By Simone Esamie, Account Director

When briefing an external PR agency, there are a few simple rules to help deliver a program that meets your communication objectives and kicks some goals.  Where to start?  A good agency can provide you with a briefing template to use as a guide.  If you’re facing a blank page, here are a few tips to get you underway.

Provide clear objectives: As a marketer or in-house PR manager, your overall goals and objectives are undoubtedly outlined in some form already.  Don’t reinvent the wheel; share these within the brief.  A good PR practitioner wants to know the big picture and where PR activity is going to sit in the whole marketing mix for your brand.

Share the challenges: Whether it’s a product, service, brand or organisation, a PR brief should identify your daily challenges.  Sharing industry background, target audience insights and general issues you are facing can spark an idea that shapes the PR solution.

What’s on your wishlist?: Do you want to embrace social media?  Does your business have sponsorships to be leveraged?  Need to build your media talent bank?  There’s no point holding your cards too close to your chest.  It’s time to tick off those items on your communication wishlist.

Make time for face time: A face to face briefing will give both parties a better understanding of the task at hand and gives you an indication of the calibre of the agency.  Taking the time to visit the agency in person is a great way to get a sense of the company’s culture, too.

Provide a budget: From projects to ongoing campaigns, PR proposals are devised within the framework of a budget.  It helps to determine what is an achievable program of activity.  If you’re not sure how much to allocate, provide the agency with an indicative range that you feel comfortable with.

Measure up: A PR agency wants to achieve the best results for its clients.  It’s what makes them tick.  If you want to demonstrate a return on investment to your stakeholders, ask the agency how they measure and present results.  It’s a valuable and important tool.

Agency briefed – what’s next?

Time to breathe: Good ideas take time to be fully considered and costed.  Provide a realistic deadline for the scale of the brief to kick start a productive working relationship.  Be available to answer the agency’s questions during this time.

Decisions, decisions: You may not like everything proposed from an agency, but above all this process is an opportunity to see how the team thinks.  Is the agency creative and strategic?  Does it demonstrate expertise and insight in your field?  Concepts can be developed but the talent behind the concept is key.  Ask yourself, did the proposal make me think about my business or brand in a new way?