Death to the RFP

This post was originally posted on PR Squared. It’s been updated to reflect the most recent version of our SMNR.


A few years ago provocateur Tom Foremski wrote a blog post titled “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die![1]” He talked about how the press release had become a largely meaningless tool, a toothless artifact of a disconnected past. He was right. That post, along with my own experiences in the communications trenches, inspired me to create the Social Media News Release[2], which we’ve updated to version no. 3 as a microsite[3].

Today I’m hoping this post inspires you. Today I’m swapping the words “press release” for the acronym “RFP[4]” in the hope that we may collectively change what I view as a deeply flawed process of engagement.

My hope is that together we can create a better, more streamlined way of sharing agency credentials with those who would like to hire us. And I’d like to hear your ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

But first, something has to die.

To my fellow PR, digital and social media agency practitioners, and to the marketers looking to us to extend and elevate the conversations about their brands, please join me in throwing shovels full of dirt on the outlandishly time-intensive evaluation mechanism known as the RFP.

Suggested epitaph of the RFP?  “I asked too many questions. I asked too many of the wrong questions. I asked too many of the wrong questions too many times, to too many people.”

I’ve been at this game a long time and I’ve grappled with more than my fair share of RFPs. And SHIFT fortunately has a great track record of clearing the RFP hurdle en route to the pitch (95 percent, I’d say). I’m not writing this post because RFPs prevent us from winning business, or because I don’t appreciate the invitation to participate. I certainly do! I’m writing it because RFPs are a colossal timesuck for all parties – for those compiling, issuing and reviewing the RFP, and for the agencies of all stripes invited to complete them. The joy of receiving a new RFP dissolves into abject anguish the moment its contents, so familiar and yet just different enough to require days of work, are revealed.

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