29/11/2011

By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator of PrPro and owner of Energy PR

Having recently been involved in a pitch where the client quite clearly didn’t know how to go about managing the process, I thought it might be timely to share some insights into how to brief a PR agency.

So here are 10 simple steps to ensure you’re brief is brilliant and the pitching process is perfect!

1. Numbers

Do not have too many agencies on your pitch list. If you do you will not be able to give each one the time and attention needed. Plus, if you have too many agencies, the good ones may feel it’s too much of a lottery and pull out! 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 on there.

3. Have Brief “Buy-in”

Be prepared to share a detailed 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 brief, you run the risk of it being pulled apart when the agencies are pitching. Your whole process could end up undermined!

4. Brief Checklist

Your brief 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. Budget

This point is so important. Giving no budget indication, because you want to see what an agency comes back with, is utterly pointless. The agencies will simply propose something unaffordable.

You’re not trying to catch the agency out, or grab yourself a bargain. You are trying to find an agency to partner with. The relationship needs to be open and honest. So state a 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 brief, answer them really promptly and with care. Remember their entire solution for you may depend on those answers.

9. Discretion

You should not 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.

I always hate it when companies refer to the pitching process as a beauty parade, but if you follow these stops you will prevent it turning into a pretty ugly business!

Follow Louise on twitter www.twitter.com/louisefw
Louise has two businesses to help you get your PR motoring:
For more training and tools so you can do your own PR visit www.prpro.co.uk
If you are looking for a PR agency visit www.EnergyPR.co.uk


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