Newton O'Neill Communications
PR with a personal touch.
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Courting New Business

As we approach Valentine’s Day and all that this Hallmark holiday entails, for some odd reason, my thoughts drift to recent attempts of making a “love connection” on the business playing field. We all know, finding the right fit can be a tiring, frustrating even demeaning process in our personal lives – ditto for business “dating.”

Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with the personal side of looking for love in a long time. I’m blessed to be in a secure, loving relationship with Mr. O’Neill for more than 17 years. With business on the other hand, the dating process is non-stop.

I’ve always had a pretty good read on people which has served me well in love, friendship and for the most part, business. However, because this matchmaking thing always involves people, it’s never black and white. People can be messy, indecisive, good intentioned yet flawed and that flows into every aspect of life – good ole human nature.

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However, wouldn’t it be awesome to find a fool-proof formula for flushing out new business prospects?  OK, I don’t expect to bat 100, but would love to avoid putting unnecessary time and energy into a prospect that either goes radio silent or decides that after all of the preliminary vetting (minimum budget?, what are your objectives and expectations of PR?, can you commit to at least X amount of time?), they actually don’t have the budget or desire to proceed. Going with a competitive firm, although disappointing, at least shows the client prospect is serious about a business relationship. But getting cold feet or just disappearing seems unprofessional – the tease of the new business dating game.

If you decide you need PR support, make the effort to track down a few PR firms, meet with one, two or more, provide preliminary budget parameters, then pull back like a tortoise into his shell, it comes off as flaky. Obviously, many unforeseens can happen between the initial phone call and receipt of proposal. And those that kindly explain that something came up to delay or indefinitely cancel the ability to implement a PR partnership are appreciated.

However, there are still businesses of all sizes out there that set up the first date, go through the preliminary courtship, ask for the proposal then fade away.  And since this is a case in which time is money, it’s not prudent or very nice to waste either.

New business is all about putting yourself out there, a little trial and error, some super fun dates and some real stinkers. Our company will never rely totally on the 20-page RFPs as a new business source. Sure, they’re serious, but too often those prospects box us in too tightly. We prefer a more entrepreneurial love match.

Guess our New Business Personals ad would read something like this: Mature, experienced, yet young-at-heart, get-it-done PR firm seeks fun-loving, young entrepreneurial business of any age with humor and wisdom beyond his/her years for long-term relationship. If interested, call or email for a first date!

Lisa O'NeillComment