Ask any agency what their biggest challenge is, and they’ll tell you it’s finding new clients. As we enter the New Year, you may have this front of mind in your 2023 business planning.
Some agencies hope they can launch a revolutionary PR campaign and be “discovered” by their dream clients, but that’s far from reality.
PR agencies need to continuously look for new clients and find avenues to grow. What’s more, many agencies make the mistake of trying to fill their client pipeline broadly without realizing that they might not be targeting the right ones.
In fact, taking the time to clearly define your industry niche and narrowing your focus on prospective PR clients in that space will allow you to build in-depth industry expertise that you can leverage in the future for bigger, more lucrative accounts with larger companies.
So, start with establishing a target industry and audience — it will help you focus your efforts and prevent you from shooting in the dark. Once you know who you’re targeting, it’s about reaching your audience where they are, with the right communication.
Let’s take a look at how you can get more PR clients and grow your agency:
- Optimize your website
- Create thought leadership content
- Showcase success stories
- Make meaningful connections on LinkedIn
- Join Facebook groups for PR agency owners and professionals
- Use social media monitoring
- Implement a referral program
- Prepare customized business pitches
- Just ask
How to get new PR clients
1. Optimize your website
When reaching out to potential clients, the first thing they’ll do is take a look at your website. Being your biggest marketing tool, it’s essential to create a website that makes a good first impression.
From providing information about your agency and leadership team to highlighting your industry expertise, and clients you’ve worked with — the purpose of the website is to instill trust in potential clients, encouraging them to reach out to you. You want to get them excited about taking the next step and making contact with you!
While offering great website content and a seamless user experience is essential, don’t overlook the importance of optimizing your website for SEO best practices.
An optimized website increases your chances of attracting relevant, organic traffic and helps you establish a stronger online presence. The math is simple: the more people who visit your website, the more opportunities you’ll have to get new PR clients.
2. Create thought leadership content
As a PR agency, you’re expected to be experts in the public relations field. What better way to showcase your expertise than by creating content that draws in your target audience and makes them believe in your potential.
This is referred to as thought leadership content. It involves creating valuable and insightful content that positions your agency as an expert in your field or industry.
However, it’s not enough to write generic content pieces. You need to offer unique insights and create content that brings out your agency’s area of expertise while keeping it tailored to the PR clients you’re targeting.
For instance, if your PR firm caters to travel and hospitality clients, cover topics they’ll find not only informational but specifically relevant to their business, like how to get media coverage for peak holiday travel tours.
Here are a few content formats you can consider for creating thought leadership content:
- Company blog
- Email newsletters
- Guest posts
- White papers
- LinkedIn posts
3. Showcase success stories
Another tool that plays a huge role in building trust is case studies.
Case studies are a must-have on your agency website because they serve as social proof, helping you generate leads and attract more PR clients.
Showcasing success stories through case studies is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and build trust while letting potential clients understand what you’re capable of.
Make sure you weave a compelling story, emphasize your strategy, include enticing visuals, and share statistical data to strengthen the case study. Potential clients will always be drawn to the benefits of labor savings and sales increases.
The purpose of a case study is to generate interest. So, ensure you end it with a powerful call-to-action, making it easy for people to get in touch with you. Keep the next step as simple and frictionless as possible, like a button that directs them to “Contact Us” or “Schedule a Call.”
Here’s an example case study of how Lift Consulting, a Portuguese PR agency, uses Prowly to streamline their client work.
4. Make meaningful connections on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great platform to build your personal brand and connect with high-level decision-makers — and as a PR agency looking for new PR clients, you must leverage it to grow.
Apart from having an optimized company page, it’s important to be active on the platform by posting useful content regularly. Use the search feature to find your target clients by industry, company size, or even connections.
It’s also a good idea to join relevant LinkedIn groups and participate in them. This will help you expand your network, and add value.
5. Join Facebook groups for PR agency owners and professionals
There are Facebook groups for everything now, and you can easily find these online communities invaluable for networking. It’s well worth the time to seek out and join local and national Facebook groups for PR professionals and agency owners.
You’ll be surprised how many PR pros pass along referrals when they can’t take on another client or don’t feel specialized in the potential client’s industry. Many times they have even vetted the client in advance and are happy to make the introduction for you.
6. Use social media monitoring
Social media monitoring is all about keeping an eye on your target audience and monitoring conversations to get insights into what they’re looking for and uncover opportunities.
After all, you need to understand your potential clients well in order to give them what they want.
Apart from getting a better understanding of your target clients and their customers, it’s also important to see what their competitors are up to.
Making this a practice will give you access to some valuable intel that can be used to reach the right prospects with relevant pitches.
Don’t spend time on manual monitoring – not only is manually monitoring social media a waste of time, but it also increases lethargy and has a host of other ill effects, such as the negative relationship between social media and sleep and a drop in mood and productivity.
Instead, turn to social media management and monitoring tools to track industry keywords and target clients.
7. Implement a referral program
One of the most effective tactics to grow your PR agency is by running a referral program. It saves time and money while offering high returns.
Taking a cue from word-of-mouth marketing, referral marketing involves leveraging your existing network of clients to find new ones. So, you offer an incentive to your clients for every new client they bring you.
You can automate the referral process by sending out email campaigns, communicating about it on your website and social media channels and even including referral program details as part of your email signature.
And if you don’t currently have the time to set up a formal referral program, simply ask your existing clients to spread the word for you. These requests go along well with a quarterly or annual report and can be as simple as including a note like, “If you’re happy with the work we’re doing, we’d be honored if you’d pass the word about our services to your friends and partner businesses. Thank you so much!”
8. Prepare customized business pitches and PR proposals
Let’s say you have a prospective PR client, and you have been asked to submit a pitch. Chances are you’re among a few in the shortlist. The only way to stand out is to prepare a compelling business pitch and a PR proposal that are customized to their needs.
Start with gaining a complete understanding of the client’s business, customers, past work, pain points and competitors. Offer tailor-made solutions that address their requirements while establishing your agency as an expert in the field.
Apart from making it content-rich, make sure you design an engaging pitch presentation by using visuals to aid storytelling along with bold fonts and colors in line with your brand’s voice.
It’s also a good idea to be prepared to tackle any sales objections that might come your way on the day of the presentation.
9. Just ask
Schedule some time on your calendar to make a list of the companies and brands that you’d love to work with. Write them down and post the list somewhere prominent for you to see it daily. Take some time to research and locate the best contacts at each one, and then reach out to them. You’ve had success with cold media outreach before, so you know how to do this!
They may not be ready to bring on a PR agency yet, but it never hurts to start a conversation and plant the seed for future work. Just remember to check in with your new contact from time to time to see if they need any PR assistance.
Having a healthy pipeline of clients is essential for agency growth and success. While it’s not always easy to land & onboard new PR clients, these nine strategies will help you establish a process to expand the business, focus your efforts, and grow your agency effectively. Applying even a few of these strategies consistently will give you new opportunities to expand your business in the New Year and near future.
Cover photo by Austin Distel