Businesses are increasingly turning to internal creative teams for their content needs. As this happens, these internal creatives are finding themselves making less one-off projects like they would at an agency and more consistent work meant to boost broader goals.
Although creative briefs are great for connecting creative decisions to an intended outcome, they are meant to be self contained. While traditional project plans, on the other hand, can be more useful for understanding a project in the context of other work going on, focusing on scope, time, and cost often leaves out aesthetic considerations.
Since executing a content marketing plan is a blend of creative work and traditional project management, so should your project brief reflect both sides of what needs to be done. Don’t use two briefs when you only need one; add these elements to your project plan to make it a useful reference for everyone on your team.
What’s in a standard project plan
The key elements of a standard project plan can include:
- Project objectives: A project’s objectives should be specific enough so that each piece of content can be tied back to contributing towards your goal.
- Specific deliverables: Not only should you include what type of content the project requires, but also any supplemental content that might be involved. If you’re planning out blog posts, don’t just stop at topic and word count. Does it need an image or infographic? What are the SEO requirements? What channels are involved and what is your distribution workflow?
- A schedule of deadlines and publishing dates: Once your deliverables are established and broken down into tasks, establish when each task needs to be finished.
- Budget needed: Are there any extra costs to producing the content? How much does it cost to promote and distribute?
- Personnel needed: This is sometimes left out, but anticipating which employees will be needed and how the project will affect their workload is key to understanding the scope of a project.
- Tools needed: Having a project management tool to help plan and track all the content your team is producing can be a boost when it comes to both the quality and time needed to finish a project.
What you need to make it better for creative work
Standard project plans really hammer out the technical details of a project, but still leave little to no guidance for your team members executing the creative work. While having a visual style guide is crucial to keeping your brand consistent, relying on only that document can still leave your content flat and homogeneous.
Some of the creative elements you should include in your project plan are:
- Tone of voice: Part of having an established brand is establishing your brand’s voice: witty, playful, serious, nonchalant, etc.. But just because you have an established voice doesn’t meant it has to be monotone. Captivating voices have a dynamic range; figure out what tone of your brand’s voice is the most appropriate for the project.
- Visual motifs: Just like you identify a specific tone, or range, of voice from your pre-established brand, you should do the same with which parts of your visual brand to use for a project. Find repeatable visual elements that make sense for your project while making sure everything is on brand - not only will this keep your project consistent with your band, it will keep every piece of content consistent with the project.
- Audience takeaway: Ultimately, any piece of content should leave the audience with some type of impression about the company behind it. Your brand largely determines what that impression is, but not every piece of content needs to try and cover each and every brand value. Just like each piece of content should offer specific value, your audience should be left with a specific impression more focused than a vague representation of company values.
Each one of these creative considerations are meant to make sure each project has its own feel while staying within your brand’s parameters. Taking different creative approaches adds a dynamic quality to your content that ultimately contributes a richness to your brand. Identifying and strategically applying different facets of your brand can highlight parts of your company your audience didn’t even know would resonate.