How much information is enough for your writer?

Do you know how much information to give your writer?  You will have seen our guide on how to give good brief so you’ll already know that more info is better. But what kind of info and how much is too much?

The short answer is that you cannot over-brief your copywriter.

Last week a colleague send me a draft of his copywriting brief for a group of writers charged with overhauling a very complex website. The group of writers were a mix of internal and external; subject matter and copywriting specialists. He nailed it. And here’s how.

  • He ensured that the goals were clear and they were S.M.A.R.T. goals.
  • He gave the writers a living example of what he wanted.
  • He set clear accountability for content with a sign-off process that ensured the content couldn’t go live without approval.

If you’re lucky your copywriter will already be familiar with your industry – especially for technical and tightly regulated industries. But possibly more important is that your copywriter understands marketing – how to get your customers to do what you want. If you have to sacrifice one skill set, get the marketing expert. Technical details and compliance can be reviewed internally, but you need your marketing messages to work.

Give SMART goals.

The SMART goals related to things including word count and reading index levels, along with a brief about the tone and feel of the copy.  A good copywriter will ask you for information along these lines, or liaise with your printer, graphic designer or web designer to make sure they know what’s required.

Give examples.

As my colleague happens to be an excellent copywriter himself (and more) he was able to provide the writers with a before and after example of the kind of writing he wanted. But even if you’re not a writer, you can take a good example of what you want and give it to your writer.  That includes other people’s marketing and websites; just be sure to explain to your copywriter why you like it (so they don’t run off on a tangent).

Give a clear sign-off process.

The clear sign-off process gives the writer the parameters in which to work. It also provides a means to set the time frame and accountability for the content.  This in part relates back to industry expertise but essentially it’s just good practice.

Trust your writer.

Be guided by your writer. My colleague asked me if his brief was too prescriptive. It wasn’t. But I wouldn’t have hesitated to point it out if it was. Your copywriter wants to the best job possible for you. You’d be mad not to trust them with enough information to do it.

Tell us what you want to know about working with creatives and we’ll do our best to answer.

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