Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blogging about PR Prospects... a Nod to Brian Solis

Just finished up an RFP for Southwest General Health Center.  I am fairly confident that we will not be invited to make a presentation before the final selection committee.  That's too bad.

Here's the thing: Southwest was asking for a lot; I mean a LOT.  The "required deliverables" of the RFP included 13 points; here is just one of them:  "a complete promotional plan evaluating our current brand image including logo and tag line, with detailed project budget, timeframe and responsibilities to include incorporation of suggestions for special events, activities and PR opportunities to minimize cost and maximize effectiveness."  The other 12 were equally involved. 

But that's not the issue.  After all, if you think a prospective client is asking for too much, you have the option to  simply not participate in the RFP.  No one is holding a gun to your head, and you can't blame an organization for trying to get as much as they can.

The real issue was the lack of available data to support the development of the deliverables requested.  While Southwest was well-intentioned in providing a tremendous amount of background material (census driven market data, original research, samples of literature, etc.) and equally responsible in terms of answering agency questions (I called the marketing director several times and she was tremendously responsive and helpful).  Still, there simply was not enough supporting data to provide the required deliverables.

So, guess what we did?  We provided all the deliverables that we were able to and we addressed those that we couldn't by proposing the implementation of a more comprehensive research study that would provide essential data to support the other desired deliverables.  We could have just made up a bunch of stuff based on our experience servicing other health care systems (Cleveland CLinic, University Hospitals, Grace Hospital, Summa Health System, Samaritan Regional Health System, etc.), but that would have been totally irresponsible.  So we didn't do that.

And it will likely cost us the opportunity to get the account.  We did the right thing and we will likely not be rewarded for it.  And some other agency will likely get the opportunity because they were willing to create logo and ad concepts and propose PR and marketing strategies (even though they didn't have the necessary knowledge to do it responsibly).

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "and so it goes."  But then again, maybe I am wrong and maybe I will be surprised and we will get a call from Southwest telling us they loved our direct and honest approach.



  1. My gut feeling...

    Your breath; don't hold it.

  2. Great post. I heard about a website redesign project for Laketran (the mass transit system for Lake County Ohio) a few weeks ago and they sent me an RFP. They were asking for a lot as well, a little to much and I had to pass.

    My situation was a little different. As a freelancer it would take me to much time to assemble a team or link up with a small agency just to put together a quote. The other problem was the lack of information provided. There was no way to tell how large the project was going to be without a sit down meeting. It's a shame that a lot of those RFP jobs go to those with the time to put together a good proposal and they aren't always the ones who can put together a good product.

    It was good to hear you tried, even if you don't get the job your proposal will stand out. Who knows who will see it and that kind of commitment to quality might be remembered some time down the road.