Spec work is doing any kind of creative work with the hope of receiving compensation. Unfortunately doing unpaid work for either clients or contests hurts everyone in our industry. If you are curious why we and most of our respected colleagues avoid this type of work you can read more about the issue on Spec Work or read AIGA’s Official Stance on the matter.
We typically do not. Generally for RFPs there is a large pool of candidates, whereas with one-on-one communication there is usually an internal selection process (on the client’s end) where the candidates are narrowed down to just a few. Investing in RFPs means that we spend a larger percentage of our time seeking out work and a smaller percentage of our time providing service to our clients. We limit ourselves to creating proposals for those that are interested enough in what we do that they are able to discuss the project person-to-person. This allows us to confidently maintain a high level of service that is custom tailored to the needs of each person/organization that approaches us. It’s a conscious decision on our part that, despite the potential losses, we feel improves our workflow and increases the value of the work we’re able to deliver to our clients.
Our big picture goal is to have a positive impact on our industry and we think kindness and generosity are necessary to achieve that goal. If someone is asking for constructive criticism, we’re going to nitpick the heck out of their work (hopefully in a way that offers potential solutions to the issues we’re pointing out). Sometimes we write UNSUBSCRIBE in all caps to people who spam us, which can come off as slightly rude (but less rude than spamming people). Aside from those situations, we feel strongly about keeping our public thoughts and opinions positive in nature.