Briefs are something you should wear not follow

PR expert Pauline Kent on why creatives should elevate brilliant ideas over instructions
Pauline Kent
Pauline Kent

I have an idea. It appears in the bath amongst the bubbles and I want to call my friend Andrew, a scriptwriter who is working on a rom-com. But this idea isn’t a film idea or a business idea, it’s a house-moving idea. I want to tell him to ignore the brief he’s given the estate agent, to tell him that no one ever chooses a house because of the number of bedrooms or size of the garden. I

want to say that briefs are something you wear but shouldn’t follow. 

I am an ‘ideas” person and I have built a business on ideas. I also hate briefs. In fact, I hate briefs almost as much as I hate sprouts. Briefs hold you back. They restrict thinking. They assume the creative process is a straight line when it needs to meander and go down a few blind alleys. Briefs are arrogant and assumptive. They walk into a room and demand to be heard but what they have to say is BORING. 

So, let’s tear up the brief and put “ideas” centre stage. If it’s right, it will work and believe me, I have never lost a new business pitch because of an idea. When you believe in something you communicate with passion and enthusiasm. You’re excited and you want to show-off a little. 

Let me give you an example. We were asked to re-pitch for Sudocrem, the skincare brand, during the pandemic. We were one of five agencies invited to pitch. The brief covered four pages with lots of KPIs including TV coverage. This was a PR brief, so no opportunity to pay for a thirty-second slot after Strictly and other confidential stuff I can’t mention to do with audiences and market share. We pitched on a hot summer’s day with everyone presenting from home but the idea was strong and we knew it. The idea was Cycle More, a campaign to encourage everyone to cycle more and apply My Little Sudocrem to sore bottoms of the cycling kind. The idea stole the show and two months later, the wheels were in motion.

Did it work? Yes, it did! Cycle More won the support of Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey. It appealed to families, generated goodwill and secured lots of coverage including two slots on TV. It also stretched the relevance of the brand and helped to drive sales. Hoorah for ignoring the brief which is, after all, a “set of instructions given to a person about a job or a task” in favour of being inspired - in this case inspired by watching the world go by on bicycles during the pandemic. 

At Satellite PR we take creativity seriously. There are no account handlers, strategists or creatives. We’re all creatives and everyone has their own particular skill - artists, writers, photographers and dreamers. Three of the team are graduates from Norwich University of the Arts and our animator is self-taught. Following a set of instructions is easy in comparison to finding the dots and joining them and creative minds do this more readily. We’re all fine-tuned to finding an idea and making it happen. We don’t have a special room for “brainstorms” or bean bags to “get us in the mood”. Instead, we talk about what we’ve seen and heard. We share stuff and challenge ourselves to be brave and bold. Did you know that it takes 60 half-baked ideas to get a decent one? No neither did I but it kind of makes sense. I know I have lots of ideas every day and only some of these see the light of day. 

I am working on an idea at the moment that makes the connection between asthma and allergy, a book to showcase wonderful dog stories and raise funds for Pets As Therapy and a new venture with a friend who was a top BBC producer called Want My Job which will enable everyone to find out about jobs and what’s required from the people who have them. Think of a podcast library that’s brimming with inspiration and ideas. No one gave us a brief. No one gave us a set of instructions or KPIs but we did dream up an idea we love and that’s worth getting out of bed for. If anyone out there wants to be involved then let me know. You can always build on the best ideas!

Written by
Pauline Kent
Satellite PR
March 10, 2023