To Pitch or Not To Pitch?
There is not a day that goes by that the topic of responding to RFPs and developing proposals isn’t discussed among my colleagues. Should we submit a response to an RFP? How much information and creative work should we include in our proposal? How can we possibly discuss a budget when we don’t know what the prospective client’s expectations are?
It seems the PR business isn’t the only one that is having those discussions. I came across a study that was released recently by the 4As, the ad agency trade association, that found that ad execs and media buying professionals also are challenged by the RFP process.
The study, which is based on qualitative and quantitative research carried out with media agency leaders across the U.S., found the most important factor that media agency executives consider in prioritizing pitches and determining how much time and money they invest are the clarity on the advertiser’s pitch process, including the evaluation criteria and the ultimate decision-makers.
Replace the words “media agency” with “public relations agency” and “advertiser” with “client” and this aptly describes our general feeling as well.
Here are a few questions that we commonly ask before we decide to pitch:
- Have you used an outside agency in the past? Were you happy with the experience? Why or why not?
- What is prompting you to look for an agency now?
- Who from the client will be our points of contact? Have they ever worked with an outside firm before?
- What are your goals and expectations for this effort?
- What is the budget?
- Who else will you be talking to?
- Can we set up a meeting with your team prior to submitting our response?
We don’t always get the answers we need. And sometimes we’ll respond anyway. But history and experience tell us that when both the prospect and our team are on the same page prior to submitting a response, the process is much more enjoyable. I suspect for the client, too.