Agencies sceptical that procurement is understanding PR better, finds AAR

A minority of agencies, but a majority of clients, believe that procurement teams are showing strong improvement at valuing agency work, research has revealed.

Measuring up: Many agencies remain dissatisfied with procurement
Measuring up: Many agencies remain dissatisfied with procurement

The study revealed 59 per cent of in-house PRs believed procurement teams were getting much better at understanding and valuing agency outputs, compared with 40 per cent of agency respondents. 

The research, undertaken by matchmaker AAR and research company Coleman Parkes across 200 marcoms professionals in Q1 this year, echoed long-held concerns among PRs about the role of procurement in pricing work. 

It also pointed to relations worsening once a pitch process had concluded. 

While 25 per cent of PR agencies saw procurement departments as a friend and valued contact during a pitch, the figure dropped to 15 per cent when it came to existing relationships. 

AAR director Alex Young said the drop was likely to be explained by procurement not being involved in the agency-client relationships post-pitch, and advised agencies "to keep procurement in the loop".

However, though the matchmaker had not conducted the study before, Young said it was likely the figures pointed to an improvement in relations.  

"If we rewind a few years the figures would have been lower," she said. 

"Though the [percentage approval] numbers in the survey might be quite small we are on a journey and people are starting to value procurement as a friend rather than a foe."

PR getting to grips with proving its worth would help continue this, Young added.

"As an industry everyone is wanting to up their game and demonstrate the crucial role of PR. We are becoming more able to measure accordingly, and then the conversation with procurement becomes more comfortable."

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