Editorial: The best things in life aren’t free

Supermarket shelves are loaded with special deals such as ’buy one, get one free.’ But there’s still a cost involved because, as we all know, you don’t get something for nothing.

Supermarket shelves are loaded with special deals such as ’buy one,

get one free.’ But there’s still a cost involved because, as we all

know, you don’t get something for nothing.



This isn’t always the case in the world of PR, however, as the letter

from Chris McLaughlin of Visa International (opposite page)

illustrates.



Potential clients get rather a lot for free, in fact: time, energy, and

creativity. But PR is already spectacularly good value, so why aren’t

more agencies prepared to stick their necks out and charge for

pitching?



As a client, it would be in MacLaughlin’s interest to keep quiet about

this, but he knows that good value isn’t enough: he wants best value,

and that doesn’t come cheap.



Of course, clients as enlightened as McLaughlin are as rare as hen’s

teeth. This being so, agencies anxious to avoid becoming embroiled in

expensive pitches might be well advised to examine a new initiative by

The Communications Group (see story page three).



TCG’s political division has taken the unusual route of offering members

of its latest client, the Construction Products Association, a free

half-hour consultation on how the agency can help them. Thereafter, if

the client is interested, the meter starts running, albeit at reduced

rates. You can call this a sprat-to-catch-the-mackerel strategy.



Clearly TCG has its own interests at heart. But the lobbying industry

has had a rocky few years and many potential clients will be wary of

what it can do for them. By creating a platform from which it can

educate a whole raft of small firms about the difference some

professional public affairs advice can make, TCG will also be doing the

whole sector a service.



Now that’s a valuable half hour even if, as you don’t have to be a

genius to see, it isn’t exactly free.



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