I’m not talking about boxers, bloomers or drawers. Neither am I referring to jockeys, keks, long johns, pants or undies. I’m talking about that special document (drafted in conversation) which sets out the terms of our professional engagement.
It is designed to prevent the objective being lost amid the back-and-forthing of opinion, preference and inference that comes from serving a client through the writing of words. More than that, it defines the goal that you want to reach; and it allows agreement between parties where a fierce single-mindedness is the strongest path to success.
When you ask me to write your fundraising appeal, your magazine or your legacy programme, I explode with questions.
This is for both our sakes.
I would want to know everything there is to know about your work, your supporters and your goals. I want to know if you have a messaging suite, what level of detail you have regarding your programmes and what campaigns you are running. I would even like to know what kind of jam filling you like in doughnuts.
Without the exhaustive conversation that nails down the job, I will quote £sd for work which you will have changed your mind about between the (weak) briefing and the time I send you my copy. You will think I’m not responding to your needs and I’ll think you don’t know what you want. We’ll end up resenting each other because the time will drag on and the quality of the work will inevitably suffer due to being dragged off-target, mid-job.
So please tell me everything.
It isn’t going to hurt. I’m not going to run to your competitors with a scoop on your latest campaign. And I’m not nosy.
I just want to do my best for you.