How to brief a PR agency – overview

You’ve decided to take on a PR agency. You’ve shortlisted your favourites. How are you going to find out which one will be best for you and your company?

A good brief is the key. It can help your prospective agencies understand your business, and what ideas to pitch to you. It is likely to be the basis of your relationship with your chosen agency.

Even the best agency won’t shine if they’re working with a brief that doesn’t explain what you really want. So it’s hugely important to get it right.

It needs to include everything that you want the agency to cover in its pitch. That doesn’t mean you need to write down everything you can about your organisation. It means you need to think really carefully about what you want your agency to do, what you want them to achieve and how you’re going to measure their success.

Your brief should be clear and concise, and should include:


A short introduction to your organisation and the project or campaign you want your agency to work on.

Communications objectives
Think about your ultimate goal. It may be more sales, but it could also be building your reputation or even changing your customers’ behaviour. Your objectives should be measurable so that you can evaluate how successful your campaign has been.

Target audiences
You may have more than one target audience, and your agency might have to think of different ways to engage them.

What do you need to tell your audiences to achieve your outcome?
Communications channels
What are the best ways to reach your audiences? And are there any methods that haven’t worked in the past?

How long does your agency have to prepare before the campaign begins? And are there key dates they should be working around?

Be realistic about how much you have to spend. A good agency will be able to tailor its activity to your budget.

What does success look like to you? And how will you measure the impact of your activity? Do you have data from before the campaign so you can compare how effective it has been?

Is there something you’d really like the agency to try, or something you really don’t like? Make sure you include that in the brief. And always offer an opportunity for agencies to ask questions. Sometimes one question can mean the difference between a pitch that’s completely off the mark, and one that’s spot on.

A brief is a good way for you to ask questions too. It’s important you find out about the agency and whether it’s a good fit for you and your organisation. Make sure you ask about:

  1. Their experience in your market
  2. Their experience of handling accounts like yours
  3. The team that will work on your account
  4. Their relationships with your target media and influencers

Once you have chosen your agency, make sure you review their activity on a regular basis. If you’re disappointed with the results, look again at the campaign, the objectives and the approach.

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