5 Solos Share Best Practices for Writing a Compelling Proposal

Just because you’re a solo PR pro doesn’t mean you’re in this alone. There’s a whole community of like minded people you can lean on.

In this monthly series, we ask five Solo PR Pro members to share their best tips, tricks and resources for managing their solo business.

5 solo PR pros share tips for writing a proposal

This month, we asked our panel of solo PR pros to share best practices for writing a compelling proposal for a prospective client.

Read on for their helpful tips.

1. Susan M. Stoga, Carson Stoga Communications

My best advice is to do your research and show it. While you certainly should have a new business or capabilities template, make sure to personalize it to the client you are approaching. 

I use Gini Dietrich's PESO model in my presentations so I can illustrate how the client's communication and marketing activities should work together. This starts the conversation about integrated activities and showcases how we work.

I never send blind or proposals off an email or call, or without understanding the exact (or as close to exact) business challenge they are solving for. 

2. Michael Ares, MDA Corporate Marketing, LLC

It may be old school, but I begin every proposal with a brief Situation Analysis based on initial research I’ve conducted on the potential client, the markets they serve and where they fit into those markets from a reputation and visibility perspective compared to their primary competitors.

I follow a simple “What You Told Me,” “What I See in the Market,” and “Key Opportunities” format. This approach demonstrates to the prospect right up front that I’ve a) listened to what they’ve said, b) taken the initiative to quickly assess their market and key competitors and c) have already identified ways I can hit the ground running on their behalf. What’s more, it gives the prospect the feeling that I know their market already, even if it is a market I’ve never worked in before.

Some may argue that this analysis should be a part of the scope of work once hired – that I’m giving away value I should be paid for. To that point, I make it clear that this is only a preliminary snapshot, and that a more detailed analysis is one of the first steps of the proposed paid engagement.

3. Melissa Vela-Williamson, APR, MVW Communications

Start by thinking about the goal of the prospective client or campaign. Summarize concisely who they are, what their problem (or opportunity) is and start sharing how you’re the right fit to guide them forward. Lay out what scope of work, process and steps you’d use (without giving away proprietary details) to meet that goal. Share ways you’ve accomplished what they’re trying to accomplish by sharing parts of case studies, testimonial quotes and of course stats that prove that story. Include a bio tailored for the client type (ex. education experience bio when it’s an education client) and a list of happy customers in their space to establish credibility.  

4. Jessica Lawlor, Jessica Lawlor & Company

One of my favorite tips for writing a compelling proposal is to add some personality and color commentary to an otherwise straightforward document using the tool Loom. Loom is an amazing tool with both free and paid versions designed to record and share video messages of your screen, cam or both.

To incorporate Loom into my proposal process, I’ll open up the proposal document, click record, greet the potential client, tell them how excited I am to potentially work together and walk through the proposal as if we were sitting in a meeting together. Because my proposals are typically pretty cut and dry — scope of work is outlined in neat, bullet points, creating a video gives me the chance to add color commentary and explain more than I could in a document.

The videos are short — typically 2-5 minutes — but they’re effective. I find that letting prospective clients hear my voice while explaining my credentials and outlining services and pricing showcases more personality and creates a more warm and inviting experience.

5. Karen Swim, Words For Hire

I am a huge fan of using the written proposal to recap what I have already discussed with the prospective client. This allows me to start the proposal focusing on THEM – what we discussed, their needs, challenges and opportunities. I want them to know right away that I was listening and am committed to providing what is needed. I also use the proposal to demonstrate what it's like to work with me and my team. I tailor the creativity to the client, but always like for it to reflect our company's brand and personality. We use photos, videos and color to communicate that to prospective clients.