If you work in PR or communications (or any agency, for that matter), you’ve probably done lots of RfPs. In the current economy, it seems like there are more of these every day.
Now, I’m happy to jump through all the hoops necessary to win a good piece of business, especially if it’s a brand I admire.
However, think how much time we spend creating standout strategies and creative ideas that never see the light of day. Because when you get right down to it, there’s a lot of agency talent out there and the final decision is usually based on chemistry or fit.
And that’s OK. It’s a big part of what relationships are all about.
Which is why I’d like to propose a new 10-step agency selection model:
The PR RfP speed-date
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Client does online research to determine which agencies look the most promising.
Step 2: Client rents a neutral venue, buys a bell, selects a date and invites said agencies (no more than six) to an hour-long event. Client provides agency with a one-pager on the organization listing business challenge, goals, objectives, culture and budget.
Step 3: Agencies arrive and the venue and are each seated at a table. Client welcomes everyone and makes introductions (we probably all know each other anyway).
Step 4: Client then moves to table one, spending up to 10 minutes meeting with agency, asking questions, listening to agency’s response.
Step 5: Bell rings. Client moves to next agency.
Step 6: Repeat step 5 until process is over.
Step 7: At the end of the hour, agencies leave and client selects the top two.
Step 8: Based on what my friend Julie Rusciolelli suggests with potential new hires, client invites two agencies out to dinner (separate nights) to get to know them better and talk strategy and ideas. No presentations, everything off the cuff.
Step 9: Client makes selection and informs both agencies.
Step 10: Client and agency begin working together – (i.e. formal engagement).
Done right, the entire process should take no more than two weeks, and, while I can’t offer guarantees, my gut tells me everyone will be happy with the results. (And, if not, it’s easy to start over or to try number two.)
OK, for those who don’t know my sense of humour, yes, I’m joking (but only half). It makes you wonder if there isn’t a better process for clients and agencies to successfully pair up.
And if any clients want to try an experiment, Palette is in. Meanwhile, bring on the next RfP.
What do you think?