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The ‘phygital future’ of virtual pitching

In the final installment of a four-part series on what it takes to run successful pitches online, Ebiquity’s managing director of Continental Europe, Laetitia Zinetti, considers what the future holds for pitching in both the virtual and real worlds.

It is understandable that some advertisers – due to hold pitches for new agency partners in early 2020 – chose to put the process on hold at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Everything was new for everyone, all around the world, and both advertisers and their agency partners needed time to pause, take stock, and adapt to a new, virtual work life.

What is remarkable is that so many brand advertisers – most notably those in companies still able to trade despite the pandemic – adapted so quickly and relatively painlessly to this new way of working. And when it became clear that business could continue in familiar (if changed) circumstances, the appetite for holding pitches returned.

Virtual pitching has much to commend it. Despite the limitations identified in this series of articles – particularly in the previous piece, “The pros and cons of virtual pitching” – there are some ways of working we’ve adopted that will without doubt endure the passing of Covid-19. That said, there are also some that many will happily leave behind with the memory of lockdown, as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

Industry perspective: the media agency view

Jodie Stranger, chief global growth officer, Publicis Media: “Moving forward, I think we will continue to see a blend of elements that have worked well in the past, combined with ones we have been forced to pivot to. For example, although the virtual video environment existed well before the pandemic, we used to rely on a written, email broadcast format until now. It’s impressive to see how much of an effort we’ve made to be connected as people and as humans. We are communicating in new ways and creating that face-to-face dialog despite being in different homes or different cities. I love that this has pivoted us to behave and operate differently as a business, and I think that will continue.

“On the other hand, in a video environment, it can be impossible to know whether you’re bringing your audience along for the ride. The value in true face-to-face is still there and hopefully will return sooner rather than later to our pitching experience. For now, we focus our efforts on preparing our teams to deliver content in a virtual world in as personal way as possible, embracing the technology to our advantage to enable faster and more direct communication on a more regular basis than what would have occurred when relying exclusively on setting up live meetings.”

Extreme conditions accelerate the pace of innovation, and although some of the new ways of working feel radically different from 2019 and the years before, most were already under way before the pandemic struck and temporarily closed society and the global economy down. Coronavirus was therefore less of a motive cause for change and more of a catalyst to accelerate change. Those brand advertisers and agencies that embrace the positives that have emerged in recent months are likely to be those that recover and grow in partnership in the months and years ahead.

The same is true in pitching. As pitching has moved online, so it has created change in the way pitches are run. There are some aspects of virtual pitching we should keep, yet others which we should abandon as we move into the next normal.

What we’re likely to keep:

  • Less travel – less time-consuming, expensive, and carbon-intensive

  • Increased agility – quicker and closer alignment of talent to brand needs

  • Accessibility and interaction – more senior brand and agency staff actively involved

What we’re likely to leave behind:

  • The total lack of in-the-room, interpersonal connection – reduced chemistry, less ability to read the room and get to know prospective partners

  • Unscheduled interruptions

  • Video conferences for the sake of video conferences, reducing Zoom fatigue

It seems likely that the future will be a hybrid, taking the best of what existed before with the best of what has emerged since; a “phygital” mash-up of both physical and in-person with virtual pitching, online. Either way, and whatever the world throws at us, advertisers and agencies will continue to develop their relationships. They’ll carry on adapting and evolving whatever the circumstances.

Also in this series:

Part 1: Virtual pitching introduction: steps to success in a world working from home

Part 2: Making the most of virtual pitches: 9 practical tips and tricks for agencies and brands

Part 3: The pros and cons of virtual pitching

Ebiquity has published a comprehensive guide to virtual pitching. Download it here.

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In the final installment of a four-part series on what it takes to run successful pitches online, Ebiquity’s managing director of Continental Europe, Laetitia Zinetti, considers what the future holds for pitching in both the virtual and real worlds.

It is understandable that some advertisers – due to hold pitches for new agency partners in early 2020 – chose to put the process on hold at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Everything was new for everyone, all around the world, and both advertisers and their agency partners needed time to pause, take stock, and adapt to a new, virtual work life.

What is remarkable is that so many brand advertisers – most notably those in companies still able to trade despite the pandemic – adapted so quickly and relatively painlessly to this new way of working. And when it became clear that business could continue in familiar (if changed) circumstances, the appetite for holding pitches returned.

Virtual pitching has much to commend it. Despite the limitations identified in this series of articles – particularly in the previous piece, “The pros and cons of virtual pitching” – there are some ways of working we’ve adopted that will without doubt endure the passing of Covid-19. That said, there are also some that many will happily leave behind with the memory of lockdown, as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

Industry perspective: the media agency view

Jodie Stranger, chief global growth officer, Publicis Media: “Moving forward, I think we will continue to see a blend of elements that have worked well in the past, combined with ones we have been forced to pivot to. For example, although the virtual video environment existed well before the pandemic, we used to rely on a written, email broadcast format until now. It’s impressive to see how much of an effort we’ve made to be connected as people and as humans. We are communicating in new ways and creating that face-to-face dialog despite being in different homes or different cities. I love that this has pivoted us to behave and operate differently as a business, and I think that will continue.

“On the other hand, in a video environment, it can be impossible to know whether you’re bringing your audience along for the ride. The value in true face-to-face is still there and hopefully will return sooner rather than later to our pitching experience. For now, we focus our efforts on preparing our teams to deliver content in a virtual world in as personal way as possible, embracing the technology to our advantage to enable faster and more direct communication on a more regular basis than what would have occurred when relying exclusively on setting up live meetings.”

Extreme conditions accelerate the pace of innovation, and although some of the new ways of working feel radically different from 2019 and the years before, most were already under way before the pandemic struck and temporarily closed society and the global economy down. Coronavirus was therefore less of a motive cause for change and more of a catalyst to accelerate change. Those brand advertisers and agencies that embrace the positives that have emerged in recent months are likely to be those that recover and grow in partnership in the months and years ahead.

The same is true in pitching. As pitching has moved online, so it has created change in the way pitches are run. There are some aspects of virtual pitching we should keep, yet others which we should abandon as we move into the next normal.

What we’re likely to keep:

  • Less travel – less time-consuming, expensive, and carbon-intensive

  • Increased agility – quicker and closer alignment of talent to brand needs

  • Accessibility and interaction – more senior brand and agency staff actively involved

What we’re likely to leave behind:

  • The total lack of in-the-room, interpersonal connection – reduced chemistry, less ability to read the room and get to know prospective partners

  • Unscheduled interruptions

  • Video conferences for the sake of video conferences, reducing Zoom fatigue

It seems likely that the future will be a hybrid, taking the best of what existed before with the best of what has emerged since; a “phygital” mash-up of both physical and in-person with virtual pitching, online. Either way, and whatever the world throws at us, advertisers and agencies will continue to develop their relationships. They’ll carry on adapting and evolving whatever the circumstances.

Also in this series:

Part 1: Virtual pitching introduction: steps to success in a world working from home

Part 2: Making the most of virtual pitches: 9 practical tips and tricks for agencies and brands

Part 3: The pros and cons of virtual pitching

Ebiquity has published a comprehensive guide to virtual pitching. Download it here.

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