How To Write An Agency Brief that Will Work

The purpose of the brief is to give the agencies as much information as possible in order to find a solution for your brand. How you brief determines what you get back from an agency. Before you write the brief you should gain full agreement with all those involved in the decision making process about what the requirements of the agency are. Invest time and effort in agreeing the budget and decide whether the client is acting as the orchestrator of a series of agency relationships, needs a ‘lead’ agency, or requires ‘one-stop-shop’.

The creative brief is the foundation of any advertising or marketing campaign. It’s the treasure map that creatives follow, and it tells them where to start digging for those golden ideas. Or at least, it should, if it’s any good.

1. Start By Grilling The Client
A creative brief is an account team’s interpretation of the client’s wishes. It is the job of a good account manager or planner to extract everything they possibly can from the client. This is the time to find out as much as possible about the product or service. What are its strengths and weaknesses? How was it though of? Who benefits from it? What stories can the client tell you? What problems are they facing? Sit down, in person if you can, and ask every conceivable question. What, why, when, how much? Squeeze every last drop of info from the client. You’ll need it.

2. You should provide the key market insights that have led you to want a PR campaign. Often, your agency of record knows many things about your organisation, but don’t assume that they know about the latest ‘corporate’ changes in priorities and the fluctuations in market shares of your brands. Tell your agency about your competitive landscape and how you want to stand out. If there are issues (and let’s face it – there often are!) inform your PR agency. They are your body guards and they will have your back. Make them an integral part of your overall marketing or corporate plan!

3. Use The Product Or Service
This. Is. Crucial. If it’s at all possible, get samples of the product you’re selling.

If it’s a service, test it out. If it’s a car, drive it. If it’s fast food, eat it. Experience everything, and do it as a consumer, not an advertiser. The more you know, the better your brief will be. You can explain the strengths. You can turn weaknesses into selling points. You have a personal perspective.

Great advertising, like the original VW campaign, is based on the product. It focuses on it. Soak it all up before you write

4. Now that you have everything you need to work with, it’s time to start putting it into something useful. Every creative brief is different, but they share similar traits. Here are the most common sections of a creative brief, your information should go into these:

Background
Target Audience
Objectives
Tone of voice
Single Minded Proposition (Also called USP, Key Message, Direction)
Key benefits
Reasons to believe

Audience Takeaway
Deliverables (Outdoor, Print, TV etc)
Budget
Schedule

5. Measurement
This section should be discussed with your PR agency, but even if it’s not totally defined at the onset, include some desired metrics in your brief to ensure alignment in achieving the goals.

PR agencies would love to offer mind reading services, but until it’s possible, your brief is like a “screen capture” of your mind describing your ideal PR campaign, so share as much information as you can, you will be pleased with the end results!