One talent that doesn’t always come naturally to PR people is the ability to promote themselves to win new business. Many in the industry rely on word of mouth and referrals to grow their agency but what happens when a change of direction is required? What happens when an agency decides to target new sectors with a brand-new proposition? How do you get staff on board with your plans?
The PRCA recently hosted an important business development event, designed to impart the wisdom of the brightest and best from the world of new business and business development in order to provide tools that will help the PR industry to continue developing prospects even during times of uncertainty, such as Brexit.
To help stimulate thoughts and conversations around the issues of new business and Brexit, the PRCA has published short, insightful articles from attendees and panel participants that should provide readers with points of view that will inform their own new business development strategy.
The challenges of Brexit are the same as other economically difficult times. The only difference is, this time, we created it ourselves.
Over the last 20 years, we've found new business to have one particular archenemy; uncertainty. It makes people very risk averse and they have a tendency to stay with what they know. No decision can feel far safer than the wrong decision. As such, decisions are generally delayed in the hope that more clarity is just around the corner.
What this means for new business is that you need to put a much more robust case for switching and nurture opportunities for longer. Procrastination is driven by the nature of the market, rather than the nature of the individuals you are talking to. Therefore don't lose faith in them and be supportive and reassuring rather than getting frustrated.
In your targeting you should be much more focused on your niche credibility - not who you could work with but who you should work with. Reflect that in your messaging to show impact and outcomes, not processes and philosophies. This will always make new business more effective but is even more important when there is uncertainty in the market.
However Brexit plays out, uncertainty will eventually disappear. Once people have a clearer idea of the future they can then start putting in place plans. Those that have continued to invest will be the beneficiaries when the pipeline they've built quickly starts to move. Those that wait before pushing on with new business, because the market is tough, will miss the changeover when it eventually comes. This is a time to be positive and efficient with the way you do new business, not give up and wait to see. Do that and it'll all be too late.
Matt North, HCA London