Briefing writers

Posted February 2, 2021 in
Content Managers Content Managers
Hi all,

Does anyone have any handy tips for briefing/feeding back to outsourced writers?

I'm pretty new to using outside help for written content creation...I've done it a couple of times recently with two different writers with varying results. I have tendancy to over-edit too, which I know isn't great and perhaps more a reflection on my briefing skills!

Any advice is greatly appreciated. 

I remember seeing a video clip Liz Moorehead did recently that showed her briefing a writer...been trying to relocate it as I think that would help.

Thank you.
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Connor DeLaney
Hey  Annee Sian ! Over the last year and a half or so, I've worked with clients and their outsourced writers and think I've built a pretty good system for communicating with them. I think you nailed the approach when it comes to over-editing, it may mean the direction was not clear enough for the writer. This isn't a knock on you, it's instead an opportunity to clarify expectations. 

Here is how I go about that communication:

Pre-Delivery Communication: 
Every article they'll be writing for the client must include the following information:
  1. Title
  2. Area of Expertise (ex: residential construction vs. commercial construction)
  3. Description or main touchpoints you'd like to hit (Typically 3-4 sentences/bullets with headers and sub-points
  4. Author (if ghost-written)
  5. Desired Call To Action
  6. Target Keywords
  7. Resources or documents you'd like them to use or reference

I host this communication on a Trello board but it can also be done in an email or similar platform. I've found over time that this makes it much more clear what the guardrails and specific requests are, which has delivered higher quality work. 

Another note is if you have a specific style or method of writing you'd like them to follow, send a quick video or article examples that you'd like the content to mirror. For example, when we shifted to have They Ask, You Answer be used by a couple of outsourced writers we work with, I sent introduction examples that we wanted to replicate with different topics and it made it much easier for them to generate great content consistently. 

Also,  Liz Moorehead , think you can help dig up that clip Annee is referencing? 
John Becker
Great answer,  Connor DeLaney ! I think the process you mention of sending other examples is hugely important. Something like a style guide can feel abstract, and seeing that style in practice is really helpful for writers. 
Annee Sian
Thank you so much for your detailed response. On reflection, I've also been guilty of rushing the briefing process...your method seems to emphasise the importance of not doing that.

I'll be giving this approach a good go. Happy to report back too.

A final note, it's so nice to have found this group! 

Thank you!

Connor DeLaney
Definitely keep us posted! Can't wait to hear how it goes :) 

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