For in-house PR: How to create a brief for a campaign

`Imagine for a moment that you are the Corporate Communications Director of one organisation and you have been asked by your Chief Executive to recruit a PR agency. Now you have to write a brief that should cover the reputation issues your campaign is seeking to address; the evidence that you have considered key stakeholders – including those with most influence; the evidence that you understand the primary audience and appropriate media for reaching them; you should also offer a clear statement of how the campaign will help to meet the company’s business objectives; give clear objectives – for the agency to respond to, and a budget and timescale for the agency to work within. The budget for hiring the agency will need to be signed off by the Board. You are therefore asked to present your recommendations to the Board on…(date)´.

These were the instructions for one of the last assignments in this term: write a brief for a campaign.

First of all you need to find out which company you are working with, and make a bit of research about its possible reputation problems or challenges.
I chose the British Legion, the oldest charity working for the UK Armed Forces. This was my pre-brief: British Legion wants to campaign to bring in a UK version of the “GI Bill” which offers all army/navy/air force veterans who have served for a prerequisite time to be eligible for a university education with all fees and living expenses provided by the state.

You need to keep in mind that you are preparing a document which should inspire an agency to design a creative and effective campaign. It means that you cannot `suffocate´ its creativity by framing too much their job.

Some people describe this task of writing a brief as the work of building a bridge between the point `where we are now´ and the point `where we want to be´. You are to provide the agency this information avoiding the temptation of building it yourself.

So it is necessary to make it as clear as possible. To think that it is from the brief that everything else flows. The better the brief, the better and more accurate the results.

But the real fact is that you have no idea about the organisation you have chosen, and research will get a big part of your time.
Once you have found some evidences about a possible reputation problem, based on real data, you need to build up a whole brief.

In my case, I researched about the situation of veterans (every people who have left the armed forces, no matter how long they were on it): the needs they have, the difficulties they face, the help they actually count on, and the public opinion state about them.

I found out the existence of a high level risk of criminal reputation because of potential or real criminal behaviour in veterans, and the worst thing was that this risk was being published on traditional media.
British legion results
I decided that my campaign should be aimed to get from the government an official support for young veterans among 18-35 years old to be able to join the University. It would be my first lobbying campaign; we would need to change the Law that we had just achieved from the government and get them (and also from the opposition and from public opinion) the support to make real the establishment of a British version of the GI Bill.

It has been an amazing assignment, and the most amazing thing was that I deleted my whole document some hours before handing it in.


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