Shit in, Shit out: How to prepare an effective briefing

A briefing or briefing document is designed to pass on information from usually a contracting company to a service provider (in our case, from a food brand to us as the marketing agency). The information should be complete and provided in an effective manner, so that the outcome is exactly the result that the client aimed for. For that reason, a good briefing is far more complicated to achieve than we often think. It has to align the views of different stakeholders and people working on a brand, providing the right input to generate great output. But what does that actually mean in reality?

How to write a great briefing?

Briefings can be delivered as short written documents or presented in person. But the preparation effort is the same. As a contracting entity like a brand owner, think of the following questions when putting together the elements of your briefing, to avoid bad outcomes. This is especially true for new service providers you have not yet worked with in the past.

What is the purpose & background of the briefing?

What kind of outcome do you want and need, how complex is it and what is the timeframe? How well does the other party already know you and your brand? Which limiting factors might have to be considered and what is especially important for management, when the task is fulfilled? Anything that the service provider cannot automatically anticipate while looking at your brand from the outside is highly valuable knowledge that you should share while preparing your briefing.

Which points need to be covered?

What should be the outcome of the task and in which way do you want to receive it? What is most important for the decision-makers and who will the results be presented to? What are areas of potential controversy and the likely impact of prepared solutions? This tells the other party not only what needs to be provided, but also in which way.

What is already there?

There is nothing worse than receiving a certain output based on a briefing, but half of the results are actually already there. Therefore, make sure to brief what you already have, what needs to be reworked and which aspects need to be covered completely new.

If you can write a conclusion in the end, this is a great way of leaving the reader with a clear message and, where appropriate, clear recommendations on how to proceed.

How to structure your briefing while writing it

Before you write

Remember the 5 Why´s: Why, What, Who, Where, When

Why: Do you understand the purpose of your briefing?

What: What are the main topics you are trying to get across? Do you have all information ready?

Who: Who is your audience? Do you understand their needs and what they are trying to accomplish based on your briefing?

Where & When: What is the time scope and does the briefing task need to take place in a specific place (e.g. fotoshooting location)?

While you write

Try to keep it structured and give your briefing a purpose to begin with, a body and a conclusion. Preferably, it should come at 4 pages or less. Does it contain all necessary information and, if needed, some additional files?

Any unnecessary information can be cut out, and ideally, you let it proofread by someone who does not know much about the task, so you get some clear feedback on how well the information can be understood.

We hope this information helped to even further develop your briefing writing skills and if you have any questions or a task for us to test-write a new briefing document, we are happy to hear from you!

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