PR agencies should and can improve their RFP response “batting average” by asking questions and pushing for complete information up front, avoiding the cookie cutter approach, looking inward before responding outward, and being prepared to put their best foot forward during the proposal and presentation process.
Those were the recommendations we shared with more than 50 firms when RFP Associates presented to mid-sized PR agency heads and senior executives last month during the PRSA Counselors Academy conference in California.
It was part of our launch and introduction of our newest offering, “RFP Response Ready,” a customized suite of services for PR agencies eager to improve their new business acumen and approach to the RFP response process.
While so much has changed about how public relations is planned and delivered, very little has changed in the way that most organizations go about identifying, evaluating and hiring a PR agency. And unfortunately for most firms, that typically means an incomplete RFP, a less-than-equitable competition, and would-be clients that may be less than ready to hire a firm, much less manage it!
Even though PR Council research suggests that RFPs continue to be an important source of new business for many agencies, we had heard from numerous agencies that “we don’t respond to RFPs,” or “RFPs are typically wired for one agency,” or “I just can’t put my people through another dog and pony show.” While you might assume that the Council's members differ greatly from the Counselors Academy attendees, you would be impressed to learn that many in our audience dominate their markets, have merged with or acquired other firms, boast impressive client lists, and bill into the high six figures, or more.
RFP Associates’ advice generally falls into two categories: (1) understand and assert your “rights” as an RFP recipient; and (2) take an honest look at your new business strategies and practices, and improve your “RFP readiness.”
Drop us a note and we'll send you our presentation, “Mastering RFP Evaluation and Response to Win More Business”? And visit our site to learn more about RFP Response Ready.
We’re ready if and when you’re ready.
Steve Drake and Robert Udowitz