Industry leaders have rallied behind Gordon-MacIntosh, indicating that the practice of ghosting is not uncommon.
On Tuesday, the Hope&Glory managing partner wrote that in the past two months, his agency had been involved in two pitches where the client didn’t even bother to inform them they were unsuccessful.
"Despite emails and phone calls to follow up politely – not a peep. So I am a bit frustrated. Irritated even," he wrote.
"Perhaps I’m just getting old. Or the world has changed and this is 'okay in 2019'. But I hope I’d struggle to find people across PR-land who would agree that this is acceptable behaviour.
"It’s unprofessional and, I think, just a bit rude."
Gordon-MacIntosh pleaded with clients to call agencies that were unsuccessful after a pitch and to provide some basic feedback.
PR professionals took to social media to back Gordon-MacIntosh and express their own frustrations with clients.
Ranieri Communications group managing director Pietro Ranieri commended Gordon-MacIntosh for the "bravery" to write the post.
"Yeah we see some of this every now and then," he said on LinkedIn. "The thing that bothers me is that the team put a lot of effort into these pitches and it would be good to have that acknowledged by the prospect, even if it is just to learn for the next time."
Others on LinkedIn who agreed that ghosting is a problem include CIPR East Anglia chair elect Adam Driver, Berkeley Communications director of operations and partner Lynsey Barry, Alfred MD Dan Neale, Kaizo MD Rhodri Harries.
Other PR professionals took to Twitter to vent their frustrations about ghosting.
Couldn't agree with this more.Our clients and prospective clients are wonderful (obv), but this HAS happened- I could name & shame (but won't) 3 FMCG clients who I've put proposals to over the last 10 yrs who never replied to calls/emails after-it's not ok https://t.co/cHW98906ms— Katy Moses-KAM Media (@katykammedia) November 12, 2019
I know how this is, and it's infuriating. Unfortunately, this is part of a wider problem. Agencies themselves ghost (job candidates for instance). Not convinced there's an answer.— Matt Brady (@mattbrady) November 13, 2019
Still waiting to hear on a pitch from 2018. But I've got a good feeling about it... ??????— Joe Mackay-Sinclair (@AlpineJoeJoe) November 12, 2019
Founder of Radioactive Public Relations Rich Leigh took the experience to another level, with his 'ghosting' experience coming after being told he'd won the pitch:
Really was. This was email no 5 from me (over a couple of months) and as many unanswered calls. Begins to make you feel like a stalker, but... what sort of business owner would I be if I didn't follow up!? Decent-sized brand as well, saw it boasting of enormous investment ?? pic.twitter.com/S5xHgQu7mp— Rich Leigh (@RichLeighPR) November 12, 2019
Radioactive PR isn't the only agency to be ghosted after winning, according to Calacus MD David Alexander:
Great article by @jamesmacintosh but I can go one better: earlier this year we had written confirmation we had "won" a new client after a competitive pitch and were promised an update on scope in due course only to be ghosted ever since. Poor show https://t.co/rfeRnItPYr— David Alexander (@Calacus) November 12, 2019
It’s not just ghosting that’s an issue. Kieron Bailey, the co-founder of Experience101, highlighted a problem with inauthentic pitches and agencies being manipulated.
I’ve been used at least twice in the last 18 months to manipulate a potential clients existing supplier, it’s infuriating.1 of them had the decency to actually admit it afterwards but It’s sad that folks don’t acknowledge the time & work that goes into a well thought out proposal— Kieron (@boybaileyspeaks) November 12, 2019
In his open letter, Gordon-MacIntosh asks clients for five simple things following a pitch loss, including a phone call, being told the result, avoiding wasteful small talk and, importantly, feedback on why the agency was unsuccessful.
"I sincerely hope that my frustration at waiting four weeks for a call from a client we pitched to that is yet to come (and who I know has gone elsewhere thanks to the agency grapevine), might lead to this situation arising slightly less often," he concluded.