• Claire Elbrow

Developing a killer PR brief

Updated: Mar 24, 2019


As many agencies, and indeed freelancers, are becoming increasingly discerning about the pitches they respond to or take part in, developing your brief is key to attracting the best.


Pitches are expensive business for both agencies and freelancers. They take time and money to pull together and without a good brief, potential clients can often find they are not in a position at the end of the exercise to compare apples with apples.

Firstly, do your research. Do you want to work with an agency? If so, what sort – local, sector specific, one offering particular services or a full-service agency. Do you need an agency? Would a PR freelancer work for you? How do you want to work with them? What is your budget? We recommend you come up with a final pitch list of a maximum of four alternatives.

Prepare your business colleagues! Get everyone who needs to be involved, to ensure you can pull together the most detailed brief you can. You may need to involve your commercial or finance teams. At the very least get as many of the people who need to be involved to buy into the process.

Prepare your brief: Please feel free to download our PR Brief Checklist. If you prefer to write your own, make sure you include:

  • Your business objectives

  • Where your business or brand is now

  • Where you want it to be

  • Key audiences and any information you have gained on these already

  • Key competitors (direct and indirect)

  • Considerations that need to be taken into account (timescales, approval process, sensitivities, sector regulations)

  • Any background information you can think of, including any relevant market research

  • Your timeframes

  • Your budget

Everyone hates stating their budget. However, if you do not give an indication, how can those trying to help you do so? They will be wasting time suggesting campaigns you cannot afford and you will be wasting your time by listening to them all! You should not be trying to catch an agency out or trying to grab a bargain – you are looking for someone you can trust and who can trust you, to work with on a long-term basis. At the very least, please give us a range!

Give your intended freelancers or agencies time to develop their proposal. Two or three weeks is usually enough. If a freelancer or agency is proactive and wants to ask questions or meet with you before the pitch, it is OK to respond to them. Just make it fair by letting the others pitching know. If you do answer questions, make sure you answer them correctly and honestly as the pitch you get back will depend on the information you give out.

Understand what success looks like: Measuring success is always important and your new PR specialist should work with you to agree how they will demonstrate the success of the campaigns to you. Develop some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and decide how the metrics for success will be identified and worked towards. One may be press coverage. Clippings can be gathered and presented in reports that include the quantity, quality and impact of the message on audiences. Part of your project is likely to have digital elements, so ensure social media and website traffic can be tracked and monitored for changes through analytical software such as Google Analytics. This allows you to clearly see if there have been any spikes in sales, bookings or newsletter sign-ups as a direct result of positive media coverage.

Start to research where you really want to be seen. Research what your audiences are reading. Make a wish list of the magazines, newspapers and websites that you want your brand stories to be featured in, and discuss how to approach this with your PR specialist

This is also a good time to think about appointing an internal media-savvy spokesperson as the ‘face’ of the business or brand, and perhaps a couple of ‘go-to’ experts for particular topics you want to cover.

This will help your PR specialist immensely as they are able to offer journalists a confident and relevant spokesperson.

Once the pitch is over and you have chosen your new PR specialist partner, it is really kind and helpful to the losing people to provide some honest feedback.

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