Frank co-founder Graham Goodkind said that timesheets were ‘bad news for PR agencies' and were ‘pretty meaningless' in an online comment piece.
Goodkind cited research he had undertaken with more than 100 PR professionals, which found more than nine out of ten had filled in time sheets inaccurately. ‘Anyone can sell time, but it is the quality of ideas that matters,' he said.
But M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment MD Jamie Wynne-Morgan said: ‘To say we don't sell time, we only sell value is disingenuous as essentially we sell both. Value is a function of the quality time that we spend creating and executing campaigns on behalf of clients.'
He added: ‘The fundamental issue is how agencies use timesheets and communicate the rationale of their use to clients, and, as importantly, their staff.'
Clients were also divided on the benefits of using timesheets. Travelodge director of comms Greg Dawson concurred with Wynne-Morgan and said: ‘If I was paying a retainer, I would be more comfortable knowing that my agency had a firm grip on resource management. If an agency is over-delivering on time spent and needs to negotiate a raise in fees, how can they expect to achieve this without evidence?'
However, Cancer Research UK brand and PR director Carolan Davidge said she had never asked to see an agency's time sheets, adding that agencies should be judged on results rather than the time spent on the account.
This view was echoed by Mercedes-Benz UK communications director Andrew Roberts who added: ‘Fundamentally what the client cares most about is results. Whatever the project, we want and expect our agencies to deliver the objectives and targets we have agreed together, and how long it takes to achieve this doesn't really matter. Just so long as everything is done on time.'