When a digital project is about to start, it’s tempting to jump straight in and get content creation underway. But beginning without a comprehensive briefing process in place will almost inevitably lead to problems down the line, and can even produce misunderstandings that derail projects, both large and small.
Conversely, having a briefing process in place from the outset is an essential part of a content-led strategy. It requires input at the beginning, but will save a lot of effort and aggravation in the long run by giving everyone – those commissioning, authors and other content creators – the same understanding of what is required.
Here are some of the essentials of effective briefing.
Put it in context
Initial face-to-face or verbal briefings need to give content creators an understanding of where their work will sit in terms of the wider project and give them the chance to ask initial questions. The idea is to give context without over-informing or over-complicating.
Establish how content will be delivered
Getting the basics in place is vital. Establish formats for content delivery – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Docs – and any possible issues with this can be addressed at the outset.
Get it in writing
Written briefs are beneficial for those creating them as well as for content creators, as they give those commissioning the chance to really consider what they want from a piece of content.
Written briefs for individual pieces of content should be provided using a briefing form containing all the essentials that authors need to take into account. These can include:
- Audiences for the content
- Key messages/themes
- Stakeholders responsible for sign-off
- What you want audiences to feel, think and do as a result of reading this content
- Calls to action
Shortened versions of the briefing form can be created for less complex content. Content can also be checked against the written brief during the QA process.
Supply the right material
Gather the source material you want content creators to work from, as well as any material to be used in conjunction with the individual briefs, like tone of voice, brand and style guidelines, and useful background to the project. However, to avoid confusion, make sure everything you supply is relevant to the work the content creators will be doing.
Set aside time for questions
Once written briefs and other material have been supplied, give time for everyone to digest it and ask questions. Being open to questions throughout the process will help to avoid misunderstandings.
Plan in time for sample content to be created and assessed. This will give everyone the opportunity to test the strength of the briefs, as well as the sign-off process, and iron out any problems before content production begins in earnest.