The PR agency selection process is a mystery that needs unraveling. With fierce competition among agencies and consultants of all stripes and colors, how can one firm distinguish itself from the others? Can a smaller boutique beat out a larger firm in
today's competitive environment, or can a big firm be nimble enough to win with its unique capabilities rather than its sheer size and might?
A pure search for an agency – one we’d define as completely transparent with a reasonable set of milestones and very detail-oriented – provides opportunities for participating agencies of all sizes to demonstrate not only their capabilities, but also their knowledge and creativity.
Too often organizations seeking a new agency are rushed to issue an RFP and hire a firm -- yesterday, if at all possible! However, selecting and contracting with a PR agency should be treated as if an organization were hiring a new employee.
There must enough time for thoughtful deliberation and background-checking to
guarantee a long-term, successful relationship. After all, this is real money being spent, for real results, and it should not be put to waste.
As many organizations look to hire or switch agencies, they need to be aware of agency complaints and concerns about the RFP process. Here are the chief issues we find when organizations search on their own for an agency. Each emphasizes that the proper time and resources spent on the front end of an agency search turns into well-spent time on finding the right agency partner.
- Client RFPs either can’t be understood or are altogether inadequate.
- The RFP response process is enough to about kill even the better-resourced agencies.
- The required scope of work is ambiguous at best, non-existent at worst.
- Clients are not willing to reveal their agency budget.
- Clients do not give agencies enough time to put their best foot forward.
On July 10 we've been asked by Bulldog Reporter to help agencies distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack when choosing the RFPs they want to compete for, and then to help them respond in unique ways to ensure their responses and presentations are hit out of the ballpark. The PR University Master Class, “Secrets of Winning More RFPs: Mastering RFP Evaluation and Response to Increase Agency New Business” can be found through this link. And, the great thing is that it will be available on-demand even if you're reading this at a later date.
- Robert Udowitz