Even in today’s competitive environment, where each and every new business opportunity should be approached with care, too many agencies still attempt to shoehorn tangential experience into an RFP response. When the odds are naturally against your winning any client pitch, it’s more important to be selective and to focus on your core strengths than it is to position your agency as something it’s not.
When you spend the hours it takes to respond properly to an RFP you have to be as certain as possible that you can win. If you aren’t preparing a proposal with confidence -- or find yourself squeezing your foot into that proverbial shoe -- perhaps the best bet is to take a pass and focus on serving the clients you have.
The agency search was down to four finalists. Each had provided stellar written responses during the proposal phase, and seemed ready to take the stage. Per the RFP Associates process, the finalists were asked to go beyond the contents of their written responses to the RFP, and to delve deeper into the important elements of our client’s global campaign.
Sure, there would be just one winner, but we all wanted this to be an even horserace, with equal odds for each of the finalist agencies.
Agencies have a love-hate relationship with requests for proposals (RFPs). Okay, it’s mostly hate. However, from our perspective, it’s not the RFP per se, but typically the process that lead them to abhor and recoil from what should be a clean, simple and honest method of evaluating one firm over another.
When done correctly, an RFP can effectively detail an organization’s PR needs and requirements. It provides a solid foundation for an agency search that will help brands and organizations to hire and retain an agency that constitutes the right fit.
So, we recently experienced a first – and not a positive one, from our perspective. A very respected agency pulled out from one of our searches because the RFP was "too elaborate.” We asked, but were not able to determine: Did that mean it was too thorough? Too detailed? Or did it require too much effort to respond?
It's true that most RFPs issued for PR services are recipes for disaster, and ask too much from competing agencies. But if an RFP is structured well, and is part of a transparent and unbiased process, then is it really too "elaborate" for the document to include comprehensive and detailed information so an agency may respond, smartly and comprehensively?
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.
When someone asks what the most critical component is when hiring a public relations firm I often respond: “time.”
Time is easily the most under-appreciated element required for working with a PR agency. It begins with the time that should be devoted to identify and hire the most qualified agency, and then it continues through to the weekly time needed to provide the materials required for them to do their job (i.e. get you results).
Last week they won the American Society of Association Executives' Gold Circle Award for the best-integrated communications campaign, best media/PR and the very top Overall Excellence Award (aka Best in Show). And a mere two days later the client-agency duo won a Silver Anvil and Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America.
Time was, searching for a PR firm meant jotting down a few requirements and shooting it to a few former colleagues or friends of friends at two or three familiar agencies.
Sorry. Like everything else in life, finding the firm that will best serve your needs is no longer that easy. And it shouldn't be. In today's bottom line focused ROI environment can you really invest six figures into an agency that may or may not be able
Top Concerns of Agencies Responding to RFPs
Why Organizations Dread the RFP Process
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