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The Benefits of Being Brief
How to maximize the work of your PR team & consultants.
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 by Barry Walton
Kestrel Worldcom

The key to getting the best out of your public relations consultants is, quite simply, to let them know exactly what you want. What could be easier?

But wait! In practice telling people what you want can be difficult, and there is a danger of finding yourself in a costly game of, 'I'll know what I like when I see it.'

The solution to this is to develop a PR brief that can help you get exactly what you want. Our 10 point guide below illustrates the basic elements of a good public relations brief.

1. Background
This should provide enough detail about your requirements for someone with little knowledge of the subject to understand the key issues to be addressed by the campaign.

2. Research
Include any research results that will support the communications campaign.

3. Previous communications
If you have previously communicated on this subject, provide details of target audiences, details of the previous campaign and its effectiveness.

4. Aims
What is the desired outcome of the campaign? State your aims.

5. Objectives
Will you be seeking to raise awareness about a product or service? Change attitudes or behaviour? Your objectives should be clear, specific and measurable. They should be written in simple, jargon-free, detail as they will provide an overarching concept for the campaign.

6. Target audience
Exactly who do you want to receive your message. Target audiences can be described in terms of current behaviour, level of awareness, level of knowledge, preferred methods of receiving information and their motivations/barriers to hearing and accepting the information. The more thoroughly you understand your target audience, the higher the probability of success.

7. Key messages
Be clear about the purpose of the campaign. If not, a lack of clarity will be exaggerated and unclear messages could result in a weak strategy and probably a weak campaign.

8. Budget
What is your budget? If no budget is specified in the brief then your consultant will have to guess what is wanted and a level of activity may be proposed that exceeds or does not match up to what you had in mind.

9. Timeline
Provide an outline of the timing for the campaign. Results take time and your consultants will need to know the timescale they are working to.

10. Evaluation
How will you evaluate the success of your campaign? If you fail to build in plans to evaluate the campaign, how will you know if it was successful and your money was well spent? Conversely, if things don't work, evaluation will help identify where things went wrong.

Barry Walton joined Kestrel Worldcom in 1998 and has worked across a number of high-profile business to business, corporate and consumer PR campaigns covering media relations, crisis management and internal communications.

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