News International (NI) just carried out a couple of pitches for large projects that took roughly 3 weeks, from start to finish, with a maximium of 40 working hours required from both sides. The whole process was about learnings, approaches and very top line thinking. We were really looking for experience, techniques, skills and fit with NI. We did not want the agencies using up lots of time and money when we wanted both parties to work together to define the problem and thus the overall solution.

There are some valuable learnings:-

1.     Agencies crave face time with clients – so how can we do this when trying to make the pitch competitive and not too time consuming for both sides?

2.     How do we stop agencies from doing what we ask them not to do (e.g. “don’t provide any boards or routes” – what do they do? Provide boards and routes.)

3.     The social piece (the agency account team and NI Team went out for a drink together) really worked and the cultural fit was so important in getting a successful outcome.

4.     How would we get agencies to be more open within a briefing and ask the important killer questions without giving away the crown jewels?

5.     Planning is vital to success.

6.     Get a Project Manager to make sure it all works.

7.     Experience cannot be taken for granted when running these types of programme.

8.     Collaboration is good, up to a point, but someone has to make a decision.

9.     The client needs to be clear of what they want (I don’t mean the finished article, but they must know in which direction they are aiming).

10. Have key personnel available for all meetings so a decision is informed.

The agencies all felt that they had an equal chance of winning, and it is now down to the NI team and the agency to work together to deliver the project to time and budget.

Is the process perfect? No, but I can see how to refine it and come down harder on agencies who do not follow the rules. I believe an average score of 8 (out of 10) from the agencies when asked if the project had been a success.

Richard Woodford
Category Manager – Advertising & Marketing
News International


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Hello from early morning New York. Today I'm launching the new site at the Adforum conference of global search consultants. There's sure to be a buzz and will start the global debate rolling - get blogging:)
Having attended one of the briefing sessions for the NI pitch the approach seems to be far simpler and clearer than others I've been to. Seems the process is very transparent and has real momentum.