My biggest gaffe: a testing pitch day featuring smoke, stress and sweat

Nicky Imrie, co-founder of The PR Network, made the mistake of testing out a potential client's product in the hours before they were due to pitch.

We pitched for the UK PR account for car-sharing service Zipcar in 2012 – an amazing opportunity.

As well as the usual bells and whistles, we wanted to go further. We decided to hire a car on the day of the pitch and bob around London picking the team up and driving to the pitch, to test the experience and show off to the client.

Pitch day comes. My colleague and I couldn’t find the VW Golf we’d booked on the app – we arrived in the business park in Wandsworth and there were about 20 black Golfs. Instead of being sensible and checking number plates, we wandered around for 30 minutes aiming my phone and clicking.

We picked up three other team members from various stations through heavy London traffic, one-way systems and so on. We drove to the pub where we’d hired a room to practice the pitch, and found I had to parallel park on a steep hill. Cue smoke (I forgot the handbrake), and rolling downhill (I was used to an automatic). I was thinking we’d be getting a bill rather than a new account.

We wanted to park outside Zipcar’s office, but had forgotten to book a bay. We parked far away, and ran.

Arriving hot and sweaty, I brandished my Zipcar card in the GM’s face. He was taken aback but rather charming. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as flustered – perhaps that lightened the mood and helped us, in a perverse way, to calm down.

While we did win the Zipcar business (and still have it), I’d think twice about doing something like that again.

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