Medical writers: Why you should NEVER start writing without a brief

NEVER start writing without a FULL BRIEF!

But wait… what is a brief!?

As a medical writer you can make your life SO much easier by simply asking the right questions at the beginning of a project or task. This can help you put together a “brief”, which is a list of everything you have agreed to include in your writing.

When you have a brief, you have everything you need to know to start researching and writing. You’ll also know what your client’s expectations are when it comes to word count and key words. We’ll list a few things you definitely want on your brief down below.

Now let’s say somebody comes along and asks you “Hey, can you write a blog for us?”

You’re 1000% excited, because THEY approached YOU and so you instantly want to say “YES!”… but WAAAAAIT a minute – how do you know if this blog is right for you – does it fit in with your values? Do you have time to fit it into your schedule?

So let’s try again:

They say: “Hey, can you write a blog for us?”

You should say: “Thank you so much for reaching out, I’d love to write a blog for you after I learn about what you have in mind. Could you please email me your brief for the blog? If you haven’t got a brief, don’t worry, we can chat over a 15 minute call. Are you available tomorrow at 10.30am?”

This response shows you’re interested, you’re organised, you pay attention to details AND you have given them a specific date and time to meet.

Some clients won’t have a brief, and I’ve worked with some that don’t know what a brief is. Help them out to instantly earn their trust, as they can use this skill to put together briefs in the future for you.

So what should be on the brief for a blog?

1. The title of the blog

2. If you need to write a short description (known as meta data, around 150 characters, that you would see on a Google results page under the title)

3. Length of the blog (in words)

4. Headings for each section of the blog

5. Primary keywords and secondary keywords you should include

6. Audience you are writing for

7. Tone of voice (are you friendly, empathetic or authoritative?)

8. Reading age of your reader

9. Date they want the first draft

10. Author that will be on the blog piece

11. Links you should include (internal and external)

12. Any images they want you to reference

13. Reference style (if it’s a technical blog)

14. Call to action – what is the purpose of the blog, and what do you want the reader to ultimately do after they finish reading it – do you want them to book an appointment or buy a product or enquire about your services or read another blog?

…And there’s so much more you might want to know, such as:

– Who will review your first draft and give you feedback and suggestions for edits?

– When will the blog be published?

– Will your name be on the blog?

– Can they link the blog back to your website?

– Can you include the blog as part of your medical writing portfolio, or do you need to sign an NDA (non disclosure agreement)?


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