Finding the right fit in a communications partner
Your institution is ramping up communications, gearing up for a new admissions campaign or website redesign, and is looking for an outside firm to help develop and launch the project.
Institutions traditionally seek outside services by sending out a Request for Proposal (RFP), aiming to acquire that service in the quickest and least expensive way possible.
This competitive bidding process works perfectly well when seeking products or widgets, but when it comes to strategic and creative services, the information solicited by an RFP is sorely lacking. The creative team that you partner with should be seen as an extension of your team, like another employee. And as with the employee hiring process, relationship is as important as talent. So, the search process is about finding a good match that goes beyond a checklist of deliverables.
With an RFP, the approach is often based on that checklist — a rigid request for deliverables. The RFP then represents the firm mainly in terms of tools and execution, making it difficult for you to assess the culture and capabilities of a potential partner. The process can be overly time-consuming for both you and prospective firms, and does not allow you to really “get to know” the company — and vice versa — until the project is underway.
Also, the RFP can be limiting for potential firms as well. Without knowing your situation, background and in-house staffing and skillsets, estimating work can be a challenge. In addition to cost constraints, there can also be time pressure. Some RFPs, in part due to poor planning, arrive with a proposal deadline that leaves very little time for preparation.
The solution? Consider a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) instead.
The goal of an RFQ is to find interested firms and determine which firms may be a good fit, suitable enough to take the next step. It saves time and effort, and can lead to an all-around stronger and more successful creative partnership.
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