I first pitched for a PR account via Twitter in 2006, when it was new and exciting. We ended up getting through the first few rounds, and got down to the final two. We didn't win (it was a total punt and not even in our agency's area of expertise) but we learnt a lot and met some cool people along the way, some of whom I'm still in touch with.
So I've been watching Aloft Hotels' invitation to pitch for its PR business - via a dedicated microsite and hashtag no less - with a raised eyebrow. The process has been intense, with agencies quizzed via Twitter over a four-week 'RFTweet' process, multiple phases and the obligatory use of the hashtag.
I feel a bit weird about this. On the face of it, I can see that the campaign is creating loads of noise. It's also promoting the Aloft brand to a hell of a lot of potential customers (ie. PR people with money to stay in 'hip' hotels).
But at the same time I find the process a bit demeaning. Turning a strategic process into a 'PR's got talent' show won't necessarily find the best agency for the job. As we all know (I hope), the sexiest pitch isn't always from the agency that understands the business problem and has the tools to solve them. Also, all that noise is pretty annoying.
In order to solve this, I'm going to do something to benefit the entire PR industry. Ready?
If you want us to work on your account, Aloft Hotels, we all want free weekends in one of your hotels.
In order for us to find out your business problems and how your customers interact with your brand, we need to spend time getting under your skin. And, in this instance, by brand we mean room service. And by skin we mean bed linen.
To be honest, I've never stayed in an Aloft hotel, so I have no idea if I'd want to do your PR. You may have inferior toiletries or lumpy beds for all I know. (In fact, all I know is that your London hotel is near the ExCel conference centre, and that anyone who knows London knows that isn't actually in London.)
So, Aloft Hotels, pick a city and send us there for a weekend. We'll blog / tweet / instafrickingram the entire experience using the hashtag #PitchGeek, and let you know when we get back whether you've been successful in getting through to the next round.
Please retweet this and use the hashtag #PitchGeek to ensure you are eligible to enter. Not valid with any other offer. The judges' decision is final.