When looking to get public relations support, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your agency is essential. This starts right at the very beginning: the PR briefing.
Regardless of what you want to achieve, whether it’s media coverage, upscaled marketing activity or increased business leads, how you brief a PR agency is the first, and most critical, step of the entire pitching process.
But what goes into a PR brief and how do you brief a PR agency?
Before we answer that question, we need to ask: why is a PR brief so important?
Why PR agencies need briefs
PR briefs are important for a number of reasons, but first and foremost it’s a document that lays out what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it. A PR firm needs to know exactly what it is you hope to achieve, in order to meet this criteria and deliver truly valuable impact and results.
Of course, you need to make sure that you’re selecting the right agency, or agencies as part of a wider pitching process. Agencies come in all sizes and specialisms and businesses shouldn’t just appoint an agency on the fly, you need to make sure you’re shortlisting the right agencies, and then choosing the best firm to fit your needs.
The whole process is all about internal alignment and making sure that time spent is being done effectively and efficiently… and it all comes from the PR brief.
What goes into a PR brief
Like our wider approach at AMBITIOUS, we break everything down into ‘insight, ideas & impact’. This strategy allows you to look at your PR brief comprehensively, so no important details are missed out.
Insight is all about getting your public relations agency to understand you as a company, be that who you speak to, what your goals are or who you’re up against.
A company overview should give the bare bones of who you are. This should include an overview of your business as a whole, core products and services, the markets you operate within, business objectives, your ownership structure, locations and any awards and accolades you may have achieved.
You know your business best, so be sure to give your agency an overview of your goals and your business challenges, then allow them to advise on how best to approach these from a PR perspective.
A PR agency can only realise your goals if they know what they are.
You can’t be woolly about your objectives. Give a clear and concise campaign overview and outline what it is you’re looking to communicate, as well as why.
It’s also incredibly useful to be transparent here and outline previous difficulties or where challenges lie. If your company has experienced issues around certain PR elements in the past, then be sure to flag them.
Communicating with the right audiences is crucial here.
You need to clearly outline your target audience. Is the scope B2B, B2C or even a BTE? If you are looking to break new ground and enter a new sector, then define these sectors and verticals clearly from the very beginning.
It’s always good to know who you’re up against.
When a PR agency knows the competition, then they can use their tools and skills to dive into what those competitors are doing and saying. Deep diving into your competitors and finding out what their media share of voice is, how they are perceived within the markets and their strengths and weaknesses can offer valuable target information, which then goes into setting clear objectives and a PR campaign activity.
The ideas section hones in on what outputs and content you’re looking to get from your partnership with an agency.
This is critical to any PR project. If you already have existing messaging, then be sure to include it in your brief.
However, if key messaging is something you’re looking for agencies to develop as part of a wider PR project, then be sure to clarify that the appointed agency would be required to develop your key messaging. This is particularly important when it comes to creating important milestones and budgeting.
Content and Channels
Establish what kind of content are you expecting from your agency, and what kind of support and distribution channels are required.
Detail the formats required, will it be press releases, research white papers, video and animation or social media content? Also, outline what kind of content you are currently producing or have done in the past.
Establish your priority channels, is this LinkedIn, specific media companies, partnerships or editorial outlets?
Clarifying impact will allow your business and its PR agency to define clear goals, so you’re on the same page from the moment your contract kicks off.
Success can only be achieved if there are clearly defined outcomes. You and your PR agency need to be sure that you are on the same page.
Do you want to raise awareness about your brand, increase your social media presence and develop a winning content strategy? Or maybe something different entirely?
Only you will be able to answer this and PR activity will take the lead from this.
This can be outlined in the form of key performance indicators. If you want business coverage related to your sector, then be clear about that. Set the KPIs around how many pieces of coverage you want. Classify what you consider to be quality coverage, what titles you expect to be in etc.
Budgets and Timelines
A clearly set budget, from the outset, is one of the most important things that you can include.
When a PR agency knows the budget, they can plan and strategise accordingly. If you’re not clear on your budget from the outset of the pitch process, then it’s possible that an agency could respond to your brief with ideas, campaigns and stunts that are simply not achievable.
Timelines are equally as important. If you don’t have specific key dates, then an indicative range will allow your chosen agency to feedback on suggested and recommended timelines, responding to your brief with tangible and realistic tactics and approaches.
Establish the team
Having ad hoc information being shared between yourself and your agency is not an ideal process.
From the outset, be clear about who your main points of contact are in relation to key areas of the brief.
With a clearly defined team structure and well-established roles and responsibilities, you can ensure that the wheels of the PR machine will be well-oiled.
Define reporting structures
As well as defining your team, you’ll also want to establish how you want to overarching reporting and client communication structure to play out.
With what frequency do you want to have campaign activity catch-up meetings, should they be in person or virtual? Also, when it comes to reporting, how do you want to see results fed back, do you want regular monthly PR coverage reports, or will an end-of-campaign report suffice?
Now you’ve learned what goes into a great PR brief, we’ve made it super easy to do it yourself. Download our PR agency briefing template now. Once complete, don’t hesitate to send it across to our professionals, who can begin to actualise your PR goals.