Free pitches are just a waste of our time

Your recent feature 'End this practice' (2 December 2005) highlighted a very important issue - one that won't go away until the PR industry as a whole is brave enough to say ditch the pitch.

Ironically the worst area at the moment in terms of clients wasting communications consultants' time is the public sector. Here consultants are required to fill out painfully long pre-qualification questionnaires, which ask only the most ridiculous and inane questions, simply resulting in inclusion to 'a shortlist of 29' - an oxymoron in itself.

A practical guideline for the industry should be never to present specific ideas for free, never present to a client with a shortlist of more than three agencies and never fill in a pre-qualification questionnaire with a wordcount that can match War and Peace.

Both clients and agencies would be happier, and a lot more productive, with this arrangement.

Robin Swinbank, partner, The Counsel House.

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