Pitching for a PR account via Twitter. Good idea? Bad idea? Would you do it?
Personally, I can think of little more degrading than being asked to parade myself along with dozens of other suitors in a public competition of who’s got the most Twitter wit. But that’s exactly what Aloft Hotels is doing with its current #PitchAloft initiative. The hotel chain, which I have to admit I’ve never used, is challenging PR agencies to tweet their way to a PR contract of undetermined value over a four week period by answering a series of mind-numbingly banal interview questions direct from the 1980s such as “if your agency was an ice cream flavour, which would it be?” and “if we had a middle name, what would it be?”
Aloft says on its dedicated microsite (sigh) that it’s looking for a “creative, dynamic and socially savvy agency…strategic enough to maintain the momentum behind Aloft Hotels”. Strategic? What the hell is strategic about telling you that I like rum and raisin ice cream? How on earth is that supposed to identify an agency that is capable of understanding your business and analysing what your core issue is, and one that can actually do the job required?
At my agency we decide whether or not to pitch for projects based on three things: brand, budget and brief. This initiative is lacking at least two of those. So maybe the assumption that every PR agency in the land will be willing to dance for this business is far from true. And more to the point, maybe the ones that are aren’t the ones you’d necessarily want working with you. How desperate must they be?
So yes Aloft, you may be creating a stir with this (which I’m adding to goddamit!) and yes, you may be all Twittered-up and whackety-whack for coming up with such a cool and unique way to find PR support. But you know what? You need that support if this is anything to go by. It portrays you as arrogant and as a company that values working in partnership with its agency about as much as a night in a Travelodge. Furthermore, it’s undignified and humiliating for the entire PR industry. It devalues PR and PR agencies. It shouldn’t be about ‘what can you do for us’, it should be about ‘what can we do together’. And just about the only thing worse is the frickin’ monkeys that are currently dancing for it on Twitter.
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