One of the most frustrating parts of content management is receiving a piece of content that isn’t aligned with your goals, campaign, or brand.
You know what happens next. Lots of emailing, Slack messages, and Zoom calls to get everyone on the same page, all before the inevitable slew of rewrites. The missing link here? A content brief.
In this article, we’ll dive into what content briefs actually are, why you need them, and how you incorporate them into your content process to scale content effectively.
What is a content brief?
A content brief is a document that collects and organizes all of the information a content writer needs to execute a piece of content.
Who helps create content briefs?
Content briefs are usually created by a content strategist, an editor, an SEO expert, or some combination of the three. The input from each of these roles is vital for a good brief.
Every team will do things a bit differently with their briefs, but the most successful of them know how to provide writers with the right level of insight into the overall content strategy/campaign goals, editorial direction, and SEO considerations.
What’s the difference between a content brief and a creative brief?
In contrast to a content brief, a creative brief tends to be more of a catch-all brief type, particularly for assets that require some design work, like:
- Video production
- Social media ads
A content brief generally refers to written content only—blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, newsletters, etc.
Why you should use content briefs
Content briefs are the link between content strategy and content creation. They ensure—at least to some extent—that the content you receive will be in line with your content strategy.
For one, your content and SEO teams do a lot of research around the topics your business needs to cover to reach customers. They work with internal stakeholders to understand the business goals and figure out how to use content as a means of achieving them.
This is then translated into a content brief, so writers have all of the information to produce content that meets company standards and moves the needle on business goals. This could relate to key points about SEO keywords, desired writing style, wordcount, inclusion of resources, and more.
Where do content briefs go wrong?
Whether it’s for a blog post, whitepaper, or case study, your writers shouldn’t be expected to automatically know how to best craft the content to what your strategy envisions. A content brief can be a powerful tool for knowledge transfer and expectation setting for writers. No writer should have to start from zero when creating content.
This raises the question…
What should a good content brief include?
One of the most common questions teams have when they start using content briefs is, “What should we provide our writers in each brief?”
Every team and company is going to have its own needs and requirements, but this list should give you a solid baseline:
- The focus keyword or topic
- The user intent behind the keyword or topic
- The target audience or buyer persona for which the content is intended
- Notes on brand voice, style and tone
- Subheadings that outline the article
- Questions the content should answer
- Related topics that should be covered
- Internal linking suggestions
- External sources that should be linked to
- Related materials and collateral that should be referenced in the content
- Specific guidance for the content type (blog, landing page, eBook, etc.)
How to add content briefs to your content production process
Knowing that content briefs are important and embracing them as part of your process are two different things. Teams that are strapped for time and resources may incorrectly assume that adopting content briefs may take too much time and effort.
While some time must be set aside for this, there are ways to make the implementation of content briefs quite efficient, such as content brief templates, smart project management, and AI solutions.
1. Build a content brief template
There’s no need to start from scratch every time you make a content brief. A content brief template saves you time while providing a simple form to fill in the relevant information for each unique piece of content, while retaining the information that is common to all of your content.
For example, once you’ve written your brand voice, style, and tone guidelines, you can have that information in your brief template ready to go for every brief.
You can also reuse your content brief template for different types of written content. A brief for a blog post may not have as much detail as a brief you create for a downloadable asset like a whitepaper or eBook, but there will be a lot of overlap. Reuse what you can, when you can.
By structuring such a template, you also make it easier for a writer to take in all of the necessary information for their work.
2. Use a Work OS to manage your content management process
Most content processes are extensive and require thoughtful organization of teams and resources. A standard content process could look like this:
- Building an overall content strategy
- Conducting topic and keyword research
- Prioritizing topics and putting them into plans
- Creating content briefs
- Editing and optimization
- Continuously optimizing the content
With all of these phases in mind, it’s wise to use a Work OS like monday.com as the single source of truth for this process. The digital platform allows you to communicate in context with writers, designers, clients, and other stakeholders about content and strategy. You can even create a content brief form to collect requirements from management or automatically notify freelancers when a new content brief is ready.
monday.com even has content planning templates to build your process once and use it repeatedly.
3. Use AI to do the heavy lifting
The list of what a good content brief should include seems daunting for small content teams or teams-of-one. Related topics, linking, questions to answer, user intent, audience data—these items can take hours of manual research.
How can you efficiently create comprehensive briefs for every piece of content?
One solution is to bring AI into the fold. Over the last few years, AI-powered solutions have emerged to make it easier for content strategists and SEO teams to analyze large volumes of data quickly to give them an edge to create high-performing content.
Finding an AI solution that lets you do topic and domain research will give you a shortcut to actionable and useful content briefs without sacrificing the insights a manually built brief would provide.
Content briefs are a necessity for growing content teams
As your content team scales in both headcount and ambition, you’ll need to rely on time-saving and transparent processes that allow your content writers to work more efficiently and effectively.
Intentional and comprehensive content briefs are the crucial link between strategy and execution of your content plan. By making them an integral part of your content production process, you increase understanding and the likelihood that your content will contribute to your overall goals. This is best supported by creating templates with AI and managing your flow with a robust project management software.
If you’re ready to ramp up your entire content process, try out one of monday.com’s content planning templates in their template center.