The Art of Landing New PR Clients via Social Media

Statistically speaking, social media has proven to be a powerful tool for landing new clients and servicing existing ones. Whether it’s getting the attention of a reporter who then does a feature on a client through a facebook post, getting a friend request from a stranger claiming he wants to hire you, or just trolling through your LinkedIn page and profile views and following up with an intro email, using social media accounts to land new clients and service existing ones can be very profitable.

I’ve gotten several new clients this way, mostly through my LinkedIn. The first was a Miami company owner who sent a connect request explaining he’d like to hire me to get his name up on search engines. His email was courteous and to the point. “You don’t know me but I am interested in hiring you. I’m impressed with your accomplishments.” He gave his phone number and asked me to call him. I Googled him. The company was legit. After we exchanged a few emails discussing his pr needs, I further checked out his company and sent him my phone number. He sent a retainer that day. More requests came.

Soon after, I quickly realized I could increase my new client contacts by following a few simple social media guidelines:

  • Always present yourself professionally, even in your personal social media accounts- you NEVER know who will view your profile
  • Monitor to see who is checking your profile- check their legitimacy, then send an intro email
  • Update and maintain your accounts and sites frequently
  • Strengthen your network by asking others to refer you to their clients and contacts
  • Increase visitors and contacts by including your your social media sites in your email signature, website, advertisements, and on business cards
  • LinkedIn is proven to be a top producer of new client introductions, give those viewing your profile a clear idea of your specializations and keep it updated as your career progresses
  • Ask for recommendations from your past and current clients
  • Cross-connect your blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts and have successes and updates and posts appear simultaneously when possible to reach maximum contacts and followers
  • Create a buzz of curiousity by viewing LinkedIn profiles of clients that you would like to work for; they will see that you have viewed their profiles and perhaps view yours, finding that you are just who they are looking for
  • Get freelance work by sending intro messages to those in similar professions and industries
  • Post on-going client successes to show you are capable of producing results
  • Follow and friend your media and pr contacts and keep them informed of client story, photo and pr opportunities
  • Offer social-media directed incentives to lure new clients
  • Offer rewards/services to existing clients and social media contacts for referrals who become new clients
However, you also need to use caution and common sense when doing this. In meeting anyone you don’t know, where there’s an opportunity to gain a new client, there is also the chance of communicating with someone you’d rather not know! It’s okay to be suspicious; it’s imperative that you protect yourself by investigating the potential client before responding.

In any profession, there’s a certain grain of trust you put out there when you post your name, picture, address, phone number and website. In PR, relating to the public is your first nature, and you want to think the best of those who contact you; you hold a certain level of confidence that you are wise enough to know a scam artist from a legitimate job offer. I follow a few simple guidelines before I reply to people who find me through my social media sites:

  • Google the potential client’s name
  • Research the company and website blogs, social media sites, customer feedback, etc.
  • If you’re still not sure, ‘secret-shop’ the company to get a sense of their professionalism, customer service and follow-up with a simple phone call
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau, public records, criminal search sites, and returns on their phone number and email addresses through search sites
  • Over a course of a few days, visit their social media sites for a feel for who they are and how they communicate with others
  • Read recommendations from other clients or customers on LinkedIn, and posts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check their past experience, qualifications, abilities, and accomplishments
  • If you still have doubts, ask them for a few references

Are these tips helpful? Are there any others you’d like to add? Please comment on this post and share with others!

About the Author

Sherry Gavanditti has been a PR/media specialist for the past 30 years and   currently works for various clients, including Menorah Park Campus, the largest premier nursing care facility in Ohio. In addition to serving a vast array of clients’ PR and design needs, additional experience includes working with the Associated Press, Crain’s Cleveland Business, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and various other daily, weeky and monthly magazines and newspapers. Contact her on Twitter.

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Five Ways to Maximize Your New Business Presentation

PR pro Elizabeth Sosnow shares her thoughts on how to make a successful new business presentation

Have you had this dream? You are standing at a podium, shaking like a leaf. A huge number of people stare back at you, waiting for you to fail. Naturally, you do.

Ah, presentations. Most folks I know would prefer root canals or cleaning out their Mom’s garage. But here’s the truth. I think presentations are kind of fun, especially if you prepare as we discussed yesterday.

When you arrive at the presentation, you have to be prepared for the unexpected? Some tips:

1. Don’t let your nerves overtake your listening skills: We all get the jitters. It’s natural. But if you allow them to escalate, you may miss hearing the clue that could elevate your pitch. Remember that you are playing detective in this meeting, looking for the important breadcrumbs or clues that the prospect will share during the discussion. Capitalizing on those moments may well be the key to winning the business.

2. Mix it Up: Don’t sit with your colleague; scatter your team around the room. First, you’ll be able to rub more collective elbows. Just as importantly, you’ll avoid the adversarial feel of a face-off.

3. Show passion for their business results, not yours: They may have invited you because of your credentials, but rest assured they are focused on what you can do for them. A truly great program has more than just a strategy, it has a team that expresses enthusiasm and excitement for where their client’s marketing is headed. Note: This can be a critical issue for entrenched account teams pitching a new piece of business to an existing client.

4. Abandon ship when necessary: Not too long ago, I spent several hours for a presentation that never saw the light of day. When our team arrived at the meeting, we were told to throw out that direction and come up with a new approach on the spot. It was both scary and invigorating. How did I overcome it? I used their comments as a jumping off point for a new framework – and immediately got buy-in as a result.

5. Experience gets you to the dance, chemistry keeps you there: A truism, but important to express. What happens if you don’t sense a connection? Well you can’t force it, but do be aware of your personality strengths and those of your team.  That’s the starting point. My partners and I each have gifts, so we try hard to match-make from the moment we receive an RFP or inquiry.

At the end of the day, you will win pitches you should have lost…and lose some you should have won. Try to remember that’s Fate’s way of ensuring you get more experience. And if I had to pick one thing that determines a successful outcome, it’s certainly experience.

Will you share a presentation story with us? What’s the “lesson learned” that you like to share with others?

Elizabeth Sosnow develops and oversees implementation of strategy for large clients in financial and professional services, with a particular emphasis on the legal, insurance, marketing services and consulting industries. She leads BlissPR’s Digital activities, including blogger outreach, influencer engagement, SEO benchmarking, email strategy and social network analytics. Reach her on Twitter via @elizabethsosnow.

Six Tips To Kick Start Your Next New Business Presentation

PR veteran Elizabeth Sosnow provides personal insight into what it takes for a successful new business presentation

When I was around 23, I was given an opportunity to be part of a presentation to a prospective client. I threw myself into research and spent many hours evaluating how I could contribute. When the big day finally arrived, I was ready to consider what might actually happen in the room itself.

As the team discussed roles and responsibilities, someone kindly tried to calm my nerves by suggesting that all would be well if I spent my time looking at the potential client instead of staring nervously at my colleagues. Well, I was, and am, an earnest soul. Let’s just say that I took the advice to heart.

To this day, I’m not certain if we won the business on merit or if my determined staring had more impact on a 65 year old man than my young self could have imagined..

After a few more years in the saddle, I have a slightly better idea of what makes a winning new business presentation. A few tips:

Advance Work: You often win based on the work you do before you walk into the room. Do more than just respond to the RFP:

1. Know the competitive context of your target industry. Until you know what “character” your prospect is playing in the media, you won’t be able to demonstrate that you can tell their story to others.

2. Identify 5 reporters that have a vested interest in your target: Quietly sound them out on the program’s potential “content hooks.” Those conversations may allow you to prove your credibility and deliver meaningful intelligence in one fell swoop.

3. Find out who you are dealing with: Once you know who will be in the room (or part of the judgment process afterwards), do some due diligence. Use search engines, LinkedIn or even Unsocial (if it’s available) to learn more about your quarry. Helpful hint: Don’t stop with learning about their current position – take the time to understand their career trajectory. That’s valuable intelligence that could easily shape your presentation.

4. Develop a mental script: Some presenters are desperate to read slides instead of trying to connect with the audience. Instead, try to think of each slide as a jumping off point to express a deeper and more interesting conclusion. What are those 5 bullets really trying to communicate? If you focus on the big picture, you give your client control over the details. Trust me, they’ll ask you if they want to “go deep.”

5. Understand your own value — and role — on the team: It’s no accident that my opening story used the word “I” frequently. When you are young and inexperienced, that’s the default position. Try a different tack. Why were you invited to be a part of this team? Was it show the breadth of the firm’s media contacts? Highlight depth in a particular industry or skill-set? If you know what you are providing the team, you can focus your preparation on the areas that matter. Gentle hint for some of my exuberant friends: sometimes you can show more and talk less.

6. Hone in on their weakness: Do you know what led them to need PR counsel? Even more important, have you “read between the lines” to determine what their unstated needs are? Work hard to determine those blind spots, then make sure to develop a program that shows how you would address them.

Those are just a few ideas to maximize your preparation for a presentation. What’s the first thing you do to get ready for a big pitch?

Oh, and make sure to check back here on Monday (12/13) for part II on this topic, which looks at “5 Ways to Maximize your Next PR New Business Presentation.”

Elizabeth Sosnow develops and oversees implementation of strategy for large clients in financial and professional services, with a particular emphasis on the legal, insurance, marketing services and consulting industries. She leads BlissPR’s Digital activities, including blogger outreach, influencer engagement, SEO benchmarking, email strategy and social network analytics. She is also the incoming Chair of the Digital Practice for Worldcom’s Board of Directors in the Americas region. Reach her on Twitter via @elizabethsosnow.

Ghosts Appear and Fade Away

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PR agency owner Alex Greenwood discusses the challenges of getting prospects to sign on the dotted line

The economy understandably makes you interested in talking with any and all potential clients. Just watch out for ghosts.

“Ghosts ” go beyond kicking the tires, feeling you out on strategy and discussing fees. They’re the potential clients who could also be called “time vampires,” as they want to meet often and then have you draw up a full-blown proposal and/or contract. Then they disappear. You literally get no response.

Maybe they got cold feet or realized that talking about hiring a public relations consultant was more interesting than working with one. Some feed on your ideas and then decide they don’t need you to implement them. Whatever the case, they’re gone.

Hey, life happens. Cash flow tanks, people change their minds. But when you’ve put hours into meeting with a potential client, researching their needs and drawing up a contract, I say it behooves the ghost to get out his Ouija board and send you an email to let you know the deal is off.

So how did I become a ghost buster? A lot of it is instinct and experience. Sometimes you get the feeling that it’s just not a good fit and end it there. I also don’t put too much up-front work into a pitch. I generate a summary proposal and will meet a couple of times, but won’t move beyond that until I get a contract.

Once you trust your instincts, ghosts become less of a problem, leaving you more time to land that “monster” client.

Alex Greenwood has earned a reputation for success and ingenuity from his more than twenty years experience in public relations, journalism, marketing and broadcasting. His career has spanned several industries including healthcare, television, non-profit organizations and higher education. He founded AlexanderG Public Relations, LLC in January 2010. Find him on Twitter via @a_greenwood.

Don’t Just Look To Impress PR Exec’s When Presenting Social Media Ideas To Clients

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Clients want creativity AND sales tools when investing in social media

As I’ve become more involved in new business pitches, specifically those centered around social media, one of the greatest things I’ve learned is that it’s not so much the ideas you come up with that are important, but rather it’s about thinking about them from a marketing and sales point of view.

When pitching a client or a prospective client, you first need to think about who is in the room during your presentation. Is the head of sales present? What about the CMO? The goal is to try to gather as much information as possible beforehand so that you are fully prepared to speak to everyone in the room and not just the people that have a true background in PR.

So after finding out this information you’ve then decided you want to create a Twitter handle. Awesome. You also want to develop a widget for Facebook. Great. But remember that you have to be selling an idea that is more than just about brand engagement. Think about how the Twitter handle and Facebook widget are going to support the sales and marketing teams and help increase the company revenue. These are critical thoughts that need to be addressed in a presentation before the CMO jumps-in with these concerns.

Some of the common things we often hear from people in the industry is that clients don’t understand PR. They aren’t on the phones all day with reporters, they don’t manage expectations internally, and they certainly don’t understand social media. Whether this is the case or not, it’s our job to prepare as such and continually figure out ways to best communicate our ideas with the understanding that each executive in the room is going to wonder how your ideas will impact their part of the business. A lot of money is at stake in a pitch, so you better be sure you have everyone in the room on-board.

So remember, it’s not just about coming up with fun and creative ideas that will impress the PR exec’s in the room, but rather it’s about coming up with fun and creative ideas that not only engage fans of your brand, but also become sales and marketing tools for everyone involved.