PR Grouch: Life doesn’t have to be a PR pitch!
Now I know I’ve moaned about pitching before, but I could moan about pitching every week. I spend far too much of my PR job trying to win new business and usually this is time wasted. Too many clients are happy to invite shed loads of agencies to pitch for PR work they won’t get – and more fool us, for agreeing to put up with unacceptable conditions.
When to say “no”
- When you are asked to join in a beauty parade. Sometimes a client has an agency they are thrilled with, but asks other agencies to pitch as that’s the protocol. There is no way they are going to want to piss off their favourite PR mates by appointing you, but you will still be expected to put in an all-singing, all-dancing bid for the work. No matter how good you are, you don’t stand a chance. Although the client may like your ideas so much, they will suggest them to their existing PR agency to use later on…
- When you see a brief created in fairyland. If the client has completely unrealistic expectations, or doesn’t know what its business really does, run away! They will expect you to create miracles, for no money.
- Talking of no money, there is the tricky subject of budget. Work out if it is worth doing the pitch. You might spend more money coming up with ideas now than you’ll make if you get the job.
If the client has asked more than five other agencies to pitch, forget it. I used to have the rule that we would only pitch if the client was inviting a maximum of three other agencies, but this is hard to stick to as so many clients love to be wooed by as many people as possible. Who can blame them? If agencies are happy to do it, that‘s their loss. Of course, it’s easy to stick to principles when times are good. When there is less business out there, we all get desperate ...
If you decide to ignore my advice, and want to wave goodbye to thousands of rupees by doing pitches that are futile, I have one more warning to give you. You’ll be lucky if the client even bothers to let you know they’ve appointed someone else