Agency chiefs told PRWeek there were increasing incidences of companies demanding copyright over intellectual property during the pitch process.
Frank PR chairman Graham Goodkind told how a client to which he pitched a few months ago was now using one of the ideas he pitched. ‘I called and asked for an explanation,’ said Goodkind. ‘They said the other agency had the exact same idea.’
Goodkind – who is no longer a member of the PRCA – said he had previously raised the issue with the PRCA but nothing had been done.
Kinross + Render chief executive and PRCA member Sara Render said: ‘The PRCA will be letting all of its members down if it does not address the issue.
‘I think it is outrageous to ask agencies to sign away their right to any remuneration for their creative and intellectual property unless you are paying for the time they spent putting the creative content together,’ she added.
Unity co-founder Gerry Hopkinson said: ‘Most of the time, the PR industry sells its services, not its brain power. But maybe we need to start thinking along the lines of charging a licence for our ideas.’ Hopkinson suggested the PRCA produce a handbook explaining to clients how to buy ideas.
The PRCA responded that such cases did not happen frequently but stopped short of committing to a plan of action.
Comms manager Richard Ellis said: ‘Where an idea is used the consultancy should be rewarded for it. Problems are the exception, not the rule, but in these isolated incidences the PRCA is very happy to represent members’ interests with clients.’