In defence of the pitch process

I’ll start by saying that Zac Schwarz is a good friend (and former colleague) of mine and I agree with lots of the points he raised about the pitching process in his opinion piece last week.

The pressure of the pitch process creates diamonds, argues Greg Jones
The pressure of the pitch process creates diamonds, argues Greg Jones

In recent years pitching has become increasingly time-consuming, complicated and frustrating and things definitely need to improve. However, whereas Zac is the more idealistic John Lennon I’m more of the pragmatic Paul McCartney, and as the pitch process isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, here are some reasons to embrace and – dare I say – even enjoy it.

It develops skills

I can plot my development as a PR practitioner against the pitches I’ve won. From the first one I led, to the first big one I led, to the first big one I won as MD; each of those pitches taught me a huge amount – not just about pitching, but about everything from client relations to leading a team. Today it’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job to see my team learn and develop because of the pitching process.

It teaches you defeat is never final

You need a thick skin to work in PR as rejection is never far away. And losing a pitch can often be the biggest rejection of all. I’ve lost countless pitches over the past 20 years, but you realise that – while it stings – the chance to win the next one is never far away.

That winning feeling

I’m super competitive and I love winning. Not just for my own sense of achievement, but for the success and growth of the agency. There are very few feelings that top the one you get when a client calls to say you’ve won the pitch.

It builds team spirit

Although I’d never advocate ridiculous working hours, we’ve all had that late night in the office finishing off the deck before the pitch. And it’s often when teams are in the trenches together trying to crack the final idea over pizza and beer that long-lasting camaraderie is developed (ironically, working late on a pitch is one of the things that Zac and I bonded over).

Pressure makes diamonds

The pitch process is pressurised; unnecessarily so, at times. But as long as the pitch process exists, that pressure isn’t going anywhere. So we need to embrace that and understand how an appropriate amount of pressure can be helpful – and even beneficial – to growth and development.

Greg Jones is managing director of Engine Mischief

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