The ABC+ Method for Finding More Freelance PR Work
This is a practical, proven method for freelance PR consultants to find more wore client work.
Why, you may ask, is a freelance PR matchmaking service like The PR Cavalry helping PR freelancers to find more clients from their own efforts?
Surely it is in our interests to have PR freelancers less dependent on their own clients and more dependent on the clients we match to freelancers through our platform?
Well, we’re nice people, not drug dealers.
We also believe that a healthy freelance PR market is better for us and better for clients in the long run. Freelancers who have a good pipeline of client income do better, more adventurous work, at better rates and invest more in their own development.
Lift up all the boats.
How to Find More Freelance PR Work : The PR Cavalry ABC+ Method
This is lo-fi. Get an A3 sheet of paper and a pen and some highlighters
Three columns, A, B, C
In column A make a list of all the people in your professional inner circle. These are former employers, former close colleagues (including those who reported to you and who have gone on to do good things) people you’ve known a long time and who know your strengths and your weaknesses because they’ve seen you up close.
Here’s the thing. NEVER ASK THEM FOR WORK
These are your closest contacts and just like with friends and family, you don’t ask them for work.
It’s crossing a line.
It compromises their relationship with you and is probably going to raise questions. Don’t devalue what has taken years to build.
Instead, you ask them to do something that is specific and precise, that won’t take them a lot of time and if they don’t feel comfortable doing it, they can easily get out of it without either of you losing face or feeling that you backed them into a corner.
You ask one simple question: “Can you introduce me to………”
It might be ‘can you introduce me to someone at [name of organisation]’ or even to a named individual that you have a specific and well thought out pitch for.
The key thing is that you are asking for their help which they will be happy to do, because you go back a long way and they want you to do well, but you are asking something that is well defined, doesn’t require them to expend great effort and doesn’t require them to risk much on your behalf.
Make it easy for them to help you.
This is the big one. The column one you spend most time populating and thinking about.
Column B is where you list all your weak ties.
Weak ties are people who know who you are and what you do but there is little or no emotional investment on either side in the relationship. For example:
- Journalists you’ve got a good record with
- People you’ve shared a client with
- People who you’ve dealt with as a partner on a project
- A long time supplier
- Even someone you’ve had lots of interaction with on social (maybe DM’d some confidential info to, even though you’ve never met)
Why are these people more important than people who really know you?
The research shows that weak ties are your best source of new work. They are characterised by you sharing some meaningful cultural or professional interest, but not a valuable emotional bond to be risked.
Where are they and what should I do with them?
They are in your LinkedIn contacts, they are in your sent items folder (a very rich source), they are in your note books from the last few years, in Slack channels, Trello boards, them may even be on a business card.
The point is there will be scores, even hundreds of them.
This is your audience. These are the people you are pitching to in order to cast your net not only to them, but indirectly to their own weak ties. Your Column B might have 100 names on it and they each might think of 20 people for whom your skills might be relevant.
2000 people you are one email away from. Like CNN’s John King says, do the math
1% success rate = 20 pitches
1 in 4 win rate = five new clients
Your broad message here is clear and bold – I want to pitch you for work.
Now the + part of The PR Cavalry ABC+ method.
You have a vertical list of targets, now you need to slice horizontally
You need to segment that audience into sub groups
- People who can hire you directly
- Active introducers to potential clients
- Supporters who will talk you up if you ask them to like a post etc.
Then slice it again, get some different colour highlighter pens
What is your message and pitch to each segment of the audience?
It can’t be ‘please hire me, I’m nice’ It needs to be ‘I’m a food & drink specialist’ or ‘I’m a crisis comms specialist, here is my specific, targeted pitch.’
This is where you list your genuinely weak links.
These are people you ought to know better and who you’d like to move into Column B
They might be social media contacts you’ve never really interacted with or they may be industry figures who don’t know you exist or what you do.
The job here is here two fold.
You need to develop the relationship so that they can gradually move into Column B
You need to be adding more names to Column C. Slowly and respectfully.
Now step back and look at what is now a structured new business development plan. Stick it on your wall.
You have segmented your audience by type and message and given yourself specific tasks for developing each part of your audience towards a clear business goal.
Transfer it to a calendar to create weekly tasks and goals and follow-ups and add kinds of content you’ll create for your blog, LinkedIn etc.
It’s a lot of work (which is why our 10% commission on PR work that lands in your inbox that is precisely matched to your skillset is such good value to freelance PR consultants) but it’s a solid plan for finding more freelance PR clients.
Go get the highlighters.