Response to “Just Say ‘No’ ”

April 17, 2013

Our post, “Proposals: Just Say ‘No,’ “ created a discussion on the PR United LinkedIn group, where I found that our experience is similar to that of agencies all over the world.

The initial post noted that potential clients sometimes request proposals, then fail to respond to e-mails and phone calls once a proposal is submitted.

Some said they now charge prospects when they submit proposals.  Most agencies, including Kowal Communications, do not charge for a proposal.  Not every prospect is willing to pay for a proposal, of course, so charging may result in lost business opportunities.

By not charging, though, we risk being treated dishonestly or unfairly.  One respondent developed a two-year business plan for a potential client that “wanted to see what I could do before they employed me.”  Someone else was chosen who “implemented every last point” from the plan.

Another respondent said, “I often feel that some clients are simply ‘fishing’ for ideas and want a PR campaign spelled out for them so that they may either cherry-pick it for what they wish to do on their own, or so they can hand these ideas to someone in-house to also do on their own.”

And a third said, “These days in meetings, I am much more circumspect about offering proposals unless they seem really committed to move, and even then if I get a whiff of time wasting, suggest they pay for a needs analysis and set of recommendations. Some clients agree to this and some don't, but at least I don't get involved in unnecessary work giving away great insights and ideas for free!”

While a lack of response is unprofessional, a potential client who would request a proposal just to steal a person’s or an agency’s ideas is not a client we would want.

In addition, attempts to implement a plan developed by others are likely to fail.  Those who lack the imagination to develop a plan will lack the skills to implement it as well.


Tell me about it!

Working in social media we can often times see how our ideas, former proposals, are being put into play by businesses that may have requested a proposal from us ... and it's sad. What do you say in situations like this? And as a small business, how do you get large firms to recognize that this type of process is not ethically acceptable? Especially when your messages and emails aren't being returned. Lately, we've been forwarding a specially drafted NDA along with any proposals, it's kinda been working.

Tell me about it!

Using an NDA makes lots of sense.  I use language at the end of my proposals saying that the recommendations in the proposal remain the property of Kowal Communications until a contract is signed.  Not sure that does much good. 

What bothers me most, though, is the lack of response.  Tell me we didn't get the business and I'll understand.  Better yet, tell me why, so I can get something back in return for my investment of time. 

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