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A content writer’s brief on How to Write a Brief

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This content creator’s grief about the brief is an explainer for project managers on why Getting the Brief Right is All-Important. Project managers, please note!

1. We can’t read minds.

Not the project manager’s, not the clients’. So, if we want to avoid guessing games and iterations, please, please jot down what the client tells you about the scope of the project.

2. Clients do not always articulate verbally what they want or mean.

Please put your jottings down into a concise email and confirm with the client that this is exactly what they had in mind before you pass it on to us.

3. Please support us – the poor devils who write for you – by pushing back against unrealistic deadlines.

Let’s avoid the power play when the urgency is unwarranted. In genuine cases of emergency, we will absolutely do our best. But in most cases, all you’re doing is making us lie down with a ‘Please step on me and wipe your feet carefully’ imprinted on our foreheads.

4. We would like clear, concise directions as to what we are expected to do with the copy.

Our brains are shot. We live on caffeine and adrenaline. We have forgotten how to think if we ever knew it. Take pity on us. Tell us upfront whether it is US English or UK English. When you mean ‘Proof the copy and don’t you dare change one word of it’, say so. When you want us to take a hatchet to the ‘copy’ and rewrite it, tell us. Above all, ensure that when you get content from the client, it actually matches what the client wants us to do with it.

5. We can’t spin copy from thin air.

We are good. Just not that good! We need content if we are to write something halfway decent. Giving us half a page of rubbish and expecting a decent 1,000-word article is just – well, mushkil hii nahiin, namummkin hai. So, please follow up with the client – and insist upon decent raw material.

6. We may be far from you.

Many of us writers work remotely and may live in different time zones. Please don’t send article briefs wanting them ‘EoD’. We will automatically assume it is our EoD, not yours. Please don’t send us ambiguous briefs which may make perfect sense to you because you know what you’re talking about. Don’t assume we do. (See point 1.) Please dot your I(s) and cross your Ts.

Or we will be pinging you when you are in the arms of Morpheus to ask pesky questions. And you won’t be getting your copy any time soon.

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