I’m delivering more creative brief writing training at the moment and I’ve gone international! I’m working with a global agency where the creatives aren’t always in the same timezone as the planning and client services teams working with them. So good Baton-Passing becomes even more important.
Baton Passing relates pretty well to the journey of creative work through an agency from client brief to client presentation and particularly to the thinking about, then writing and briefing-in of creative briefs. It’s the way a brief writer, as a good teammate, takes the baton from the client then passes it on to creative in an added-value-insight-and-inspiration way that acts as a springboard to creating good, effective, distinctive creative work.
In athletics, relay teams rehearse the actual handover of the baton again and again, working out exactly what each runner needs to do and where they need to be in order to pass it in the most efficient way that wastes as little time as possible and sets the next runner up for a successful run. Baton Passing has been used as an analogy for effective teamwork for a while and as long as 14 years ago, Formula One teams were showing hospitals how to organise critical patient handovers better.
I still come across account handlers in all shapes and sizes of agency who think it’s ok to cut and paste straight from the client brief to the creative brief. Then they email the brief over to the creative without taking them through it. That’s got to be the equivalent of half-heartedly chucking a baton in the general direction of a creative then walking away. It’s not done on purpose obviously, without a cross-agency culture of teamwork and two-way communication (and some decent brief-writing and briefing training), how were they to know any better? People don’t deliberately set out to write poor briefs.
The baton passing problem is then exacerbated when account handlers haven’t been taught how to provide useful feedback in a creative review, making them a poor baton-receiver this time, or they don’t know how to do a show-your-workings setup to sell the creative to the client and get it across the finish line.
So, I’ve come to realise that you can’t ‘fix’ creative brief writing in an agency with training alone. You need to make sure that the agency culture actively encourages and supports good baton passing.