Key takeaways in this post:

  • Learn the difference between a content brief and a creative brief
  • How content briefs facilitate alignment among internal and external team members
  • Discover five key elements of a content brief, including how to write a project overview and outline expected deliverables

Our recent Content Planning Survey results uncovered that 85% of respondents outsource at least some of their content. And 40% outsourced all or almost all. Partnering with outside writers is a great strategy, as it helps you scale content creation and still get the high-quality assets you need. So, the question quickly becomes: “How do you set those outside writers up for success?” Enter the content brief.One of the most essential parts of project management is the content brief. The content brief establishes the foundation for the writing project. It gives specific direction to your writer by detailing the asset needed, defining the audience and determining tone, style and voice. An effective content brief is clear and concise – it gives your internal or external writing team everything they need to know to complete the task independently and on time.

You may ask yourself, “How do I write a content brief?” Your content brief template should be unique to your organization but applicable to every project type. If you have to create a new content brief every time you have a writing assignment, you create delays in the process flow. Instead, develop a content brief template with all the necessary information to keep your content team moving.

A content brief gives writers specific instructions and guidelines to follow. A creative brief, on the other hand, outlines the creative strategy for all types of marketing projects. It includes overall direction for the look, feel and tone of the end product which designers will follow. While the documents can include much of the same material, content briefs go into greater detail about substance requirements, such as outlines for the copy and suggested headlines. (See #4 for more details!)

You can use content briefs for any type of asset. Blog posts, articles, web pages, video scripts and white papers most commonly benefit from them. The most significant benefit of a content brief is that it documents the expectations for the asset. It maintains accountability, ensures alignment, increases approval speed and results in a higher-quality final deliverable.

To set your entire team and project up for success, here are five key elements of a content brief.

Be brief (pun intended) with the project overview. Share the goal and how the final deliverable will be used (as part of a campaign, on your popular blog, etc.) Share timelines for delivery, editing and publishing. You also want to include links to any background documentation, such as your brand and style guide and tone and voice guidelines.

Outline which questions you want the content to answer for the reader. These questions help your writer understand the problem your content needs to solve. Keep this part of your content brief as direct as possible. The more granular you can get in your purpose statement, the more on-target the created content will be. A great way to ask this is, “What is our audience doing now, and what do we want them to do instead?” Share your brand’s point of view on the topic at hand and how this asset could help your target audience answer their questions differently than other content already in existence.

The audience is critical in content creation. It sets the tone, style and voice for the asset a writer produces. A writer must know whom they are addressing so they can make their words impactful. If you have personas, be sure to include the target persona for the project. If you don’t have documented personas, outline your target audience in the content brief by age, geographic location, life stages or other demographics. A well-defined audience may look like this:

  • Established fundraising donors for a competitor hospital
  • Gen Xers making healthcare decisions for their parents
  • New mothers in a rural community looking to establish primary care

Share any approved templates you want the writer to use with relevant information, such as how the writer will match search intent, and word or character counts. Common items to cover include:

  • Suggested title and headlines
  • Meta description
  • Recommended word count for the type of asset
  • Primary keywords and/or long-tail keywords
  • Suggested outline
  • Linking requirements and recommendations for internal or external links
  • Recommended call to action

Detail exactly where this content will live, whether print or digital, and any additional requests, such as social posts to drive traffic to the asset. It can also be helpful to link to any live examples of the type of content you’re looking for so the writer has a visual guide. For instance, if they are writing a blog post, add a link to a high-performing live blog post that meets your standards.

5. Source material

Your writers will likely do a lot of their own research, but it’s still helpful to outline any source material you want them to consider. You can share links to credible sources online that also cover the topic — but be sure to highlight the different perspective your content is covering. If you want your writers to interview any internal subject matter experts, be sure to note that in the brief as well.

These five elements are critical to successfully handing off a project to your content creation team. A well-defined content brief gives your team everything they need to get to work. They get everyone on the same page: internal teams and teams with external writers.

There is a bonus element, though – one that makes all the difference. Excitement! If you have a remote team, work with an agency, or have a writer on staff who thrives on focused alone time, your enthusiasm and excitement for the project should transfer into the content brief. Your entire team, no matter where they are in the project flow, should carry the same passion for making your content great.

Developing a project content brief ensures high-value final deliverables, especially when partnering with outside writers and agencies. It will help prevent rewrites and reduce the need for revisions. As they say — happy writer, happy project.

Okay, they don’t say that – but at WG Content, we do. Give your writing team everything they need by starting with a detailed content brief. Is your organization looking for that perfect content team? Contact us today at WG Content. We have skilled project managers and writers who can bring your content brief to life and ensure every project is on time, on budget and on brand.

A comprehensive content brief should include essential details such as the project’s objectives, target audience, key messaging, tone of voice, preferred keywords, style guidelines, deadlines, and any relevant background information about the brand or topic. It serves as a roadmap for writers to create content that aligns with the client’s goals and expectations.

A well-written content brief acts as a clear communication tool, ensuring that both clients and writers are on the same page regarding project requirements and expectations. By providing detailed instructions and guidelines upfront, it minimizes misunderstandings and revisions, leading to more efficient collaboration and higher-quality content delivery.

Content briefs should evolve alongside the project to reflect any changes in goals, audience preferences, or strategic direction. Regular updates and refinements ensure that writers remain aligned with the client’s evolving needs, resulting in content that stays relevant and impactful. Additionally, it allows for flexibility and adaptation to new insights or feedback gathered during the content creation process.

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