A handful of agencies have already jumped into the fray and
responded to the first question, including well-known shops like
Allison & Partners and Havas PR.
The move by Aloft is an unusual one given marketers typically do
their best not to publicize their internal processes for selecting
agency partners. But the "RFTweet" is just the latest in a wave of
attempts over the past couple of years to restructure the
agency-search process. Other novel -- and highly controversial --
reviews we've seen in the past couple of years include open
callslaunched over emailto the use of
"e-auctions" to Pinterest boards.
Paige Francis, VP-marketing for Aloft, Element and Four Points,
said the idea to solicit agencies on Twitter was borne out of a
desire to learn about up-and-coming and undiscovered shops. Of
course, it also creates the potential for a large number of
agencies seeking a fresh account to throw their hats in the ring.
But Ms. Francis didn't see that as an issue and noted that being
inundated with responses would be a "good problem to have."
Aloft has been without a PR agency for most of the year but
previously worked with Meg Connolly Communications, which helped to
launch the brand (which now consists of about 60 hotels) in
Conducting the review process over the social network is also a
way for Aloft to beef up its Twitter following (which had grown
from 850 followers last night to 900 followers as of this morning)
and rack up some free impressions.
Those agencies who intend to pitch the business are given
instructions in a link inside Aloft's tweets to first follow it on
Twitter and then include the hashtag #PitchAloft in their answers
"We really thought Twitter was a great way to cast a net that
was a little bit broader and capture some of the creativity up
front that would help us sort through all the agencies that are out
there," she said. "We want to find a partner who's to the point and
is attention-getting when making their point.
Before opening the first hotel four years ago, Aloft opened a
virtual one on Second Life, so Ms. Francis noted that unusual
marketing tactics on digital platforms is in character for the
The review process won't be conducted totally over the web,
however. Following the "RFTweet" process, Aloft's marketing team
will meet a select group of agencies using a more traditional
request-for-proposal method. "There's something to be said for good
old-fashioned chemistry even in this digital age," Ms. Francis