There’s an Art to Pitching Business? Presentation Skills You Need to Know
For many of us, presenting in front of large groups can be a daunting task. Just think back to your school days – you dreaded getting up in front of the class to present your book report or science project. All you could think about at that time was “I can’t wait until I’m an adult and I don’t have to give presentations again!”
However, little did we know that for many of us presentation skills could make or break you in business.
Just ask Peter Coughter, the president of Coughter & Company, which consults with leading advertising agencies around the world. Coughter is also the author of the well-known book, The Art of The Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills That Win Business, which offers advertising and marketing professionals the tools and tips to develop and give great presentations that deliver business and grow as a professional.
In his book, Coughter asserts that simply having the best work or the best ideas is not enough to win business. You must show the audience, or potential client, that you want their business and are willing to do what it takes to win it. In order to do that, Coughter offers a few tips on the art of pitching and developing a great presentation:
- Know Your Audience: It is easy to talk to people you know, right? So, get to know your audience before the pitch. In the time before you presentation, spend as much time as you can understanding your audience both as a whole and as individuals. What kind of people are they? What are their demographics and cultures? Where are they on the issue or topic you’ll be discussing? What are their expectations? You should even go as far as finding out about their personal lives. What are their hobbies? Where did they go to school? Are the sports fans?
- Have a Conversation: The mortal sin of presenting is talking at your audience and boring them. You must make your presentation conversational and get the audience involved. When you do this, your audience will feel less like they are being lectured and be more likely to remember what you said.
- Make It Personal: Great presenters are not afraid to introduce a level of intimacy as most people make decisions emotionally. If you share a personal story, the audience is able to relate to you on a higher level and it helps you build credibility and make lasting connections.
- Work as a Team: Teamwork really does make the dream work. When a team doesn’t like one another or get along, a client or potential client will sense it immediately. Even if the team’s presentation is perfect and they offer great ideas, the only thing the audience will take away from it is, “If the team can’t get along, how will they successfully work on our business?” And, you won’t win the business.
- Rehearse: It is paramount that you rehearse your entire presentation out loud and that you know your material – not just your part, but also everyone’s. If you do so, the presentation will feel natural and even give the appearance of spontaneity to the audience. In addition, the chances of surprises arising on the day of the presentation will decrease significantly.
- Be Yourself: The most important thing to remember is to be yourself, be human and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, Coughter asserts that the most amazing presenters acknowledge their mistakes and attract the audience by being so honest, vulnerable and authentic. If you’re not, the audience will immediately recognize it and they won’t believe that your ideas or advice are genuine. Ultimately, you’ll end up losing the business because of it.
From winning business and bringing in revenue, to creating great relationships, a great presentation can open many doors for you as a professional or firm in public relations, marketing and advertising. A bad one can also close many doors. So make sure your next presentation is perfect by remembering the art of a pitch.
By Maggie Markert, Senior Strategist
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but how about 1,000 hits? Information graphics, or more commonly known as “infographics” are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge that help to present information quickly and clearly. It is hard to ignore the surge of infographics that you see every day in print, online and social media.
From the USA Today Snapshot to Instagram to research reports, infographics are everywhere.
Why have infographics become so popular? For starters – they are fun, visually appealing, and a great way to communicate a lot of information in a succinct way. In addition, consumers are bombarded with a massive amount of information on a daily basis and it has shortened our attention spans. In fact, a recent Nielsen Company audience report revealed that adults in the U.S. spend nearly 11 hours each day consuming media.
Competition for consumer attention is fierce and a strong visual will make people more compelled to reader your content and to share it with others. According to a recent article on HubSpot, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of what they heard three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of it three days later. Additionally, infographics are much more likely to be shared via social media than your standard text article. In fact, Infographics are “liked” and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content, according to HubSpot.
What’s the Story?
Infographics can be used to support a campaign in a variety of ways – to display survey data, illustrate a trend or timeline, make comparisons, raise awareness of an issue, simplify a concept or process or demonstrate results of research. To be effective, infographics must be focused on your core idea and tell a compelling story. Use a compelling headline that grabs the user’s attention and use images and captions to connect the dots. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need original data to leverage infographics. As long as you include the sources of information, you can also use industry data, trends, and other relevant information to support your idea.
Keep it Simple and Sharable
The design of an infographic is as important as the content. Compelling infographics are well designed, visually appealing, and easily digestible. Limit fonts and be consistent with the color palette. Remember to leave white space. The infographic also has to be easy to view and easy to share. Designing it to be a manageable length and size will make it easier to share and view on social media and other mobile platforms.
Share Far and Wide
Once you’ve created an infographic, you need to promote it. There are many ways that you can share it to increase awareness, visibility and engagement for your business: send in a press release as an accompanying visual; share on social media; post on your website and company blog; or send with a pitch to targeted media contacts.
At Zer0 to 5ive, we love to use infographics in our PR campaigns and we have seen the difference that a well-designed, visually appealing, and easily digested infographic can make in media coverage, particularly on social media. We’ve included a few of our favorites below to give you some ideas on using infographics in your next PR or marketing campaign.
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Industry tradeshows are one of the oldest and most popular tools in the marketing toolbox for generating sales leads; they are also one of the most expensive. The industry average for a 20×20 tradeshow display costs between $40-$60K, according to ExhibitUSA – not including employee travel costs, hotel stays, food and beverage, audio and visual, alcohol, or entertainment.
To almost no one’s surprise, tradeshows continue to be one of the most powerful tactics for companies seeking a direct return on investment. Where else can you meet face to face with prospective customers and partners while getting to spy on your competitors?
If you have been using tradeshows solely as a sales tool, you’re missing out on opportunities to expand your PR footprint by building credibility and buzz for your brand, as well as getting to meet key trade media in person.
Whether you’re attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) or EDUCAUSE, there are great ways to build buzz and garner media coverage.
Be a detective
If you are an exhibitor, speaker or sponsor, chances are, you’ll have access to the registered list of media attendees. If not, or if the organizers won’t share the list with you, use Google to find out what media covered the event last year; there’s a strong chance that if they’re still at the same publication and covering the same beat, they’ll be the ones attending again. Reach out to inquire if they’ll be attending again and if they can make time to stop by your booth. If they aren’t assigned to cover the conference this year, ask if they can connect you to the right person at their publication.
The early bird gets the worm
If you wait until the week before your event to ask reporters for a meeting, you’ll be greatly disappointed. By that time, their calendars are already full. Traveling for tradeshows is a big investment for reporters, and they typically have a number of things they want to see and accomplish. They will have sessions they want to hear and interviews their editor has already assigned. Ideally, reach out 3-4 weeks in advance to ask for a meeting. If a reporter’s schedule won’t allow a face-to-face, schedule a phone interview in advance to brief them on your news so that if they do swing by your booth, the pressure is off for both of you and you can just hit the high points.
Create a sense of urgency
If your client has big news to share, don’t wait until the day of the show to make a splash! Give your media contacts a heads up at least a week in advance and share the release with them under embargo, so that they are able to gather all of the information and conduct any interviews they need to tell a great story, BEFORE they step foot on the tradeshow floor. This way, your story is more likely to run AT THE START OF or DURING the event, which can create greater buzz and capture greater attention.
Social media can’t be done in a vacuum
If your company has been inactive on social media channels up until now, leveraging a conference is a great starting point to build a following. Assign one person to be in charge, but encourage all employees to engage with the Company’s social media channels during the event. Use the event hashtag in your posts so that anyone following the conversation will see them. Use the weeks leading up to the event to leave teasers about what you’ll be showcasing, where your booth will be located, and to start generating conversation and building followers that you want to meet with at the event. Don’t rely on a colleague sitting in an office 3,000 miles away pushing out canned tweets that don’t reflect any real-time interaction from the event. Mix it up with photos, quick video interviews and direct quotes from speakers at the event.
When the show is over, you’re just beginning. You’ll want to follow up with any media and analysts that you met with at the conference to see if there they would like a follow-up call, if they have any questions, or if there are any materials that they would like to see. It’s YOUR responsibility to close the loop and move the tradeshow meeting into media coverage. And, for anyone that you weren’t able to meet with – because there will ALWAYS be cancellations – make sure to follow up to reschedule the meeting by phone. Connect with reporters you met on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter and have your client do so as well – use the tradeshow as a catalyst to get the conversation going.
Tradeshows are a large investment of time and money for companies. By putting the right amount of time, effort and strategy behind them, you can create measurable value beyond sales!
By Colleen Martin, Principal
Pursuing FDA approval for your medical device can be an exciting time for any company in the healthcare space. Whether you are taking the path of the FDA’s premarket approval (PMA) process or the 510(k), the regulatory milestones along the way create multiple opportunities for a company to begin generating visibility and awareness for the product.
These key milestones include:
- Clinical Trials
- PMA/510(K) Submission
- Advisory Committee Meeting
- FDA Approval
A PR strategy that beings at the start of clinical trials and keep key stakeholders informed along the way will enable you to be prepared for each step, maximizing visibility throughout the process, and hit the ground running once your product receives FDA approval.
Clinical Trials – Announcing the commencement of clinical trials (first patient enrolled) and the achievement of key milestones can be announced through press releases and promoted to the media. At this stage, it is important to identify your top media contacts and influencers so that you can keep them informed throughout the process. Phase I and II clinical trials will generate the most interest among trade publications, while Phase III trials will be of interest to a wider array of media, potentially including mainstream media.
Once the clinical trials end and the submission is being prepared, it can be a good time to launch an issues campaign that supports the need for your device in the industry, educates stakeholders and helps build awareness. This type of campaign can help lay the groundwork for the filing and advisory board meetings.
PMA/510(K) Submission – Prior to the company submitting its application for FDA approval, it’s important that all the pieces of the communications strategy are in place to support the company through the advisory meetings and begin the push toward launch. This includes finalizing key messages and supporting points, identifying and preparing KOLs, and conducting any non-clinical research that will help support the launch of the product, such as market research or surveys. The PMA submission should be announced through a press release and interviews with key reporters should be scheduled with company executives.
Advisory Committee Meetings – Advisory Committee meetings leading up to approvals are a key milestone for awareness and visibility. It is important to issue a press release in advance of each meeting – to announce the scheduled meeting date and to inform media of this important milestone – and also to announce the outcome immediately upon the close of each meeting, preferably the same day. Industry media are likely to attend these meetings, particularly if your device is high profile. You can contact the FDA communications team assigned to your device category for additional insight into which media have registered to attend the meeting or might be there. Therefore, company spokespeople should be prepared with media talking points and a QA in advance of the meeting for on-site interviews. Key media contacts not in attendance should be briefed via phone as soon as possible following a successful meeting.
FDA Approval – Assuming that all goes well, the FDA will alert the company that the product is “approvable” and a date will be set by which time your company will receive official word of approval. While it is sometimes hard to know the specific date that the approval will be received, you should be prepared with all materials and communications plans in place so that you can push out the press release immediately upon notice. All key reporters should be pre-briefed on milestones to date and the outcome of the advisory board meeting. Key KOLs, clinical trial sites that you are using for media, and others who will serve as media references should be media trained and provided with key message points. Photos, videos and other multimedia assets should be prepared, captioned and made available on your website for download (this page can be hidden until the approval is official.) Once the FDA approval is formalized, an aggressive PR campaign in support of the product can begin.
Likely there will be some time between FDA approval and the actual commercial launch of the product to target market. At this point, you should have a strong foundation of visibility and awareness for your product, which will help you build momentum towards the commercial launch. But that, my PR friends, is a topic for another blog!
Any tips to share for maximizing visibility through the FDA process? Let us know.
As public relations professionals, one of our main responsibilities is to build relationships with the media on behalf of our clients. Developing a good rapport with a member of the media can result in interview and byline opportunities you’ve pitched as well as opportunities where a reporter proactively reaches out to use a client as an expert in an upcoming piece.
In order to foster a great relationship with a member of the media, a PR pro must first understand the keys to successful pitching. Understanding what a reporter is looking for will enable you to draft pitches that will not only be worthwhile to the reporter, but also to you and your client.
Here are five things to remember before you develop your pitch:
- Facts, Facts and More Facts: The media loves hard facts, so beginning your pitch with a reputable, eye-opening statistic to address a pain point is a great way to get a reporter’s attention and spur his/her interest in the topic you are pitching.
- Hard News Is Great News: You can pique the media’s interest by pitching them hard client news such as new products, acquisitions, partnerships, etc. In some cases – when newsworthy enough – you can even use these types of announcements to kindle their interest through embargos or exclusives.
- Breaking News and Events: Whether it a recent election or a major conference/event/holiday, you can use timely news hooks to get the attention of a reporter that may already be covering a related story
- Catchy Subject Lines: A subject line can make or break your chance of catching the eye of a reporter, as they are often working on-the-go or trying to meet a deadline. Your subject line should be as short and clever as possible, as well as readable from a smartphone or tablet.
- Ready-to-Go Content: Reporters are often juggling multiple stories at once, so they may pass on a story idea if it requires them to interview a source and ultimately write another piece. Having “Expert Tips” or “Top-10 Lists” at the ready can increase your chances of coverage. In some instances, it can also lead to a byline opportunity for your client.
Keeping these tips in mind, you can now confidently draft a pitch that will get a second look and help you open the door to new and greater opportunities for client coverage.
The Anatomy of a Success Pitch
By Maggie Markert, Strategist
“What exactly is public relations?” I get asked this question all of the time (side note: mainly from my mother). For years my answer always included some form of “we work with the media and journalists.” While this still holds true, the answer has shifted a bit as the public relations (PR) landscape has taken on new forms and new channels.
While traditional journalists are still present and relevant, bloggers are now also regular targets to pitch. Bloggers have quickly made their rise in the PR world, and in some cases can be equally or more influential than a journalist. By definition a blog is a website on which a person writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences. According to NM Incite, 6.7 million people publish blogs, and another 12 million write blogs using their social networks. With so many people blogging today, it’s important that PR professionals tap into this segment and build relationships with these writers, just as they would traditional journalists.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a blogger may be a journalist for a traditional publication, but who also blogs on the side- perhaps about the same beat they regularly cover, or something entirely different that they are interested in. These blogs can be as equally important for consumers, especially with 81 percent of U.S. online consumers citing that they trust information and advice from blogs.
One last distinction that should be noted is the difference between bloggers and vloggers. Bloggers typically write pieces, where vloggers capture videos. With so many social video platforms taking off- Snapchat ,YouTube channels, Instagram Stories- targeting vloggers should also be a standard practice for PR professionals as well.
Embrace Contributed Content
Pitching the same reporters, bloggers, etc., can sometimes feel repetitive. As PR professionals, it’s our job to think of new ways to get our clients into key publications. It’s easy to get a client’s hard news written about, but it’s a bit more difficult when the news is few and far between.
One popular and effective way to get clients into publications is to offer contributed content or bylines. In these contributed pieces, top-level executives or experts in a particular field can discuss forward-thinking thought leadership topics. Bylines are a good way to showcase a Company’s expertise on a certain topic. As a best practice, it’s good to vary the expert who authors the bylines to showcase the depth of leadership and experience at the company.
People tend to think of social media as an entity that is separate from PR. However, social media is just another channel that PR Pros can use. PR pros should aim to leverage all relevant social media channels to further engage audiences and build awareness. Repackaging news or articles, or creating the perfect 140-character sound bite and hashtags are all part of the new PR.
It’s important for PR professionals to stay current with emerging and established channels to optimize brand awareness and engagement. Public relations goes beyond pure media relations to engage multiple publics through multiple channels- and in today’s world it’s about meeting your customer where they are, whether that’s a traditional trade publication, the daily newspaper, or the latest vlog.
By: Lindsay Hull
A great way to promote your brand is by leveraging popular trends. Through a few well-managed steps you can create a strong link between your product and a popular trend, giving you an extra boost from the association. One notable example is the recent AR/mobile hit Pokémon GO. The game itself garnered massive amounts of media attention and numerous marketing capitalization articles to follow. In light of such a successful launch, I want to detail how you can successfully capitalize on the next big trend when it gets here.
In baseball, if you swing a second too late then you’ve missed the ball. The same applies to the launch of a PR or marketing campaign. Timing is important because there will be a surplus of companies and individuals racing to produce content surrounding any trend that beings to grow in popularity.
Pokémon GO launched in mid-July last year. If you hadn’t introduced your marketing idea by at least the first week of the launch, you were already edging on late. Joining the party a month in? You missed your chance. Trends move quickly in the digital age and it’s always better to be one step ahead of the game than even a millisecond behind.
When planning a trend-based PR or marketing campaign, make sure to carefully monitor the news for any pre-buildup of the trend and make sure to launch as close as possible with the actual hype of it. This way you ensure that you can be one of the first thought leaders commenting on the trend or one of the first brands to interact with it.
Focus on the Right Trends
Everyone loves a one hit wonder, but hits like that won’t have enough traction to sustain your PR and marketing efforts. What made Pokémon GO such a great trend to promote was the longevity of the brand and the multigenerational fan base. The first whisperings of this project had both adults who grew up in the ‘90s and young fans of today jumping with excitement to see their favorite characters come to life before their eyes. Buzz for this game started well before the release, and the hype kept growing the closer we got to the game’s release date.
If you are going to use marketing efforts in line with a popular trend, make sure it’s a trend that will last for a while. Even though Pokémon GO has had a decrease in users, it’s still popular and, more importantly, successful. It might be some time before we see another trend as popular as Pokémon GO, but it’s important to keep your eye out for the next trend that will have a potent presence in the media.
Find the Connection
Anyone can associate themselves with a trend, but the more meaningful the association, the more successful the campaign will be. To ensure people are paying attention to your brand amidst the hype of the trend, you need to make sure that your brand has a logical and meaningful connection to the trend. Don’t just talk about a trend for the sake of talking about it. Talk about it because it is relevant and you have something to add to the conversation. In any media or marketing relationship, you are looking to provide each other with relevant and useful information.
So, if you are trying to promote your brand in association with a big trend like Pokémon GO, find the logical connection before you promote. If you are a floral shop, a marketing idea could be creating Pokémon-themed floral arrangements that you give away to local stores with Pokéstops, an integral feature in the game. This type of “trend ride” is relevant, fun, and helpful for others, which is a great recipe for receiving positive media praise.
Overall, trend-based campaigns are an exciting and creative way to help promote your brand. With the correct attention to detail, you can create an interactive campaign that helps form a meaningful bond to a trend and successfully promote your brand. Pokémon GO may have had its time to shine, but will you see next year’s hit trend before it’s here? And, more importantly, will you catch it in time to capitalize on it?
By: Jaimie Yakaboski