When you go into a shop to buy an apple, you have a reasonably good idea what that apple is going to look like, what is tastes like and how much it’s going to cost. You then have a choice to buy that apple… or not.

What you don’t do is to take a bite out of the apple, and then decide whether to buy.

Yet this is the dilemma that the creative sector is increasingly facing.

As PR specialists working in the communications arena, we like to think we are fairly good at explaining exactly what we do.

We have a website which shows people what we and our services look like and we take great pride in sharing testimonials from clients about the great work done on their behalf. We share coverage we’ve achieved on our social media, a clear sign to anyone browsing the shelves that we’re delivering on what we promise we can do.

When people enquire about working with us we give them information which clearly sets out our approach to PR, our experience, our expertise, case studies and our fees.

To all intents and purposes, we are exactly the same as the apples on the shelf.

We’re asking you, on the basis of all that you have seen, read and heard, to make a decision on whether you engage our services… or not (and, of course, all of our client roster did exactly that).

But we, and colleagues in other agencies we work alongside such as design and web, are increasingly being asked to produce creative concepts, PR plans, suggested designs, at the point of pitching for a contract. Companies are asking for time-intensive creative work ahead of even being called in for interview.

Creative accounting?

Would you ask an accountant to suggest your tax liability before engaging them to do your books? Would you ask a restaurant to send over free starters before deciding whether to book a table? Would you ask a plumber to replace a washer free of charge to check if you want them to replace the bath as well?

Of course not.

Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not precious when it comes to putting forward a few ideas to potential clients. It’s important to demonstrate not only that we ‘get’ their business but that our fantastic team has a creative hive brain which is second to none. But there is only so far we go.

So speaking business to business, please don’t ask those of us in the creative sector to work for you before we work with you.

If you want a new global PR campaign, a guerilla social media take-over, an influencer engagement programme or a six month communications plan, then that takes time and creativity. That’s what you pay for and that’s the value we bring. That’s the whole apple.

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