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AMENDageddon: Are you sabotaging your own content?

I have just submitted the gazillionth round of copy for a project I am working on. It’s not something I am proud of; in fact, I’m embarrassed about it. Why, then, would I share this uncomfortable truth with the world, I hear you say? Well, it’s a good reminder to myself, as a writer, not to get sucked into doing things any way other than the TPW way, and standing firm on that. More importantly, the following three lessons should also help you, as a business or an agency, get the most out of the content you commission every time, instead of inadvertently sabotaging it from the get-go.

How to avoid AMENDAGEDDON & get the very most out of your content – and your copywriter:

  1. It’s all about the brief, ‘bout the brief – no trouble.

In our experience at TPW, the brief or the brainstorm stage of a project is THE most important step. It’s what we often spend most of my time on with our clients. It’s an opportunity to delve into the depths of the stories you’re trying to tell and why they matter. Using our investigative journalistic powers, it’s also the chance to get into the nooks and crannies of your business. What makes your organisation tick – and above all, how can it can change habits, opinions or trends.

The trouble with the current project I mentioned is that I was brought to the table after the initial brief. Worst. Decision. Ever. I blame the maelstrom of recent home schooling for my schoolgirl error. But I should have known better after all these years as a copywriter and journalist. It soon turns out that the initial brief was woolly, at best. After many, many rounds of amends, with small, unnecessary tweaks each time, I can’t say the content is now any richer for it. This brings me swiftly on to my next point…

2. Too many cooks: a way to add inefficiency & confusion into the mix

This can be particularly complicated when an agency – or multiple agencies – are involved, acting as bridges in between an end client and the content creator. In our opinion, when too many ‘stakeholders’ (please try not to use this word) are part of the content journey, it’s the main ingredient in creating inefficiencies and confusion. More often than not, no-one is singing from the same song-sheet (brief, messaging and tone of voice). I would go as far as to say that, as a writer, I have never been involved in content creation involving many different contributors that has gone smoothly. It’s stressful, convoluted and time-consuming (not to mention budget-consuming) for everyone.

So, how can this change, given that different groups may need to have their say? Firstly, I would recommend an agency and an end client to dedicate just one marketing expert to each particular project. Add in the writer or content creator, and you have a small trio of professionals only that need to check in with each other. These designated people can brief the wider teams their end. Check-in targets also help. Rather than sending ad-hoc Teams meets, have weekly calls, limited to half an hour, to discuss succinctly feedback, amends and any changing expectations.

3. Trust in the experts – or do it yourself

This is a little confronting, I know. More so than my usual style. However, if you’re outsourcing content to an ‘expert’, it’s time to let go of the reins a little and trust in them to do a good job. Otherwise, what’s the point? You might as well handle it in-house.

I understand: you’re about to spend a wedge of your (possibly tight) marketing budget and you want to be in control. In this way, you can ensure it’ll pay off.  However, during our time as content creators, micromanagement has the adverse effect. If the brief is thorough enough – including alignment on messaging and tone of voice – the rest should be plain sailing. In the words of one client: “TPW understands our business and the messages we want the world to hear.” And that’s because they’ve put their trust in us to do just that.

So, there you have it: three simple steps to avoiding copy limbo and amendageddon – and unleashing smashing content.