that organizes great PR pitches.
10 rules for a PR agency pitch
Here are the most important rules to organize a PR agency pitch, in chronological order:
- Prepare a bulletproof PR agency pitch template. As the client, you are the main responsible for the pitch’s outcome, so make sure you have a clear, comprehensive PR agency pitch brief. This first rule obliges you to align the PR brief with other marketing activities, so it is best to share it with your marketing team colleagues (digital, eCommerce) and gather feedback.
- Update the initial PR agency pitch brief based on your colleagues’ feedback. There is not such a thing as an ideal PR agency pitch, so be truly open and active to receive feedback.
- Prepare the PR agency pitch Evaluation Grid. that will have to which you have communicated to each participant before the meeting.
- Make a long list of PR agencies, public relations suppliers or freelancers that you might find qualified to participate in your pitch. Based on the size of the budget and the complexity of the PR campaigns that the PR agency pitch covers, select a long list of suppliers.
- Contact all agencies directly on the phone and confirm the agencies shortlist. Public Relations is a sensitive service, so it’s better not to send email invitations before calling. Try to keep this selection process as personal as possible, and you will see that in return you will get higher commitment from the agencies.
- Send invitations, the brief and Evaluation Grid to each PR agency. My advice is to include in your budget a participation fee for every participating agency, as I recommended in my previous article Understanding the Client Brief for a pitch.
- Schedule the PR agencies presentations. I have often participated in pitches where the agencies were scheduled one after the other to have their presentations. In PR you don’t need to be in a rush unless you have a PR crisis, but in such a case a pitch is not feasible. Schedule up to 2 presentations per day and allow at least two hours between each meeting, so you would have enough time for debriefing with your colleagues, but also to avoid different agency teams bumping into each other at the reception.
- Organize the meetings. Make a standard introduction and thank participants for accepting the invitation followed by a concise overview of the PR agency pitch. Be prepared for questions and try to offer the same answer to each agency.
- Fill out the PR agency pitch evaluation grid which you have communicated to each participant before the meeting. The evaluation grade for the pitch should include quantitive KPIs only and scores that are very clear to everyone.
- Select the winner and call all participating agencies, explaining why they won or lost respectively the PR agency pitch. Shortly afterwards, send via email the evaluation grid with a big thank you message.
The key element in a PR agency pitch is the work, not the name of the agency
From start to finish the PR agency pitch must focus on stimulating the best work, the deliverables and the overall vision by the winning agency. If you work in a large company, your marketing department tends to work with big PR agencies, but for smaller briefs, small agencies or freelancers might solve your problems more creatively and/or efficiently.
The qualitative criteria in a PR pitch vs. the objective evaluation grid
I mentioned earlier that in this selection process you need an objective Evaluation Grid. However, the teams’ energy, enthusiasm and creativity are all subjective traits, so you might have trouble rating them correctly, especially if you’re not the only judge in the room.
Make sure in the Evaluation Grid that you have a generous “Comments” section, where you can write down any interesting observation. In case you will have a tight competition at the top, these comments will give you important arguments to choose the winner.
Download the PR pitch brief template
I have prepared a downloadable PDF version of the pitch brief from my website by clicking the URL below: