Conor Febos

By

Conor Febos

Published on

March 7, 2019

Tags

agency life, public relations

It was a Wednesday. Early to mid-morning with the kind of humidity that’s as relentless as it is uncomfortable. Our team of public relations and marketing representatives were eagerly awaiting what was billed as the “pitch of the year” for an upcoming rebrand my former company was exploring. Then, just like that, there went the air conditioner and one of our key executives’ patience – the lack of AC was enough for this critical decision-maker to leave the room entirely. All I could do in that moment was think, “how does an agency adapt to strenuous and unpredictable moments such as this and still deliver an effective pitch?” As I would find out when joining LEWIS, it’s a combination of preparation, fortitude and the dynamic of the pitch team that makes the difference – much more on that later.


Before joining LEWIS in the summer of 2018, I was part of in-house public relations teams for over five years and often wondered what it was like on the other side of the table during those momentous moments. Most recently employed by a globally recognized brand, I sat through a myriad of pitches; some great, some okay, some, well, interesting. But no matter the level of pitch, the sheer confidence displayed was always respect-worthy – especially from the team that won our rebrand initiative amidst all-too-familiar New York summer humidity and a sudden executive exit.

While the in-house side of things certainly has its perks in the pitch room, it also lacks the kind of spirit and stimulation that can only be felt by those presenting. That key, singular difference is what finally drove me to the agency side of the house, and I don’t intend on looking back. But before delving into that wholesale change of pace, for those wondering what it’s like on the other side when the floor is yours, here’s some helpful insights:

  • First impressions really do matter: One of the first and most important things to remember is that big-time brands, more often than not, are set in their ways. If your objective is to instill change, present with commanding, assured confidence and work to organically prove that change and immersion are both necessary, if not imperative. Better yet, you might end up giving them something they weren’t sure they wanted but now must have as it relates to their brand or PR strategy. That calm and convincing impression will project confidence and go a long way in securing interest.
  • Be real: Cliché, right, but critical. Never let the moment force you into something you or your team is not. After a day or week full of pitches, there is nothing more refreshing than a group that enters the room with poise and genuine authenticity rather than as a caricature of some glamorous, oober-hip agency.
  • Connect on a visceral level: The ones that stick are the ones that connect on something beyond the RFP or inherent scope of work. Find ways to humanize the conversation as soon as possible and communicate with the prospective clients as you would in any other professional setting. While the moment may call for a certain level of sophistication in language, brands love nothing more than to feel as if they’ve known an agency for years, and one of the quickest ways to instill that feeling is by finding the wild card connection that resonates with the group.

For a deeper dive into the benefits of both, here is some additional insight especially useful for those who recently experienced the same shift from in-house to agency life.

Fortunately, enough, I was presented with the opportunity early on at LEWIS to participate in one of my most profound and challenging professional experiences to date. Longing for that other side of the table, I was able to join a team of brilliant coworkers across different departments representing what I truly believe are some of the most talented people in the industry. It was a trial by fire experience on how to prepare for a pitch the size of ones I had only seen from global agencies pursuing my former company.

This was different, though, in that it truly felt like something bigger. Regardless of the outcome, it was a lesson in what it is to be a part of a team driven by one unified goal. The single most important lesson learned from making the jump to agency is just that – no matter the outcome, there is a bond between team members before, during and after a pitch that is unwavering and something to embrace. While the differences between in-house and agency of course transcend the pitch room, thus far nothing has made the move feel more compelling than working on a pitch team. Maybe I was just lucky, maybe it was just LEWIS, but I can’t wait for the next one.
 
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