Crafting a clear and concise request for proposals (RFP) can be a time-intensive process. It requires companies and causes to not only understand their own marketing needs but to be able to articulate those needs in a way that will yield consistency across bidders’ responses. If your organization is looking to engage a public relations agency and will be issuing an RFP as part of the search process, follow these best practices for RFP writing.
A strong RFP features a clear scope of work, project objectives, and offers a concise snapshot of the organization that is seeking proposals. In many instances, the RFP itself is the only communication between prospective clients and bidding firms so clarity is paramount. If your project is complicated, consider breaking the document into subheads, using bullet points and including “key takeaways” at the conclusion of each section. Remember, you want to write an RFP that will yield comparable proposals from bidding agencies so that you can make an apples-to-apples comparison of approaches, services and associated fees to the extent possible.
Be as specific as possible
Are you looking for a public relations agency to implement a local, regional or national media relations program? Will the agency be solely responsible for all media outreach or do you have in-house communications staff that will assist with program implementation? Is there a budget for sponsored content and/or paid influencer marketing to supplement the earned media component of your program? Each of these variables can impact the time and resources a PR firm will invest in your account so it is important to provide as much relevant information as possible to ensure you are receiving bids that are as realistic as possible.
Where does public relations fit into your organization’s overall marketing program? Why is now the right time for you to embark upon a PR program? What role are you looking for PR to play in helping to achieve your organization’s overall strategic and business goals? By offering bidding agencies a global perspective on your marketing program and the business goals you are looking to achieve, your prospective agency partners can understand the role of PR and the additional marketing channels available to extend the reach of your messages and content.
Anticipate the type of partnership that will work best for your organization
How do you like to work with partners and vendors? Do you prefer in-person meetings, weekly check-in calls or real-time email updates? How important is it that your chosen partner has offices in the same geographic market? Are you looking for a firm with whom you can collaborate on program implementation or is a more hands-off approach more realistic given your internal bandwidth and resources? Every PR firm is unique as is their approach to project management and program implementation. By setting out your expectations for your client-agency relationship in the RFP, you can help to attract firms who are able to work under these conditions.
A strong public relations RFP gives agencies a clear sense of the scope of work on which they are bidding and the goals their work is helping to achieve. It allows firms to craft proposals that are goal-focused and realistic given the scope of work and budget associated with the project.