The topic of tenders for selection of PR agencies is always relevant but it is discussed extremely seldom. Generally, only when the patience runs out and someone states indignation, both from the companies and from PR agencies. I hear complaints from the agencies most often, as they have to work with the task. However, mutual reproaches will change nothing but will only strain the situation because of lack of constructive propositions.
To find the solution, I would like to call all participants for an open dialogue and to suggest working out a common, clear for everyone standard of tender carrying out and conditions of participation in it.
It is not a secret that companies want to receive today more and as cheap as possible, while agencies – to do less but for a larger amount of money. The balance can be found in approach to the process of tenders carrying out. Please, see below the criteria, which, in my opinion, any tender should meet.
Criterion №1: Honesty
If criterion for selection is only the price, it will be better to point it out clearly and not to ask the tender participants to think out a heap of ideas, you do not need anyway.
It is worth mentioning procurement specialists, whose task is to “force out at all rates”. Unfortunately, PR manager inside the company has a hard time under such conditions and his/her hands are tied, as he/she cannot affect the selection process although nominally he/she participates in it.
Criterion 2: Respect
Do not “vacuum” ideas from a dozen of agencies. Define for yourself the list of maximum five or better three agencies that will receive tender dossiers. Agencies will address your tender more earnestly and will provide more elaborated proposals. If you decide to invite “everyone” to your tender, then do not forget whom you’ve sent it.
Criterion 3: Decency
Be consecutive and keep the promises you give. If you promised to send additional information – send it. If you received proposal – find time and examine it from cover to cover, and preferably BEFORE calling the agency with questions. If you promised to consider proposals within seven days – consider them or inform participants that term is prolonged for such and such reasons.
Criterion 4: Transparency
Well-detailed brief is the earnest of receiving the proposals you need and choosing a truly optimum alternative for you. List the tender participants – it is an additional stimulus for agencies. Send to all participants answers to questions asked by different agencies.
Criterion 5: Punctuality
If you were holding a tender, certainly, it would be nice to observe its deadlines and not to postpone the election of winner agency for too long. In the first place, this is good for the company as you will be able to count on presented team of specialists who will be working with you. Do not hold “tender for tender”, which you started a couple of months ago – this is frivolous.
Criterion 6: Payment conditions
The matter of payment terms and conditions for PR services is an individual decision of each agency. But please note that TV-channels, for example, do not take advertising without advance payment, mobile operators do not credit us for 90 days for mobile communication, and doctors do not wait payment for rendered services for 3 months.
Certainly, the tender process depends in many respects on agencies: they treat us the way we allow them to do. But sometimes there is an impression that the tender initiators are convinced that people in agencies live on air therefore they can wait some six months until they got paid for the already rendered services.
We all live in the same country and we are able to estimate economic risks soberly.
When participating in tender and setting prices, each agency rates its strengths, resources and possibilities of further work with this client. Therefore, I would like to call companies to cooperate with agencies and to reduce the period of payment for PR services.
As to agencies, I would wish them not to dump prices because it will do much harm to your reputation, while the additional estimates will lead to loss of the client.