Don’t be afraid to ask for more information

That’s the Tip of the Day for my trainee copywriter son who messaged me to say he’d been asked to write a blog and all he’d been given were a load of graphs and technical lingo.

I told him to go back to the client and ask for more information. Simple as. It’s something I learned many years ago because, if you’re struggling to write some content, then there’s a high chance that you haven’t been briefed properly.

It’s especially tricky when it’s something technical or jargonistic. Or when English isn’t the client’s first language and you’re faced with a curious translation to knock into shape.

Sure, there’s the internet so you can google stuff.

But at the end of the day you need a clear brief from the client.

And if a client ever says something like: “You’re the copywriter, you should know” (which clients have said to me on occasions) then point out that you can’t write about what you don’t know or understand. We copywriters aren’t all-seeing, all-knowing. We may know a heck of a lot of stuff, but we aren’t encyclopaedias. We don’t have crystal balls.

A good client won’t mind in the slightest if you go back and ask for more information or for them to clarify anything you don’t understand.

Then it’s a good idea to write some sample content – for example a couple of paragraphs – for the client to agree on accuracy, angle, tone of voice, etc. It saves an awful lot of time and trouble.

My rule of thumb is to never begin work until you have all the information you need – and don’t be afraid to ask for anything that’s missing or unclear.


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