Make sure the “pitch” process is fair
Number 4 of 5 tips to help you make sure you’re getting the PR you deserve.
If you’re putting your business PR out to tender…
If you’re putting your business PR out to tender, you’ll want to do your homework first on potential providers. You’ll want to look at examples of their work, which is okay… but PLEASE don’t ask us to put together a pretend pitch for a pretend project!
This is common practice in the PR industry. Not only is it unnecessarily time–consuming (wasting?) and demeaning, it suggests that what you’re really doing is trawling for PR ideas without wanting to pay for them,
And when we follow up a couple of weeks later to see if a decision has been made, we are often told you’re “just waiting for a few more proposals to be sent over”. How unfair and frustrating is that!?
Oh, and if you share information, statistics or past campaigns with one agency, make sure you share them with the others, too. You can only be sure you’ve chosen the right PR if you allow them all to pitch on a level playing field.
Comments: Kevin Mercuri, Communications, New York; Our standard response to this request is: We cannot write a suitable pitch without engaging with the Client and performing a deep dive into their product or service.
Ronald Hohenhaus, Communications co-ordinator, Brisbane, Australia: It’s common practice at communications interviews in Australia for potential employers to ask job candidates hypothetical questions, which are all too often thinly disguised intractable issues facing the inside team. As others have suggested above, this smacks of a dearth of original ideas. Besides, if the team inside an organisation doesn’t have the answers, how realistic is it for an external candidate to pitch a worthwhile solution? If you need specialist help, pay for it. Don’t steal ideas from hard-working professionals at interviews — highly unethical.
Julia Angelen Joy, PR, Media Relations, Communications & Social Media Strategist, USA: I see the same thing happening in the US and I see both sides of it. Companies need to know who they are hiring and what the capabilities are but they are fooling themselves if they think that agencies are going to give their best ideas for free — so therein lies the rub. Ultimately there has to be a deeper conversation to confirm the working relationship and values are a match — that’s when the best ideas come to life. Companies that are short sighted, making decisions based on blind pitch and cost, will ultimately miss out on creating great communications.
Sunny Bird PR, Bournemouth,: We now ask for a payment/ deposit for this type of work. We call it a Discovery document. We charge around 50% of what we would charge for our hours/time taken. An in depth proposal can take over 8 hours when it comes to research, brainstorm, creative etc.. If the client decides to work with us after the proposal stage this fee is deducted from the their 1st months fee. If they don’t they are free to use the ideas on the document because they have paid for them. This works for us and clients don’t seem to mind. Hope this helps you.
Razvan Stoica. Amsterdam: to Valeria Tudor in Romaniland it’s also common for agencies to solicit fully formed pitches as ‘skill tests’. Needless to say the job never pans out. So the clients come to expect free stuff. It’s a nice little cycle of abuse.
Valeria Tudor to Razvan Stoica You are right. I have been there myself and passed through many unpleasent situations as an employee and as an entrepreneur. I have a small agency and we are fighting to survive. Under this pressure, we cannot refuse a pitch invitation that easily. The question then is how do we get to break this cycle. Haven’t found a proper solution yet.
S Kaul, Delhi: PR is not being recognised as it should be. Due to social media every manager is thinking he can be PR professionals, which is not in reality. A Cricketer can’t not replace tennis player in a game similarly marketing or others can’t replace PR due to his strengths of communication skills .
Rayan Daniyal, Singapore: Still a common practice in Singapore. It is the best way to solicit for ideas without paying for it. You make your proposal today and in less than 2 weeks you’ll notice a similar looking concept being implemented.
Razvan Stoica to Valeria Tudor due diligence, basically. There are patterns of behaviour, especially with big companies (pitch every 3 months but never actually change agencies etc etc). It is cheap (in terms of risk cost) to either outright refuse such clients, or to only them offer cookie-cutter product.
NEXT TIME: Number 5 of 5 tips to help you make sure you’re getting the PR you deserve = when the work begins.