Arundhati Seigell, Head Corporate Communications Escorts Limited decodes pitching process as it stands and suggests ways for PR agencies to evolve to evolve to help forge fruitful partnerships
Over enthusiasm and oversell kills
Seigell goes back in time to cite an example how the over populated team of presenters from the PR agencies put them off because they weren’t talking meaningful business.
She said “A few years back, I was part of a PR pitch process for our company during its repositioning and internal restructuring exercise. We invited 4 agencies, 3 national and one international. An interesting series of presentations were made, but one that I distinctly recollect is when the communications team (of 3) entered the conference room (seating 15) we suddenly felt we were in the wrong room. It seemed like a training room rather than a meeting room. There were 8 representatives from the agency end, all ranks all ages. Instantly, we glanced at each other and wondered why so many? Over and above with everyone taking turns to present, drove us nuts. Midway we were texting to each other: Did we not send the brief sheet to them? Did they not receive our company presentation? Do they even know our business? When will they come to the point and tell us what we want? Were they listening? An overkill of PR credentials and services did them no good. What we were simply looking for was how they could service us better.”
Test of patience
Do you blame anyone if they want to cut to the chase in this day and age?
Arundhati confesses “I am never good at sitting through presentations and going through staid old ones is even more painful. Most of the times I sit through PR pitches and 20 minutes later wonder ‘Why could they not showcase this case upfront?’ Honestly, I have always enjoyed smart filmmakers who sell their latest film as a starting point rather than the mundane long-drawn slides on “Who we are? What we do? Who we serve? What skills/ services we have? What we can do for you?”
Obviously, a client will do his due diligence before calling you for the pitch. Creativity, content and contacts should be the central theme to grab client attention (especially ones like me).”
The pitch is just one of the DOTS
If you want to spend your time, spend it over the right thing.
“It takes more than a pitch to know your client. I often find PR agencies do not interact enough with the client before the pitch. Either they feel they know more about PR than the company or they think the internet search will suffice. There are times when agencies give us standard presentations that hardly have enough dots to connect with our thinking and our business approach (not business). It is important that the agency understands the client in-depth, their expectations, the senior management team needs and approaches, and what worked well in the past. Connecting these dots from day one can certainly reap long-term benefits,” said Seigell.
Arundhati Seigell on How the Pitching Process Can Evolve
Public Relations is evolving [and] so must the PR Pitch process. As a communications professional the 3 things that matter most are creativity, content and people. All are interlinked in completing a successful project.
The PR Tango – Its time we shifted gears from being The Client to being the partner in the PR process. Most pitches, in fact all pitches, I have been part of have been at the client side. I would like to see a reversal of venue, enable the PR agency to create a live-scenario so that the client can experience the functioning, team work, creative engagement, speed and crisis management at the agency office. With hypothetical case/s one can create an environment to understand each other’s responses. A new way to assess response times, idea generation, speed of content creation, team dynamics and more. An opportunity to move away from conference rooms to creative desk.
Storytelling – From time immemorial story telling has caught the attention of audiences. Tools are in abundance, it is about creating a unique experience during the pitch can change perspectives. TED talks where within a stipulated time presenters dramatically change perceptions is a great example. PR is a game of perceptions, and it must start at the outset of the pitch. Pitch by showcasing top 3 campaigns, storyboarding, and fresh ideas etc. to create more value to PR than just references to high profile contacts.
PR is growing at a fast pace but is still second to advertising. It certainly has more potential to change perceptions. But are we doing enough? Let’s not stop exploring and exploiting our creativity to PITCH RIGHT.