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Better briefing for better communication

I was handed a difficult document the other day, a long marketing plan heading well into double digit pages. The section on communication was difficult to read, mainly because it lacked direct prompts for development of material.

The point of communication is to achieve a result. If no result is needed, then no communication is needed. Without the prompt to achieve the result, the brief to the agency meanders, the agency has to clutch at straws, interpret the needs, wonder if it is doing the right thing, and justify itself with creativity, rather than goal directed messaging at the right time, that produces the result that makes everyone from the customer to the accountant happy.
If the communication brief is written well, there should be a direct and visible result in terms of what is needed, whether it is a direct selling message, a retention exercise, a behavioural change message or an opportunity to link a brand to soft aspect, such as involvement in a cause or issue.
Here is an example of a bad brief: “Make us an ad for St. Valentines Day.”
Your baseline expectation on this is hearts, cherubs and some form of script font, with the words, ‘romance’ and ‘Valentines’. The call to action might be something like, “Celebrate the romance of Valentine’s Day with us.”
Here’s a translation of that brief into something useful to the advertiser and the agency. “We want middle aged couples to associate us with enjoyment of being together. We are a restaurant that caters to middle aged couples, who want a quiet place to spend time together over a gourmet meal. We want to introduce ourselves to couples with a special offer on Valentine’s Day with a range of platters for two.”
Analysis of those three sentences shows how the communication will produce a different, far more effective approach.
“We want middle aged couples to associate us with enjoyment of being together.”
This is a competitive statement that plays to the marginalisation of the segment. There is an understanding of who the venue wants to attract. The advertising should show a romantic middle aged couple. If you need young couples, say so and expects a reflection of youth culture instead. It should clearly maximise the potential of the event by attracting a specific target, not watering down by going for the ‘man on the street’. Middle aged couples are unlikely to want the excitement of a night club or a party. Middle aged couples are more likely to spend. Couples at tables are better business than singles at tables.
“We are a restaurant that caters to middle aged couples, who want a quiet place to spend time together over a gourmet meal.”
This reaffirms the statement on the segment however it also says more about the appeal of the venue which in this case is a quiet place where the couples can focus on one another over a good meal. It will tell the agency to focus on emotional intimacy and good food, rather than excitement and a crowd. “We want to introduce ourselves to couples with a special offer on Valentine’s Day with a range of platters for two.”
That establishes the call to action for the segment, and the expected result of the advertisement. It is clear and simple enough for everyone to understand.
Think of this briefing approach as a catechism in obtaining results.
Who are we speaking to?
What are we saying?
What do we expect them to do?
The more specific, the better the result will be. And please also bear in mind that the ‘man on the street’ is likely to drink cheap alcohol, possibly meths, so reserve that description solely for substance abuse initiatives.
There is one more benefit to this approach. If the brief is clear, the agency will spend far less time on getting the communication right. There won’t be much in the way of back-and-forth, and mounting hours. The time spent by the communicator is costly, and the agency billing hours will mount.
Spend a bit of time on your briefs for far better results.

About The Author

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.