how to brief a PR agency

It is odd when companies refer to the pitching process as a beauty parade, as in our experience many organisations have no idea how to construct a meaningful PR brief. As a result the whole process ends up being a pretty ugly business!

When it comes to briefing a PR agency it’s a case of rubbish in rubbish out! If you are unclear about what you are trying to achieve, who you are trying to reach, your issues, challenges, competitive situation and so forth then you can’t possibly expect a PR agency to miraculously come up with a brilliant proposal for you. A PR agency’s pitch can only really hit the mark if the brief is good. So we’ve come up with 10 steps to ensure your PR brief is brilliant and the pitching process is perfect!

1. Numbers

Do not have too many agencies on your pitch list. You will not be able to give each one the time and attention needed and the good ones may feel it’s too much of a lottery and pull out. This is because, as PR Week reported, developing a proper pitch is an expensive business for an agency, so many are becoming increasingly discerning about the pitches they will take part in! So we’d recommend you ideally, confine yourself to four maximum.

2. Do Your Research

Research your agencies properly to make sure they are the right ones to be on your list. Don’t just have a load of major names.

3. Have Brief “Buy-in”

Be prepared to share a detailed PR brief with the agencies. You may need to get input for your brief from commercial colleagues. This is especially important if they are going to be involved in the selection process. If you don’t get them to ‘buy in’ to the PR brief, you run the risk of it being pulled apart when the agencies are pitching. Your whole process could end up undermined!

4. PR Brief Checklist

The PRCA has some good advice on how to write a PR brief, but in essence it should include:

  • Your business objectives
  • Where your brand/business currently is
  • Where you want it to be
  • Key audiences (any insights you can share on these)
  • Key competitors
  • Issues and considerations that the agency must take into account
  • Any relevant market research or background information
  • Other marketing activity you are doing
  • Time frame
  • Budget

5. PR Budget

Giving no budget indication, because you want to see what an agency comes back with, is utterly pointless. You’re not trying to catch the agency out, or grab yourself a bargain. You are trying to find an agency to partner with. So state your PR budget or at least provide a range.

6. Timing

Give the agencies at least 2 weeks to develop their proposals and be prepared during this build up to meet with the agencies if they ask.

7. Fairness

If one agency asks to meet up, don’t feel you are giving them an unfair advantage by doing so. They are simply being keen and proactive. As long as all of the agencies could do the same if they asked, you are being perfectly fair.

8. Be Responsive

If agencies ask additional questions having received your PR brief, answer them really promptly and with care. Remember their entire solution for you may depend on those answers.

9. Discretion

Don’t share with the other agencies any additional insights one of the players has unearthed thanks to meeting you face to face or asking additional questions. It’s unprofessional and unfair.

10. Give Feedback

Be prepared to provide feedback to the losing agencies.

Want a sample PR brief to use? Email us and we will send one to you.

If you are reviewing your PR why not call me, Louise on T: 01993 82311 or E: