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Successful New Business Pitching

Adrian Wheeler

PRCA January Training Sale ends Monday, 31st January, 2022 at 23:59 GMT. Use the online discount code JANSALE22 at point of purchase, or email

Who wants to be a close second?

The phone rings. ‘It was very hard to choose… your presentation was great… but I’m afraid you came a close second’. The average short-list is four agencies, so clients make this call three times after every pitch.

The phone rings. ‘I have good news!’ Clients make this call only 25 per cent of the time.

What makes the difference? Why do some teams win 60 per cent of their pitches? There are many factors involved and this PRCA workshop looks at them all in detail. But there is one factor which is super-important.


‘We just clicked’…’We could see that they were our kind of people’… ‘We spoke the same language’… ‘Other things being equal, it’s the emotional aspects which make all the difference’.

Clients rarely say it, but what they are thinking is: ‘Do I want to see these people in my office every other day for the next year?’

We have an hour to persuade them that yes, they do. That’s a very short time for us to come across as real, 3-D, technicolour human beings. The client has got to decide that she trusts us, that we know what we’re doing, that we will make her look good and, above all, that she likes us.

This may happen spontaneously, but why take the chance? An hour is not long.

SUCCESSFUL NEW BUSINESS PITCHING examines these chemistry factors and offers tips and techniques to make sure that real engagement will happen. For example:

Make ‘juniors’ the heroes of the pitch. Experienced clients know that it is the account manager and account executives who will make their programme a roaring success. They expect the seniors to be good but they don’t expect to see much of them. Give the ‘juniors’ a starring role and train them how to give their best performance on the day.

Have everyone introduce themselves for two minutes. It’s the people in the team who will win the pitch, so give the client a chance to relate to them. What will they contribute to the programme? What personal experience gives them something special to offer? What role did they play in putting the proposal together? And a personal statement: why do they want to work on this brand? Get everyone to introduce themselves right at the start of the pitch.

Make your visual aids very simple. You want the client panel giving their full attention to the people on your team. No-one can focus on two things at once, so use visual aids as cues to introduce what the speaker is saying next. One image and three bullets works well. Your colleague reads out the slide, then starts speaking – with all eyes upon her.

SUCCESSFUL NEW BUSINESS PITCHING offers sixty recommendations like these, covering RFI response, chemistry meetings, briefing meetings, preparing the pitch, delivering the pitch and following-up.

The presenter is Adrian Wheeler FPRCA, former CEO of Sterling PR and GCI Europe, who has taken part in over 1,200 new business pitches.