I read somewhere that the English language is amongst the hardest to fully comprehend.
And the reason for this is because of the complexity.
We have a plethora of choice. We have so many words that have the same meaning and we have words that really shouldn’t apply.
Take this for example, lifted from the Laughing Squid;
“When you speak of a box the plural is boxes, yet the plural of ox should be oxen not oxes. One is a goose and two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese. And I speak of a foot and you show me your feet but I think of a boot, should the pair become beet? And we talk of a brother and also a brethren, but when we say mother, we never say methren.”
And when it comes to copywriting, perhaps the most ironic term is reserved for something that is the most important part of your work.
Because a brief received from a client should be anything but.
A brief is the information given so you can comprehensively fulfil the demands of your client. Whatever they want should be in the brief. How they want it said. Keypoints. Links, references,
It should include everything you need. And if it doesn’t, then you have to push back and ask more questions.
Because trying to write something armed with a lightweight brief is like trying to play snooker with a sausage. The result will be tragic.
One of the best pieces of advice when I first started writing is to create a briefing sheet of your own. On it should be the questions you need answered before you begin to tap merrily on your keyboard.
Think about what content you are writing. That will lead you to the right questions. What about the most important question of all – the one that you should ask before any others?
Who is this piece of content speaking to?
Without this, you’re writing blindly and setting yourself – and your client – up for a massive waste of resource and time.
It means you have to push back on your clients from time to time, which leads to some tetchy moments, but it is for the right reasons. People often think that a couple of lines is enough to write key messaging. So when you come back asking more questions, they perceive this to be a failing on your part. But pay it no heed. They won’t be complaining when you come back with gold in word form.
So ask questions and get the info you need.
A brief needs to be anything but brief.