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13 daft PR briefs

What’s the daftest creative brief that you’ve ever received? That was the question I posed to my network last week. It turned out to be a cathartic conversation. Here are my favourite responses.

1. Don’t call us, we’ll call you

“We want a strong collaborative relationship with our agency, but no verbal contact between client and agency is allowed during the pitch process.”

Marshall Manson, @marshallmanson, Brunswick

2. Reach the world

Agency: “Who's the target audience?”

Client: “Everybody.”

Agency: “What's the objective?”

Client: “Media coverage.”

Rob Blackie, @robblackie_oo, independent

3. We want to be the next Facebook

Client: "We want to be as famous as Facebook.”

Agency: "What's your proposition?"

Client: "Facebook, but your profile is private by default."

Agency: "How many users?"

Client: “27.”

John Brown, @brownbare, Don’t Cry Wolf

4. Sourcing celebs

Client: “We want global coverage for an opening ceremony.”

Agency: “Who is the star?”

Client: The son of our leader.”

Agency: “Err, okay, is he famous?”

Client: “No. But you can just leak that it’s Madonna to get the interest.”

Me: “Do you have Madonna?”

Client: “No.”

Jo-ann Robertson, @RedRobertino, Ketchum

A team from Russia from a tier-two social network with an interpreter turned up for creds. They cut us off two slides in and wanted to know how much to get Madonna to sign up and how long to get over 15 million UK members.

Bruce McLachlan, @BruceMcLachlan, Fever PR

“Can we get Leonardo DiCaprio to speak at our event?”

I suspect this is a frequent question for all environmental charities.

Julia Hawkins, @JuliaMHawkins, Bioregional

5. Don’t mention the budget

Agency: “Can you tell us the budget?”

Client: “We don’t want budget to limit the scale of your ideas.”

Fast forward to pitch meeting

Agency: “We love your ideas, but I don’t think we can afford any of them.”

Marshall Manson, @marshallmanson, Brunswick

6. But clients can also be frustrated about budgets

I’ve had so many ‘discussions’ with procurement on this where I insist on including the budget, they say it limits their negotiating ability. I politely explain we’re not buying paperclips and the budget is fixed.

Jon Sellors, @jonsellors, LV

7. All the press releases

Client: “We are going to need press releases, at least two per month.”

Agency: “Wow, sounds like a lot of interesting things are going on. What’s the news?”

Client: “We’re going through a slow patch. Investors are anxious. That’s why we need your creativity.”

David Gallagher, @TBoneGallagher, Omnicom PR

8. Make us viral

“We need a viral video – can you make one?”

Sean Fleming, @flemingsean, independent

“We would like you to create a viral video.”

Dora Gasia, via Facebook, independent

9. Business plan? Marketing plan?

Client: “Your work has to fit in with the city’s marketing strategy.”

Agency: “What’s the marketing strategy?”

Client: “We don’t have one.”

Chris Taylor, @dtwchris, DTW

10. You get what you pay for

I’ve seen a brief this week for a 22-month campaign with a long, long list of required outcomes with a budget of £8,000.

Charlotte Dimond, @lottietaylor1, Sidekick

11. Holiday briefs

Any pitch brief distributed on 20 December where the required response is 3 January. Abusive in pitch will be abusive in relationship, so just say no.

Marshall Manson, @marshallmanson, Brunswick

12. Ego media

“I want to be in the Financial Times so that people in my golf club will read it.”

Ged Caroll, @g_c, independent

13. Gongs

"Get him a knighthood".

We underachieved: he got a CBE.

Bill Jones, via Facebook, retired

We received a brief a few years ago with the objective of getting the business founder an MBE.

Nicky Harrison, via Facebook, Fieldhouse Associates

For tips on how to write briefs see our guide on how to brief agencies and The CIPR recently published a guide to hiring PR professionals. It includes a section on how to write a brief that defines your needs, and what to ask people.

Written by Stephen Waddington, managing director of Metia; and visiting professor, Newcastle University.

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