Here at Wardour, we’re in no doubt that great briefs help create great work. But we also know it can be difficult to decide what to include. To help, we’ve put together our top tips on what it should contain and why:
Think ahead and plan thoroughly
Whether you’re creating an article, a video or a piece of social media, a good place to start is by asking some key questions:
• What is the purpose of the piece? Whether it’s to bring in new leads, show thought leadership or provide your customers with a service, the purpose of the piece will affect the tone and style.
• Who is it for? Again, the target audience will affect the tone and style of the piece, but will also the affect level of detail needed.
• What platform will it be delivered on? This will determine the length of the piece and what extra information might need to be included. For example an online piece might need links to additional material, while print might require a boxout or timeline.
• What questions should be answered? This is where you’ll really hone in on what you’d like the piece to address. What would you like your audience to find out by the time they’ve finished looking at the content?
• Who should feature in the piece? Sometimes this may include specific people, other briefs will simply indicate what type of contributors are appropriate. For example, an article aimed at executives will probably need comments from executives. One aimed at novices to a subject might only require comment from people working in the area addressed. You should also use this question to clarify any areas you’d like to avoid in the final piece.
• What data is required? For some pieces, data won’t be necessary. For others it is absolutely vital. Either way, your brief should indicate this in advance.
Choose your measures of success
You should also be in agreement from the beginning what the measures of success are. For some clients it might be that a certain number of clicks through to an article is most important. For others it may be to build sales leads. Some may use it as a platform to give a voice to their own clients. Likely it will be a combination of several things and if this is the case, you should be clear about which areas should be prioritised.
Whatever measures you choose, clarity on what they are from the start for all stakeholders is important. Like the questions listed above, they can affect research, writing style and scheduling. Furthermore, clear measures will allow you to monitor what return on investment you have seen from the content.
Build in flexibility
Sometimes the questions we’d like to answer in a brief turn out to be more difficult to address than expected.
A classic example would be Brexit. As such a big news story, it was only natural that almost all our clients wanted to cover it. However, in the days and weeks following the referendum, many commentators were unable or unwilling to answer questions with any degree of certainty. This meant it was necessary to consider different approaches to articles. ‘What does Brexit mean for your business?’ often became ‘What questions on Brexit does your industry need answered?’.
This allowed us to explore what was important in many industries, without the need for contributors to paint themselves into a corner during an uncertain time.
While we’ll always endeavour to meet every point of a brief, it’s often beneficial to be pragmatic – especially when covering subject matter that’s sensitive or in the early stages. Discussing a ‘plan b’ ensures that the content will still be stimulating and interesting, even if certain questions can’t be answered.
While it’s likely that a brief will change to some extent during the creative process, following these steps will give you a solid foundation to start on. If you’d like to see examples of what briefs have worked well in the past, and the work that followed them, get in touch by giving us a call or dropping us a line on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published Mar 28, 2018