Some brief advice

Some brief advice

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I have spent the majority of my 25 years in PR and communications on the consultancy side of the business so I have seen more than my fair share of briefs. From the clear and concise to the rambling and vague I’ve seen them all.

The brief is an important document if for no other reason than it helps you order your  thoughts. There is little or no point in negotiating with a PR consultant if you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to achieve.

Your brief should include some key information:

The context

What’s your strategy? What are your ambitions? Are you launching new products or services, moving into new areas? What are your competitors up to? What’s happening in the industry?

Your goals

Focus on outcomes not outputs. By this I mean think about what you want to happen as a result of your efforts. You want more than the piece of coverage, the publication of a newsletter or Likes on your Facebook page. You want engaged customers buying your products and services. Everything else is vanity.

Your customers

Who are they? What motivates them? What worries them? Where can you find them?

Your messages

What makes you different and how does this match with the worries, concerns and interests of your customers?

The timescale

How long have you got? When do you want results by?

The budget

Be honest and realistic. There is nothing more frustrating than being told you have to say what you think they should spend. It makes the whole process meaningless. Instead of devising a programme aligned to your commercial goals and resources they’re trying to second-guess your budget.

Measuring success

How will you judge if the programme is a success. And again, be honest. People often have a particular thing in mind at the start, like the number of delegates to an event or coverage in a specific newspaper or magazine. Tell us; then we can make sure we tick this box.

And finally …

I’ve had people refuse to answer questions to supplement the brief. At a push this is okay if you all you are doing at this stage if picking between providers (presuming you have clear criteria against which you’ll measure their performance). But it’s a little weird to do it like this when you think that the communication programme will only really work if there is a good relationship between you and your consultant.

To get more information from an independent source contact the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

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