You know that preparing an assignment for your writer is a good idea. (For a refresher on why, refer to part one.)
But how do you do it?
Let’s break it down and make it easy. Consider these 12 components when preparing your next editorial assignment.
1. Target audience. It will help your writer to know just whom you’re trying to reach with this particular piece. This information helps guide tone and language as well as the content itself.
2. Your goal. As a writer, it’s common to step into an assignment in more of a tactical — rather than strategic — role. But if you want stronger content, bring your writer into the strategic fold. Make sure he or she understands where this piece fits into the overall marketing plan. Provide some details on your desired call to action and results.
3. Key messages. Along with your strategic goals, be sure to let the writer know if you have any key messages that you want to communicate through this piece. And if you have specific language or phrases you want him to use (for branding or SEO purposes, for example), let him know.
4. Medium. If it’s not obvious, make sure you provide information on where this piece of content will live. Is it a printed or online piece? A mailer? An email?
5. Key elements. If you know you need a short sidebar, let the writer know that. If you want the writer to provide multiple headline or subject line options, be sure to include that in your assignment. This will save lots of back-and-forth later on.
6. Approach. Do you envision a listicle? Or think the story might be told best as an infographic? That’s definitely something you need to tell your writer.
7. Guidance on tone. If you are working with someone new, it helps to provide some information and guidance on your brand. Perhaps you have a brand book you can share. Or you can share some samples of previous work that you have liked or — just as useful — not liked.
8. Word count. You may or may not have a specific word count in mind. If you are assigning copy for a print publication, you most likely know exactly what you need to fill the pages. But for other projects you might have a desired range.
9. The deadline. This one seems obvious, but sometimes you end up talking about deadlines separately from your actual assignment. It’s ideal to keep all of the information pertaining to this assignment in one place.
10. Contact information. If you’re asking your writer to interview subject matter experts within your organization, provide their contact information in your assignment. Ideally, you’d also email the individuals (copying your writer) to introduce the project and let them know the writer will be calling.
11. Copyright information. If you do not already have copyright information outlined in a separate umbrella letter of agreement, this is a good place for that information. You are most likely buying all rights to the content. But if for some reason you have negotiated something different, spell it out here.
12. The fee. If you do not already have a retainer or standard rate in place, be sure to add the rate information.
Now you are armed with the information you need to communicate clearly and comprehensively with your copywriters. It might sound like a lot of information, but most is easily and quickly added to an assignment letter (and much of it you can re-use from one project to the next). Regardless, consider it an investment: You’ll save time, money and frustration in the long run.