Congratulations to the Four A’s!  It’s about time one of our industry organizations takes a stand on giving away intellectual property during new business pitches.  They have two words of advice:

Say no!

According to an AdAge article published earlier this week, “This is the first time the trade association has taken a position on the matter. In the last few years, there’s been a tendency for marketers to ask for ownership of ideas.  It is an onerous matter for agencies.”

As a Fleishman-Hillard alum, I learned early in my career that pitching creative ideas was the way to win business.  And it might be…at a big firm who can afford to take a prospective client to task for stealing those ideas.

Just last year we had an opportunity to pitch our PR services to a very large, national account – and we won!  The account managers had us fly around the country meeting with their executives.  Two months into the relationship, the contract hadn’t yet been signed and the expenses and time for our travel hadn’t been paid.  We were told, via email, that they had changed their minds and were going to do move everything in-house.  And then a story ran in the Chicago Tribune detailing the PR program for the business…and it was the program we had pitched and won with.

Needless to say, we began to realize that giving away our ideas during pitches did nothing for us, but the prospective client had everything to win.

At what point do we say no?