PR Parables: Clients should pay entry fee to consultancies for inviting pitches, says Moushumi Dutt in the latest PR Parable.

Either we got it wrong. Or all of you were too busy to share your stories and thoughts. Would have loved your inputs, dear reader, on pitching for business that could have perhaps brought up or even sorted out a few legacy issues that have acquired a kind of cult status in the space of client pitches. I picked up two issues which in my mind need to change, the first  one is all about that agency pitch presentations, and here the question is whether corporates should pay agencies who come all armed with a great PR strategy plan, the big idea and the ground details. All built in. And for an industry that thrives on coming up with big ideas, it is usually the best of ideas that each agency comes up in order to woo the prospective client and of course with the hope of bagging the account. 

Having seen this mad frenzy and the frenetic pace which defines the pitching phase,  it is perhaps time for some order and restrain. What if, as an industry consortium of consultancies comes together to ensure that there is an entry fee, so to speak, for prospective clients to pay when they invite agencies to pitch . This entry price will not a barrier but a bridge for the prospective client to value what it will get from the line up of PR agencies . And given that a lot of sweat , toil and tears go into the making of a PR pitch presentation, it would be just fair for a corporate to agree to a fixed fee as an agency pitching fee. Sounds fair ? Will it work ? Try it and see where it lands. 

And on the note of a fixed fee, I think the time has come for the Indian PR agency business to agree to some standard norms and practices on the agency fee structure. Can there be an agreement on what should the  agency commission be for the following common heads- out of pocket, for 3rd party fees?

For agency administrative fees, the fee can be left open and negotiable but won't it make incredible sense if the agency commissions are fixed across the board. The question is can it be done ? If your answer is yes then let us see how we can work together to come up with a standard rate card which calls out the fixed percentage of agency commissions. Level this one and battle it out for the retainer fee. Doable ? 

Moushumi Dutt is a senior corporate communications consultant
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