Have you ever heard the term “writing by committee”? I’m not sure where it originated, but I’m well used to the process from my early years as a non-profit and association communications staffer. It's the process of drafting a document (newsletter article, annual report, etc.) and taking it to a committee for review and approval (and usually a lot of changes!).
Whether you are a volunteer heading up a communications committee or a staff person coordinating marketing efforts, you soon learn that any “creative process” involves many well-meaning “cooks”, all with their own recipe ideas. After all, as the infographic (from VirusComix.com), illustrates, the creative process can take many twists and turns, especially when it involves a committee or group of contributors.
Using a Creative Brief to “Avoid Creative Beef”[s]
As Cary Lenore Walski suggests in a post on the Social Good blog, “if you have members of your staff or board development committee who have different ideas about what the goals and messages of a certain piece should be. Unfortunately, often times it seems you don’t hear about these differences in opinion until you’ve completed half the project.”
So if, like many associations and non-profits, you’re taking advantage of some quiet time over the summer to get a jump-start on communications planning, you might want to consider developing a creative brief. This is a document that can be used as a "guidepost for the development of the creative deliverable". It can help “create alignment before putting pen to paper (or fingers to home-row)”. It can, as Cary suggests, help avoid any “creative beefs”. You can develop or customize a creative brief and introduce this process to your committee, working group or team so everyone agrees to and buys into the project's goals, objectives and process.
As Cary suggests, “the creative brief …[is] like the mother sauces at a classic French restaurant, each design agency and organization that I work with seems to have their own slightly unique take on this tradition.”
Creative brief templates
In the past I’ve customized ad agency creative briefs to help guide planning for charity campaign and association website development as well. If you are looking for a guide or template that you can use to customize your own creative brief here are two:
Communications Planning Guide
For additional tips and guidance with non-profit and association communications, check out our Getting Started With Communications Planning resource in our Membership Knowledge Hub.
Image source: The Creative Process infographic - by Virus Comix - as posted on visual.ly