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Scrambling for Ideas

No point to sugar-coat it; creating a client pitch is no easy feat. Its not random ideas that fall into place (well, ok, sometimes it is); it is a lot of hard work; researching, thinking, brainstorming, deleting, researching again ... you know, the cycle continues, until finally; you have the semblance of something you believe that not only can you articulate to the client, but can also result in great publicity. All this to get the client hooked ... into your way of thinking ... to heighten their brand.

Whether it be a short project or a longer retainer; most clients expect a pitch. They want to see what you can come up with for them, and whether this will translate into real outcomes of value. They also need to see whether your ideas (the good, the bad, and the ugly) synergise with their thinking styles and the way they work. Its all about chemistry - chemistry of people, and chemistry of brands.
In a pitch, an agency is sharing its vision of the potential clients brand, and highlighting what they think they can do to help the client move to the next level. No one has all the answers, but the pitch is an opportunity to showcase that you've been thinking about possible answers.
Preparing for a pitch is tough. Some brands are good enough to give a detailed brief. They have a clear brand direction, and they know what they want to achieve and where - our job is to embellish this and discover some hidden opportunities for them, as well as to demonstrate how PR can help them achieve their brand communication goals. Its not ego-stroking (in the sense that we tell the client what they already know, and of course, offer them lots of subtle pats on the back) - its about reinforcing the "how" as well as the "why" about what they want. Some clients, bless their cotton socks, are less savvy in this sense and need advice and counsel on how to move forward. They know they have a great product or service, but they themselves seek guidance on strengthening their brand proposition - and that's where we add value for their brand, by helping them to develop a longer term communications strategy.
At Orchan, the preparation for a pitch is both collective and individual. We each meet the client (together), listen to the brief, and then head off and research independently. This is where having a multidisciplinary team helps - we all come back with different perspectives - which helps to create even more exciting ideas for the client. Once we've done our research, we strategise ourselves on how we think things can be achieved; then regroup as a team to discuss in detail every idea.
This regroup is usually the Orchan team on the sofas, around the whiteboard, trying to stitch together all that we have thought. Seldom less than half a day, these planning meetings require sustenance - usually pizza delivered to the door, and copious amounts of drink from the Mamak downstairs. We float in and out, attending to emails and phone calls, as the core team work on refining every idea until we carve out a broad plan.
Often, we are still filling the gaps as we think deeper about each others' ideas, and very often, we are doing a lot of deleting too. The goal here is not to get a pitch finalized, but to have a cohesive approach that we all agree on, and to have developed a campaign which is achievable for the client.
Only then, can we craft the pitch!
Taking all of our ideas, structuring them into a logical sequence, we finally start to see the skeleton of a pitch. Now, the real work starts, as we focus on how to refine each idea, and the communication of it, into something that we are proud to share with out potential client.
One of the team types it out; emails it to everyone else, and then - the editing begins! Page by page, idea by idea, word by word, we critique the plan. Sometimes up well past midnight (the brain works better late at night for some of us), we reshape the pitch document until it is finally ready.
Off for design - thanks Kristy (our resident designer) - to be tarted up in a way that represents Orchan and the clients' brand - ready for one final run-through. This involves us reading through it, looking at how to present each page to the client (and who should present, too) .... a final re-edit perhaps, a change of graphics, save to everyone's computer;
... and business cards, laptops charged, shirts nicely pressed, and map to the clients office in Waze ... we are ready to pitch. Wish us luck! :-) 

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