'It's not okay' - PR professionals respond to client 'ghosting' claims

Hope&Glory's co-founder James Gordon-MacIntosh struck a chord in a heartfelt piece about clients ghosting agencies after unsuccessful pitches.

Sometimes the post-pitch response from a client never comes (©GettyImages)
Sometimes the post-pitch response from a client never comes (©GettyImages)

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.

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:

Radioactive PR isn't the only agency to be ghosted after winning, according to Calacus MD David Alexander:

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.

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. 

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