Writing Good Communications Briefs

A person sits on the grass writing in a notebook with a pen.

This week I was speaking with a copywriting agency we’re looking to refer clients to and they spoke about a common challenge we see all the time: clients that don’t know what they want.

Specifically, clients often engage a copywriter to write blogs for them to “do some thought leadership” or “get people excited” but it’s not clear what they want to say or why. They aren’t able to provide guidance to the copywriter, and this makes it hard for the project to succeed, because a copywriter isn’t in charge of your marketing strategy. You are.

Sadly, a lot of clients lean on PR agencies or marketing firms do this strategic thinking for them, but without providing them the information they need to make good choices.

One way we help with that is teaching clients how to brief well, and giving them a template to guide their thinking.

A Briefing Template

We use this shorthand template to summarise a communications brief:

Get [audience] who currently [think/feel/do X] to [desired think/feel/do] instead by [communication proposition/point of difference] like this [tone/style]. Success will be measured by [metric of think/feel/do]. The specific call to action is [call to action].

This is enough to clearly explain who you’re trying to talk to, why, what you want to say, and how you’ll tell if you did it successfully.

If you come armed with a good brief, you’ll save a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted trying to figure out what you want, and probably failing a few times. Experienced copywriters (and other creatives) will sigh with relief, because they know that a client that knows how to brief well is much easier to work with. You can be much more confident of success.

You don’t have to wait for a big project to use the template. Taking a moment to step through each one is helpful, even if you’re just writing an email.

Try it out yourself when communicating with someone today.

Let me know what you think of our template. Did it help you?