5 Tips for Building a More Effective New Client Pipeline for Your PR Agency

Dec 12, 2022

We all want to grow our agencies each year, right? But to consistently grow your business, you’ll have to take on more and more clients…and you can’t do that effectively without a client pipeline. Establishing a strong client pipeline is a key part of scaling your agency, generating record revenue, and reaching your biggest goals!

What Is a Client Pipeline? 

A client pipeline is exactly what it sounds like: a stream of prospective clients that are sitting on the sidelines waiting to work with you when the time is right. They could be connections you made yesterday or ones you’ve been talking with for weeks. As a contact moves through your pipeline, they go from a new lead to a new client. 

Who is in your client pipeline is up to you —it’s your agency after all! The most important thing is to constantly work to refill your client pipeline as new brands join your agency. You need to have that constant stream of potential clients to lean on as you take your business to new heights. 

How to Build a Strong and Effective Client Pipeline 

If you don’t have a reliable client pipeline already set up, NOW is the time to get on it! It might seem like a big task (and a never ending one at that…), but it’s far easier than you think. Here are five of my best strategies for building a strong and effective pipeline full of clients that will light you up and help you push your business forward. 

Nail Down Your Ideal Client Profile 

As a PR pro and agency owner, you already have a vision of the business you want to run — you know your agency’s core values, how you want to work with your team, and the impact you want to have on your niche. But that vision needs to extend to your clients! You won’t be motivated to set up a client pipeline and grow your agency if you constantly work with brands that don’t feel right. 

Think about the types of people that you’re drawn to and the brands or contacts in your niche that you want to work with long-term. Which of their personality traits do you admire or appreciate? How do they inspire you? What’s the culture at their company and how do they treat their contacts? Your answers will help you build your ideal client profile. 

Once you’ve got that profile, go out and find potential clients that match! Just watch out for red flags along the way: if something in their personality or during your conversation reminds you of a bad experience with a past client, it’s a sign to move on.

Related: How to Be More Intentional & Focused as a PR Professional

Cast Your Network as Far and Wide as Possible 

Your network isn’t limited to just the people you know; a friend of a friend of a friend can be a powerful connection, too! Expand past your own professional circle to fill up your client pipeline effectively. Your team is an amazing source for this! 

Leverage your team’s connections to find new clients. This is an especially powerful strategy if you have newer team members who are transitioning to PR after starting their careers in another industry! You’ll be able to contact far more people than you would have if you’d just gone through your own contact list, and that personal connection forms a strong, credible referral. 

Make sure your team knows your ideal client before they start reaching out to their network, though. Not every connection is a perfect fit, and they should only reach out to contacts who align with your agency’s niche and core values.

Protect Your Reputation in Your Industry 

A first impression is everything when building your client pipeline, and sometimes it comes before you first make contact with someone! You need to protect and maintain your good reputation in your niche. Word-of-mouth is one of the biggest ways new clients enter your pipeline, but they won’t take that step if they hear that your agency isn’t the greatest to work with! 

Having a good reputation with just one person in your industry can turn into tons of opportunities down the road. Stick to your promises, meet your clients’ (realistic) expectations, and always take accountability in your agency — a good reputation will follow! And when you’ve stopped working with a certain client or media contact, put in the effort to maintain a strong relationship going forward. 

Keep Your Client Pipeline Clear and Organized 

You know as an agency owner that organization is everything…and this goes double for your client pipeline! There’s nothing worse than losing out on a dream client because you lost track of your conversation and communication dropped off. Personal connections are the key to success in PR, and that sort of lapse in a relationship can impact your ability to land a client down the road. 

Implement a system in your agency to keep track of new client leads as they move through your pipeline. What this looks like is up to you: you could go for an intricate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, or stay simple with a custom spreadsheet tracker built by your team.

Before deciding which way to go, reflect on your current client pipeline protocol to see if there are any weak spots. Are you struggling to follow up in a timely manner? Or are your lead magnet emails missing a personal touch? Figure out where you’re lacking and what tweaks you need to make to determine which organizational method is best for you.  

Say No! 

I know it seems counterintuitive, but saying no to clients is a HUGE part of setting up a strong client pipeline! If a client doesn’t align with your core values or your niche (or you just think they’ll be a pain to work with), they’re taking up space in your pipeline. You can and should walk away! 

Your client pipeline should only include clients that check all of your boxes. Remember: your time, skills, and expertise are incredibly valuable, and not everyone gets to work with you! When you say no to what doesn’t serve you, you free up space to work with clients who truly light you up and inspire you.

Related: How to Avoid Burnout When You're a Busy PR Professional

Setting up a strong and effective client pipeline seems like a major task, but it’s truly so vital to your agency’s growth success! Using these five simple strategies will help you overhaul your current client acquisition process and zero in on the clients that will have the most impact.