There's nothing unusual about having a writing project thrown in your lap at the last moment - there's no getting around that fact of life. You can, however, gain a measure of control by looking beyond the deliverable you've been assigned- brochure, white paper, case study, etc. - and focusing, instead, on developing a creative brief that lays out your client's communication goals. That's right. There is another way of doing business that precludes sweating bullets as you furiously jot down contact names and due dates, all the while trying to guess what your client is really attempting to accomplish with the project. A well thought-out creative brief defines and quantifies your efforts, while providing an agreed-upon set of expectations. Clients will love you for it, too. A creative brief (usually kept to two pages unless a project is really huge) helps them organize thoughts, align messaging and identify the right tool for the job. Often times, the deliverable will even change after you explore what's at stake. For example, I've had clients that approach me with an expensive print project, when a straightforward e-mail blast might be a more cost-effective way to approach the problem. Here's what I've found are the necessary ingredients of a well-thought-out creative brief. •
Identify who will be approving the messaging and the deliverables. On a separate line, include a list of people who will be informed of the project, but will not be a part of the approval process (for example, a marcom project might include PR types who could use the deliverable with the press.) Your client's boss may also want to stay informed. •
Write a short overview/background of the project as a whole. Include any recent history that's germane to the effort as well as market analysis that supports spending money. A side benefit of the overview is that it helps you, the writer, gain a better understanding of the subject. •
Define your Marketing Objective(s). These should be quantifiable...
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