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Clients need to stop wasting agency time

Public relations consultancies love receiving inquiries about new work. The very lifeblood of our business, without them we wouldn’t have much confidence in the long term future. It’s just a shame not everyone picks up the phone for the right reasons.
Here at Smoking Gun PR we are blessed with a book full of great clients, and it has to be said I consider our experiences in the pitching process to be largely positive. But the same isn’t always said at other agencies, meaning our position is fortunate (if not lucky). And even then I can still think of one or two nightmare examples.
Whilst many companies looking for public relations services do so with courtesy and an appreciation for the time involved in developing a new business proposal, this isn’t a universal truth. You can spend hours if not days, along with a notable amount of money coming up with ideas for standout campaigns. As such it’s more than frustrating when you hear nothing back, or worse still, see startlingly similar concepts rolled out by the requisitioning firm further down the line.
Nobody’s accusing anyone of intellectual property theft, but this kind of behaviour does happen, and will always be noticed by people working in the media. As professionals part of our job involves reading the news. Furthermore, we also expect to be treated like professionals. That means face to face meetings, open lines of communication, and feedback after unsuccessful pitches.
It sounds like a personal rant, but the crux here is anything but. Recent headlines have only served to prove how widespread these headaches actually are. Larry Franks, head of creative and branding agency Beige, was featured in PR Week earlier this month after he announced plans to introduce a new ‘letter of engagement’, effectively committing would-be clients to a contract following a pitch to avoid spending valuable resources on dead leads.
On the flip side, Sports Interactive’s best-selling game Football Manager is a lot of fun, however the same can’t be said for the developer’s attitude towards agencies. After inviting ten to pitch, three of which will need to do so again once the wheat and chaff have been separated, there has been a flood of complaints regarding the scale of the process and legwork required before any agreement to hire. One contender even dropped out, a move that may have been due to the amount of unpaid work involved. So, like I said, this is far from a complaint, and more of a request for what’s fair and reasonable.

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