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How to Write a Brief for a Public Relations Consultant

Table Of Contents

Section One: Before you start ______________________________________ 1

What is public relations? ______________________________________________ 1 What is a communication strategy? ______________________________________ 2 Do I need to write a communication strategy? ______________________________ 2 The value of a good PR brief ___________________________________________ 2 Consideration of special audiences ______________________________________ 3 A few words about style _______________________________________________ 4 What should I be wary of putting in the brief? ______________________________ 4 Other considerations _________________________________________________ 4 Approval processes __________________________________________________ 5

Section Two:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Step-by-step guide __________________________________ 6

Purpose________________________________________________________ 6 Background _____________________________________________________ 6 Current or previous research _______________________________________ 6 Previous communication activities ___________________________________ 7 Communication aim ______________________________________________ 7 Communication objectives _________________________________________ 7 Target audiences ________________________________________________ 9 Key messages__________________________________________________ 10 Proposed communication mix ______________________________________ 10 Research ____________________________________________________ 11 Key issues/considerations _______________________________________ 11 The tender task _______________________________________________ 12 Selection criteria ______________________________________________ 14 The task for the successful consultant _____________________________ 15 Budget ______________________________________________________ 16 Billing and payment ____________________________________________ 16 Timeline _____________________________________________________ 17 In-house resources ____________________________________________ 18 Pitching fee __________________________________________________ 18 Conflict of interest _____________________________________________ 18 Security, confidentiality and copyright ______________________________ 19 Professional indemnity insurance _________________________________ 20 Performance guarantee_________________________________________ 20 Project termination and/or variation of project ________________________ 20 Contacts ____________________________________________________ 20

Section Three: Need more help? ___________________________________ 22

How to Write a Brief for a Public Relations Consultant

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Section One: Before you start What is public relations?

Public relations involves the management and distribution of information to enable an organisation's target audiences to understand its policies and programs. The role of public relations is to: · · · · place a subject on the public agenda; garner public support and endorsement of a person, product, organisation or idea; extend advertising campaigns; and deliver complex information and messages (which can not be delivered by an advertisement).

Public relations practice is broader than media relations and/or publicity generation. In reality, the activities of public relations practice include: · Issues management ­ involves proactive systematic identification of issues of potential concern to an organisation and development of a system to respond to them. Crisis management ­ involves reactive systematic identification of issues and an appropriate response mechanism for unanticipated situations. Media relations ­ involves dealing with the media in seeking publicity for, or responding to, media interest in an organisation, person, product or idea. Merchandising support ­the packaging of a product, an idea or person. Event management ­ involves planning activities or staging events which will attract media attention to a person, organisation, idea or product. A launch is a typical example. Promotion ­ attempts to garner the support and endorsement for a person, product, organisation or idea. Although promotion incorporates special events ­ which could be called event management ­ promotion goes into other areas, for example, storylines about the specific issue in soap operas, competitions or documentaries. Public affairs ­ a highly specialised kind of public relations which involves community and government relations ­ which is dealing with officials within the community and working with legislative groups and various pressure groups such as consumers. Publicity ­ involves disseminating purposefully planned and executed messages through selected media, without payment to the media, to further the particular interest of an organisation or person. Publicity is a tool used by public relations practitioners ­ it is not public relations in itself.

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Sponsorship - is a contractual agreement between two parties whereby benefits such as money or services in kind are traded for promotional opportunities offered by a campaign or event, for example, naming rights, brand exposure, corporate recognition, or endorsements.

What is a communication strategy?

A communication strategy provides an essential framework for developing a comprehensive and integrated campaign. It is a plan which outlines the rationale for, and desired outcomes of, your proposed public information campaign. The strategy defines specific objectives to provide a framework within which to formulate strategies and against which to evaluate outcomes. In the development of the communication strategy, key decisions need to be made about: · · · · · · · the range of integrated information activities to be implemented; what research the strategy is to be based on; how external consultants will be used; the roles and responsibilities of all key stakeholders in the strategy; the available budget; the timeline; and the evaluation plan.

The communication strategy should clearly articulate how all the various components of the campaign will be co-ordinated and managed to achieve its objectives most efficiently and effectively.

Do I need to write a communication strategy?

Yes. Before you write a brief for a public relations consultant, you need to write a communication strategy. Public relations is usually only one part of an integrated communication campaign and, as such, the role of the public relations activities needs to be clearly defined within the context of a communication strategy before a public relations brief can be written. The GCU also has guidelines on How to Write a Communication Strategy and many of the steps in that guide are explained in this document, with specific amendments and differences as appropriate for the briefing of a public relations consultant.

The value of a good PR brief

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The PR brief is the foundation upon which the public relations consultant plans (and costs) their proposal. Therefore, a good brief is the key to receiving high quality, tightlyfocused proposals from consultants. A good PR brief will: · provide enough detail about the program/policy that it can be understood by someone who has no knowledge of the subject and key issues, and can be read as a stand alone document; explain the need for public relations and where it fits within the broader communication strategy; be supported and informed by research; clearly define the communication objectives; outline the tasks the successful consultant will perform; highlight any sensitivities which impact on the campaign; include a clear timeline for the campaign; outline any activities which will complement the campaign; describe the key stakeholders of the campaign and their role; clearly outline the tender task and the selection process; and facilitate evaluation of the campaign's success.

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Consideration of special audiences

Government departments are required to consider Australians who are informationdisadvantaged through low income, poor education, and an inadequate knowledge of English, disability, geographical isolation or other reasons. The following people are considered special audiences and should be given due consideration in your public relations brief: · · · · people from non-English speaking backgrounds; Indigenous Australians; people from regional, rural and remote areas; and people with a sight or hearing disability.

If separate strategies are required to reach those audiences, it is not best practice to ask the public relations consultant to do this work along with their `mainstream' strategy, particularly if the strategies are targeted for Indigenous Australians or Australians from a non-English speaking background. This is because it is not usually part of the consultant's core experience or expertise.

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Generally, specialist consultants are contracted by Government departments, through a separate tender process involving the MCGC, to develop and implement these separate strategies concurrently with the `mainstream' campaign. These specialist consultants will also look after adaptations or translations of creative material from the advertising agency. The GCU also has guidelines on how to write briefs for non-English speaking background communication specialists and Indigenous Australian communication specialists.

A few words about style

It is critical that the brief is comprehensible to consultants. Therefore, it is advisable to write the brief in plain English (ie avoid bureaucratic jargon or terminology too specific to particular programs or policies).

What should I be wary of putting in the brief?

By writing a brief, you are seeking advice from professionals with specialist knowledge. Consultants are at the `coalface' every day, and usually have a better knowledge of appropriate communication tactics than clients, so resist prescribing techniques which you think the consultant should use. Rather, give consultants the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and use it as a means of choosing between them. Using the consultants' expertise will facilitate proposal evaluation; you will then be able to compare the merits of a range of communication solutions and costings.

Other considerations

The following points need to be considered to assist you with the brief: · · Consider what is required by your departmental purchasing instructions/contract areas when buying consultancy services. Find out whether you need to seek the approval of your Minister and the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications (MCGC) for the brief and the consultants to whom it will be sent. The GCU will advise you on this matter. If MCGC approval is required, the GCU will brief the Committee on issues relevant to your public relations project, information about the shortlisted consultants and any other relevant background information. For more information on the MCGC approval process, visit the GCU website at www.gcu.gov.au.

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The GCU strongly recommends that you contact your Legal section for advice on writing the contract before you complete the consultant selection process. This is particularly important because: · · The brief and the successful consultant's proposal form the basis of the contract between the two parties, ie they attain a legal status. Your department might have specific requirements which should be included in the brief, eg the requirement for professional indemnity insurance or a performance guarantee.

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One of the most common delays in campaign commencement is an unprepared contract.

The consultant should not begin work until the contract has been signed.

Approval processes

When developing your strategy timeline you will need to allow sufficient time for the following approval processes before the brief can be sent out: Order 1. 2. 3. Action Draft brief and seek legal advice Forward draft brief to GCU for comment GCU comments on brief and provides a list of consultants to approach with the brief Your Minister (or appropriate officer) approves the amended brief and list of consultants Final version of the brief to GCU to submit to the MCGC (this might be a scheduled meeting or out-of-session) MCGC approves brief/consultant list in session MCGC approves brief/consultant list out-ofsession Allow one week Allow two-to four weeks Allow one-two weeks Time required

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Section Two: 1 Purpose

Step-by-step guide

State why you are sending out the brief; it is important that consultants know what they are being asked to do. Example: The (name of department) is seeking proposals from public relations companies with experience in national, integrated communications campaigns, to develop and implement the public relations components of a high profile public awareness campaign on (new policy) for a period of x months/years. Or, if the department only requires assistance with one aspect of the public relations strategy, a more appropriate purpose might be: The (name of department) is seeking proposals from public relations companies to develop and implement the issues management component of the public relations strategy on (new policy) for the period of x months/years. The department's public affairs area will be responsible for developing and implementing the other components of the public relations strategy.

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Background

Provide a broad outline of the circumstances which prompted the need to communicate and attach any relevant information and research, for example the initiative might: · · · result from a government decision; be in response to client requests or feedback; or form part of a new policy proposal.

You should state the aim and objectives of the program which the communication strategy is a part of, in particular any key outcome areas. The program objectives will provide an overarching context for the campaign. You should also indicate how the communication strategy will integrate with the program to achieve the desired outcomes. The background should provide enough detail about the policy or program for someone who has no knowledge of the subject to understand the key issues to be addressed by the communication campaign.

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Current or previous research

Include any research results you have to support the need for, and/or approach to, the communication campaign. This could include: · · market research undertaken to inform the development of the policy/program; market research conducted to inform an earlier campaign on this issue;

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· · · ·

market research conducted specifically for your campaign (primary research); market research from another department on a related issue; relevant statistics or demographic data; or analysis of consultative processes.

Attach copies of cited research reports where possible.

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Previous communication activities

If you have previously communicated on this subject, provide details of: · · · the target audiences; when and how you communicated; and the effectiveness of this communication campaign.

Example: In 1997 we undertook a communication campaign to promote our new service. The strategy included a ministerial launch of the service, followed by television advertising, a two-month publicity strategy and distribution of an information booklet upon request to people who rang an 1800 number. Evaluation of the campaign indicated that the advertising was effective in generating calls to the number, but that this did not translate into actual use of the service.

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Communication aim

The aim should be a short statement of the desired outcome of the communication strategy. Example: To increase the level of full age appropriate childhood immunisation coverage by creating a climate of acceptance and active support from both parents and service providers. Be realistic about what the strategy can achieve within the timeframe, budget and available resources. Remember, the most successful communication campaigns are underpinned by program support strategies, which deliver the product or service that your communication strategy is addressing.

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Communication objectives

Clear, specific and measurable objectives are critical to the success of information activities: not only are they critical to the development of an appropriate public relations strategy, but they also form the basis of campaign evaluation. Therefore it is imperative that specific and measurable objectives are stated clearly in your brief.

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It is a common error to confuse objectives with tasks. When writing your brief be mindful of the following: · Tasks are what you/or your consultants do to achieve your objectives (ie outputs) and commonly start with such words as "To develop..." "To implement..." for example: - - - · to develop an issues management strategy; to undertake a national launch of the campaign; to implement a three-month public relations campaign.

An objective is what you hope to achieve from your information activities (ie an outcome) and commonly start with such words as "To increase..." "To inform..." "To reinforce...".

Research will assist you to develop realistic objectives. Your research will give you a greater understanding of current awareness and attitudes toward your subject matter and therefore provide a starting point for communication activity. Setting objectives When setting objectives you should: · · · be realistic within the timeframe, budget and resources; ensure they are measurable; state what you aim to achieve in terms of the target audience: - Awareness, understanding and knowledge ­ most campaigns aim to increase awareness, understanding and knowledge of a government policy or program. Awareness objectives relate to what you want your target audience to be informed or educated about. Attitudes ­ favourable or unfavourable feelings about an issue, which are learned, and relatively enduring. It is assumed that changing attitudes will lead to an increase in the positive behaviours a campaign is promoting. Some campaigns aim to reinforce positive attitudes to ensure that positive behaviours are maintained; while others attempt to change negative attitudes. Attitude objectives are really a statement of how you want the target audience to feel about the issue. Behaviours ­ are what you want the target audience to do as a result of being exposed to your campaign. Behaviours are the specific actions which you are encouraging members of the target audience to undertake.

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Some examples of objectives are: Awareness To increase awareness with 18-40 year olds: · · of the immediate and longer term health effects of smoking; that every cigarette does physical damage; and

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that support for quitting smoking is available in various forms.

Attitudes To generate/strengthen: · · · personal relevance to the health messages of the campaign; a sense of the `immediacy' of the health effects depicted in the campaign advertising; and the confidence of people aged 18-40 in their own ability to change their behaviour.

Behaviours To increase intentions to: · · quit/attempt to quit smoking; and access available support services.

Note: The public relations brief should not introduce objectives not outlined in the communication strategy. However, you might not necessarily wish to just replicate all the objectives found in the strategy. It may be that emphasis is placed on achieving some specific objectives in the public relations component of the campaign.

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Target audiences

Exactly who do you want to receive your message? Target audiences should be described in terms of: · · · · · current behaviour level of awareness level of knowledge preferred methods for receiving information motivations/barriers to hearing and believing/accepting the information.

You should describe your target audiences in as much detail as possible. Broad descriptions such as the "general public" are less likely to lead to a successful campaign than a tightly defined target. The more thoroughly you understand your target audience/s, the higher the probability of success. · Primary Target Audience ­ people/groups who will be directly affected by your message or need to be exposed to your message. For example: Parents, particularly mothers of children aged 0 ­ 6 years. · Secondary Target Audience ­ people of less importance who you wish to receive the campaign messages, people who will also benefit from hearing the campaign

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messages or people who influence your target audience now or in the future: for example, general practitioners. · Stakeholders - Other people/groups who might be directly or indirectly involved in, affected by or with a stake in your campaign. For example: Peak body organisations, community organisations, other Australian Government departments, state governments etc. You should clearly outline the role you expect these people/groups to play in your strategy. For example, they might be intermediaries or information providers for the target audiences. Note: The public relations brief should not introduce target audiences not identified in the communication strategy. However, you need to consider whether particular emphasis is placed on reaching specific target audiences in the public relations strategy.

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Key messages

The key messages should encapsulate the purpose of your communication activity in as few words as possible. Key messages do not need to be catchy. They are not the "slogan" or the "jingle" for your campaign or the actual words to be used as your message. There is time later, during campaign development, to mould your message into a form that is appropriate for your audience/s. If you do not have a clear, concise understanding of the campaign purpose, then this lack of clarity will be exaggerated as the campaign progresses. If the key messages are unclear this will result in a weak strategy, weak proposals and, probably, a weak campaign. Research indicates that the following types of messages are likely to be rejected: · · · · messages which are global in nature; messages which are a series of `motherhood' statements; messages which are self congratulatory; or self-promotion without substance.

Effective key messages should include details of the program or policy being promoted, the benefits of the initiative for the target audience, and a clear "call to action" outlining what the target audience should do as a result of receiving your messages. Note: You should remember that public relations has the ability to deliver the more complex campaign messages and provide a level of detail which the advertising campaign can often not achieve. Careful consideration should be given to which messages are best suited to the public relations versus the advertising strategy.

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Proposed communication mix

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It is useful to outline the proposed components of the communication campaign to enable the consultant to understand the context within which the public relations activity will occur. For example, it is useful for the public relations consultant to know that a mass media advertising campaign is planned so that they can ensure synergy between the advertising and public relations strategies. This section should include a brief description of advertising, strategies targeting people from non-English backgrounds and Indigenous Australians, any planned events, sponsorships or direct mail. It would also be useful to indicate who was responsible for the delivery of each component. This section should also include details of any complementary communication activity being undertaken by stakeholder groups or state and territory governments. Further, if it is the intention of your department to carry out some of the public relations activities in-house, you must detail in the document exactly what the external public relations consultant will be responsible for and what the department will be managing. The GCU recommends that you attach a copy of the communication strategy to the brief to give the consultant an understanding of the campaign context.

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Research

Research is used to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of information activities. It can, and does, prevent resource wastage by ensuring that the campaign is indeed necessary and appropriate for the target audience/s. You should include in your public relations brief details of any research conducted or proposed as part of the campaign, including: · · · · developmental research which has underpinned the strategy and messages; concept testing (to assist in selecting the advertising agency and refining creative concepts for advertising and products); benchmark and tracking the campaign (testing strategies, reporting on coverage and readership of your issue, checking recall); and evaluating the outcomes (checking for changes in target audience attitudes, knowledge, behaviour).

PR consultants should also be reminded to provide the department with details on how they propose to evaluate the effectiveness of the public relations strategy they are to implement.

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Key issues/considerations

Include details of any constraints on your information activities to give consultants the opportunity to consider issues that might impact on the campaign when preparing their proposals. Examples of issues for consideration include: · subtleties of the communication task, such as "musts" and "must nots" in communicating the message and design;

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· · ·

sensitive issues; state government activities (such as consultation processes and protocols); the need to work in consultation with other consultants (eg market researcher, advertising agency, or a specialist non-English speaking background or indigenous Australians communications consultant); regional or geographical constraints; financial constraints; the need for materials to be approved by particular positions or by interest groups before release; and the approval process for campaign strategies and materials.

· · · ·

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The tender task

The consultant must be provided with specific details on what is expected of them as part of the tender process. This is distinct from the task required of the successful consultant which is defined in the final contract with the department. Example As part of the tender process the consultant will be expected to: 1. Attend a question and answer session after receiving the brief A Question and Answer session will be held with the tendering consultants on... at... with representatives from the (department) and the Government Communications Unit to clarify any issues in the brief. Interstate consultants will be provided with one return economy airfare to attend the session. The GCU strongly recommends that briefing sessions called Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions are held with consultants after they have received the brief to ensure you receive proposals which reflect what you really want. It is best to meet face-to-face with consultants about two to four days after they receive the brief so they can clarify any issues in the brief which might be of concern to them before finalising their proposals. The MCGC also expects Q&A sessions to be held with tendering consultants. These sessions should be held individually with each consultant (not group sessions held with all the consultants at once), and all sessions should be treated as commercial-inconfidence. The GCU can give you more information on how these sessions are conducted if you require. State when, where and with whom the Q&A sessions will be held. It is usual practice to offer a return economy airfare for interstate consultants to attend a face-to-face meeting. Although the MCGC will make the final consultant selection, key people involved in assessing the proposals and shortlisting the consultants, including a GCU representative, should be present at the Q&A sessions. 2. Develop a written proposal

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The proposal must include: · · · · · · · · · · · · · an outline of how the public relations strategy will be developed and implemented, if successful; a rationale for the proposed strategic approach; a proposed approach to launching the campaign; strategic advice regarding other suitable publicity events; details of an appropriate publicity program including an issues management strategy; an outline of a proposed approach to stakeholder management; recommendations on and a rationale for information materials, if applicable; a detailed timeline for implementing the strategy; a detailed costing of services, including daily/weekly/hourly rates; details of personnel who will be working on the strategy, clearly identifying roles and, if applicable, hourly rates; details of similar projects worked on including the contact details of (three) referees; an explanation of how the public relations strategy will be evaluated; and details of reporting and invoicing formats and procedures.

To assist the selection process, you should also detail in the brief that consultants must: · restrict the written proposal to 20 or fewer, A4 single-sided, numbered pages using a 12 point font size (excluding curriculum vitaes and company experience which would be less than 30 pages in an attachment to the main document); provide an executive summary of no more than two pages; provide a specific number of copies (eg five bound and one unbound); and include a table of contents.

· · ·

Note: These specifications are also a requirement of the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications.

3. Present the proposed strategy to the evaluation panel; Consultants are required to give a one hour presentation (including time for questions) of their response to the brief to the evaluation panel. The evaluation panel then assesses proposals against the selection criteria. The evaluation panel prepares

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a shortlist of consultants, usually two, to present to the MCGC. Interstate consultants will be provided with two return economy airfares to present to the panel. And if the project requires MCGC approval: 4. Shortlisted consultants present to the MCGC. The MCGC requires that the following wording is also included in the brief: Shortlisted consultants present to the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications (MCGC) for selection of the successful consultant. The MCGC may also review the decision on the shortlisted consultants. MCGC meetings will usually be convened in Parliament House, Canberra. Not all members of the MCGC will necessarily be in attendance throughout the presentations. For example, at least three members of the MCGC are Members of Parliament and their attendance may be interrupted by divisions of the House of Representatives or Senate. Interstate consultants will be provided with two return economy airfares to present to the MCGC.

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Selection criteria

State the criteria against which you are going to evaluate the consultants' proposals, which should be kept to a minimum to facilitate the selection process. The following selection criteria cover most requirements, although you can add others which you deem appropriate: Example · · · Understanding of the issues. Clarity of the rationale for the proposed strategy. The quality of the proposed communication strategy - - - - · Are there clear links with the communication objectives? Will the target audience/s be reached effectively by the proposed strategy? Are the proposed communication vehicles appropriate for the campaign messages? Do the proposed information materials clearly reflect the strategic approach?

Innovation and creativity demonstrated within the strategy. - - Will the proposed strategy have impact/cut through? Are there ideas beyond standard public relations activities?

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Value for money: - an assessment of cost against perceived impact/reach of the strategy.

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No conflict of interest.

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References from previous projects will be used to assess the consultant's ability on: - - proven capacity to deliver projects on time and within budget; and proven ability to work cooperatively with the department.

· relevant/related experience of the team of people who will work on the business. NB. Experience could be defined in terms of government experience, social marketing experience, subject matter experience or experience in developing and implementing similar communication activities, whichever is deemed to be most relevant to the campaign. The following wording should also be included in the brief: If you cite particular projects to support your claims within the strategy, you need to include the relevant contact as one of your referees.

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The task for the successful consultant

Clearly outline the tasks you expect the successful consultant to perform. The following examples cover a wide range of activities and may not always be relevant. Example: The successful consultant will be required to: · · · refine the winning proposal in consultation with the department; confirm the program of activities/events to be developed as part of the strategy; develop and implement: - - the final public detailed relations strategy as agreed with the department a launch strategy for the advertising campaign which includes liaising with the media to ensure maximum media coverage and the development of support materials a publicity program to garner support for the campaign over a six month period a comprehensive issues management strategy a stakeholder management strategy

- - - · · · ·

develop, produce and distribute supporting information materials; organise and manage publicity events; liaise with other consultants and key stakeholders as required; present the strategy or its components to the MCGC as required;

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· ·

report regularly to the department on campaign progress; at the campaign's completion, submit a report containing: - - - - - - copies of all media releases, fact sheets, invitation, running sheets, etc print and electronic media clippings outline of other outcomes such as alliances, partnership activity, etc summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach and recommendations for future public relations action budget summary an assessment of the outcomes and internal efficiencies

·

on completion of the campaign provide all the artwork for creative material to the department.

NB. These tasks will need to be clearly defined in the final contract between the department and the consultant.

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Budget

The GCU strongly recommends that you specify your budget in the brief. Specifying your budget will aid consultants to provide realistic proposals and also enable you to make fair and accurate comparisons of proposals as they will all be written to the same amount. For example, if no budget is provided, consultants will try to guess what is wanted and you may end up trying to compare a proposal written to a budget of $80,000 with one written to a budget of $200,000, which is very difficult to assess. Where possible, you should quote: · · · · · · The amount of money available now; The amount of money available in future; The amount of money allocated to each component of the strategy eg whether the budget includes design, printing and distribution of materials; Whether the budget is subject to negotiation; Your preference for either a project fee or negotiated monthly accounts; The period in which the money will be available eg 1 July 2002 - 30 June 2003.

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Billing and payment

The GCU recommends a payment schedule which promotes a working relationship of mutual respect where the financial load is balanced between the consultant and the client:

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You should include the following sentence in your brief: Quotes are to be provided to the client for each task for approval by the departmental project officer before commencement of work. Accounts must be submitted by the public relations company to the department within 30 days of completion of each task. Payment will be made within 30 days following the receipt of a correctly rendered invoice. Companies should submit invoices for the pitch fees (if applicable) and the amount of the airfares at the conclusion of the selection process to: (insert contact name and details).

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Timeline

Provide an outline of the timing and sequence of events including presentation of proposals and selection of consultants. Be realistic with the timeline as unreasonable expectations can compromise the quality of the proposals you receive or cause some high quality consultants not to submit a proposal at all. Allow consultants at least two weeks, after the Q&A session, to produce written proposals. If applicable, you should also allow at least four weeks for MCGC processes. The following timeline is a guide only and will be affected by such factors as the involvement of your Minister's office and the timing of MCGC meetings. Order 1. 2. 3. Action Approved brief sent to consultants Q&A sessions held with all consultants Written proposals due All consultants present their proposals to evaluation panel. Panel shortlists - usually two -for presentation to MCGC Your Minister approves panel recommendation of short list, including evaluation report Short listed consultants present to next available MCGC meeting - MCGC selects consultant All consultants informed of outcome Contract signed Consultant starts work Unsuccessful consultants debriefed Time required Day after MCGC approval Two to four days later 14 days later (minimum recommended)

4.

Three to five days later

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Allow 10 days

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One to three weeks later One to two days after MCGC selection Before any work started After contract signed Within two weeks of MCGC decision

7. 8. 9. 10.

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11. 12. 13.

Periodic evaluation and reporting Project finishes Project evaluation

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In-house resources

List all facilities and/or staff (if any) which could be used by the consultant. Accuracy is important because consultants will develop their proposals on the basis of these resources being available. You can be contractually obligated to make these resources available during the period of the consultancy. Resources might include: · · · · · · · · · · access to contact databases of clients or interest groups; use of departmental computer systems, e-mail or Internet access accounts; existing supplier arrangements such as mailing house contracts; access to office space or conference venues; existing communication materials to include in kits; access to meetings with key interest groups; access to press clippings; existing research reports; departmental management information systems which collect relevant information; or access to academics or other experts in the field who are known to the department.

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Pitching fee

Departments are not obliged to pay pitching fees to public relations consultancies, and it usually does not occur. However, if it is a particularly complex brief, the pitching fee might be deemed appropriate as a sign of good will and to subsidise the cost of pitching. The decision whether or not to pay pitching fees is one to be taken by the department. An example of the wording used in this section of the brief, if applicable, is: A pitching fee of $ (insert amount) will be paid to public relations consultancies participating in the selection process for this contract. An invoice should be submitted at the conclusion of the selection process.

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Conflict of interest

Ask consultants to declare any conflict/s of interest. Some consultants might have clients whose interests are not compatible with your campaign. For example, an account for a

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tobacco company would be considered a conflict of interest on a campaign designed to encourage people to quit smoking. Where the conflict of interest can be perceived as having a significant influence on the quality and objectivity of the consultant's work, or where there is a risk that another client could have a potential for financial advantage from the receipt of restricted information, the consultant's proposal should not be considered. An ethical consultant will disclose details of conflicts of interest either perceived or actual. In some cases, a perceived conflict of interest might be so trivial that it will not affect the assessment of proposals however, it is beneficial to have the information. In any case, the GCU recommends that departments include the following paragraph in their brief: The consultant will be engaged using a standard Australian Government contract that requires the consultant to declare any risk of conflict of interest. Where the department establishes, from information provided by the consultant or other information available to it, that a conflict of interest exists, such a conflict might be grounds for exclusion of the consultant from consideration for this consultancy after an opportunity is given to discuss the matter with the consultant. In the event the department establishes a conflict of interest exists after the engagement of the consultancy, the contract between the department and the consultancy might be terminated by letter in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract. If you can be more specific about what constitutes a conflict for a particular project, you should do so.

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Security, confidentiality and copyright

Copyright Intellectual property remains vested with the originator unless otherwise agreed. To secure ownership of copyright or intellectual property, ensure your contract with the successful consultant gives your department sole ownership of any material produced during the course of the contract. Note: It is unethical to take an idea from one consultant and incorporate it into the successful consultant's proposal without the permission of the originator. In this instance, the purchase of the idea should be negotiated with the unsuccessful consultant. Statement on security, confidentiality and copyright The GCU suggests inclusion of the following statement on security, confidentiality and copyright: The information in this brief is confidential. The consultant and other persons working on this project will be bound by Public Service regulations with respect to confidentiality. All information gathered in relation to the project is the property of the Australian Government. No consultant involved in the tender process is at liberty to disclose any of this information to any other party. If confidential information is leaked during the tender process this may be grounds for exclusion of the consultant from consideration for this consultancy. The successful consultant is also not at liberty to disclose any of this information to any other

Government Communications Unit, www.gcu.gov.au

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party and if information is leaked after the successful consultant is appointed this may be grounds for termination of the contract.

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Professional indemnity insurance

It is now the usual practice for government departments to require consultants to have professional indemnity insurance. You should check with your legal area on this so that you can specify both the necessity and the value of this insurance. If professional indemnity insurance is a requirement, the GCU advises the inclusion of the following sentence in your brief: One of the contract conditions for this project is a requirement that all consultants submitting for this project must have professional indemnity insurance to the value of $x.

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Performance guarantee

If your communication project has a large budget and is being conducted over an extended period of time, it might be in your interest to seek a financial guarantee of some kind. It is advisable to contact your legal area about this, as it will be your department who carries out the financial check. Where financial guarantees are to be sought you should include this information in your brief. For example: The company chosen for this consultancy might be subject to a financial viability check and Directors might be personally required to enter into a performance guarantee. Performance guarantees are used for risk management by the Australian Government essentially as a safeguard in securing the performance of contractors. There are three main types of performance guarantees - corporate guarantees, directors' guarantees and bank guarantees. The department will indicate which type of performance guarantee is required. If it is not the intention of your department to carry out such a check, this section should not be included in the document.

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Project termination and/or variation of project

To protect yourself in case the project does not go ahead after the brief has been sent to consultants, the GCU strongly recommends that you include the following paragraph. The Australian Government may, in its sole discretion, at any time, vary or deviate from the processes outlined in this brief, or terminate the briefing process or any negotiations being conducted at that time with any person. The Australian Government reserves the right in its sole discretion to suspend, terminate or abandon this project any time prior to the execution of a formal contract by the Australian Government. The Australian Government reserves the right to refuse to consider and/or accept the lowest or any proposal without reference back to any consultant provided that the Australian Government shall give written notice of such decision to each of the consultants.

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Contacts

Provide the name, postal address, email address, telephone and fax numbers of:

Government Communications Unit, www.gcu.gov.au

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· · ·

the departmental project manager, usually in the department's communication area; people who are able to help the consultant with queries on the brief; and a departmental program area officer, with background policy/project knowledge, who can attend the Q&A sessions and the presentations.

It is not appropriate to include the name of a GCU officer, even when they are on the evaluation panel as queries should relate to the subject matter of the campaign.

Government Communications Unit, www.gcu.gov.au

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Section Three: Need more help?

For further enquires on writing a brief or on the MCGC approval process, contact:

Director, Communications and Research Government Communications Unit 3-5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 Tel: (02) 6271 5805 Fax: (02) 6271 5850.

Or visit the GCU website at www.gcu.gov.au. For further reference to market research, refer to the GCU guide: How to use Research and Evaluation in Government Communication Campaigns. Copies are available on CD Rom and obtained by contacting the GCU, or may be accessed on the GCU website.

Government Communications Unit, www.gcu.gov.au

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