CAF publishes guide to agency selection

The Communications Agencies Federation (CAF) has produced a guide to best practice when selecting an agency, with the aim of cutting costs and other wastage associated with pitches.

Produced by CAF’s three trade body members – including the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) – with the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and The Direct Marketing Association, the guide contains ten stages in its recommendations on the agency review process.

PRCA and CAF chairman Graham Lancaster claimed the Finding an Agency guide was a more up-to-date and comprehensive authority on the subject than anything produced before.

Among the recommendations the guide makes for agencies and clients handling a review are the identification of relevant work for existing clients, ensuring that the pitch team includes people who will actually work on the business, and the suggestion that clients should consider making a monetary contribution to the review.

Lancaster said: ‘I can’t stress enough the importance of putting a lot of forethought into a pitch, both on the agency and the client side. It’s in the mutual interest of all parties involved.’

The guide recommends clients invite ‘up to three agencies only’ to pitch, stretching to four only when an incumbent is invited to re-pitch, and stresses that ‘you should be willing to share, on a confidential basis, market data and other relevant research’ with agency personnel during the review.

‘There is a huge difference between this guide and any of its predecessors. Finding an Agency has been done with the input of ISBA, which includes the largest communications spenders in the country, whether it be in direct marketing, market research, advertising or PR,’ said Lancaster.

‘This has also benefited from the involvement of ISBA’s procurement directors’ group; to a large extent the procurement of all external services has a methodology; the approach for hiring all agencies is being harmonised. The approach holds many parallels for all of us,’ he added.

The guide covers a range of often-committed sins by agency and clients alike, and although the recommendations are not enforced, the publishers said they were hoping to improve the agency review process by encouraging widespread compliance.

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