Communicating with a writer (especially for non-writers) can be frustrating if you don’t follow a few simples rules of engagement. To be sure you don’t end up disappointed on the other end of the assignment, please sure to make these 7 things clear:
- Word Count. This may not matter to non-writers, but it is absolutely critical to any piece. This determines the approach. There is a different strategy for a 500 word direct mail letter than a 10,000 word feature story.
- Deadline. State clearly and explicitly when you need the copy completed and turned in. This sets expectations and priority, forces the writer to say yes or no, and ensures your production schedule doesn’t get thrown off at the very beginning.
- Target Audience. You know you’re audience better than anyone. Offer a few bullet points to give context.
- Publication form. Will it appear as a blog post, e-newsletter article, print article, separate mail piece, etc.? The final form helps the writer navigate the “casualness” or formal nature of the medium. It also helps define the “reader experience” which ensures the piece is effective at getting people to take some pre-defined, measurable action.
- Specialized Vocabulary. If there are words specific to your target audience that are important to incorporate into the piece, then list those out with a short description of significance.
- Important Details. If the piece is an extension of a corporate initiative or recent newsworthy event, include that information for the writer when you send the initial information. The same is true for statements that shouldn’t be made or conclusions suggested. Sometimes potholes are only seen after you fall into them.
- File format. Tell the writer what format you need to receive the copy in. There are some standard ones, but I can think of at least a half dozen different formats I’ve used. Receiving the copy in the correct format, saves you time and the hassle of conversion.
Hiring a writer should be a helpful, capacity-building experience. If you’ll gather a few details on the front end, you’re more likely to get exactly what you want when the deadline arrives.
What’s been your experience when hiring writers?
Ben Stroup is a content activist in a post-paragraph world. He is chief broker of opportunity at Ben Stroup Enterprises. Connect with Ben via email, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe via email to learn how to use content to move people to action.