Grow Agency Business with the Power of Referrals


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Your agency has a roster of “rock stars.” You have shelves upon shelves lined with awards. Your website shows the agency’s experience – and success – knocking top-tier campaigns out of the park.

But, despite your amazing “wins,” the anticipated new business opportunities just aren’t clicking.

What gives?

After 30 years leading Litzky PR’s new business efforts, here’s what I’ve learned:

Referrals are without a doubt the number one way to land new clients. As PR professionals, we rely on word of mouth and ‘buzz’ to keep our clients in the mainstream.  Why not bring the same energy to your new biz effort?

Yes, awards, amazing employees and incredible work can help you sell in your services, but at the end of the day, companies would prefer to invest in partners they trust.

But how do you get those referrals?

Here are 6 of our tried-and-true ways.

Prioritize local community involvement

From purchasing produce at a local farmers market to investing in neighborhood business, people love to “go local” and you can capitalize on this trend for your agency! Establish yourself in the community by attending local business events, volunteering with a neighborhood group, etc. The more you network with local residents authentically – authentic being key here – the more likely you are to come to mind when a company needs PR. Your Chamber of Commerce or Rotary are a great place to start.

Attend Events Outside of Your Industry

Joining PR networks is always a great idea, but it’s smart to extend your reach to local marketing or creative groups because those members may actually have the power to move the needle. Most attendees at PR events work at PR agencies, and while they are absolutely worth networking with, they may not lead to new business since they offer similar services.

Promote your wins on social

If you hate networking – or feel you don’t have the time – here’s an extra easy opportunity: Leverage your social networks! Now, I’m not saying go spam your Facebook friends with new business pitches. (No one wants that.) But, if your team worked on a really exciting project or recently won an award, share that with the masses! This is an authentic, non-spammy way to remind your friends what you do, that your agency is impressive, and you may just be open for business! 

Schedule “getting to know you” meetings

Whether it’s coffee, lunch or just a walking meeting, find a time that is mutually convenient for you and your prospect to meet up. Treat this opportunity as you would if invited by a friend or someone you want to know.  New business, just like media relations, is all about relationships, so start with a soft sell.  Spend time getting to know them and, equally important, they need to get to know you. Trust needs to be built and it makes for a strong foundation moving forward.

Be a Strategic Joiner

We are all pressed for time. How often have you felt there are not enough hours in a day to do what you need to do and still maintain your work/life balance?  When you opt to get more involved in volunteer work or are looking for ways to expand your circle of business contacts, don’t just jump at any opportunity. Be thoughtful. If you’re taking time out of an already full schedule, make sure you’re passionate about what extra-curricular activities you undertake.

Be Persistent but Not a Pest

You’ve made the connection and you’re finally in front of a potential new client through a referral. Now what? Honestly, it may take some time to land the business. Your job now is to be persistent and deliver on any promises you have made.

But how persistent should you be? These negotiations take time and there may be a lot going on behind the scenes with your decision maker. So tread lightly, but keep treading. I’ve found you need approximately five touchpoints – opportunities that you make to reengage – with options including a phone call, an email, sending an appropriate article that addresses an issue you’ve discussed.

New business strategy is an ongoing process that relies on consistent outreach, relationship-building and staying top of mind.

Michele Litzky

Michele Litzky

Michele Litzky is a seasoned generalist and strategist who has driven top-notch PR results for a wide array of clients – from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. She founded award-winning boutique lifestyle and family entertainment PR firm Litzky Public Relations in 1988 with just one client, Matchbox Toys. Today, she’s grown the Hoboken-based agency to nearly 25 employees with a full client roster, ranging in categories from toys and baby gear to lifestyle brands and social good campaigns. The agency’s primary objective -- bringing clients strategically into the spotlight – is accomplished through traditional and digital marketing and publicity initiatives that reach media, influencers and strategic partners. While her agency has experienced exciting growth, so has her family. Her three adult nieces, Rachel, Alison and Samantha, prepared her well for the newest jewels in her crown, her grandchildren, Emma, Jack and Henry. To connect with Michele, follow LPR on Instagram (@litzkypr) and Facebook, or visit