Stop PROMPTING AI – We need to start BRIEFING to get the best results

Stop PROMPTING AI - We need to start BRIEFING to get the best results


In the dynamic world of marketing and communication, a detailed and well-crafted brief can be the difference between an effective and creative agency pitch and a mediocre one. Now we’re living with AI we face a similar issue. The key to unlocking AI’s true potential lies not in prompting, but briefing? Let’s explore the fascinating realm of AI creativity.

Lessons from the Trenches

Early in my career, I encountered a string of lackluster pitches from creative marketing agencies. I remember after one grim morning the Marketing Director, exasperated, raised her hands and declared, “It’s not their fault. We messed up the brief.” Our strategy lacked clarity, our position was fuzzy, and our goals weren’t defined.

That was a wake-up call for me. The brief mattered more than I’d realised.

The AI Conundrum

Fast forward to today, where AI increasingly dominates conversations. Yet, despite the hype, many find AI-generated content uninspiring. It’s like ordering a vanilla latte and receiving lukewarm tap water. Disappointing, right? But when I see disappointing AI output, my mind goes back to those agency pitch meetings. The issue isn’t the AI, it’s the prompt.

The Problem with Prompts

The word “prompt” implies simplicity. It suggests that creating a few lines of instruction is child’s play. But AI isn’t a magic wand, it’s a tool. And like any tool, it needs precise instructions. That’s why we should think of prompts as briefs.

The Power of a Well-Crafted Brief

Imagine briefing an agency for a high-stakes campaign. You wouldn’t scribble a few vague sentences on a napkin and call it a day. No, you’d meticulously outline your vision, goals, and desired impact. The same applies to AI. A good brief is a roadmap to a successful campaign.

Crafting Your AI Brief

  • Details: Be thorough. Specify tone, style, and audience. Describe the emotional arc you want. Remember, AI isn’t a mind reader; it thrives on specifics.
  • Context: Provide context. Explain the backstory, your brand’s essence, and the customer problem you’re solving. Context fuels creativity.
  • Constraints: Set boundaries. Limitations spark ingenuity. Tell AI what not to do, as well as what you want it to consider.
  • CollaborationI: Think of AI as your creative partner. It’s not a mindless automaton, it’s a canvas waiting for your strokes.

The Myth of Instant Magic

If you want top quality output that stands out, your brief needs to be detailed and thorough. Just as if you were briefing an agency. A good brief might take a long time to put together. You’re not going to get it from a “10,000 ChatGPT Prompts R-US”.


So, let’s retire the word “prompt.” Instead, let’s talk about “briefs.” Let’s elevate our expectations and demand brilliance. Because when AI meets a stellar brief, a successful result is more likely than a mediocre one.

Next time you’re tempted to say “prompt,” pause. Take a deep breath. And remember, it’s not about the prompt, it’s about the brief.

Is it time to rediscover the 4Ps of marketing?

❗ The 4Ps of Marketing are dead. ❗

❗ Positioning is academic nonsense. ❗

Is it time to rediscover the 4Ps of marketing? Roger Edwards Marketing

We’ve seen many headlines like this since someone decided to plonk the word, “Digital” in front of the word, “Marketing” and the discipline decided to relegate itself to just being about the tactics of communications and nothing else.

I’ve argued against this in articles, podcasts and on stages – saying that strategy is still important. My words make some people huff and puff and mutter the words, “Out of touch” and, “Gen X – rolls eyes.” under their breath.

But I’ve seen a few more people talking about this recently. Saying the 4Ps of marketing definitely aren’t dead (they never were) and positioning is still important (it always was).

People are even talking about research, segmentation and goals again.

Is this a glimpse of spring? Are businesses waking up to the fact that there’s more to marketing than social media, apps and adverts again?

What do you think?

What does professional REALLY mean? If your equipment is bigger than mine are you more professional than me?

What does “professional” mean?

I mean, what does it really mean?

When I was a little boy, my Dad was the captain of one of the local golf clubs. Every Sunday we used to go there for lunch. Tangy tomato soup. Delicious plates of roast beef and Yorkshire puddings soaked in gravy. Followed by ice cream gâteaux.

After coffee, we often went into the Pro’s shop.

I remember asking my Dad why they called it the Pro’s shop.

“It’s short for professional,” he said.

What does professional mean?
My Dad explained the professional played golf for money. The golf club paid him to play golf, teach people how to play golf, and run the shop for them. His occupation was a professional golfer.

Dad went on to say, even though he was the captain, and he played golf 2 or 3 times a week, he was an amateur golfer. Because he played for fun.

All these years later my Dad’s is the best definition of the word professional. It’s when someone gets for the services they offer and not doing it as a hobby, for fun.

A professional photographer takes photographs and gets paid for taking photographs.

I take photographs. I enjoy taking photographs. But I don’t get paid for taking photographs. I’m an amateur photographer.

Easy isn’t it.

Size of camera

But recently I’ve seen people using the term professional to imply superiority. And in some cases, to have a go at people they feel are inferior to them.

Sticking with the photography example, I was talking to a design agency about producing video.

They reviewed some of the videos I’ve made using my iPhone 12 and my Lumix G85 camera. They said complimentary things about my results. I was happy with their opinion. But they also said, if I wanted them to help me, they could make my videos look much more “professional”.

I asked them what they meant by more “professional”.

The answer was, “We can use a better camera. We can add more sophisticated graphics and we can introduce tighter editing.”

No one’s paid me for making my videos. I’m an amateur videographer not a professional. The agency is offering to film and edit videos for me for money on a professional basis. So the agency does meet my definition of professional.

But that’s not what they meant, is it?

What they really meant is “professional” is using a more expensive camera. Using more expensive software to edit the footage. Using tighter, i.e. better, editing.

But would another, bigger, agency with an even bigger camera and even more sophisticated software offers an even more “professional” service to the first agency?

And is a film studio or the BBC more “professional” than the bigger design agency simply because they have access to bigger, giant, cameras and even more sophisticated editing equipment?

Vlogging a roadshow

A few days later whilst talking to a big financial services corporate who are about to do a series of roadshows, I suggested they got someone to Vlog it. Their reply was they couldn’t afford to hire a cameraman.

I said to get one of the staff to do it on an iPhone. Or go out and buy a good point and shoot.

They said that wouldn’t be very “professional”.

So, their view is it’s not “professional” to do a corporate video on an iPhone or a cheap camera? Or to get one of their staff to Vlog a roadshow.

Do they think iPhones or cheap cameras shoot crap video?

What does professional mean?
Let’s be clear. iPhones and cheap cameras can shoot 4K video. Better even than standard BBC broadcast quality.

So if 4K on an iPhone or cheap camera isn’t “professional”, when does it become “professional”? On a Canon E90E? Or a great big BBC outside broadcast camera?

Passive language and jargon

Another time I was talking to a client about the language they use in their brochures. I found the language very passive, dull and full of management speak and jargon.

We did an edit of the brochures and introduced a much chattier style which I felt was much more engaging for potential customers. I’d researched their ideal client type and recommended words and language the clients had used themselves to answer questions.

However, once the legal and finance people within the company got their hands on the redrafted copy, they wanted to change it back to the dull old style.

I do you get paid for writing copy for people and I do you get paid for creating marketing material. I’m a professional marketer. But it’s clear what this lot felt was more “professional” was the dull language, management speak, passive sentences and jargon.

Even though that language won’t engage their customers.

They’ve defined “professional” by their own corporate standards. And in their case professional means dull language, management speak, passive sentences and jargon. Just as the small agency’s definition of professional is shaped by the quality and size of their video equipment.

What does professional mean?

That’s fine I have no problem with people having standards.

It’s when people and companies start judging others by their standards that problems start. And if they imply someone else is “unprofessional” because they don’t have the same standards. Or the same sized equipment!

Being Professional on LinkedIn

Have you ever seen people who post pictures of beautiful scenery, or their cats on LinkedIn getting pulled up for not being professional? 

Some people say LinkedIn is a “professional” website and there should be no personal stuff. 

Does “professional” mean an environment where we don’t get to see a bit of the real person behind the “professional” person? I quite like getting a bit of a peek into their real lives – it might make me keener to work with them.

All these examples made me wonder what the word “professional” really means.

You are professional

And the answer is it means different things to different people and different companies.

It only becomes a problem when they judge others by their self-imposed standards. And imply that anyone else not living up to those standards is “not professional”.

Whatever your job, if you get paid, you are a professional.

Full stop.

You deliver a professional service at the standards you set for yourself and your customers.

If you want to make a video on your iPhone or camera. Do it. Go ahead and crush it. Don’t let anyone put you off. Okay, an agency might be able to put a more “polished” production together but never let them say it’ll be more professional than yours.

Other people and companies might have more expensive, or bigger, equipment, different standards and different outlooks but they have no right to judge you or imply you are inferior if you don’t meet their own expectations.

If they do. Well, how unprofessional of them.

Now it’s your turn:

I’ve only scratched the surface of this topic. People can be professional and act in an unprofessional way, can’t they? What was bugging me was the “superiority” professional implies. What examples have you come across? Please leave a comment or share on social media.