When it come to pitching – be honest about the team – Ginny Paton
I head a story recently about the comms team of a well-known brand which was set to meet with its PR firm – one which it was paying a significant fee.
At the meeting, the consultants sat around the table were all young – in their early twenties. The outraged comms director sent them all packing, with the order that the agency CEO should be on the phone ASAP to explain himself.
The agency leader was soon on the phone, who apologised profusely and explained the junior attendance on a sudden bout of sickness among the senior team.
While I sympathise with the young staffers who were treated so roughly, I can see the comms director’s point. It’s a problem that frequently causes issues between agencies and in-house teams. The top people turn up to pitch, but within just a short period of time the client only seems to be seeing the account executives.
At House PR we work hard to avoid this situation. The team that pitches is the team that that the client gets. This is so important – get it wrong and you’ve ruined your relationship with the client on Day One, and your chances of making it work in the long term are severely limited.
But that’s not to say there’s a problem with young people. You people are a hugely important element of our agency. We depend on them for so much – creativity, passion and there’s the fact that they truly get digital.
But they work best as part of a team – a team that mixes in a range of senior consultants, who can bring strategic thinking and a background of impressive campaigns to draw on. They bring with them a broad understanding of channels and techniques and how to use them to great effect.
There’s a few things that clients are looking for when they go into a pitch. On the senior side, they want knowledge – specialised knowledge which shows a sophisticated brain at work. Alongside that, they want account managers with experience of comparable accounts to their own. And they want to meet a day-to-day contact who they can trust, and who they feel can work with on a personal level.
What has become very important is the value that clients put on the specifics. They want to know how much staffing full time equivalences will be put on the account. Nail down this information and keep your promises, and you stand a good chance of the relationship working in the long run.
No one likes to be misled – and imagine how you’d feel if you hired an agency which didn’t keep its promises.
And you wouldn’t want anyone to think of your work like that, would you?
By Ginny Paton – 19/07/2015