26 June 2007

Who's important in the beauty parade..?

I met a bloke the other day from a company pitching its PR account (as a fair few are right now). Having been through the pitch process...and as a man who's worked with PR agencies previously...he was musing about the member of the pitch team upon which you should focus most attention.

Oddly, it's not the one with the biggest knockers. And he certainly didn't think it should be the cocky board director arriving hot-foot it from the last pitch...nor the associate director given the job of talking through the strategic approach. He didn't even think it was the account director. He reckoned that the best bet was to test the mettle of the account manager. If the account manager was decent, the client would be able to whip the executives along and pick and choose the more senior resource he needed, if any.

I don't think it's quite that simplistic. I do agree that in a pitch situation you can generally ignore the input of a board director (likely to be fairly generic in any case) and, if there's one in the room, the associate director too. The likelihood of seeing either after the pitch is slim and, if you do, they'll be that expensive that you won't want to see them again...

For me, the key thing to test is the tightness of the AD/AM/AE team, rather than any one individual within it. Do they have a good dynamic..? Do they seem to like each other...is there some chemistry? Is it obvious that they've worked together for a while and complement each other..?

In my experience, a team with these attributes is much more likely to work for each other...and working for each other comes before working for the client. If the client then does its job...being inclusive, tough but fair, celebrating success, saying 'thanks' once in a while...then it'll find itself a team that will give it all the attention it wants and which is also likely to stay together as a unit longer than the average. Controversial as it might be to say (but it's human nature...) agency teams work harder for clients that they like.

Remember people, there's no 'i' in team. But there is a 'me'...and 'tea' and 'meat'.

I think we can all learn something from that.

23 comments:

Alexander said...

We once won a pitch because we disagreed with each other during the meeting and reasoned it out in front of the client. He liked the honesty of that but particularly liked the interplay within the team and the 'flat' nature of the relationships he saw there.

Damndest way to win a pitch...

Anonymous said...

There's no 'me' in 'tea'. Nutcase.

....the world's leading.... said...

But there's a 'can't use' in nutcase.

Anonymous said...

Its amazing how many clients don't realise that you work hardest for those you like.

And you don't necessarily like the pushovers. You like the appreciation. The thank you when its hard and you did your best.

Anonymous said...

>>"And you don't necessarily like the pushovers. You like the appreciation. The thank you when its hard and you did your best."<<

I understand the sentiment, but its a professional/business relationship at the end of the day - and the only 'thankyou' worth having comes in the form of a cheque every month...

Anonymous said...

There's also a cunt. In nutcase, I mean. And if only there was an 'r' spare you could actually make cunt arse. Wow.

Rebecca Williams said...

I couldn't agree more. Anyone with a bit of "nous" will realise that yes, it may be impressive to have a number of directors at the pitch, but you're not going to see them for dust once the account is up and running. At pitches we always have the entire team (AE/SAE/AM etc) present, who will then work on the account. The only time we bring in board-level directors is when the client requests it.

A Little More Conversation

Anonymous said...

I think clients do realise that teams work harder for the clients that they like. But how many clients are self aware enough to realise that they aren't actually liked by their agency teams?

Anonymous said...

I agree - terrible idea to bring along board directors. Best to leave them in the Ivy and let the AEs go out and pitch.

(The Artist Formerly Know As Figgis who has once again locked herself/himself out of Blogger...)

Anonymous said...

...but often if it wasn't for the board directors, perhaps there wouldn't be a pitch to attend in the first place?

....the world's leading.... said...

Fair point...but rather irrelevant to the debate. It's a bit like saying that my parents should get the credit for everything I achieve in my life. After all, if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be in a position to achieve anything.

Nobody's denigrating the important role agency board directors play, just their relative importance to the prospective client in the pitch process.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.48, I don't think it's a case of clients being 'self-aware', if your client twigs you don't like them, you aren't doing your job, don't you think? And to be honest, liking doesn't really come into it - it's business. Although anon 2.51, seeing as the AM/AE/AD see none of this cheque, a thanks is nice!

Anonymous said...

Question for you TWL, do the AE's/AM's/AD's write the docs at your agency(ies) or do they just write bits of them as they gain experience?

I'm not denigrating the important role they play in the mix, but personally I think good board directors add a lot in the pitch process - helping the team give their best in rehearsals, sorting out the front end, sorting the insight gathered into something relevant to the client/brief etc.

Also, the best board directors are involved with the client long after the pitch.

That said crap board directors do add little/just meddle and should be sent to the glue factory or asked to play with their spreadsheets in their corner offices until the ends of their fingers fall off.

Love TAFKAFiggis x

Anonymous said...

As an in-house reader of this blog, I reckon some of these comments are missing the point. There is a balance that you strike with an agency hire and the attitude and thinking of those at the top is crucial in terms of defining the overall 'culture' of the agency.

Furthermore, i need a balance of expertise - I'm not arrogant enough to think i'm the best guy on the block nor can i give that broader vision that an agency bod naturally delivers because i, by nature of working in house, am focused on my particular industry niche, so the one thing i want from an agency is to say "I was doing some work for x client in y industry and i thought that this might be a good angle for your business", rather than simply sticking to the 'knitting' of my industry - which quite frankly i can do myself if needs be.

AE and AM's generally don't deliver this, not because they are poor at their job but because they are focused on delivering the 'hits' that allows me to justify my agency budget to my FD. The Associates and Directors of this world, along with a good AD, are the ones that i use to bounce ideas off, expect to tell me when i'm talking nonsense and ultimately guide me to push the campaign a bit further.

The good agencies in my view are not the ones that tell me that the director is constantly calling the media [because i know they aren't] but the ones who give me a call from the car occassionally and say..."I've just had this idea", and then have the rapport with their team to drive it through.

That said, there are some wankers in in-house PR, i met one recently who thought he was the mutts nuts because he had great relationships in the channel press and that his agency couldn't teach him anything. I just hope that such individuals are suitably sidelined by more enlightened bosses.

Anonymous said...

>>"Although anon 2.51, seeing as the AM/AE/AD see none of this cheque, a thanks is nice!"<<

What do you mean 'they see none of the cheques' - how else do you think their salaries are paid..??

Anonymous said...

Anon 1.23 in response: We're talking about being motivated to go the extra mile and client rapport - that is not done by receiving your pay cheque. So yes, clients pay our wages, but we'd get that anyway. I don't think money coming in to an agency motivates unless a) you're paid on performance/commission or b) you own the company.

Anonymous said...

>>"I don't think money coming in to an agency motivates unless a) you're paid on performance/commission or b) you own the company."<<

...or c) you wake up to the fact that you work in a service industry with no divine right to a monthly pay cheque.

Anonymous said...

As another in-house reader of this blog, I have to agree with Anon 10.31. Yes, I want a team that works well together - but there is often such a rate of turnover lower in the agency that it's almost impossible to guarantee that the team you start with will be the same one you have in 6 months time.

And yes, I want good AEs and AMs, but my main relationship is likely to be with the AD or AssD - it's them that I want the counsel from, it's then that I want the insight from.

But yes, you're right about the Board Director - usually couldn't care less, unless I have enough budget to make them sit up and beg a bit :-)

holierthanthou said...

>>"...or c) you wake up to the fact that you work in a service industry with no divine right to a monthly pay cheque."<<

What a load of steaming bullshit - unless you're talking about the owners of said agency - the AEs, AMs and ADs are entitled to be paid by their employer - brush up on your employment law!

Anonymous said...

>>"What a load of steaming bullshit - unless you're talking about the owners of said agency - the AEs, AMs and ADs are entitled to be paid by their employer - brush up on your employment law!"<<

Wake up, you monkey. Employment law is fuck-all use if there's no money in the bank.

holierthanthou said...

True, after all Kwik Save have asked their staff to work a 2nd week without pay. But come on, that it laughable, I wouldn't stick around if I wasn't getting paid.

The way you stated it made it seem as though an AE/AM/AD should consider a pay cheque to be a blessing. Again, bullshit.

You are right though, I am a monkey.

Anonymous said...

its not bullshit - every paycheque is a blessing. Unless of course you are extremely rich and don't need the money....

holierthanthou said...

Nope, I'm skint. But I expect a pay cheque at the end of every month. If I stop getting them - I'm gone. I haven't got one of those new-fangled mortgages that pay for themselves.