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How To Not Do Yourself In With Bad Personal PR

Author: Shakira Brown   |   June 18th, 2010

Have you ever wondered why you didn’t land a new client? Obviously, there are a number of factors that could prevent you from landing new business such as price and experience. But what about the intangible reasons related to your own personal public relations tactics?

Recently, I was part of a request for proposal (RFP) process for a billion dollar client looking for a full service firm to redesign its corporate website. Although nine firms were sent the RFP, only three responded. In a down economy, you would think that companies are dying to be considered for this type of project.

A California web design firm responded and seemed qualified for the project, but went under a name associated with organized crime. We were put off by the name initially, but understood that personal prmany web-related companies have odd names. They gave this company the benefit of the doubt.

When two of the executives from the firm arrived for the pitch meeting their physical presentation disappointed. One of them showed up in a battered army jacket, thermal shirt, rugged jeans and boots and oh yes a very scruffy ungroomed beard. He looked like a stoner.

The other was somewhat business casual with jeans. Once again we gave them the benefit of the doubt thinking they would blow us away with their presentation, however, THEY HAD NO PRESENTATION.

The meeting was a nonplus – they didn’t have anything prepared in order to “sell us” which would should have been part of their public relations strategy. In fact, we learned that they didn’t do any of the things the project required, but would be outsourcing most of the work to “partners”.

They also didn’t show us any of their web design work (an essential for the project) nor did they disclose specific client names. They came all the way to the east coast to deliver an empty suit!

The worst infraction of the day was when my client asked their opinion about who should monitor social media at a large company and the gentleman with the scruffy beard said, “Most companies just have a public relations monkey do it.” As a public relations professional myself, I was very insulted.

They also made an inappropriate reference for having an “excuse” to go to Amsterdam to handle some server issues. Amsterdam is popular for legal marijuana use. That was definitely not a reference to make in a business meeting at a corporation. The meeting was a waste of time for everyone.

Best Business Mastery Tip: Every potential client is unique in some way and the cookie cutter approach will never work. Take the time to learn about your client BEFORE you go in for your new business pitch meeting.

Call and ask your potential client about their dress code and what their expectations are for their meeting with you. Ask them if they prefer a formal presentation over having an open conversation. Consider a proposal meeting as a way to do some in-person public relations so you can win new business.


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