Agencies need to be treated with respect when pitching

Debriefing unsuccessful agencies should be a mandatory part of the pitching process argues Chris Gray, director of the Daylight Agency.

It’s exciting when that perfect pitch opportunity lands in your Inbox. Ideas start flowing, the team gathers to look at resource availability and the intense period of understanding and dissecting the brief begins. A brainstorm session happens. The response process starts. Endless hours. The submission is in. Waiting. A standard unsuccessful response letter is issued.  No explanation. No offer of a de-brief.

Chris Gray is a director of the Daylight Agency

This is not good enough and is unacceptable.

Our industry is full of exceptional creative talent who give 110 percent – no 150 percent! – when responding to a pitch or tender.  There is debate as to whether agencies should be remunerated for their efforts and opinions are divided over this, but at the very least we would call for a mandatory de-brief to all agencies who invest their time in responding.

In any tender or procurement process, the prospect receives a deep pool of intellectual property and strategic ideas, developed through countless hours of top industry thinking and input – all for free! If a dollar value was put on the total hours spent by us all in responding to a particular brief, that figure would be enough to fly a team to Mars!

And in many cases not even a de-brief is offered!

But there is some light amid the darkness: we have recently been on the receiving end of a very detailed and tailored de-brief.  It was offered as part of the process and the prospect was indeed surprised when we indicated this isn’t usual practice! This de-brief was thoughtful, constructive and provided invaluable information we can now use in our approach to future opportunities.

Our first thoughts following this de-brief was what an amazing organisation they would have been to work with if this was the focus and attention given to one of the unsuccessful agencies!

But we also felt the time we put into this pitch had been respected and rewarded with constructive feedback. And believe it or not, it was a Government client, not a private sector organisation!

On the other hand, we have been on the receiving end of having to chase for de-briefs with absolutely no feedback offered at all. Worse, we have recently been told we have to wait six months for a de-brief following a submission to a major organisation! Six months? Really!  Feedback so long after we have submitted our tender response will now be redundant. Certainly, we will have probably forgotten the reasons we even submitted in the first place, let alone much of the detail from our 50-page submission!

Like so many of our counterparts in the industry, the best approach to new business is to keep focusing on incremental opportunities from existing clients and word of mouth referrals. This certainly reduces the risk of spending countless hours on a tender pitch that goes nowhere.

Sadly, our observation would be that procurement teams are micro-managing the tender process with little or no alignment to the communication or marketing teams who are seeking the best thinking for their respective organisations. Perhaps this is why the de-brief is not offered – as those running the procurement process are not in a position to provide the most accurate or helpful feedback.

We are calling for a de-brief to be a mandatory part of the tender process in Australia. While the industry is still a long way off being paid for all submissions, a proper and thoughtful de-brief is the very least we can all expect.



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