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The importance of getting the right brief

Posted by Darren Willsher on 15th April 2013

It must have happened to everyone working in PR and marketing. You get a brief, exceed the targets and proudly present the results expecting the feedback to be wonderful. Only to then find yourself answering to someone further up the chain as to why you’ve not delivered on something you were never asked about in the first place.

Now imagine the ‘person further up the chain’ happens to be George Osborne and you’re starting to get an idea of what’s unfolding in the UK telecoms space at the moment.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the UK is a bit short of funds at the moment. With this in mind the Government got very excited at the end of last year and promised that the 4G spectrum auction would be adding a tidy £3.5 billion to the bank.

So it was perhaps a surprise when the auction raised ‘just’ £2.3 billion and particularly when people remembered that the 3G auction raised £22 billion.

Now that the fuss has died down and the networks are getting rolled out, The National Audit Office is to investigate the low amount raised by the auction of the 4G airwaves:

It’s a process that hasn’t been particularly well handled from the off.

Sound like it was worth an extra £1B?

For starters having the Chancellor forecast an amount will always create problems, even if the auction raised exactly £3.5B, people would be complaining that his target wasn’t ambitious enough. Then it emerged that the auction was never designed to raise as much as possible, instead (and quite rightly) it was focused on encouraging competition and achieving broad coverage. Something the average mobile user would surely prefer.

As a spokesperson told V3 today, “The auction was designed to promote competition and ensure coverage, rather than to raise money. These benefits will deliver significantly more value in the long term to the UK than simply the revenue raised in the auction.”

Oh, and the reserve price set by Ofcom was actually just over £1 billion. Just to add to the confusion.

So who’s the likely winner out of all of this? It won’t be the mobile subscribers and it certainly won’t be the Government or Ofcom. In fact it’s hard to see anyone coming out of this well. The lesson in all of this for the rest of us? Always clarify the brief, even if that’s with the man at No 11 Downing Street.


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Darren Willsher

Darren has been with Wildfire for six years and is one of the driving forces behind the agency’s telecoms and networking portfolio, with experience working on a range of international, multi-channel accounts including CSR, Picochip (now Mindspeed), Real Wireless, The Small Cell Forum, Samsung and Allied Telesis.