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The “dos And Don’ts” Of A Pr Brief

Jo Gulliver, Partner, Trinity PR

Why it’s important to write a PR brief

I’ve helped manage numerous pitch processes and PR agencies during my time at the Government’s procurement agency, as well as being on the receiving end of many briefs in my role at Trinity PR.  Whether you’re appointing your first-ever PR agency or freelancer or seeking a new agency to replace your incumbent, investing in developing a well organised and thoroughly thought through PR brief at the outset will save a significant amount of time and money.

The first piece of advice? Don’t be shy! A good brief should sell your brand and encourage people to want to work with you and your organisation. It should also put off the wrong people for the job! In broad terms the brief acts as an overview of where you currently are and where you want to go with clearly defined goals and objectives for your PR campaign.

As part of the overall pitch process, companies tend to initially approach between 4-5 PR agencies. Following an initial ‘chemistry meeting’ – virtual or IRL – this is usually cut down to a shortlist of a maximum of three agencies, invited to develop a proposal against your brief.

So, what should my PR brief include?

  • Background information on the brand & overarching business objectives

Remember you know your brand best. The more information you can give the Agency up front, the more time they will be able to spend on developing creative ideas instead of researching the business and the wider market landscape. A good brief also ensures that every agency has the same information on the business, it’s goals and challenges – rather than providing different agencies with different information during ad hoc and informal conversations. Consistency is key and fair! You can also enjoy a collaborative relationship with the Agency team during this stage too which is a great way of finding out how they might work with you going forward.

Information you might also like to include here; intro to the brand history, any growth targets for the year ahead, wider business objectives and an overview of the current key communication channels which are working well such as the website, social media accounts, LinkedIn etc.

  • PR campaign objectives and key performance indicators

Now clarify what you want to achieve from a PR programme. This process can be a good excuse to work collaboratively with internal department heads, sales teams, or directors of fundraising with the aim of developing a set of measurable objectives to help solve the specific issues your brand or organisation is facing. This joint approach will also serve to garner internal support for the Agency and programme ahead and help to identify potential spokespeople.

  • Target audience & media

Who do you want your marketing and PR activity to reach? This might be split into a list of target healthcare professionals and consumers. Has any media coverage or advertising worked well for you in the past and if so, in what titles or media platforms? It can sometimes work by dividing the list into primary and secondary targets.

  • Key messages

Do you already have a set of clearly defined messages which you use in other marketing activity? If so, it’s great to include them within the brief. If not, think about what you want people to know about your organisation or service when they read a feature, news item or social media post? These might be slightly different for each of your distinct audiences.

  • Internal & external spokespeople

Who are you able to use internally as a spokesperson, and do you work with any other key opinion leaders or brand ambassadors who might be willing to front thought leadership features or engage in your wider PR activity? These could be loyal customers who can speak authoritatively and positively about their experience with you. Alternatively, for consumer brands it might be influencers who have a strong following and boast good engagement.

  • Key marketing dates

Have you got a marketing plan and timetable scoped out for the year ahead? Or are there a series of key dates such as conferences, speaker platforms, new product launches etc planned for the coming months? This is useful information for the Agency as they can then pin activity around these key calendar dates.

  • Competitors

Who are your main competitors and what communication channels are they currently using? What makes you different to your competitors as these USPs could form the basis of some of your key messages.

  • Type of contract & budget

It’s best to be upfront with your budget – it saves significant time for both parties in the end. The right Agency will always ensure that the programme they recommend and develop for you will maximise the budget you have available. If there is a scope of investment available or even if it’s just a ballpark which needs to be signed off following proposal stage, then outline this figure to your prospective Agency partners. It is also a good idea to highlight whether you are looking for a retained Agency to work with you across the year or on a ‘project basis’.

  • Timeline of the pitch process

Being transparent with your timeframe and the deliverables is key to working with agencies during the pitch process. PR firms normally require at least 2 working weeks to complete a proposal following an initial discussion and receipt of the PR brief. You should try to outline the following timings:

  • Confidentiality agreement & receipt of the PR brief document
  • Initial chat and ‘chemistry’ call
  • Timeframe for answering questions
  • Deadline for proposal submissions
  • Presentation dates
  • Notifying agencies of the decision
  • Contract start date

 

  • Point of contact

Outline the main point of contact during this tender process and where Agencies can go for additional information.

 

If you want to have a chat about your PR brief, email Jo at jo.gulliver@trinitypr.co.uk or call:  0770 948 7961.

 

Click here to view a template PR brief

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