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  • nigelcharig

How to effectively brief your technical copywriter for maximum results

If you have agreed commercial terms with a technical copywriter, you can get down to the business of content generation – and this starts with an appropriate level of briefing. Even the most talented copywriter can only ever be as good as the briefing you provide.

The briefing’s level of detail depends on the target content’s format. Technical articles written as components of your content marketing campaign must explicitly deliver quality technical content of value to your audience – while also contributing significantly to your technical and commercial presence with the messages you want to project. So the focus of the article must align with the technologies the company is seeking to promote, and wishes to be recognised for.

The briefing for such an article could be delivered like this:

-        An initial email to outline the project: the products or services to be covered, the key messages, size and format of the content, deadlines, key stakeholders and their job roles. Any available briefing materials should be attached to the email, or made available through links.

This gives the copywriter an opportunity to scope and understand the project and what is expected of them – and to prepare a set of questions to promote dialogue and mutual understanding of the requirements.

-        Give the copywriter some time to review the briefing materials and prepare questions, then set up a Teams meeting to discuss the requirement in more detail. Those present to meet with the copywriter might include:

o   The project manager, to explain and answer questions about the company’s objectives for the article

o   A technical specialist to discuss the technology to be covered in the article

o   A marketing specialist if any additional marketing input is required.

To ensure that the copywriter understands the messages, technology, and everything else required of them in detail, the meeting could cover the points as suggested below:

o   Names and roles of stakeholders in the project

o   Content format: Technical article, white paper, thought leadership article, something else

o   Who is the target audience? Project managers, engineers, product managers

o   Where will the content be placed? Trade journals, customer’s website, conference proceedings, mailing, exhibition handout, company brochure, somewhere else

o   Approximate length of piece, in words

o   Spelling: UK or US English?

o   Deadline for first draft and final completion

o   Suggestions for title and subtitle

o   Product or service name and brief description

o   What customer pain points does the product solve? Energy efficiency, size, weight, speed, reduced time to market, cost, durability, reliability, something else

o   Why does this product solve the customer’s problem better than earlier versions, or competing products?

o   Establishing credibility; explain the technology that enables the product’s performance, and review the collateral available

o   Boost the credibility with a brief case study, and/or testimonials from the enduser or relevant company employee

o   Round up with a summary of the key messages

Not all briefs require this much effort, though. It depends on the type of document, and on how well the copywriter and customer have come to understand one another. For example, one customer currently asks me to write promotional emails from time to time. Now that we’ve established the format, all I need is an email from them with a data sheet for the new product, and a paragraph explaining the problems it solves, and its benefits.

At the beginning of a new customer/copywriter relationship, it’s best to take a painstaking, structured and documented approach, to protect both parties and ensure accurate results first time. But, as the partnership evolves, and mutual trust and understanding grows, it’s possible to be more flexible as appropriate – as long as there remains a clearly-defined mutual understanding of each project’s objectives.

In any case, it’s now time for the copywriter to write up the draft, as the first step towards the edited, approved, and finalised document.

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