Tuesday, 30 June 2015

11 essential items to include in a content brief

When creating content it is often necessary to employing the skills of a third party writer, for example, to access specific technical expertise or gain specialist insight that you don't possess in-house.

Providing a detailed and accurate writers brief is essential in ensuring the content returned is as close to the desired end result as possible.

11 essential items to include in a content brief [Share on Twitter]

1. Audience profile
Provide details about the intended audience. Give information about their demographic make-up; likes and dislikes; level of existing knowledge regarding the subject areas to be covered, and so on. 

Understanding the profile of the target audience will give the writer the best possible insight into the appropriate use of historical and cultural references to use to illustrate their content. It will also affect the tone of voice selected for the piece.

2. Key messages to be delivered
Consumers of digital content are time poor. If your audience reads one paragraph of your content, which key message needs to be delivered above all others? [click to Tweet]

Providing such guidance to writers will help to ensure accurate placement of content (above the scroll; in H1, H2 headers; meta descriptions, and so on).

3. Narrative
It is likely that the content being created forms part of a wider narrative and is one of many touch points that the reader will have with your brand.

Clearly explain to the writer which materials the target audience is likely to have accessed before, and content that will follow.

4. Tone of voice
If your brand guidelines don't already contain guidance, consider providing the author with a tone of voice document which details where the content should be positioned along a number of continuum’s: 

  • serious/fun
  • authoritative/insightful
  • contemporary/modern
  • formal/relaxed, and so on.

5. Takeaway messages
Be explicit about what the takeaway messages of the content should be. Describe how the reader should feel after accessing the content, and the key points they should be able to recall. [click to Tweet]

6. Word count / article length
It sounds obvious, but be clear on the required content length. Too many words may lead to heavy editing which affects the narrative. Too few words and the content may fall short of achieving its objectives.

If you are asking writers to provide titles, meta descriptions, email subject lines, and so on, remember to be prescriptive with character limits, to help ensure your digital content is fully optimised for the platform used. 

7. Content format 
Be clear about the format the content being produced will take (blog post, slideshare, infographic, email, eGuide and so on). This will have a significant impact on the writing style used. Where possible, provide examples of existing content in the same format.

8. Keywords
Provide the writer with details of the keywords and phrases that the content needs to include. State where these keywords should to be place within the copy, and the density of use. 

9. Trusted sources of background information
Provide links to any sources of information you have that will help them understand the subject area in greater detail.

This should not be a replacement for the desk research that they conduct themselves, but simply provides examples of trusted sources of credible information.

10. Deadline!
Provide clarity on the deadline for content to be completed. Where necessary, indicate the number of amends cycles that are likely to be required. This will help writers to plan their time effectively in order to deliver on time.

11. Publication date and place
Many copywriters like to provide links to the content they have helped to create on their own websites and blogs. It's a great opportunity to get an all important back link or two!

What are your must include items?

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