Choosing the right partner

Step 1 Request for Proposal (RFP)

An RFP can be the start of a long and fruitful relationship between client and trusted advisor, so it is important to get them right. Good RFPs can lead to good proposals and constructive working relationships from the outset which in turn lead to better deliverables and outcomes.

Brief Overview

Introduce your organisation and the purpose of the RFP. State not only what you want done but also why.

Your Organisation’s Background

Describe your organisation, what it does, and what you do. By describing your values, you’re more likely to find a firm that’s a good value fit both for your goals and team.

Goals & Target Audience

The more clearly you articulate what you want out of working together, the more likely you are to get it. Explain what outcome you have in mind and the most important elements of the work.

Scope of Work & Deliverables

Be explicit about what must be delivered, and describe all the services you know that you will require from intelligence-gathering to strategic advice and advocacy.

Work Timeline

All key dates need to be laid out for the work programme. Give your project timeline with major tasks and milestones.


If there are any specific requirements such as exclusivity, capability in an EU Member State or experience of a particular policy area they should be laid out in the RFP.

Principal Points of Contact

Ask for the names, titles, and bios of your team. It is important to know who you will work with on a regular basis, and within the firm’s team who will be responsible for each element and their relevant experience. Public affairs teams are only as good as the people in them.


It is a waste of everybody’s time to prepare a proposal that’s way out of your range. By stating explicitly what you want to pay, even as a range, you permit firms to compete with each other for what they will offer you at a comparable price.

How you wll measure Success

Public affairs is notoriously hard to measure and each organisation has their own metrics and approach. Giving an insight into how your organisation will assess success after the project or one year will really help your consultants.

Criteria for Selection

Each firm will have different strengths, reputations, and capabilities, and you need to set out how you will assess the quality of the proposals and decide the winning bid. You should ask for examples of similar work with other clients and their references.


These days most RFP responses are sent by email but if you want the proposal in PPT, PDF or Word be clear.

Proposal Timeline

Lay out a deadline for receipt of the submission, for selecting the shortlist, for scheduling interviews and for final selection. Also identify who to contact from your organisation with questions.

Some services you may define when writing your RFP:

  • Ally development
  • Brand reputation & positioning
  • Coalition building
  • Comitology
  • Contract lobbying
  • Corporate reputation & positioning
  • Crisis and issues management
  • CSR consulting
  • Digital and social media
  • Member State network, outreach & co-ordination
  • European Commission outreach
  • European Parliament outreach
  • Event management
  • Executive positioning & communication
  • Grassroots advocacy
  • Issue & Policy Analysis
  • Legislative and regulatory strategy
  • Litigation communication
  • Market entry
  • Material development
  • Measurement and evaluation
  • Media relations and outreach
  • Message development
  • Monitoring & Intelligence
  • Opinion/Issue Polling
  • Political risk assessment
  • Public Affairs strategy
  • Regulatory audits and compliance
  • Reputation surveys
  • Research and analytics
  • Stakeholder Mapping & Engagement
  • Trend analysis and reporting

For what services do you/would you seek support from PA consultants?

Monitoring & Political Intelligence
Lobbying & Advocacy Campaigns
Stakeholder Engagement
Strategic Advice
Issue & Crisis Management
Communications Materials
Event Management
Social Media Campaigns
Media Campaigns
CEO Profiling
Regulatory Audits
Other: Access to High Level Officials
Reputation Surveys
Source: TRENDS IN PURCHASING PA SERVICES - Grayling Public Affairs Survey 2017