4/18 Meeting Recap: Best Practices for New Business



By: Leslie Ortega


For our final meeting of the semester, Texas PRSSA had Hill+Knowlton Strategies come talk about the steps of acquiring new business within their firm. With over 86 offices in 47 countries, H+K is a full service global strategic firm that helps brands and the public communicate while coordinating with counterparts to pursue global opportunities and campaigns. Here’s a review of their presentation.

First, H+K starts off by finding leads on new business. H+K generates leads through either their website, personal connections, referrals, or even cold calls. After finding these leads, they check to see if this opportunity works with their company by using these 4 objectives:

  • Revenue: making sure their client’s budget is inline with them
  • Relevance: having work examples that can help with the new business or partners with past experience in this field
  • Reputation: is the client company viewed in a positive light?
  • Resources: are there adequate staff and resources to do the work?

If they decide to move forward, H+K schedules a meeting with the client to make sure they tailor to them and start to build a relationship. They have to make sure that they match what they do with what the client is looking for. They also ask questions like why they chose H+K, who they view as their competition and why they issued an RFP (Request for Proposal).  

  • RFP: An RFP typically is a 30-day process but it can vary with each client. A project timeline of a 30-day RFP includes:
    • Day 1: RFP is qualified
    • Day 4: Submit questions
    • Day 10: Written response
    • Day 24: Pitch
    • Day 30: Contract negotiations

Next, H+K gathers research and insights in order to understand the client. This includes finding company profiles as well as information on a company’s board of directors, number of employees, markets they work in and whether they’ve been in the news lately. H+K uses this research as guideposts to shape creative ideas. They first start off with templates and canned language but these are building blocks, not the final products. No matter how big or small the company is, they make sure to customize ideas to their needs.

After gathering research, it’s time to handpick the team that will be pitching to the client. Roles are assigned to each member based on their past experience or relevance to the new client. H+K makes sure to know the team they’re pitching to and where it will be taking place. After collecting this information, the team works on their presentation. Submissions tend to be more text-heavy while pitch presentations more of an emphasis on photos and visuals. Those on the pitch team don’t usually have scripts but rather notes so that they won’t sound too scripted. They also have to be able to read people in the room – it’s important that the client connects with the pitch team.

If they win the account, H+K starts working with other agency partners to help the company. If they don’t win the account, they take steps to find out why and how to prevent losing the next one. It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your pitch team, so asking for feedback afterwards is necessary. Most companies feel comfortable sharing what they didn’t like about the pitch, which makes it easier to improve and grow the company.