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Briefing a PR Agency

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Effective public relations campaigns begin with a clear PR brief, confidence between the client and PR company, and strong messages communicated with precision and clarity.

Ten Things You Should Do

  1. Decide what you want to achieve. Tell the PR company what you want them to achieve. Make the objectives specific and realistic, write them down and agree them with the PR agency.
  2. Decide who are your key audiences. Tell the PR company which groups you need to address. Don’t assume the agency has your depth of knowledge. At this stage they need your guidance.
  3. Be open and honest. Let the PR company know about any agency you are letting go because you feel they did not succeed for you. Importantly, let them know why you feel the other agency failed.
  4. Cause and effect. What behavioural changes do you wish to see from your target audience.
  5. Timing is vital. Over what time scale do you wish to achieve these changes – be realistic. One-off communications are rarely effective. Some event based PR projects will have a clearly defined time scale leading up to, during and post the event. If you wish to test the benefits of PR consider a minimum of six to twelve months to give it a fair trial period.
  6. Explain the dynamics. What are the internal and external drivers for change in your business?
  7. Explain the industry context. Who else is affected by these issues – is there scope for common action, or do you wish to take the initiative?
  8. Marketing context. What other marketing will you be using in addition to PR – how are messages and timing to be synchronised?
  9. Budget carefully. Advise what budget and resources you have to commit to the programme. Again be realistic. Spreading budgets too thinly will not achieve your objectives.
  10. Evaluation. Agree what metrics you will use to evaluate, refine and sharpen communication performance.

Five Things You Should Not Do

  1. Don’t be vague. There is no point asking a PR company for their ideas if you have not yourself first defined the objective and prepared at least an outline brief and budget.
  2. Don’t waste your time or the PR company’s time. Do not ask PR companies to pitch if you do not intend to make an appointment.
  3. Don’t go fishing at the PR company’s expense. Don’t use pitches as a means of trawling for ideas. It can take several days to research and prepare proposals.
  4. Don’t just use price to choose your PR company. Deciding on price, rather than quality of ideas and competence to achieve the desired objective, is not the basis for making an appointment that will pay dividends in the future.
  5. Don’t mismatch. Appointing a company whose skill set and experience does not match your needs is doomed to failure for both parties.

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