Pitch or ditch?

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In these straightened times the pitch for new business seems to have been taken to new extremes…

When times are good, when the market is buzzing, then businesses like ours can pick and choose whether we wanted to jump through hoops backwards, how high and for whom. Or not.

It used to be called a dog and pony show. Possibly it still is. We didn’t parade our dogs and ponies for everyone – and we still don’t.

Why? Because prospective clients changing their agency or appointing one for the first time have an uncanny habit of taking the piss – sometimes.

Government agency tenders are strenuous but scrupulously fair. They are bound to be well subscribed because the budgets are disclosed and realistic, and the PQQ process is going to result in a sensible number of candidate agencies going forward to the final stage.

But it’s ludicrous to apply this same process when the budget – and there are many, many instances when this isn’t even disclosed at the outset – would not pay for the average weekly shop. “You tell us what it’s going to cost” isn’t great direction when we aren’t totally familiar with your business, or when all you actually have in the bank account is buttons!

And we’ve all been there. You know some approaches you are suckered into are just to test the water, to make the incumbent agency or the front-runner jumpy, or to trawl for some new ideas.

So to those looking to find a PR consultant right now, here’s some advice – for free.

  • Don’t ask more than five agencies/consultants at most to take part in the process (if you ask for more you haven’t done your homework).
  • Write a brief.
  • Disclose your budget even if it is peanuts – then we can decide whether it’s worth pursuing.
  • Be fair, and respect the ideas and intellectual property which are not those of your final selection.
  • Tell us if we haven’t been successful – it’s amazing how often this simple courtesy just passes some prospective clients by.
  • Give us feedback please – that’s really valuable, even if it takes you a little time.

In the immortal words of Steve Forbert (remember him?): “You cannot win if you do not play.”

We’ll play with the rest and the best – if the pitch is fair and genuine. Enough said.