A poor workman blames his tools. But are the tools really to blame?

 
 

What's in a brief?

A poor workman blames his tools. But are the tools really to blame? Did the workman know exactly what the purpose of the job was before he started? Did the client provide all of the relevant background information and outline exactly what a good job would look like, to give the workman the best chance of getting it right first time?
 
You should never underestimate the importance of giving a good brief. A decent brief is the foundation on which agencies can build a successful PR campaign. Get the foundations right, and the campaign has a greater chance of success.
 
Sitting down and writing a brief will help you focus on what you are looking for as a return for your investment. Whether you are briefing a new agency or briefing an existing agency on a new product or service, the following tips will help you formulate a brief and get the best out of your relationship with your agency.
 
Know what you want to achieve and explain it clearly.
We hear all too often prospective clients say “we want to be on Twitter”, or “we want to be in the local press” – but why, for what purpose? Explain where you are now and where you want to be.
 
Draft a brief and find time to sit down with your agency to talk it through.
If you don’t have a written brief, be prepared with bullet information to share so you are sure to cover the important parts. Talking it through face to face is invaluable, as it enables the agency to interrogate and challenge it, to make sure everyone involved is clear on what’s required. A good agency knows the questions that will unlock vital information, and chatting things through gives them the opportunity to do some initial thinking on their feet and start the creative process.
 
Give a well-rounded picture of your business.
What do you do, what is your expertise and what makes you different?
What are your business objectives?
In which geographical area(s) do you require support?
Who are your target audiences and what do you want to say to them?
What marketing or PR activity are you already doing/have you done in the past?
 
What are you looking for?
Do you have an idea of the kind of services you would like to explore (e.g. a press campaign)? If so, this should be covered so that the agency can comment on if/how that could achieve your goals.
 
How will you measure success?
Giving agencies an understanding of how you will measure the success of the campaign will allow them to build clear measurement criteria into the campaign – and also allow a budget if qualitative research is required.
 
Be open and honest.
Don’t be tempted to give the agency the glossy version of events. To do a good job, they will need the ‘warts and all’ version. If you have a problem, share it. You will get the best out of an agency when they know and understand the full picture.
 
Talk timescales.
When do you want to start and how long do you envisage a campaign running? Is it to be a quick fire, get bums on seats campaign or do you need it to be sustainable for a longer duration?
 
Explain how you want to work with an agency.
Who from your business will be working with the agency on a day-to-day basis, how do you prefer to communicate and how often/how do you want to be updated? Who will be responsible for signing off drafts for publication? Do you prefer face to face meetings, phone calls or email updates?
 
Agree a budget.
Agencies love nothing more than coming up with creative ideas that will get your business, product or service noticed. We get excited, and we get carried away. Without clear budget guidelines, the likelihood is that you will end up with a campaign that isn’t affordable. Giving a budget doesn’t restrict your agency, it simply gives them parameters to work within, and ensures the ideas they come up with are creative, but also feasible.
 
What are the next steps?
Be clear on what you want the agency to do with the information you have provided. 
 
By clearly defining the objectives from the onset, explaining the purpose of the campaign, opening up about the issues and explaining how you will judge the campaign’s success, you’ll be well on track to developing a sound client/agency relationship and the grounds for a successful campaign. Now, give it a go!
    
 
The Partners Group

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