December 8, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Preparing a killer daily executive news briefing

Preparing a killer daily executive news briefing

Daily executive news briefings have been a long-standing offering offering of public relations professionals, with good reason. When faced with a mountain of news items in the morning, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer quantity of content. Some people need to see, review, and analyze all of the coverage—but most people receiving a daily executive briefing only need to be, well, briefed on what’s out there.

If you are tasked with developing a daily briefing for your organization, follow these steps and you’ll be creating a useful report in no time.

First, plan. Take time to examine what topic areas you need. Keep in mind what the objective of the briefing is, and who the audience will be. Different people in an organization will need different levels of detail, so map out what your focus areas will be. Try and limit these areas—if you have a few topics that get a large volume of mentions, and a bunch that get a small volume, consider collapsing the smaller-volume mentions into a catch-all category. This will keep your briefing document streamlined.

Next, organize your reviewing method. Every daily briefing assignment I’ve ever had to work on was due in the morning. Unless you want every weekday to start in chaos (no thank you), making sure your method of review is organized so that you can glean the best items from your content review quickly is very important.

Consider your delivery format. Will those who receive the executive briefing be sitting at their desks when they review it, or are they team members who are on the go and will be reading this document on their smartphones? Is it going to the employees of a large corporation with strict protocols that must be followed using only brand-consistent colors and fonts or images? Knowing this up front will help you to make design decisions that make the briefing easy to read, and thus a useful product. It may also help you to avoid structural revisions to the format after you launch the briefing—it can be challenging to keep changing the appearance of a briefing once people start using it. On a similar note, once you have a draft idea for layout and format, run it by a couple of your end-users to make sure the layout is user-friendly for them.

Pay attention to streamlining tools. The best monitoring tools are going to offer different ways of reviewing the material that comes into the account. For example, if your company is mentioned in a syndicated news article, wouldn’t it be helpful to group those pieces together? That way, you’ll have an understanding of how many places the mention appeared without having to sift through each separate mention. Are you or your client interested in a particular source? Sorting by source name will allow you to find that item quickly.

Be ruthlessly choosey about what to include. It’s a briefing document, not the Magna Carta. The content will change every day, so include what your audience needs to know. Keeping a briefing document to an easily digestible length is one of the key struggles I’ve witnessed when designing or pulling these together for others. If you do find that there is a lot of information that must be included, make sure that the content is organized in a way that allows the end user to find what they need quickly, such as using things like subheadings.

A well-designed and thoughtfully curated daily briefing document can be an invaluable tool in an organization. Delivering what people need to know in a clear format means they can be informed and ready to meet whatever challenges are ahead in the day.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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