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If you’ve read my posts before you know that I am a member of PRSA’s Counselors Academy and wholeheartedly endorse it for all owners and managers of PR firms. Truly one of the best professional development investments I make all year.

I was thrilled to learn that Eric Morgenstern, of Morningstar Communications in Kansas City, was doing a free webinar on new business development.  I adore Eric, from the first time we met drinking coffee on Grouse Mountain, he has always been so open and honest about his business and willing to share his secrets to success.

So I logged on to the webinar and was not disappointed –about 45 minutes of genuine nuggets of information that all of us in the public relations agency business (well, really any service business that needs clients to be successful) can benefit from.

Here are some of the highlights.  He promises to share more at the upcoming Counselors Academy Conference in Austin in June. You can bet I’ll be there, front and center.

  • Grow your business within your current client base. Determine which clients are truly "cultivatable" and figure out a strategy to market to them. This is so much easier to do if you are not the one serving the client. Use a regular "check-in" opportunity with the client to share the other services you can provide.
  • Build a brand called "you."  You have to attain a position of trust with your clients. Otherwise you're a vendor, not a trusted advisor.
  • We all know the importance of networking – it is as much about who you know as who knows you.  Ask to be introduced to those people, too.
  • Choose fewer fights-assess each new business opportunity against your agency's sweet spot. Sometimes it is better to pass so you can focus on the right thing.  The greatest cost to new business development is your time -- what else could you/should you be doing? Is it worth that investment to go after what might not be a good fit?
  • So often we’re asked to pitch without the prospect sharing the budget figures, so how do you get that answer.  Eric asks “do you want the sunken tub or the standup shower?” In other words, we want to give you a plan you can work with so please share your budget so we can make a fair assessment.  We can serve you better when we know the numbers.
  • Consider the three levels of the new business cycle…. sales/consultant/execution.  We are selling our services, but we need to stop when the prospect starts asking for advice (consultant) and how we will do the work (executive).  Ask the client “can we move this along?” Let client answer. If the answer is yes, then send contract/invoice and get started.

And probably his best advice was….own the position of excellence and market continuously. Put yourself in front of influencers all the time.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. Scott Hanson says:

    He’s right on every point. “Put yourself in front of influencers” translates to our “You must circulate to percolate.”

  2. Thanks so much, Abbie, for the kind words AND for this terrific summary. I’ve learned getting new clients is much easier if you stop selling and start implementing these long-term growth strategies. I look forward to additional conversation w/everyone who joins us in Austin for Spring Conference, and hmmm, we’ll find another place for this year’s “coffee talk.” Thanks again!

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