When organizations seek to hire an outside communications firm to support a specific project or a broader objective, many issue a request for proposal to outline their needs.  However, states Robert Udowitz, pictured above, who with  Steve Drake run RFP Associates, a communications agency search firm, the agency selection works “to the extent that it is open, fair and balanced.”

In a piece in O’Dwyer’s, Udowitz writes:

“The PR Council reports that one-third all new agency business comes from RFPs. That’s substantial enough to take the process seriously no matter the size of your firm. The critical point, and where we take a very strong stand, is that there must be a standardized “bill of rights” for agencies and clients alike.

“Gone should be the sparse, two-page RFPs that prompt more questions than they answer, and that ask for the world in 10 days’ time. RFPs should include a core scope of work and a budget; there’s simply no way to rationalize that agencies should propose a cost. All agencies should have an equal shot at winning the client’s business.  If an RFP does not follow these basic rules, agencies should reject it en masse.

“Hiring a new agency with a budget of $250K, $500K or $1 million+ is like hiring a new public relations staff.

“How long does that usually take? No staffer ever comes on board without presenting credentials, going through several rounds of interviews of staff, and being vetted through references, writing tests, and credit bureaus. It’s a process that typically takes you and HR three to six months — yet most clients try to hire a new PR agency in four to six weeks.

“It’s irrational, considering you are hiring a firm to be the caretaker of your corporate reputation, and to serve as your organization’s external face.”

For the full piece, click here.

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