Agency Search Tips

ADVERTISING AGENCY SEARCH – SIMPLIFIED

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Note: Marketing firms call themselves everything under the sun. Truth is the “handle” or “descriptor” is not important, but what IS important is their experience, the services they provide, their “personality” and the likelihood for great chemistry, then location, years in business and this list goes on. However you searched for an advertising agency, digital agency. Marketing partner, PR firm so that’s our topic.

But oh the drama and angst of searching, finding, evaluating and then hiring a new advertising agency, digital agency. Marketing partner, PR firm. Some say it compares to finding and hiring a new C-Suite executive. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Follow these simple suggestions below and you’ll enjoy a pleasant and educational process that you might later tell your associates – was fun!

Step # 1, Rule #1– You will never find a winning partner among a pack of losers. Lesson #1 – The most important and critical stage of your review is the identification of candidates. The first temptation is a Google search. Google’s first assumption, like it is for a fast-food lookup is that you want your agency nearby, so they perform a local search. If that’s your desire, fine. But if you already know who’s in your market, then that’s of little help. Same for Bing and Yahoo. All steer you to websites where navigating and comparing can be a nightmare. Another revelation – there is no set standard for agency websites (thank goodness) but that means you’re in for lots of variety and confusion as you  page your way, or scroll your way through dissimilar agency websites. I do promise you will be entertained if you are easily amused.

Let’s find your candidates. Don’t try to identify candidates one at a time, look for a service or search consultant that will help. Try search terms like “Ad Agency Search Service,” “Ad Agency Database,” “Digital Agencies,” “Find PR Firms,” “Agency Search Consultant,” or other variants. If you want assistance a search consultant is your ticket, but they come at a price. One free search consulting service that’s been around for some time is AgencyFinder.com. Check them out. Once you’ve found what you want there or elsewhere, define what it is you need.

What do you need in location or locations, size (employee count), Capitalized Billings (aggregate spend), Years in business? Then more specifically:

·        Fields served (vertical market experience)

·        Services offered

·        Market Specialization

·        Membership in Professional Organizations

·        Compensation options

·        Media experience

·        Primary Business (ad agency, digital, etc.)

·        Other

Step #2 Identify 20 or more agencies (yes 20) and then spend time on their websites. Build a spreadsheet to manage your work. Look for reasons to remove some, not to invite them. Narrow your list to 12-15. Put together your invitational package (an outline of what you seek from the agency) but not an RFP – that’s premature. Prepare an invitation that can be sent by email, fax or overnight carrier. Don’t interview anyone until they have your invitation in-hand and have come forward. Instruct those with interest to send an email to schedule a day and time for a telephone interview. You invite 15; 10 may respond and wish to continue.

Step #3 Hold your due-diligence telephone interviews. The “format” is free-flowing but an opportunity to get to know each other, learn what they do and how they do it, probe to discover to what extent they have experience in and understand your industry. Note what questions they ask you. Determine if they are interested in becoming your agency. If YES, ask them to send you a “Pitch package” – a collection of relevant samples of similar work, then an open-format letter describing how and why they want your business. You or they eliminated 3. You are down to 7.

Step #4 Examine those agency materials and share what they sent with colleagues. Decide who to cut and who to keep. Notify both with pleasant, professional messages – email or phone. Those who are cut will invariably want to know why; try to be honest but gentle. DO NOT fail to notify those you have cut. You cut 2, down to 5.

Step #5 For those still in contention, let them know and if your budget warrants, schedule a visit to those agencies. Plan for an “Agency Tour,” an opportunity to see their facility, meet various employees, see finished and work-in-progress. Look as well for work lying around that isn’t in your wheelhouse, but something you might have admired. Form your opinion and make judicious notes. After visiting 5 semi-finalists your top 2-3 should be evident.

Step #6 Invite the Top 2-3 to come to your headquarters and make final presentations. Give them adequate time to prepare. You identify the assignment and provide the facility. Voila!!! Discover your new agency!

Now it’s Your Turn                                             SEARCH NOW

Meet 34 Advertising Agency Search Consultants

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

By Peter Levitan

There are 34 advertising agency search consultants listed below. There are surely many more when you add in local and part time consultants.

Savvy search consultants generally act as personal shoppers for larger advertisers trying to locate the perfect agency out of hundreds, even thousands, of specific agency options. It is estimated that about 10% to 15% of all searches use the services of a consultant (I am thinking about dollar volume not total agency searches.) I suspect that the number of consultant led pitches is well over 50% for clients that have large budgets, complicated accounts (think global ala Microsoft’s recent search) and now, highly specialized agency requirements.

SHOULD YOUR AGENCY CONTACT SEARCH CONSULTANTS?

Should your agency contact the search consultants on this list? Yes and no.

Here is the drill. Most of these consultants work for larger clients and they have hundreds of agencies to keep track of. They get lots of incoming from agencies every day — see the interviews below. Based on my 28 years of conversations with search consultants, I can tell you that most of the incoming agency information gets ignored even in a fast paced world where consultants need to keep abreast of the agency universe. Why? Agencies get ignored because most agencies do not really have a realistic reason to get on the consultant’s radar.

Realistic? Consultants are primarily interested in a core set of agency attributes. Obviously, they are looking for agencies that match their current searches. However, in general, any new agency (new to market or new to them) needs to have some distinctive attribute to get a consultant’s attention. That means having a good reason for these busy consultants to pay attention to you. What might that mean?

Here are some examples of what I would get my attention if I were a consultant:

Are you seriously creative (like really creative and can prove it?)
Have you been discovered by the trade press?
Can your agency handle really large, complex accounts?
Do you have international offices?
Did your team just leave a hot agency where you’all did famous work?
Do you have media planning and buying expertise?
Do you have demonstrable digital expertise? You can’t just say we do social media. Did you crack mobile advertising?
Do you have deep experience in an important client category?
Are you known for your strategic chops?
Is your name as ignore-free as Barton F. Graf 9000?
Get the picture?

The bottom line is that you need to think about what agency attributes will be of value to the consultant. Do you have some special sauce that a consultant needs to know about for their business and clients? Before you make any contact, please take the time to understand what search consultants look for.

For the full list, follow this link:

Note: All if not the majority of these consultants are hired by the client and paid by the client. They should never solicit agency payment to participate in a review nor should they charge for being in their database (if they have one). Payment from both sides is “double-dipping” and unethical. In order to afford these consultant fees, the client needs to be dealing with a significant budget and at that, will be looking for agencies with capitalized billings some 3 to 4 times that budget. In most cases, smaller agencies are wasting their time hoping for consideration.

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The agency finder Process. A New Writer writes …

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

If you are part of an advertising agency looking to sign up with an agency finder service, there are certain steps that you can take to help get in the client line. A new business development program is not the only option to finding new clients, and it is also not the only way to find new clients. Many reputable advertising agencies have partnered with agency finders to help make contact with clients that are the perfect fit.

An agency finder works similar to other finders or hunters you may have heard of or experienced before. Apartment finders and head-hunters are similar businesses that work in a matchmaker way. As certainly are eHarmony.com and Match.com. Even the best, most experienced high quality agencies are subject to slow failure without clients and need to sustain their business. Therefore, it is important that agencies have a shoulder to lean on that helps their business flow and stay stable.

There are steps that need to be taken for an agency to become a part of an agency finder. To be the best prepared for such an occurrence, the process typically starts with filling out a profile. The agency will create a standard or lengthy profile; the best have more than 500 fields. While this may seem time consuming, it is simple and a small price to pay to get your agency’s name out there. Example database fields that you’d fill out for your profile include industry and market experience, billing options, agency services, location and the area you serve, employee census, and media experience.

When a client searches for their new agency, they normally select from sample fields to find their perfect match. This is why it is important that all fields of the profile be filled out accurately. After this, an agency finder and the client will discuss optional agencies together, and look through your agency’s case studies and other submitted profile essays that include strengths, philosophies, and creative approaches.

Whenever the time comes for the client to choose, an agency finder will contact the chosen marketing agency and inform them that they are invited to reach out and hold their telephone interview with the client. Registered agencies will then need to become “fee-paid” (if not already) where those fees are annual or initial. They will vary based on the client budget. Considering there will be ample business and income gained from agency finder introductions, agencies should rest easy that their investments are not wasted.

Remember, an agency should never feel obligated to work with a client and a client should never feel obligated to work with an agency. Declining an offer is entirely up to each party. Do be considerate in the time you take to decide however. More than likely there is another marketing agency or public relations firm waiting on your answer to learn if they have now made the cut.

Guest author – Jordyn Walters

Check out what makes AgencyFinder so different:
http://www.agencyfinder.com/about/what-is-agencyfinder/

An Open Letter to Marketers Considering an Ad Agency Review

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts, RFP Writing Tips

Great advice for marketers and agencies – read both and take notes!

This just popped up in AdAge Thursday February 23rd and I have to say, it’s one of the best, most common sense approaches and executions of an agency review I’ve read in a long tome. It’s great fodder for client and agency alike and certainly highlights the time, energy, financial investment and necessary dedication it takes to participate in an agency review. Feel free to comment if you have something to share.

by Michael Fanuele – Before becoming a client, I spent more than a dozen years at ad agencies around the globe, working as a brand strategist, trying my best to help our clients crack opportunity wide-open. But honestly, most of my time was spent diving in deep on dozens of pitches. That’s one of the many secrets of ad agencies: their shoulders are generally pushing against the Sisyphean boulder of new business, doing everything to win bigger and braver clients. It’s thrilling, exhausting work.

And so I knew very well the massive commitment of time and treasure I was demanding of ad agencies when, as chief creative officer at General Mills, I called a review of our creative partnerships last year.

Although McCann and Saatchi & Saatchi had served our brands so well for so long (more than half a century in the case of the former), a shake-up seemed in order. The brutal stress of our business … (Continue Part One and Part Two below)

Part One: http://adage.com/article/viewpoint/open-letter-clients-ad-agency-review/308002/?utm_source=agency_email&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=adage&ttl=1488570692&utm_visit=102073

Part Two: http://adage.com/article/viewpoint/open-letter-clients-ad-agency-review-part-2/308050/

 

When Clients Ask for Financials

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Today’s enlightenment was supplied by Blair Enns, CEO with Win Without Pitching

I recently spoke with an agency ownership team about an RFP they had received from a new prospect. One of the submission requirements was a copy of the firm’s financial statements.

How do you respond in such situations?

You would be well within your right to issue the most impolite of two-word responses to such a demand. Of course that’s not necessary, though. This is, after all, merely a game. Rather than stress you out, such a request should bring a smile to your face and an eager acceptance of the challenge. Let’s go over how to play the Show Us Your Money game.

Is This a Game Worth Playing?

Before we begin, prepare yourself for the fact that any selection process that begins with a request for financials might not go well. When the client opens this way then they’re likely a price buyer. If the relationship begins through procurement then whatever you’re being asked to bid on is seen as a commodity and you will have no power. It’s a price-driven decision all day long. Best to bow out.

If things have gone well in the sales cycle only for procurement to pop up at the last minute and demand financials, that’s actually good news. When procurement gets involved at this stage its almost certainly because they see this as final negotiations with the preferred firm – although they will never let on that this is the case. You’ve got more power than you realize in this situation but wielding it begins with the word “no”. Until you clearly say no, procurement is hearing yes. There’s rarely a need to get uppity or indignant. Remember the WWP key principle of kind ruthlessness: be ruthless in your behaviour – in this case getting right to the issue of why the client is asking and what a more appropriate answer might be – but be kind in your words. So a healthy amount of skepticism and direct professional questioning is called for.

Playing The Game

First, let us recall the Win Without Pitching Four Priorities of winning new business:

  1. Win Without Pitching, if possible. If you cannot then…
  2. Derail the pitch. If you cannot then…
  3. Gain the inside track. If you cannot then…
  4. Walk away.

Priorities two and three are about gaining concessions that affect the buying process thereby giving you an indication of how likely you are to win. You proceed with opportunities where you have proven that your odds of winning are good, ideally better than 1/n (with n being the number of firms under consideration). The assumption is someone has the inside track. If it’s not you, it’s someone else. This is the inverse of the saying about poker, that “If you can’t spot the sucker at the table, it’s you.”

Now, the step-by-step guide to our game. A lot of these steps are the same as those you would follow for any RFP response, with the specifics around financials added.

Step 1: Pick Up the Phone

The first thing you do is call – even if the RFP says no phone calls. Don’t apologize, just ignore and call. Get to a real decision maker and not a gate-keeper or process manager if you can. If the opportunity has come to you through procurement and you can’t get to a decision maker then you’re either a filler candidate rounding out the roster, perhaps there as a source of pricing pressure on the others, or the entire engagement is seen by the client organization as a commodity. In either case you want to think deeply about the merits of proceeding.

Step 2: Why Us?

Once on the phone ask why you’ve been selected. You’re looking to see who referred you, if anyone, how they see you and ultimately, how much power you might have in the relationship. Like step one above, this is standard RFP response protocol. “Thanks for thinking of us. I’m curious why you did think of us?”

Step 3: Raise The First Objection

Now put the RFP objection on the table. “We don’t typically respond to RFPs.” You can say this in different ways but I strongly recommend you use these exact words. Now pause, if you have the stomach for it, and listen. Whatever you hear next will be invaluable in letting you know where you stand with this client.

Leaving the objection on the table, which subtly implies the smallest of openings through the word ‘typically,’ proceed. It might sound something like, “I did want to say hello and explore whether or not there’s a path forward here.”

Step 4: Now Raise the Financials Objection

Proceeding full steam ahead you are now putting on the table all of the items in the RFP about which you have questions or issues. “There are some things in here I’d like to talk about.”

Right to the financials. “You ask for financials. We’re a private company and there are no circumstances under which we would hand over financial statements, but tell me what you’re looking for and why? I’m certain there’s a way to get to you what you really need.” You’re saying no but also that this is not a barrier but a bump. Let’s get over it together.

Step 5: Identify and Address the Real Issue

Now you are two people having a real conversation. You have placed aside the direct request and are in search of the reasons behind it. Some are valid. Some are not. Let’s explore each.

Valid Reason #1

The client wants to know what percentage of your total income their account would represent. This is perfectly valid. You want to know this, too. You want your new clients to be in the green zone, representing between 10% and 25% of your total revenue.

0-4% red zone
5-9% amber zone
10-25% green zone
26-35% amber zone
36%+ red zone

Smaller than 10% would not meet your minimum level of engagement (MLOE) and larger than 35% would be dangerous. The research that ReCourses CEO David C. Baker has done across hundreds of firms shows that when a firm loses a client that represents 35% or more of its income there’s a greater than 50% chance the firm will go out of business.

So, this is valuable for both parties to know, therefore it’s appropriate for you to disclose your revenue and even the number of clients you have, and it’s equally appropriate for the client to disclose the budget. If the client will not take you at your word for your revenue then this isn’t going to be a good partnership, is it? Go ahead and say that, if necessary.

Valid Reason #2

The client might have legitimate concerns over your financial stability. In the example I gave at the top, the agency had over two decades of experience doing this type of work for Fortune 100 clients. If that’s not enough to assuage someone’s stated concern about stability then the concern is a lie and there’s something else the client is looking for.

Find other ways to prove stability. There are many, including references from clients or your bank. Financial statement disclosure should not be required. Some RFPs, especially those crafted by procurement, attempt to pass all risk onto you and that’s just not realistic. They know that – they’re not demanding, they’re negotiating! Don’t assume because it’s in the RFP it’s mandatory. “I have to ask… if you think we’re a fly-by-night operation that might not be around to see this project through then why did you send us the RFP?”

The Big Invalid Reason (Which The Client Will Deny)

The client wants to dictate your profitability. Ahhh, now we come to the real reason. The procurement department wants to control your profit, ideally having you work at or close to cost.

You might want to lean right into this one. “Your only concern regarding our profitability should be that any work we might do for you IS profitable. How profitable is our business and not yours. You just want us to be profitable. And you don’t have to worry because we price all of our work so that it’s profitable for us and for our clients.”

If your spider-sense tells you this a price buyer, lean right into that too. “I’m concerned with this focus on our financials that this decision is all about price and I’ll tell you right now that we’re not likely to be the lowest price.”

The two valid reasons are easily dealt with without having to share your financials. The invalid reason, if it is the reason, needs to be outed and addressed head on before you politely walk away and leave it to your competitors to do the stupid thing. Sometimes that is just as gratifying as a win.

Wrapping Up

In summary, never share your financials. That’s like going into a fencing match in which your opponent decides he’s going to try something outrageous and ask you to hand over your foil – and then you do! Never give procurement the upper hand this way. Yes they sometimes ask but they’re laughing their asses off when you comply.

Look for the reason behind the request and if it’s a valid reason find another way to get them the assurances that any reasonable person would require. If they want to dictate margin to you, tell them to get stuffed. But do it kindly. This is, after all, but a game. Win or lose this should be fun.

Footnote: In any AgencyFinder review, you will know why and how you were selected. But as Blair points out, other parties including Procurement can join in after invitations go out. You can also ask me if you think some questions are out of line!

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The agency game: Six tips for choosing an agency (client advice)

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Just saw an interesting article at HIGHTAIL, a file sharing and thensome site. The author Scott Moe did a nice job working through 6 tips a client could use to evaluate agency candidates. I periodically see articles along these lines, but in most cases I spot a serious omission. And I commented accordingly (there and here).

Good article. These Six Tips cover important ground and if you’ve got a handful to start with, any comparative process should lead to your winner. I’ve always argued choosing the ideal agency is relatively easy once you’ve identified your qualified candidates. The real problem is finding those qualified candidates! Last I checked there were some 30,000 firms in the US that call themselves ad agencies or some such (integrated marketing communication firms, digital agencies, PR firms). That’s just for starters. So for those who speak of starting with 3-5 firms, I always wonder because they don’t say – how do you identify those?

Some suggest asking colleagues, asking media reps, or Googling for agencies with specific characteristics in your area. Some “directory” websites offer “alpha-ranked” agencies. But visit their websites and you discover “Contact Us” often fails to reveal their location, nor how many people actually work there. The data elements you want to use to winnow your list don’t exist. That was our discovery almost 20 years ago when we were teaching agency business development and little has changed. That absence of necessary data led us to develop an agency profile and search process that draws upon more than 500 agency profile data fields. And for years, we’ve been helping clients identify their handful to invite and have done so for thousands. See for yourself.

The Digital Love Affair is Over – PepsiCo Exec Has Tough Words for Agencies

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Brad Jakeman Suggests Shops Have Not Kept Pace With Change

We didn’t grab all the content of today’s AdAge article (10/16/2015), but we did include enough to share the comments. As I’ve remarked over the years and as Brad says – stop already! Ad agency models are breaking. Pre-roll ads are useless. Measurement models are outdated. The ad industry lacks diversity. And the phrase digital marketing should be dumped.

Those statements were among the declarations made Wednesday by PepsiCo exec Brad Jakeman in a fiery, truth-telling presentation at the Association of National Advertising’s annual “Masters of Marketing” conference in Orlando, Fla. Mr. Jakeman — who is president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group — went so far as to suggest that even the phrase “advertising” should go by the wayside. He did so before 2,700 marketing and agency professionals at an event put on by an association that has the word advertising in its name. “Can we stop using the term advertising, which is based on this model of polluting [content],” he said. Mr. Jakeman also ripped the industry’s lack of diversity. “I am sick and tired as a client of sitting in agency meetings with a whole bunch of white straight males talking to me about how we are going to sell our brands that are bought 85% by women,” he said. “Innovation and disruption does not come from homogeneous groups of people.”

Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer — who delivered a late morning presentation — responded to a question about agencies by pointing out that the motorcycle marketer works with a lot of shops and takes a “boutique” approach. “We have not had a lead agency in about five years,” he said. “Clients must take more responsibility for creativity. It’s not the kind of thing that you should offshore.”

Mr. Jakeman called digital marketing the “most ridiculous term I’ve ever heard.” He added: “There is no such thing as digital marketing. There is marketing — most of which happens to be digital.” He urged marketers to create digital cultures, not digital departments. “We ‘ghettoize’ digital as though it’s the life raft tethered to the big ocean liner. And we have to move on from that.”

So he turned to the example set by Caitlyn Jenner, praising the way she “managed her transition … figuratively and literally as a brand.” The process — from the Diane Sawyer interview to the Vanity Fair cover — was thought-provoking, authentic and profound, he said. “This was something that the world was talking about, and the world has continued to talk about.” Then he posed a question to his fellow marketers: “Have we done anything with our brands that is in any way as remarkable as the way Caitlin Jenner, and that phenomenon, has been managed?”

How Do You Want Your Invitation? That’s our important New Business question.

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

The proposition – You’re one of our special registrants looking for new business. Regardless of type, you built a profile here at AgencyFinder.com so you can be found and invited to speak and ultimately pitch a new client. Now the good news – your firm surfaced as a candidate in this client’s search. All we need now is to send your invitation so you can schedule your initial client interview.

But there’s a problem. Increasingly our invitations haven’t been getting where they’re meant to go. In your profile you’ve given us your office landline phone, your fax and your e-mail. In our ACT database, we may also have your cell number. Here’s what we’ve been doing for years and what’s been happening recently.

1. We send you and your alternate NB contact an e-mail alert identifying the client, budget and client URL. We mention the full invitation will follow as fax.
a. e-mail gets to you both; you do/don’t read it
b. e-mail goes to your Spam folder and is not read. Dead end.

2. We send your fax just to you.
a. Fax gets to you and you read it
b. Fax gets there but someone picks it up and throws it away (thinking it’s a 48-Pt type island travel offer)
c. You no longer have a fax – obsolete technology you explain (there’s e-fax, etc.) – ask that we scan and send as e-mail attachment
d. Scanning 6 pages – extra steps for us – that too goes to your spam folder

3. We phone to follow up
a. We have to leave a voicemail (sometimes mailbox is full)
b. Someone offers to take a message; don’t know your schedule
c. You say or they say – never received the fax
d. New fax number and sent again

Consequence? You’re either a “no-show” or significantly late. And that’s why we ask – HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR INVITATION?

We’re open to suggestions and figure you’re the one with the answer!

Let us hear from you! Write bpi@agencyfinder.com or call 804-346-1812.

 

Whassup! You claim experience in health food, yet you don’t respond to your invitation.

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

The AgencyFinder database is deeper and wider than any other in the industry.  More than 500 data fields get your agency found. After you’re vetted by us and the client, you get your invitation. In some instances, we even make trial outreaches by sending an e-mail to ask if the opportunity (we define it) is a good fit for your firm. To save time for everyone, we suggest that no answer means no. But as a courtesy we’d like to hear.

Why? After years of doing this, we know that’s because you said to yourself – “we don’t have that experience!” But you see, you’ve claimed it.  As in, Garbage in; Garbage out. If you claim it (experience, services, markets, etc.) you’ll have to prove it to the client.  If you need to update because your claims are no longer valid, you’re doing all of us (you, us & the client) a disservice. Make a point to keep your profile accurate and current! Fair?

We recently added and removed some “fields served” (vertical market experiences) and “services.”  Check and update your profile now …

 

Tell it like it is Dorothy – as in “8 things you should never say to PR agency pros”

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Every public relations agency executive delights in hearing from prospective clients. One great thing about the business is that you never know which award-winning campaign, career-changing relationship, or high-profile engagement might be just around the corner.

A typical part of the chase is a series of calls or meetings with client prospects who can have widely varying degrees of familiarity with the agency process, or who may not be clear (or agree) on what they want or need. They can say odd, confusing, and even exasperating things; in fact, certain comments are red flags that an experienced public relations agency exec will detect in an instant.

Here’s a list of some of our favorites.

“We’re looking for someone to grow with us.” This is my No. 1 peeve from a prospective client.  It’s understandable if the budget isn’t large; in fact, it might be a smart move to conserve funds for later (and we are happy to steer you to an excellent freelancer or boutique agency if that’s the case.) But the invitation translates to, “We can’t afford to pay fair value for your work, and even if we hire you, you’ll never be able to make money with us.” Not so appealing.

“Here’s a proposal from another agency that wasn’t right for us because it was too big/expensive/outside of our category.” This hasn’t happened often, but it’s ethically dubious, to say the least, and confusing at best. (What do you really want?)

“We need our story to be in The New York Times/TechCrunch/’Ellen’ by the time we launch.” Well, as my former client used to say to her CEO when he started down this road: “There’s one way to guarantee that. It’s called advertising.”

“For this assignment, we’re not sure if we need a PR firm or a digital marketing agency.” Hmm, well, then, neither are we. They are very different disciplines with distinct goals, and they often work in tandem, but perhaps you should review your objectives and conduct some research into each. I’d rather spend my time developing the best possible PR recommendations based on solid information than explaining what PR is or does.

“We’re not looking for formal proposals. Just give us an idea of how you’d approach our business.” I’ve heard this quite a few times but have never really understood what it means.

“How much for a press release?” Argh.

“We need a viral video!” This one needs no explanation; most PR people I know have deleted the word “viral” from their vocabularies.

“We’re looking at 30 agencies and hope you’ll want to participate.” Um, maybe not.

This article was contributed by Dorothy Crenshaw, CEO and creative director of Crenshaw Communications in New York. She has been named one of the public relations industry’s 100 Most Powerful Women by PR Week.

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