Having been privileged to sit on both sides of the PR divide, one as client and the other as agency, I would like to discuss a topic that we always overlook and yet it ranks top among the relationship wreckers in this noble profession.
There’s a skill to writing a PR brief. If you get it right your agency will deliver first time – no surprises. If you get it wrong (or worse still don’t provide one at all), it costs time, money and on many occasions strained emotions to put it right.
With close to a decade in this practice, my best advice is to always ensure that your brief is relevant, factual and more so engaging. It hurts to sit at the agency to go through a brief that sounds like an obituary of a spinster. Come on, you know very well such obituaries contain obvious information.
Anyway, back to business. When preparing a brief avoid jargon, lingo and acronyms. Include facts (no assumptions or embellishments). Use plain English and include as much detail as possible. It’s easier and quicker for your agency to cut out the superfluous rather than have to fill in some gaps.
Always include a brief of the new product or service. Pricing and sales processes should also be mentioned. Will there need to be any initial research, or do you already have some research findings that will help? ‘It’s important you cite this in your brief to allow the agency to explore further if need be. While at it, describe your target audience. Based on research explain what type of consumer they are. What do they read? What do they listen to? Where do they hangout?
You exist in some space, so talk about competitor products and services. What marketing activity are they doing and are they doing it better? As client, you know who is doing better than you; feel free to tell your agency as it is. Remember you are asking them to get you a remedy to an existing problem or an upcoming one. We all know 90 percent of the clients briefs are as a result of some business issue. Why are you doing this activity? What objectives are you trying to achieve (raise awareness, increase sales, get someone to do something? What will success look like?
Third, always state the deliverables that you expect from the agency. You see, the agency is made up of creative energy bunnies. They sometimes over think! I mean they are likely to provide multiple solutions for you. To ensure that you reserve these creative juices for the next brief, always ensure you state your expectations as well as the timelines. An excellent strategy delivered well after the deadline is literally dead as a dodo.
You know the tiger brief versus the cat budget? For sure, it’s much easier for an agency to respond to a brief if they know how much you would like to spend. Ballpark is fine, but unless you give an idea you may find you’re presented with an idea that’s totally unreachable. There are some simple equations you can use to work out how much you should invest, but saying there is ‘no budget’ either means you expect it for free, or the sky’s the limit! Wouldn’t that be great?
Finally, remember to include any Ts & Cs and legal requirements. We are living in an era where consumers, through lobby groups, are aware and keen on their rights including the fine print that for a long time they were not reading. There’s nothing worse than paying for a piece of work that just doesn’t do the trick. Agencies want to meet the brief… so if you get the brief right there should never be a wasted coin.. Furthermore, those emotional spats between you and your agency will be cut by half.
Brief them correctly and they will dwell on it accordingly.