Average PR Agency spends £11K on pitching every year – New research

The average UK PR agency does 27 new business pitches every year, clocking up 1,674 hours, and £11,000 in costs.
A new study of senior agency professionals has found that the average agency undertakes 27 pitches to win new contracts every year, with 62 hours spent on average per pitch.
This figure covers everything from tender identification, kick off brainstorms, strategy formulation, pitch planning, tissue sessions/ liaison with the client pre pitch with questions, budgeting, pitch material preparation, the pitch itself – and travelling to and from pitch – and takes into account the time spent by everyone who is involved in the pitch.
All in all, this equates to a staggering 1,674 hours spent working on pitches for the average UK agency every year.
In fact, according to the study by Perspectus Global, in partnership with the PRCA, four in ten (40 percent) of those polled claim that existing clients are frequently neglected because of the focus on pitches for prospective work.
And when asked what financial cost pitching has, the average agency leader estimates it to be an eye-watering £11,214 a year.
Little wonder then, perhaps, that three in ten (30 percent) of the agency owners and senior decision makers polled admitted that the pitching process is out of hand, and a problem for their agency.
While 60 percent agreed that brands make agencies jump through hoops to win their business these days, and 61 percent believe that the marketing and brand directors they are pitching to have more to prove to their bosses than ever before, and are under huge pressure to prove ROI.
54 percent of seasoned agency folk think that clients expect much more work to be done for pitches than in the past, 51 percent believe PR agencies should be paid to pitch ideas, and 55 percent admit to feeling uncomfortable sharing fully formed PR programmes at pitch stage.
And 36 percent have seen their team lose a pitch, only to witness their own ideas activated by the brand at a later stage via another agency.
According to the poll, six in ten (60 percent) of those polled believe there is not enough protection around intellectual property during pitching.
Senior agency people are also concerned about the number of other agencies they’ll go up against in an open pitch, with 57 agreeing they’ve felt demoralised in the past when they’ve realised they are up against more than five other agencies.
And more than half (52 percent) of those surveyed said there is so much competition around that they have to work much harder on their pitches than in the past.
Said Harriet Scott of research agency Perspectus Global:

“We wanted to shine a light on the pressures of pitching for new business that UK PR agencies face – and the results show that not only have client expectations risen in recent years, but the amount of work undertaken by agencies to win new projects has also grown.
“Intellectual copyright seems a key issue for agency leaders, as does the fact that some pitches involve multiple agencies competing for one brief.
“And the sheer time given over to new business pitching is enormous, according to our survey.”
When it comes to pitching for new business in the time of Covid, the study found that 39 percent of those polled believes their team has found virtual pitching to be much more challenging than doing so in-person.
And 31 percent said that when new business had been won via virtual pitch, challenges existed in terms of building relationships and creating rapport with client teams due to not being able to meet them in person.
However, 43 percent of agency leaders said their teams had to innovate in order to wow clients virtually during pitches, and 38 percent believe their agency is now more creative as a result.
Overall, the data found that 29 percent of agencies have done fewer pitches than usual because of the constraints imposed by the pandemic.
Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA said:
Getting the client consultancy relationship right is integral to any PR work, and that starts at the very beginning – at the pitch. That’s why this research is so important. Time and money are both wasted, and expectations are so often ill-set by a pitching process that is fundamentally flawed. In 2022, the PRCA will be working hard on a global scale to sort this out. We’re going to relaunch our client consultancy charter, and we’re going to make this a key focus of our organisation’s work”.
The study also found that a fifth (21 percent) of agency leaders secretly believe that their team is not great at pitching, while 28 percent confess that they’ll sometimes tell a client anything to win the business, then find the resulting campaign incredibly hard to execute.
* Study of 107 UK PR agency owners, C-suite executives, and financial decision makers, conducted by Perspectus Global in partnership with the PRCA, in November and December 2021.

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