Whether you’re planning to appoint a new PR agency or briefing your existing PR agency on a new campaign or PR project, starting with a clear brief is crucial.

It will help you to define your goals, vision and expectations, give the PR agency a clear idea of what’s required and essentially get everyone on the same page.

In our experience of running successful campaigns for clients, the best outcomes are the result of setting objectives that are aligned with business objectives. And, everyone involved is invested in the process.

So how do you avoid the pitfalls? Use our do’s and don’ts on PR briefs or get in touch for a copy of our Step-by-step Guide/ PR Brief Template …

Why a good PR brief matters

CIPR defines a PR brief as ‘the outline of what needs to be done on a project’. It’s a simple concept – if no one is clear about what’s required then it’s much harder to achieve the right results. You wouldn’t go on a complicated journey without a map, or cook something challenging without a recipe – the same goes for PR.

Remember that PR agencies spend a lot of time responding to briefs, so a bad brief or a non-existent brief can waste a lot of time and energy and cause frustration.


Set clear objectives

Probably the most important part to define well. It’s hard for an agency to develop relevant and creative ideas if the objectives aren’t clear.

Why are you looking for a new agency? Realign your brand and engage with new audiences? Are you looking to increase press coverage in certain sectors? Grow your brand on social media? Your brief should outline exactly what you think success should look like, so the agency can address how they will achieve that goal.

What are your key messages? How do you want to measure success? What is the most important purpose of the PR activity? How will the PR activity align with business objectives?

Know your brand and know your target audience

It may seem obvious to you, but it pays to spell out exactly what your brand or business is about, and who it is aimed at, in your brief. Outline your core values, company mission, key audiences, who you are trying to reach and why.

Do give some history and background – how did the organisation start, and what are your key successes and challenges so far?

Try to outline what your strategic focus is for this campaign and how this will impact the business strategy. And, be open about what is truly differentiating about your brand and product and service offering?

Be upfront about time and money

You may not have an exact budget signed off, but a PR agency will need some ballpark figures in order to flesh out what can be delivered. The same goes for the timeline – there’s a huge difference between what can be achieved in a month or a year, so be clear when results need to be achieved. Tell the agency how much budget they have to work with.

Be honest

It’s good practice to be transparent about how many agencies are pitching and the selection process that you intend to use. Let agencies know if there is a set application process, a format or anything, in particular, you want to see. Then, clearly state what you expect to see in the brief – this may include document types, supporting information and time allocation for pitches if you are running formal presentations.


Talk to too many agencies

If you’re appointing a new agency, do some research before you shortlist to make sure they are well-suited to your organisation. Get to know them. Find out how they work, how they solve problems, how they collaborate and their experience.  If you are launching a new range of skincare don’t waste time by inviting agencies that specialise in corporate communications to pitch, for example.

Look for those that have experience working with likeminded clients and they will be more likely to ‘get’ your brief and have the relevant experience to deliver the best results.

Treat agencies differently

Give the same brief, background information and time to each agency. And, involve the decisions makers in the decision making process including pitch meetings and presentations.

Be inflexible

While we started by explaining the importance of clear objectives, don’t be afraid to reassess these once an agency is appointed.

You may well be challenged on whether you have set the right goals, vision and mission – often an agency will help to shape the brief as part of the project process using their insight and experience of what will deliver the best results for your business.

What do you find is most important to be included in a PR brief? What have you learnt from briefing agencies, and what advice would you give about how to brief a PR agency?  Tell us in the comments below, or tweet us at @Ambitiouspr.