Survey reveals clients' pitch wishlist

The promotional machine behind the controversial Atkins Diet is preparing to launch a consumer PR blitz to promote a range of branded products due to hit UK stores early next year.

PR agencies have just five minutes to make a good impression when presenting credentials to would-be clients, according to a survey by new business consultants RSW. The results, published in the RSW New Business Report 2003, indicate that 44 per cent of PR buyers decide within the first five minutes of agencies’ credentials meetings whether or not they will be included in the pitch process.

The survey of 250 marketing services buyers sought to ascertain which factors affected the outcome of the pre-pitch process. Among other findings, respondents cited an understanding of their business sector as the most important factor in creating a good impression, while an agency’s prompt attendance of meetings was judged more important than its client list or heritage.

‘A lot of agencies overestimate the amount of interest a client has in their ethos, past and people,’ said RSW chief executive Adam Whittaker.

In other findings, 73 per cent of respondents indicated that credentials presentations should take between 15 and 45 minutes. Most clients pitching PR services – 43 per cent – invite just three agencies to pitch, with only seven per cent inviting more than five, while 78 per cent of PR buyers cut down their pitch list before deciding which agency to appoint.

The survey also revealed that answering and understanding the client’s brief were the most important factors in securing an appointment.

Commenting on the findings, Lexis operations director Margot Raggett said: ‘The credentials stage used to be when you said who you are and showed the client case studies, but it’s now the first part of the pitch process.

‘Clients don’t want to hear about you, they want to talk in the context of their business, and the trick is to showcase your agency in that light,’ Raggett added.

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