by Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Write it down
It is important that you have a clear, written statement of what objectives you are trying to achieve. You should follow this up with a written agreement about how they are able to be achieved. Without that clarity, you have no protection if the PR agency fails to deliver what you want.
Are you launching a new product? Crowdfunding half a million dollars? Launching an Initial Public Offering? Raising awareness of cycling hazards? Encouraging older people to have their flu jab?
Try to think in terms of what you want to achieve for your organisation, rather than what activities you want a PR consultant or agency to undertake for you. Ensure your brief identifies your business or other objectives. Avoid being prescriptive about what you want done and how you want it done – a good PR firm will be able to respond imaginatively to the brief and suggest ways of meeting it.
You will generally get the best value from PR by involving a trained professional at an early stage in planning and development, even if most of the PR activity does not take place until later in the project. If you leave the PR element until late in your plans, you may find that you are not starting off in the right place and are not giving your professional advisors the scope they need to deliver the best results for you.
Budgets and fees
Be as clear as you can about how much money you have to spend, and whether your budget is for professional fees only (with campaign costs additional) or whether it includes both fees and costs. Some clients agree a monthly retainer with their agency at an agreed average number of hours; work above this threshold is billed at an agreed rate. Other clients set a fixed fee for a project or campaign, and the agency delivers an agreed plan of work for that fee.
Fees vary widely across the sector. The best agency for you will depend on the nature and scope of the work you need done, the target publics, and the tactics involved.
You should include any time constraints in the brief you prepare. If you try to get more done in less time, you will get less value from your PR work even though you pay more for it. PR is generally more effective when it has plenty of time to make an impact and influence your stakeholders.
Extract from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations guide for Clients