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How the prolonged PR pitch process is putting unnecessary pressure on agency employees

At Perspectus Global and GingerComms, we frequently work with PR agencies when they are preparing new business pitches, helping them formulate research-based stories that will generate media coverage, to fold into their campaign plans.

Greater lengths

Over the past few years, we’ve been aware of the greater lengths that PR agencies are having to go through to win new business, from pitching against numerous agencies, to having to undertake multiple pitches as the agency pool gets whittled down.

And the expectation that fully formed, detailed campaign plans will be submitted as part of the pitching process seems commonplace now - clients want to know exactly what an agency will do for them, even before they’ve chosen them as a PR partner.

So, in partnership with the PRCA, we decided to run a survey of PR agency leaders to find out more about the new business pitching process and how it affects their businesses.

A pitch costs over £11,000

The results were eye-opening - the average UK PR agency spends 1,674 hours every year working on pitches, at a cost of more than £11,000.

This creates such a strain on internal resources that three in ten of the agency bosses polled said that pitching was a problem for their agency, and 40% admitted that existing clients are frequently neglected because of time spent on pitching.

Whilst more than half (54%) of senior agency folk claim that potential clients expect much more work to be done for pitches these days.

Stolen ideas

When it comes to having to share fully formed ideas with potential clients, 55% of agency bosses said it made them uncomfortable, 60% think there isn't enough intellectual property protection, and 36% have lost a pitch only to see the brand activate one of their ideas via another agency.

Impossible demands

Other issues that the research raised included brands asking multiple agencies to pitch fully formed campaign ideas, and agencies telling a client anything to win business, only to find the resulting campaign almost impossible to execute.

The PRCA has claimed that the pitching process is now “fundamentally flawed” and will relaunch its client consultancy charter this year.

We stand with this - the pressure on agencies to win new business is a big problem that needs to be addressed.

Further information

Study of 107 UK PR agency owners, C-suite executives, and financial decision makers, conducted by Perspectus Global in partnership with PRCA, in November and December 2021.

See the report here for more charts

Written by Harriet Scott, MD of Perspectus Global and GingerComms

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