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Shabby client briefs are hampering agencies’ abilities to deliver effective PR

Kumar warned clients to write better briefs

Kumar: “If you want better investment, write better briefs”

Clients looking for a better return on their investment in a PR agency need to learn how to write better briefs if they want their campaigns to succeed.

Speaking on the CommsCon 2016 panel A Happy Family: In-house Teams and Agency Partnerships, which addressed how in-house teams and their PR agencies can better work together, Shiva Kumar, head of communications for LinkedIn in Australia and New Zealand, said poor briefs from clients was a major challenge for agencies.

A former account lead at Edelman, Kumar told the conference he had seen many bad briefs from clients making the agency’s job of delivering more difficult.

“Sometimes clients write terrible briefs – they really need to be taught how to write a brief – and if the company writes good briefs the agency can respond well,” Kumar said.

Kumar’s comments were echoed by Russell Mahoney, corporate affairs manager at Woolworths.

“You are absolutely right; people put out terrible pitches,” Mahoney said.

“I think it’s partly they don’t understand what they want from agencies and so agencies have difficulty responding.”

Glasson: "Read the brief, answer it, then add something to it"

Glasson: “Read the brief, answer it, then add something to it”

Diane Glasson, director of communications and public relations at The Star, said when clients wrote a strong brief, it was then up to agencies to answer it as comprehensively as possible.

“The first step is to answer the brief,” Glasson said.

“But then really add some innovation to it as well. It’s always good to add to the brief, step a little bit outside it and demonstrate some of those additional things that you can do that perhaps the client hadn’t thought of.”

Glasson also warned agencies not to promise to over-deliver and make sure that the agency does not have to return to the client seeking more budget.

“Be realistic that the results that can be achieved are achievable.”

Olivia Loughnan, PR, sponsorship and communications manager for Virgin Mobile Australia, said one of the keys to a good relationship between in-PR and agency suppliers was giving the agency a full view of the business at the very start of relationship.

Virgin Mobile in in the process of on-boarding four new agencies, and Loughnan said once the relationship is up and running there is little time to get agencies to see all of the business, from stores to call-centres.

“For us it’s really important that they see every part of the business,”Loughnan said.

“We really immerse them in everything because as soon as you are up and going you don’t have the luxury of the time to do that.”

Simon Canning

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