10 Things to Include in Your Project Brief
Your project brief is in place, your writer just picked up the order. You’re all set, right?
Not so fast.
A message pops up in your inbox. It’s from your writer! You open it and your heart drops just a little as you read the laundry list of information that seems to be missing – important information that your writer needs so they can give you exactly what you want.
How did this happen?
If you are using the cut and paste method of filling in your template, you could be missing information, or it may not be clear. Perhaps it is an oversight. You are so close to the process you just forget the more detailed parts.
Whatever the case, leaving out important information can delay your order or, worse, you could end up with a product that is miles away from what you want. Revisions are time consuming so it is in everyone’s best interest to try very hard to get it right the first time.
These are some of the most requested pieces on information that are commonly left off of creative briefs. How many do you routinely forget?
(and if you never forget any, well, you get two gold stars and a cookie!)
What is your company name?
Pretty basic, right? Well, it is often left off. Granted, some business owners would rather not give the company name – and that’s OK. Just do your writer a favor and give them a placeholder if there is a call to action (CTA) or if the company will be mentioned in the copy. XYZ works just fine in lieu of an actual name but read on because your writer needs more info on your business as well.
What is your company’s website?
Now, if you aren’t going to give your writer the company name, it stands to reason that you won’t give them the website either. However, giving your writer the ability to view your company’s website gives them great information on tone, style, and company details. Many writers like to weave in little details about a company, product, or service even if they don’t mention the company name. It makes the piece more authentic and unique to the client.
Writers are used to working with proprietary information. They understand confidentiality. If you are still nervous, just make it clear that you want the information kept private, or have your writer sign an NDA. Just don’t let your nerves keep you from giving your writer the information they need to give you a product you will love.
What is your product or service?
A blurb about your product or service is a great help. Sometimes that information cannot be located on the website. If your product or service are not clearly explained on your site, then take a moment to give your writer a little more information. If you have a brochure in digital format, you can attach it to your order. It’s your writer’s job to give you what you want. It’s your job to give them all the information they need about your company so they can do that.
What is your blog URL?
If you have a blog it is a good idea to include the URL to it. This allows your writer to review old posts and get a feel for your preferred style and tone. Writer who are SEO savvy will link a couple of posts from your blog in the content they are writing for you. It also allows them to build on information or support information that has already been mentioned in earlier posts.
Do you want a CTA?
Do you want your content to end with a call to action? Many writers will ask if this request is not mentioned in the project brief, but some do not. So, if you want a CTA but you didn’t stipulate that in your brief and your writer did not ask so it wasn’t included, then you have a revision coming.
Where should your CTA point?
If you want a CTA, it will really help your writer if you would tell them what the CTA should do and where it should point. Do you want the reader to schedule a call? Visit your website? View a product? Download information? There are so many possibilities; it is impossible to slap on a generic CTA (not if you want polished, professional content anyway). Also, if you don’t want a CTA, it would be nice if you mention that in the brief as well. That way your writer doesn’t have to potentially delay your order by asking.
Who is your target audience?
Who are you trying to reach? Is your audience comprised of moms? Millennials? Older men? Business owners? When you consider that there are 4.1 billion people who use the internet (as of December 2018), well that leaves a lot of room for a lot of different audiences. Just give your writer a brief rundown of who you are trying to reach. Sometimes your focus shifts so you also want to check your creative brief template to make sure not only that your audience information is still relevant, but that all your info is still accurate.
What is your content objective?
What do you want your content to do? Is its primary purpose to drive traffic? Educate prospective customers? Introduce a new product or service? Convert visitors to customers? All content has a purpose. Most content is intended to increase visibility but there may be a secondary purpose as well. If you aren’t sure, you might want to chat with your writer to see what they suggest. Sometimes it helps to have someone who is a little removed from your company to see the possibilities.
What angle do you want to take?
If you provide keywords, make sure you also provide some context. For instance, if you want an article on quitting smoking, do you want to talk about using medication or natural treatments? Do you want to include reasons for quitting such as expense and health? Are there any topics that are off limits? Are there any that you definitely want to include? If you aren’t sure what direction you want to take, ask your writer to give you a brief outline before they start writing. That way you can work out your content just the way you want it.
Is there any special information that should be included?
If there is any special information that you want to be included in your content, the creative brief is the place to let your writer know. If you get your content back and realize that some information is missing – yet you didn’t include it in your original instructions – you can’t add it after the fact (per Writer Access policy). You will typically have to submit a new order. So, your best bet is to include it all from the start and make sure your creative brief is as thorough as possible.
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Stephanie M.’s works with businesses to create web content that leaps off the page (or screen) to inform, educate, and engage, leading to social sharing, conversion, and return visits. She does it all: blog posts, articles, social media management, website content, press releases – you get the idea. Her work as an analyst/disaster response specialist with FEMA in Washington, D.C. gave her a unique insight into disaster prep, response, and recovery. She helped individuals and businesses recovering from major disasters (including hurricanes Katrina and Sandy), as well as provided educational material for disaster prep.