Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the category “Content”

The importance of a client brief

The importance of a client brief

You’ve done your due diligence and found a great copywriter who has loads of experience, has positive reviews and is within your budget. You’re feeling pretty happy with your decision and are excited to start working with them.

After contacting them and having initial discussions, you’re even more sure you’ve made the right decision.

But when the copywriter sends you a client briefing document and requests you fill in several pages of information, you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision. After all, isn’t it the job of the copywriter to do the writing?

 

What is a brief and why do you need one?

Believe it or not, the fact that your copywriter has sent you a brief to fill in is a sign they are on top of their game.

A great copywriter is someone who will write copy that meets your needs — not theirs. Which is why they require a client brief.

A client brief is a bit like a road map. It contains directions, guidelines and pertinent information in order for your copywriter to come up with the content you are paying them for.

A client brief reduces the chances of ambiguity and misunderstandings when it comes to your content, eliminating the need for countless (and sometimes expensive) revisions and rewrites.

In short, the more information you provide, the better.

 

A brief is not…

While it’s important to understand the purpose of a client brief, it’s also important to understand what it’s not.

A brief is not:

  • A list of terms and conditions of engagement — that should be a separate document and something I will address in a future blog post
  • A contact of agreement:  — this too is a separate document which outlines the scope of the project, (including fees) which both parties need to sign.
  • A promise — while a good copywriter will produce great content according to your specifications, they cannot promise particular outcomes such as website hits and clicks, or sales.

 

What should you include?

There are no hard and fast rules about what a client brief should include. After all, every writing project is different. However, the following gives you a good idea on what type of questions you may be asked.

  • Your business: What is your business (e.g. what do you do, your core operations) and how long have you been in business?
  • Your brand: What does your brand stand for? What is your tone? What are your values?
  • Engagement objectives: What is the purpose of this communication? Are you looking for a specific outcome or action (e.g. increased sales), or do you want to increase your brand awareness, and increase brand loyalty?
  • Target audience: Who are your primary and secondary audiences (e.g. age, gender, socio-economic status)
  • Audience persona: What are their interests, concerns, or personality?
  • Campaign objectives: What are the key messages you want your consumers to receive regarding your brand or product?
  • Key messages: Are there any key messages you want to convey in your content? Are there any messages that must be avoided?
  • Key words: Are there any key words that must be used, or avoided?
  • Type of message: Is this communication a blog piece? Article? Advertorial? Report? Tender? News article?
  • Tone: What is the tone of the message? (e.g. friendly, authoritative, casual, formal, humorous, etc.)
  • Content channels: Where will the content be published? (e.g. online, blog, print, social media, advertising etc.) How will it be published? (e.g. bound report, booklet, loose-leaf binder, electronic)
  • Images/graphics: Are there any images or graphics that must accompany the content?
  • Style guidelines: Is there an in-house Style Guide that must be followed?
  • Research: Is credible research required for this communication?
  • Examples: Are there any examples of existing material that you like?
  • Brand ambassadors: Are there any brand ambassadors associated with your product/brand?
  • Scope of the project: How big is the project? (e.g. one-off report, blog or article) What is the word length?
  • Budget: What is your budget for this project?
  • Deadline: What is the deadline for the project?

 

You still need to be involved!

Once you have filled in as much information as possible, your copywriter will get busy doing what they need to do. However, don’t think that your job is over just yet! As you are the client, you will be required to provide ongoing feedback or ask any relevant questions for the scope of the project.

If your copywriter requests further information or clarification from you, it’s because it’s relevant to the project. They really aren’t messing with your head!

Oh, and if you have a deadline for this project, then it will be important to provide information, reviews or feedback in a timely manner, in order to meet that deadline. So make sure you factor that into the scope of the project.

 

Take the time to brief your copywriter

One of the reasons you engage a copywriter may be because you just don’t have time to do the job yourself. However, I highly recommend you take the time to fill out a client brief with as much detail as possible. It may take an hour or two, but in the end, the detail in that document could very well be the difference between mediocre copy and fabulous copy.

Speaking of fabulous copy…. if you’re ready to hire a great copywriter — and are willing to fill in a copy brief! — then please contact me.

If you’re still wondering if you should hire a copywriter, then 10 reasons why you should hire a copywriter may answer some of your questions.

Cheers
Nerissa

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Health writers or hacks? 5 ways to sort fact from fiction

Health writer or hack? How to discern fact from fiction

There’s no doubt the health and wellness industry is booming right now.

An ageing population, coupled with greater awareness of the importance of staying healthy for life has contributed to an explosion in the number of healthcare, wellbeing and fitness business popping up all across the country.

Part of this this movement towards greater health and wellbeing is a plethora of ‘wellness warriors’, ‘health bloggers’, and other individuals writing articles and providing advice relating to health and medical matters.

But are these credible sources for information on health? And are those who write these types of articles qualified to provide such advice?

 

The problem with wellness warriors and bloggers

Firstly, let me state, there is nothing wrong with having an interest in health, wellbeing and alternative therapies. There is nothing wrong with using alternative therapies, and there is also nothing wrong with reading health information on the internet.

However, what you may not realise is a lot of information relating to health and wellness (and even medical conditions) found on the internet is inaccurate, unfounded, unproven, untrue, and downright dangerous.

Sometimes articles contain claims based on anecdotal evidence. Sometimes information presented is old and outdated. Sometimes it is based on pseudoscience, or ‘popular opinion’. At its worst, the health and wellbeing arena is riddled with claims and scaremongering tactics aimed at playing on people’s vulnerabilities and designed to lighten consumers’ wallets.

A recent case of ‘wellness warrior’ turned sour is that of Belle Gibson. A self-proclaimed health guru who claimed to have ‘cured’ her terminal brain cancer through healthy eating and natural therapies, finally admitted last year (2015) that all her claims were untrue.

Ms Gibson had a thriving business based on these false claims. She developed an app and companion cookbook, and wrote a blog on the subject. She also made a lot of money based on her lies. But until her story finally unravelled, thousands of people had put their trust in her.

 

How to determine if an article is credible

Ms Gibson is not the only person to make fake or incorrect claims regarding health and medical information. There are thousands of wellness bloggers, or website owners doing the same thing. Heck, even journalists get information incorrect from time to time.

And while innocent mistakes can be expected occasionally, health information is too important to get wrong the majority of the time.

Here are the top five ways you can determine if the information you are reading is likely to be credible.

  1. Is the writer sticking to facts or voicing an opinion?

A credible health writer will stick to the facts rather than voice their opinion. They will also write in a way to present the facts and empower the reader to make a positive health change if necessary. They will not use scaremongering tactics, nor pressure you to purchase a product or a service.

 As soon as there is a ‘sales pitch’, then it’s a safe bet that the information is biased towards getting you to make a purchase.

  1. Does the article use accredited sources of information?

Any health writer worth their salt will always defer to a credible source for health information. Even better, they will attribute, facts and figures to that source. For example, it’s easy to write :

“one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

But how do you know this is accurate?

A credible health article will refer to the source of the information in the body of the article:

“According to the Heart Foundation, one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

Credible sources of information can include peak health bodies and organisations, federal government websites, well-known medical schools and universities.

Other ‘wellness’ websites and blogs, newspaper reports and anecdotal evidence are NOT credible.

 

  1. Does the article link in with current information?

Great health articles make use of current research statistics. What is deemed as ‘current’? Anything published within the last three years. Medical information changes so quickly these days. With new research being published and statistics updated almost annually, there is no excuse to use old, outdated information.

However, some information and reports are only updated every few years, particularly if they are drawn from surveys that are conducted every few years (i.e. The Australian Census). If this is the case, always state which year your statistics are coming from.

 

  1. Does the article refer to current research?

Just like using current information, a good health writer will back up claims with current research. When citing research studies, the body of the article should mention what year the study was published and which organisation published it. The link to the original source of the study (not a news report or media release) should be included in references at the bottom of the article.

  1. Does the writer include a list of references?

A great health writer will attribute all sources of their information. The reasons for doing this are three-fold — firstly, to add credibility and weight to their story; secondly, to allow readers to search for further information if they need it; and thirdly, to cover themselves in case any of the information is incorrect or no longer current by the time the article is published.

 

A final word…

It’s important to remember not to believe everything you read online. Just because it’s published does not make it true. Even the best health and medical writers may make simple errors.

Health information found online should only ever be used as a guide (and only when you deem it to be credible). Your doctor is the best person to advise you about your personal health concerns and no amount of online ‘research’ should replace your own doctor’s medical opinion.

If you find information that contradicts your doctor’s advice, then speak to them about it. Don’t simply take the word of a ‘health blogger’, or ‘wellness warrior’, no matter how long they have been blogging or how many followers they have.

If you want to engage an experienced health and medical writer for your project, contact me. I’d love to help you out and ensure your content is factual and up-to-date.

Cheers

Nerissa

 

 

10 reasons why you should hire a copywriter

Why you should hire a copywriterWhen contemplating hiring a copywriter, one of the first questions is: “what will it cost me?”

Fair enough that you want to know what it will cost you in monetary terms, but do you ever stop to think what you actually get back in return?

  1. Copywriters save you time

 Outsourcing work (whether it be your accounts, cleaning or copywriting), frees up your time. Instead of wrestling with the time-honoured question of “there” or “their”, you can get on with building your business, sourcing more clients, or simply taking time to have that cup of coffee.

  1. Copywriters save you money

 Hiring someone to do the job properly first, is more cost effective than trying to do the job yourself and ending up with a sub-standard result. When it comes to business, particularly small business, time is money. Time spent fluffing about with ineffectual content, is time (and money) wasted. 

  1. They have fresh eyes

Hiring a copywriter external to your business is a great thing. They are able to look at your business with fresh eyes. They can quickly get an unbiased ‘feel’ for your business. They can determine if there are conflicting or confusing messages. They are able to identify what is working and what is not working.

  1. They can communicate clearly and objectively

Copywriters are experts at communicating. They can spot spelling and grammatical errors instantly. They can identify any industry-jargon that may be confusing to potential clients. They can also write objectively, something that can be difficult when you are too close to your own subject matter.

  1. Copywriters are professionals

Good copywriters are professionals. Many have qualifications in journalism or writing. Many have worked (in previous lives) in the marketing and communication field, thereby bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to their current careers. Like all professionals, they usually invest money and time into developing their careers and businesses.

  1. Some copywriters are specialists in their field

Some copywriters specialise in different industries. While they can still write for the ‘general market’, hiring a copywriter who specialises in your particular field is a smart move. Not only are they well versed in the type of language used in that industry, they are likely to have a lot of background knowledge and experience in that field, and know exactly how and where to source information.

  1. Good copywriters can write across a variety of different industries

Good copywriters should be able to write across a variety of different industries for a variety of different audiences and media platforms. So if you have a ‘general’ writing task, it shouldn’t matter if they specialise in a particular area if you want to hire them for a ‘general’ writing task.

  1. Copywriters are creative

Copywriters can turn boring sentences into something that pops. In the digital age, fresh new content is vital. Hiring a good copywriter means that you will always have new content for your website, thereby making your site high-quality and favoured by Google.

  1. They can help with branding

Your brand is key to your success. Creating a brand helps customers identify with products and services they can trust. Engaging a copywriter can help you develop and strengthen your brand by ensuring your key messages and the way you deliver them are consistent. A good copywriter can also help you develop a Style Guide, to promote consistency in your writing, branding and marketing.

  1. Copywriters focus on writing

While it can be tempting to try to write copy yourself, how many other things are you trying to juggle? Can you honestly give writing your full attention and focus, or are you likely to be interrupted by other emergencies and tasks that simply can’t wait? If you employ a copywriter, their job is to write — nothing else. Which means your content is created quicker and easier than if you were to do it yourself.

If you’re ready to take your business to greater heights and want a great copywriter to help you get there,  contact us today. We’d love to help you.

Cheers

Nerissa

How to use the 5 Ws (and a sneaky H) for more engaging content

5 WsAs a journalism student, I was taught the 5 Ws of how to write a news story.

Who, What, Why, Where, When; plus the sneaky ‘H’ — How.

Who is the story about?

What is the main point of the story?

Where did the story take place?

When did the story take place?

Why is the story important?

How did it happen?

Fast forward some years (more than I’d like to admit), and I still use this formula when writing content. The only difference is the definitions of the above have been slightly tweaked to suit blogging and long-form articles.

By applying the 5 Ws (and the one sneaky H) you too, can generate engaging content for your brand.

Who

Who is your target audience? Who will be reading your blogs and articles? Who is affected by this topic? Who will benefit by reading this article?

Knowing who will read your content helps enormously when it comes to style and key messaging. It will also help determine what type of language to use. (e.g. If you are writing for a technically minded audience, you can probably use a bit of industry-jargon, whereas if you are writing for the lay person, you would consciously avoid jargon and technical terms).

What

What are you writing about? What are the key messages you want to get across?

When you understand the key messages your article or blog needs to convey, your writing will become more concise and to the point. No one likes to read articles that waffle on and end up saying very little.

Where

Where will your blog or article be published? Will it be in print or electronic form?

Having an idea where your piece will end up and the format it will take should give you some idea of your audience and will therefore help you target the piece. Knowing your reach (and who they are), will also help when it comes to promoting your own work via social media.

When

When will your article be published? Will it coincide with an event/launch/season?

Knowing when your article is due to be published will also help you come up with content. For example, some publications have longer lead times than others — (i.e. magazines and journals often plan three to six months ahead). Keep this in mind as you write. While you may be writing an article during summer, the content required may be winter-focused.

Why

Why are you writing your blog? What do you hope to gain from publishing your piece? Why is the topic important?

Do you want to increase awareness of a particular cause, showcase your business/talents or do you want to generate more business? Having a clear idea of what you want your writing to achieve will ensure that you write it with the end in mind. There is no point writing something simply for the sake of writing.

How

While the question of ‘how’ is slightly less important, it’s still worth considering.

The ‘how’ of your content may be one of a few questions:

How will the reader benefit from this content?

How are you going to promote your piece?

How can you leverage this piece of writing to generate more clients/customers and brand exposure?

So when you plan out your next blog post or article, ask yourself the 5 Ws and that sneaky H, and see how your content will benefit.

If you are wondering whether your business needs a blog, there are 4 things you must consider before going ahead.

If you already have a blog, and would like help planning and writing for your business, please contact us. We would love to work with you.

Cheers

Nerissa

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