How to create a good brief

How to create a good brief

Creating a good brief is what enables you to receive good work.

Unfortunately, unless people are as smart as you are, and opt into lists like this one, they learn how to brief creatives by trial and error.

I want you to understand it from the get-go.

1. Understand the reason and purpose of the job.

There’s nothing quite as bad as getting a brief and not understanding why the brief was created.

A great example was a web page I was instructed to (re) write that shouldn’t have existed. The briefing business just wanted the message to fit. What it hadn’t done was ask, “is this necessary?”, or “we want to talk about our history…ohh maybe it’s the About page that needs the work”.

Really think about the reasons why you’re briefing someone to do a thing, and put it into the brief!.

And no, it’s not “so we can publish it”.

2. Context, background information, research, and supporting documentation.

If you’ve got a voice guide, or house style references, include them.

If you’ve got brand guidelines, include them.

If you’ve done six months’ worth of research for this thing, include it.

Give the creative all of the background, all of the context, all the ways this will be used. You’re creating a useful dossier that will enable this person’s best work to occur.

Yes, sometimes it will be enormous! So be it.

3. Provide visibility over everyone involved.

If you’re not the approver, who is?

If this goes to a committee, explain why and who is on it and how they make decisions.

If you have a team of testers for the material, say so.

A great creative will work to your structures and limitations as much as to the creative requirements, so enable them to see where their work is headed. Not doing this results in statements about changes that seem odd, that can’t be explained effectively, that can’t be discussed. This all spells failure with a capital F.

4. Be extremely clear about the audience.

Who is going to read/see/view/hear it?

Why those people?

What is it about them that’s important?

What do you want these people to do when they read/see/hear/view said artefact?

Why do you want them to do that?

How will you measure their actions?

5. Know what success looks like.

This one is pretty simple and straightforward so I’ll tell you a story.

Recently I was pitching on a job for which one part of the brief specified a reduction in contacts to the support team.

I asked for actual existing numbers of support requests, and the business didn’t have any and couldn’t provide them. Therefore, the story behind the brief – improving documentation to reduce support tickets – was meaningless.

Without baseline numbers, proving impact (much less the financial return, I have to say!) is literally impossible.

So before you tell a creative that you want an X, Y, or Z outcome, make sure you can even measure it against the existing situation.

6. Know your timeline.

When must you have it, when is it nice to have it, what’s getting in the way? Who is on holidays? What events might intervene?

7. Be clear about your budget.

It often seems like businesses don’t want to divulge their budgets for fear of being invoiced to the max. But if you do disclose your budget, it helps the creative to understand whether you’re right for them, whether they can help you, whether your expectations are wildly off the mark, whether they can do something better but cheaper… It’s always to your benefit.

Now you know this, go forth and brief well.

Xx Leticia “serving you” Mooney

PS. This is properly part of your content operations. You can embed it as a system. Yell out if you’d like help with this kinda thing.

Leticia Mooney

✍️ Wordsmith

Leticia Mooney

The Brutal Pixie is Leticia Mooney. Race: Eladrin, Class: Publisher. --- Leticia is Australia's foremost authority on publishing in a business context. She ghostwrites for, and advises, entrepreneurial individuals in the professional services.

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