5 Ways to Improve Your PR Proposal Process & Sign More Clients

Apr 08, 2024

It’s sooo frustrating when your PR proposals just aren’t converting prospective clients. Unfortunately, between budget cuts, AI, downsizing, and layoffs, A LOT is happening behind the scenes for clients. Reaching dead ends in the client process over and over again can completely zap your motivation.

When you hit that wall, it’s time to switch up your strategy and implement a new PR proposal process to work for your niche. If you’re tired of wasting time chasing client leads that go nowhere, I have two tips to improve your proposal process and three BIG mistakes you need to avoid!

How to Improve Your PR Proposal Process

Strategically creating a better PR proposal process can help you attract and convert more clients. These changes might take some getting used to, but they’re more than worth it when you land BIG clients! 

#1: Shorten Your Retainers

I typically advocate for 6- or 12-month retainers, but those might be too much for some clients. Tons of industries are going through layoffs right now, and many potential clients are dealing with major budget cuts.

A 3- or 6-month retainer could be more doable for your potential clients during the PR proposal process. The shorter timeframe and lower cost (without losing out on services) could motivate them to invest in their businesses and join your agency. You can always extend the contract length after the end of the first retainer!

Another option is to lengthen your lead time to sign clients. Longer lead times allow clients to shift their budgets to make your retainer work. Be wary of back-and-forth, though — if a client leads you on for longer than a month or two, it may be a sign to walk away.

Start your partnership off right with my Client Pipeline Pack, which includes concise and effective outreach templates to bring in new clients!

#2: Create an Offer Ladder

When an offer ladder is part of your PR proposal process, you’ll get your prospective client in the door for no commitment. Then, you can create a basic strategy and offer your prospective clients full services once you secure the retainer.

What you provide inside the offer ladder is up to you! You may want to tweak the offer ladder for each client, especially if you work in multiple niches. What works for one client may not work for another — it’s just about what gets you in the door and helps you start building that relationship! 

Here are two ways you could start your offer ladder when making a PR proposal:

#1. Do a paid brand audit

Brand audits are usually done once a new client joins your agency, but they’re a great way to build your offer ladder after a free Q&A call! With a brand audit, you’ll do a deep dive into your potential client’s strengths and weaknesses to better set up an effective action plan to reach their goals. You can give them a high-level overview of your findings as part of your PR proposal process to seal the deal. 

When potential clients pay even a small amount for an offer, they become way more likely to invest in your services. Plus, they’ll have more face time with you so they can vibe with your energy and discover how your agency works.

As you execute and discuss the brand audit, make sure your potential client understands the value of PR — I mean, they’ll see the value right before their eyes with your brand audit findings, but it’s still a good idea to reinforce the power of PR throughout your call!

This is massively important when it comes to client retention and satisfaction. Misaligned expectations are the #1 reason why clients become unhappy and leave agencies. Make sure your prospective clients understand what your results may look like and know what to expect from working with you before they sign their retainer.

Related: How to Successfully Execute a Brand Audit for New and Existing Clients 

#2. A Paid Press Plan

Look, you should never give away your full strategy when sharing a PR proposal, but providing a more fleshed-out document could seal the deal! A press plan will give your prospective client a list of action items or outreach strategies to help them grow as a brand. Walk them through a high-level overview of how you’d implement this strategy and how your anticipated results would push them toward their goals. 

If you decide to do this, make sure you charge a premium fee for your services! Yes, this is a lower-commitment project than a full-blown press plan, but you should still get paid for your efforts and expertise.

Building a PR proposal like this will nudge your starting point down the road, but it helps increase overall conversions. Plus, you’ll still be compensated for your time, even if the client decides to go in another direction. 

What NOT to Do to Secure More Clients

When clients aren’t coming in like they used to, it’s easy to get stressed…but don’t give into the instinct to panic! Doing whatever it takes to land a client can lead you to partners that aren’t the right fit for your agency. Avoid these PR proposal pitfalls to continue building a business you love. 

#1: Don’t Switch to Hourly Pricing

Hourly rates in your PR proposals limit your earning potential and get your agency stuck in a plateau. You only have so many hours in a day —you can’t grow your business effectively when you tie your revenue to time worked

Cheap clients are the worst clients. They almost always lead to scope creep, frustration, and burnout. Retainers attract high-caliber clients who are ready for this level of commitment and respect you as a partner. 

If you’re frustrated that you’re not getting the right people in your client pipeline, you may need to switch up your outreach strategy. My Client Pipeline Pack has proven templates to help you land your dream clients!

#2: Don’t Discount Your Rates

Discounted rates hold you back! If you’re offering the same retainers as always at a lower price in your PR proposals, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

You’re actively undervaluing yourself as a PR pro and communicating to your client that your services weren’t worth that high retainer in the first place. If YOU don’t value your time, expertise, and energy, why would your clients?! 

Only lower your rates if you eliminate some of your regular services from the prospective client’s retainer. Walk them through your usual retainer to weed out any services that aren’t the right fit for their business or wouldn’t be effective at this stage in their PR journey. Every service you cut results in a lower monthly fee.

If you can remove enough services to make the retainer price work for your client’s budget, you’ll motivate them to sign the contract (and they’ll be grateful you made it work!). 

You always have the option to add these services back into their retainer at a later date. Ensure your potential client understands that they still have flexibility. You can review the services together when it’s time to extend their retainer. 

Related: Which PR Services Should Be Included in Your Retainer?

#3: Don’t Leave Your PR Proposal Deadline Open-Ended

The PR proposal process can involve a lot of back-and-forth. Limit the timeframe so you don’t get dragged along or ghosted!

When you send a proposal to your potential client, clearly communicate when you need an answer. Be accommodating if they ask for a few extra days to sort out their budget, but don’t go overboard. Your time is valuable, and you shouldn’t waste it on clients who aren’t going to convert. 

This is a great way to establish mutual respect between you and your potential client and set your new partnership up for success! Get your proposal to them on time, and ask them to extend the same courtesy by responding by your deadline.

Writing winning PR proposals and converting clients like crazy takes a little bit of strategy. If you’re struggling to sign clients, don’t panic! Take a look at your proposal approach, make some strategic adjustments, avoid those all-too-common proposal pitfalls, and watch your business boom!