Rostergate: Let’s Go Through the Whole Horrible Process Again

by Scott Douglas

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Barkers repitchTake one stout jute sack. Insert half a dozen hungry ferrets. Add a scrawny chicken that thinks its the most succulent bird on two legs. Hit with a big stick. Ta da! You’ve got the Scottish Goverment’s PR Roster system.

So haud me back at news that the Scottish Government is to re-pitch four PR accounts previously held by roster agency, Barkers.

What this actually means is beyond me.

Is everybody and their dug in Scottish PR being invited to go through the whole, horrible, draining, demoralising, incomprehensible (and ultimatley for most, unwinnable) tender process again?

Or will the Government simply decide to bump up the agency which finished 7th during the last process (that’ll be Trimedia, with a princely score of 75.87 out of 100)?

Either way it’s likely to be messy – the Scottish Government will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t

Think on this: If they go back out to tender, how mightily p*ssed off would Trimedia be? Legal challenge p*ssed off, perchance?

Yet if they simply award the contract to Trimedia, how raging will that leave the rest of Scottish PR (or at least the five other agencies who made the 12-strong shorlist but got no further, as well as the other 31 agencies who went through the extensive application process, but fell at the first hurdle)?

Words fail me on just how awful and flawed the whole process is. There’s nothing wrong with trying to squeeze the best possible value out of contractors – but this system does nothing for value, nothing for Scottish agencies and, I suspect, delivers little in the way of real value to the taxpayer.

  • It has resulted in a host of shotgun weddings between PR agencies and those in advertising and design, as well as those in the baffling space currently known as “digital agencies”.
  • It has resulted in those who appear big enough winning the right to cut each other’s throat in an endless round of mini pitches – while all the while the figures quoted – whether, staff numbers, financials or results – remain questionable.
  • It has effectievely alienated scores if not hundreds of smaller agencies by suggesting they are not fit to take on public sector work.
  • It has baffled the people working for quangos, NPDBs and the civil service by sowing doubt to the point where many of them are ditching long-standing agency relationships for fear of upsetting the Roster police.
  • It has been proved totally inadequate at the most fudnamental level – establishing the financial solidity of the agencies involved.
  • It has even raised the ugly head of national protectionism, because the results so far have been so heavily weighted against indigenous agencies. Now there’s a wriggle of worms that don’t fancy the trip back to the can.

Luckily for me, I’ve saved up tens of thousands of pounds since last venting my spleen on the Rostergate issues.

Now I’m going to give it all to some smarmy consultant to write me a 300 page submission in Government w*nk speak so that I can get onto the roster – probably just in time for the Public Spending bubble to pop in the most spectacular fashion. Ahhhhh.

Public inquiry, anyone?

 

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