Bait and Switch – What should be done?Posted: September 29, 2005
One of my businesses recently lost out in a pitch to one of the ‘large’ agencies. The pitch had been a drawn out affair with lots of agencies in the fray. In the end it came down to a final two and we lost. I should say now that I hate losing so that needs to be factored in to the equation here. What annoyed me was that we lost out to a blatant bait and switch. It transpires that the winning agency brought a ton of people in to the pitch, of which only two junior people were ever going to work on the business.
I know that there are reasons why agencies do this. The best one is that the people who are good at pitching are not always the best at the work and vice versa. Other reasons are that the demands made in the pitch are rarely what a client wants once the work really starts. PLus there’s the fact that the right people are either away or busy with existing client work. That said I do believe we need higher ethical standards on this issue. The client I mentioned is already annoyed to find that their new team is totally different to the one that pitched. Much as I’m skeptical about the ability of our industry to enforce codes of conduct and ethical standards I feel something needs to be done.
One way to solve this is to make resource planning a key part of all pitches so that the client can see in black and white what resources will be applied for the budget. The content here could then be an integral part of the initial contract. Another way to solve this would be for an organization like the Council of PR here in the US or the PRCA in the UK to promote a code of conduct on this issue and for them to set out rules their members agree to abide by.
Am I alone in finding the bait and switch issue frustrating? Personally I feel it does our industry no credit and only serves to re-enforce the image that PR is a less than ethical business.