Wednesday, June 13- 2012 at 01:45
Good afternoon, and thanks to everyone for coming. As you can tell, the IAA has put on a new face. I hope that you will find our offices ever more welcoming and that this event proves them to be ever more functional.
Anyway, the more important reason why we asked you to join us is the launch of Best Practice in the Pitch Process, a 27-page document born from the need to define, prescribe and – in some respects – defend best professional practice in the communications industry with regards to pitching. I’ve used the word “need” because throughout the three panels of a cross-section of client and agency representatives held earlier this year, it was very apparent that although notions of best practice certainly exist, the industry lacks a clear, comprehensive, neutral, and forthright statement of what constitutes the best way to do things.
Having been to enough book signings, I dread the thought of having in my introduction to summarize the 27 pages I referred to earlier. So, I’m glad you’re not expecting that. What is fair, though, and actually fun for me to do, is to position Best Practice in the Pitch Process. Let me do that through six observations:
1) This is a first for our region; it is based on grass-roots input; and it
prescribes best practice. The words “should,” “advisable,” “important,” and a number of other imperatives are used throughout the text;
2) Having said that, Best Practice in the Pitch Process is not a piece of legislation or regulation. While there may be an isolated instance or two to the contrary (e.g., the subject of intellectual property), no one will be taken to court or to the police station for not complying with its recommendations;
3) We are certain, however, that unless subscribed to, the industry will continue to be its own worst enemy with regards to the pitch process. Best Practice. . . is a response to the many pitfalls that were uncovered during the previously referred to panel discussions; e.g., the absence of clear objectives in putting out to pitch or accepting to pitch, the lack of clarity and transparency in assessment criteria, unprofessional briefs, the drain on time and other resource for all parties involved, a misguided role for procurement, and the “dream team syndrome” whereby the agency principals involved in a pitch are never or rarely to be seen by clients again, etc., etc, etc. The welfare of the industry, both short- and long-term, is served by Best Practice. . .;
4) I know that the subject of ethics is on everyone’s mind, and ethical considerations are made in the document – sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. This is done because many areas covered by best practices and ethics intertwine. But it is important to keep in mind that best practices go well beyond what is honest, mirrors integrity, and constitutes professional courtesy. Best practices are about being aware, smart, and behaving consistent with objectives. Quality, not morality, is the primary outcome of adherence to best practices.
5) Best Practice in the Pitch Process, is based on the premise that marketing communications plays a crucial role in business success, that agency services are not a commodity, and that the selection of agency does matter. Harm to the industry comes from not embracing these principles, however basic and self-evident. The substitution of process – pre-, during, and post- pitch – for what many think is “madness” is the best guarantee that appropriate objectives for both clients and agencies are achieved. Learning and results are both in the doing;
6) Best Practice in the Pitch Process is a living document. The IAA invites input and critique. As the tenets of Best Practice are known, understood, and adopted, we expect that there will be opportunities for revision and expansion - sometimes in wording, other times along more substantive lines. While humble, though, we are confident that Best Practice. . . constitutes a solid beginning - a seminal piece of work on which to build. Mechanisms like seminars and workshops, in addition to media coverage such as that generated by the launch and today’s event, are examples of tools commonly used in encouraging adoption of voluntary codes; and the IAA will not shy away from taking a leadership role in their implementation. Our objective is to make Best Practice. . . contagious. Best Practice in the Pitch Process is here to consult, discuss and, of course, follow.