Make a stand on free-pitching, but don’t expect it to end

Shan Preddy’s piece on free-pitching (Business Insight, DW 24 September) was, I feel, not the whole story.

Way back in the early 1990s I worked for an award-winning consultancy that was at the forefront of the ‘don’t pitch for free debate’. ‘We don’t, and look how successful we are,’ it said. Except it did sometimes pitch for free, or for a nominal fee to salve its guilt – but always secretly.

Creative presentations rarely win pitches, but when done well can serve to illustrate the approach of a consultancy and the personalities involved.

The trick is to approach the pitch properly. Use the creative part of a presentation to illustrate thinking, but don’t expect to win with a blockbuster idea – it rarely happens.

I don’t disagree with anything Preddy says, but I don’t think she is being entirely realistic. In many sectors – shareholder communications, for instance – free-pitching is standard practice. In other sectors, firms don’t like doing it, but if the carrot is big enough they will, even if they have to keep quiet about it.
Simon Case, by e-mail

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