'Clients aren't taking PR pitches as seriously as other disciplines', warn pitch consultants

Smaller budgets and the proliferation of project-based briefs mean that many clients do not take the selection of PR agencies as seriously as other marcomms disciplines, new business and procurement consultants have warned.

In the latest episode of The PR Show, Creativebrief managing director Charlie Carpenter said that he’s noticed clients are more likely to be apathetic towards choosing a new comms agency during the pitch process, even though he believes the skills they offer business should be taken "much, much more seriously".

"I’m going to say something here that is going to get lambasted for the rest of my life...but I don’t get the sense that brands generally take the selection of PR agencies as seriously as other strategic top-table agencies, such as media, digital and those leading the strategic approach," he said.

"We very often hear them say ‘we’ve done our due diligence on the creative agency, but we’re in a real rush on the PR bit, we are going to do that in the next ten minutes.

"This is fascinating to me, because we live in a world where the skills of a PR agency – such as storytelling, earned media and influencing corporate reputation are absolutely imperative in this day and age."

The PR Show podcast: Consultants and procurement have their say on pitching

AAR managing partner Tony Spong puts this down to an oversupply of agencies, with some "saying yes to everything" and increasing number of emerging businesses that have different projects on the go all of the time and place "ridiculous timings" on briefs.

"There is an element in PR to literally come up with an idea for next week, rather than something more strategic, but it is changing with social and earned media," he explained.

"There has always been that slightly more tactical element to PR and I think that is reaching a bit of a crescendo, but there is a glimmer of hope that we are starting to see some more strategic and well-thought-out briefs."

Procurement consultant Tina Fegent said that part of the reason for this is due to typically smaller budgets in PR – an average of £100,000 to £150,000 – that procurement may be involved in smaller projects.

In tomorrow’s must-listen episode of The PR Show, the panel are asked whether the pitching process is too long and shortlists are too bloated; if PR has become commoditised; and whether procurement officers have too much power – with some surprising responses.

Listen to: PRWeek's recent podcast on pitching: 'Stop commoditising PR'

Read next: From chemistry sessions to bloated shortlists, PR chiefs list the good, bad and downright ugly of pitching

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