The Missing Element in Some PR RFPs: Budget

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Much has changed about the communications business since we opened our doors in 1987.

Yet, some companies continue to send out PR RFPs with no mention of budget today as they did 25+ years ago.

I’m guessing these same companies did not enjoy the scene in Jerry Maguire when Cuba Gooding Jr. tells Tom Cruise to “Show me the money.”

Why are companies coy about budget? They think this is the most effective way to drive down the cost.

I would even go a step further and say when it comes to selection criteria, most of these companies put more weight on low price point than the thinking and execution that goes into a communications campaign.

Of course, they mask this intent with lines like:

  • Rather than limit the PR possibilities, we need you to tell us what the budget should be for a program that takes us to the next level.

Can you imagine going to an architect and saying, “Design a house. Here are some basic specs – size of lot, number of bedrooms, etc. – but I don’t want to limit your creativity by providing a budget.”

This isn’t about greed.

First and foremost, we want to evaluate whether we’re a good fit for the prospect and can deliver the expected results for the budget. If the answer is yes, a budget allows us to construct a “realistic” campaign and not waste resources creating a big idea that can’t be funded.

From the company perspective, this tightens the evaluation process at many levels including pricing since the prospect can compare thinking and deliverables framed by the same budget. Even Procurement appreciates this concept when it comes to securing PR services.

Here’s a typical note from our U.S. General Manager Steve Burkhart in response to a RFP missing budget information:

Hi XXXX,

Thank you for your thoughts on the budget and how you are approaching it in the RFP.

What we have found is that without a budget framework, it is difficult to conceptualize and detail what the program should be.  In the course of doing many RFPs over the years, we also know that without budget parameters in place, companies seem to value the lowest price over other considerations.

We aren’t the low-price PR firm. However, if you look at our expertise, reach and track record in delivering meaningful results, I think you would conclude that we are a good match for you.

For us to commit resources to an RFP, we do need to understand the budget allocation before proceeding.  So, to put it another way, without knowing the budget, we will be unable to participate.

Thanks for your understanding.

Best,

Steve

There have been cases in which our logic resonates with the prospect and they provide the budget info. Others where we gracefully exit stage left.

The point is, if we don’t value our intellectual property – our thinking – who will?

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3 comments

3 Comments so far

  1. Mickie Kennedy October 24th, 2013 8:48 am

    Great point, great article — you should always charge what you’re worth. Thanks for writing.

  2. Ivan Nelson October 25th, 2013 6:56 am

    Great insights! It obviously applies to many RFPs beyond PR. Thanks for sharing the value!

  3. hoffman October 25th, 2013 12:55 pm

    Never considered that point, but it makes sense. Good to know this happens to other industries (PR is not alone).

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