Brief people better, so you get the comms you want, first time

17th September 2013

How annoying is this…?

You ask someone to create a communication for you. They send it at the last minute; and it isn’t what you wanted. So you have to re-write bits (which is often harder than doing it from scratch) with a very tight deadline (which is always just horrible).

It’s easy to think (a) they did this to annoy you, and that (b) it’s 100% their fault. But (a) they didn’t, and (b) it isn’t. Instead, it can often be because of the brief you gave them. So brief them better by explaining:

  • the benefits to them of creating the communication for you – to increase their buy-in, and help motivate them to do a great job
  • what you want the communication’s recipient to do as a result of receiving it – to help ensure everyone focuses on the #1 thing – its impact. It also helps keep it shorter
  • what you want the communication to be like – ‘inspiring’, ‘funny’, ‘robust’ etc – to guide on style and tone
  • the benefits to the recipient – to help create something persuasive
  • the recipient’s concerns to ensure your colleague removes them
  • an overview of content to include and exclude – to give them the structure
  • the mechanism – a briefing paper, document, slide-set etc.

You’ll notice there’s minimal steer on actual content. That’s because they can create that. After all, if you give them everything, it’s not delegation but dictation.

This style of briefing helps the recipient of your communication, your colleague and – of course – you… not least because you get your evening back.

Action point

Next time you brief someone, use the above – or similar – bullet points to guide them. It’s worth spending an extra five minutes doing this; you’ll get your time back when they send the better first draft to you.

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A quick heads-up: EADIM’s getting nearer

Next month, I’m speaking at this year’s European Academy of Direct and Interactive Marketing’s conference.  Other speakers include:

  • Drayton Bird (who the Chartered Institute of Marketing named as one of 50 individuals who have shaped today’s marketing)
  • Martin Chillcott, former Marketing Director of firms like American Express and Thomas Cook
  • ‘AdWords for Dummies’ author Howie Jacobson, and
  • Marketing expert Natalie Calvert, who has helped organisations like Lego, O2, The Royal Mail and the Cabinet Office

The three-day event has one aim: to help every attendee transform their business.  Find out more at

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