(Or, don’t forget your briefs.)
I never seem to be prepared for the most obvious of questions. While giving a presentation a couple of weeks ago,
one of the attendees asked me “What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on in the past year?”
I should have had a simple example ready – but then I wouldn’t have given him the most honest reply.
The truth is, the most exciting project I’ve worked on recently is also one that gave me the greatest number of challenges, not as a writer, but as someone who had to deal with people. My job on this project was to create a cohesive document that included contributions from several different people – many of whom had conflicting opinions and agendas. Their very differences were supposed to be the strength of the document, as it would present a well-rounded, 360-degree view of an issue.
I’m happy to say the project got done. It gone done well. And by some miracle, it got done on time. But getting there hurt.
In a post-mortem I thought long and hard about what could have prevented (or at least minimized) the full-on ugliness. And then it hit me, I forgot to check in on the brief.
Every project, whether it’s an ad, a brochure, a radio spot, or a document, needs to have an agreed-upon brief to keep it focused and on track. In a project that went as long as this one did (months, not weeks), I should have regularly been pulling it out to remind the team of the main answers we came up with for these basic questions:
Who are we talking to?
What are we telling/selling them?
What is our most important point?
What is the goal of this communication?
As this project chugged along, some of contributors lost focus of those once-agreed-upon answers and starting writing for their own personal target markets – each of which was just a degree or two off the mark. And as any good boy scout will tell you, being off by as little as one degree will lead you way off your path eventually.
So if you’re feeling a little lost on a project, try asking the basic questions again. It may save you from tearing your hair out. Or shaving it off, in Britney’s case.