Tom Denford and David Indo from ID Comms: how to write the perfect media brief

In this week’s #mediasnack Tom and David have been inspired to look at the art of media briefing. The trigger for this is recent research issued by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

The research asked leading marketing and agency professionals to rate the quality of briefing. It was a revisit from the same study in 2014 and shows a small but positive improvement in sentiment around the quality of briefings. Full results are detailed in a blog on the WFA website.

Tom and David consider what is required to succeed at briefing agencies, especially in media which, as a marketing discipline, has got way more complex.

They suggest that writing briefs according to a good template and format itself is not the major challenge and is just the tip of the pyramid. The real challenge is engineering an agency (or a roster of agencies) to be properly set up for success.

This involves defining a clear scope of work, setting realistic KPIs and paying for agencies based on performance and delivering against KPIs. For example, if a media agency is just scoped to buy media and is paid on commission and the only KPI is a good audit result, then they won’t be able to respond appropriately to an integrated brief or even a more progressive media brief. These governance elements form the ‘base’ of the pyramid and enable good quality briefing to produce the best work.

They argue that writing an integrated brief is easy, running an integrated roster of agencies is hard and takes a lot of work to set up for success.

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Once you have all these elements in place, marketers then need to be able to properly evaluate the work coming back from the agency or agencies. An integrated brief requires you to provide direction without being prescriptive, to give your agencies permission to recommend solutions and so the marketing team has to be capable of making decisions.

Tom and David argue that often, especially regarding media, this is the key gap in capabilities, having the depth of media knowledge to be able to decipher media strategies and plans and make the right investment decisions.

It all starts with a commitment to brief better and understand the value that can be unlocked by briefing properly. It takes some work to be great at briefing, it’s more than a template.

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