The PR Pitch Process is Broken, Here’s How to Fix it at No Cost
The PR Cavalry
Pitches are a terrible way to choose an agency or hire a PR freelancer.
They will always be the way we do it. But we can do it better and doing it better will save clients money and improve the quality of work.
Frustration about pitching is evergreen, you can find hundreds of articles about it over the decades.
Chris Owen the UK head of The Hoffman Agency summed it up well in this piece. https://www.provokemedia.com/latest/article/tyre-kicking-is-not-an-agency-hiring-strategy?
The ideal is the client paying agencies to pitch. Well we can all dream, but it’s just not going to happen, especially in this buyers’ market.
If clients won’t pay for pitches, we propose that the industry adopts the 90:10 Rule for pitches and make it the clear signal of a client that is serious about changing agency or PR freelancer.
Let’s kick out the tyre kickers.
The 90:10 Rule couldn’t be simpler:
We, the agency (or freelancer) will put in 90% of the time on this pitch. We’ll tell you roughly how much time that will be at the outset, based on what you’ve told us in your brief and in return you pledge to put in 10% of that amount of time to do three things:
1. You meet with us to interrogate the brief
2. You give feedback on our early thinking
3. You comment on our draft presentation
It’s very simple, it’s very precise, it’s very measurable and most of all it very publicly cements the idea of both parties working towards a common goal.
The benefit to agencies and freelancers is obvious. The benefit to clients of emerging from the pitch not only with a strategy that they are happy with, but a delivery partner with whom they have established some trust and understanding will repay the small investment of time several times over.
Let’s take the buyer/seller antagonism out of the centre of the process (and the rule doesn’t prevent hard-nosed negotiation) and acknowledge the reality that briefs can change even during a pitch process.