Creating a strong case study, white paper or website requires a good working relationship between the client and agency. Communication must be honest and open. And, as in any relationship, there are a few things that you as the client absolutely don’t want to say. Utter them at your peril.

“I’ll know it when I see it.”
All creative partners have heard many variations of this phrase. And they hate it every time. “I’ll know it when I see it” really means that you have no idea what you want … or if you do, you can’t express it. Either way, it means big trouble for your project.

The purpose of writing a creative brief at the beginning of your project is to spell out exactly what you want and need. If you’re still formulating what that is, your agency will be glad to work on the brief with you. Get it right before you start.

“I just need five more people to review this copy.”
Input from your team is useful. But adding an extra round of review tells your agency that you don’t control your project. Those five additional people probably all will have comments and feedback, and your working copy document or layout will become a mess.

Instead, tell your agency that you’re gathering more feedback … and add that you will review everything yourself, decide what is helpful and what isn’t, then provide concise instructions for any changes that must be made.

“We need these little copy changes in the layout.”
Your agency expects to make small changes during design, such as a word change, a corrected number, etc. But anything more at this stage—reworking an entire paragraph, or inserting a sentence into the middle of a copy block—takes much longer and costs more than doing it during the copy stage. Nail everything down before going to design, and everyone will be much happier.

Jim Leeke

Widely experienced in journalism, marketing communications and advertising, Jim has worked with top creative agencies to deliver print, Internet and interactive projects to Fortune 500 companies. His expertise ranges from technology and healthcare/pharmaceuticals to defense and veterans issues. Jim is also the author/editor of six books, writing extensively on the Civil War and baseball. In addition to his Wordsmithie role, Jim is Co-founder and Creative Director of Taillight Communications.