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Whether you have just found your perfect PR partner or are starting the search to find them, a good PR brief is key to making the relationship work.

In an ideal world where board strategy, marketing and PR fit seamlessly together, a PR company should feel like part of the team.

Reaching that point, however, requires not just good inter-personal relationships, but also pre-determined ways of working and clear shared goals.

Putting together a concise, transparent and well-written PR brief is a vital stepping stone to PR Nirvana, and we’ve identified 11 steps in all to getting it right.

A successful brief, not dissimilar to a job description, should state precisely what you are looking for from a PR agency, outline your own company’s values and dreams for the future and set the parameters for a future relationship.

Many businesses will put this brief together before the search begins and use it to target specific agencies Others may develop it once an agency has been selected, perhaps to drive a kick-off meeting at the start of a campaign.

In either case it is worth considering not just what you want from PR but what a PR agency needs from you to do the best possible job on your behalf.

Here are a list of eleven steps to achieve the perfect PR brief:

1. Understand first what PR is, why you need it and what it can help you achieve – but also be clear about what it cannot do. PR is not designed to provide direct sales and isn’t the same as advertising. It can, however, help grow your business, improve and protect reputation, raise brand awareness and impact sales by delivering leads and inspiring new customers to reach out.

2. Consider what information a PR agency will need to answer the brief – and include everything you want them to address when you meet them face to face. It’s not unknown for an agency to put a lot of work into preparing a response – only to find key drivers for the campaign weren’t included in the brief and therefore aren’t answered.

3. Be open to answering further questions once you have sent the brief. This relationship is going to be based on communication in future, so it’s good to talk.

4. Ensure your brief is concise but articulate. It needs to be absolutely clear what you need from a PR agency and what your business objectives are. So, avoid jargon and make it readable.

5. Identify the key audiences and media channels you want PR to reach. Competing agencies may have different strengths in this field.

6. Provide sufficient background about your business to give agencies a real feel for what the business does as well as its personality and values. Include some of your key messages.

7. Outline the challenges your business faces which you believe PR can help tackle. This may include strengths and weaknesses as well as key competitors.

8. Don’t be afraid to at least give a flavour of your budget and a time frame for the campaign. This will help an agency put together a proposal which is affordable and appropriate.

9.Make the goals for a PR campaign absolutely clear. How can an agency work out how to help you if they don’t understand the end game? Consider including details of how you want a campaign to be measured. What does success look like?

10. Meet with your shortlisted agencies. The best consultancy advice comes from really understanding the business – and that doesn’t happen most effectively if the agencies are crafting their response in a silo.

11. Remember, most of all, that a successful partnership between PR and marketing is all about communication and strong relationships. Working with reliable, competent and creative people whom you like is PR heaven – so get to know your people before appointing them. The PR brief is just the start.