A popular jewelry commercial celebrates the joy of a marriage proposal with the catch phrase, “She said yes!” For PR pros, a business proposal that’s met with an astounding “yes” can prompt the same exuberance. There's cause for celebration when we've proposed to the right client (one that aligns with our work style, expertise and budget) and hear that magic word in return.
Determine the Best Approach
Writing a public relations proposal can be the beginning of a beautiful business relationship, but like a marriage proposal you need to tailor it. Prior to writing, you must to do your research to understand the client’s needs, interests and business environment. You should also spend some time getting to know the client through phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings, in addition to email exchanges. This will help you decide the best format and content for your proposal.
For a step-by-step guide to building successful proposals, including examples, Solo PR PRO Premium members can click here to download Proposal Power.
What to Include
The following is a general list of sections that can be included in your PR proposals, as appropriate. Use the research you’ve done to tailor your proposal to the client’s needs and styles – pick and choose from this list. The length will also vary depending on the circumstances – a section may take one sentence, a paragraph or a page.
- Your name, company name, contact Information and date of your proposal.
- Expiration date of the proposal, if applicable – in more formal proposals with a longer review cycle, you may want to define that the proposal and fees are only good for a specific period of time, such as 90 days.
- Executive Summary/Situation Analysis – this section can be covered in a paragraph or two and is used to clearly state your understanding of the client’s problems/needs. In proposals, particularly formal proposals such as RFP responses, this is universally the one section that all reviewers will read.
- Reason for submission – identify if you are submitting the proposal in response to a meeting, discussion or invitation to bid.
- Recommended programs – this is where you tell them what you will do, but not specifics of how you will do it.
- Budget – this section is very important to the client, of course. Though you’ll spell out the specifics of your agreement in a contract, it’s important to define the scope of what the budget covers (e.g., two rounds of revisions) in the proposal.
- Exclusions or limitations – you may want to define what is not included in the proposal. For example, if press releases are part of your offering, you may want to identify that distribution fees are not included.
- Your expertise, experience and capabilities.
- Bios on account team (these may include subcontractors, employees or partners that will work on the account).
- Case studies or examples of past work (formatted as challenge, solution, results).
- Your recommendations – this section is more detailed than an overview of the services that you will provide, but not so detailed that you are giving them all of the information to implement the solution without you. Some pros opt to provide detailed information and provide an option for clients to pay them for the plan if used without being required to hire the consultant.
- Client references.
Is there anything you'd add to this list? Have any additional questions? Please share, along with any lessons learned, in the comments!
The what’s not included, huge. Have to make that very, very clear. If they’re ordering ‘off the menu’ or trying to buy the steak w/out the sides, 1) they still pay for all the work to get there and 2) ‘a la carte’ has its own price tag and limitations. Important to avoid scope creep where you can.
Other things to add to this list – basic workflows and procedures; required project management/collaboration tools; email or phone; office hours and holidays and deadlines. You’ve given a deadline for the proposal itself, but the work will also need to be scoped per client needs, be very clear about the timeframes. FWIW.
Nice additions to the list! Since every new business situation is different, there are some instances when detailed discussions happen between the acceptance of the proposal and the signing of the contract.But you’re absolutely right that it’s often appropriate and useful to layout more specifics of the working arrangement in the proposal. Thanks for weighing in!
A good research to understand the client’s needs, interests and business environment to get a succesful PR. Such a Great list, will keep in mind in my next PR article.