Buyers 'bad for PR'

5 July 2010

6 July 2010 | Andy Allen

A company that specialises in measuring the effectiveness of PR campaigns believes procurement often has a negative input when it gets involved in hiring agencies.

Alexor PR Audits said procurement departments often undermined agency selection programmes by placing too much emphasis on price.

Managing director Keith Simpson said: “Ironically, small and medium-sized companies can win a greater ‘share of voice’ in their target media as their choice of PR agency is more likely to be based on a set of criteria which favours track record and creativity.”

Bigger companies using procurement were more likely to use reverse auctions to drive down cost and make the final selection of agency. “This is unlikely to form the basis of a long-lasting and productive PR relationship,” Simpson said. “Truly great ideas are worth a 100 basic press releases. It matters little whether they come from five seconds of inspiration or five days of sweat. If they win recognition and produce measurable shifts in behaviour or attitude they should be costed on that basis.”

Furthermore, the survey of 30 senior PR executives concluded public sector organisations are often paying double the going rate for external PR services because of poor purchasing practices.

Simpson said the public sector often used procurement frameworks to narrow down tenders, but few agencies were signed up to such frameworks.

The only way such agencies could bid without joining a framework was to do so through a third party which had become a framework member, he said. This organisation would then apply a handling charge – driving up the cost to the buyer.

“This is going to be an increasingly big issue as we look for spending cuts in the public sector,” Simpson added.

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