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How to give feedback

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by Cam's Writing

Constructive feedback saves time and money

If you work with copywriters – whether they’re freelancers, part of an agency or members of your own content team – you’ll probably have to give them some feedback at some point.

Revisions based on constructive criticism can be done quickly as there’s no need for endless back and forth. They’ll improve the copy and make everyone happy and proud of their work. That’s why we strongly believe that constructive feedback can save you time and money.

However, being able to give constructive feedback isn’t as easy as it seems. It requires high degrees of professionalism and the willingness to get the best results. Giving and receiving feedback have one thing in common: it’s never personal.

Establish rules everyone has to follow

Your feedback process should be smooth and easy to follow. The key for that is to establish some simple rules and ask every person involved in the project to follow them.

One of the most important rules is to respect the brief and what’s already been approved. If you have to make changes to your initial requirements, this shouldn’t be considered feedback, but an amendment of the brief.

You want to get all the comments and questions in one place. There’s nothing more confusing than having feedback all over the place, on various emails, on Slack or given during a conversation. You can either share the content and ask people to leave comments, or create a form where you can gather everyone’s feedback. If several people have to approve the content, it’s always a good idea to set up a deadline for it.

If you work in a team, you need to clearly establish everyone’s role and make sure you know who will have the final word. People can disagree, especially when it comes to creative content. But when two members of your team make different comments, whose opinion should be given priority? For copywriters, receiving contradictory feedback is not only confusing, it’s a waste of time.

Don’t base your feedback on your personal opinion

Let’s be clear: “Meh… I don’t like it” is not constructive feedback. It’s not helping you either, because it doesn’t give any indications on how to improve the copy. Don’t let personal opinions alter your judgement. We all have a way of saying things, words that bring up memories and that we associate with various ideas. But “I wouldn’t have phrased it like this” is not constructive feedback either.

If something sounds wrong but you can’t explain why, the best thing to do is discuss it. You can ask questions and you should be open to conversation, as it’s the best way to get great results and find solutions.

You’ve hired professionals, so you should trust their opinion. But even pro copywriters can have bias. Feel free to challenge the copywriter’s choices, as long as your arguments aren’t just based on your personal opinion.

Highlight the good as well as the bad

Copywriters are people, not robots, and everyone likes praises and compliments. If you don’t have anything negative to say, feel free to tell your writers that you like the copy. Feedback doesn’t always have to lead to changes. By the way, copywriters think that it’s suspicious when the copy gets approved without any comments.

We’re not asking you to highlight the good bits just because we want you to be nice. Giving thorough feedback, pointing out what’s good as well as what needs to be improved, will give your copywriters a clearer idea of what you want. It also helps writers understand what they can keep, what they need to improve and how they can reach your expectations.

Provide explanations and alternative options

Telling your copywriters what you like and dislike is good, but for your feedback to be constructive, you also need to provide them with more information. If something has to be changed, why? If you’ve provided an alternative copy, can you explain why you did it and why you think that your version is better?

There are many potential reasons why the copy would need to be edited. It may be because it doesn’t respect the brand guidelines, because the information it gives is incorrect or because it doesn’t match the SEO requirements if it’s content for the web. Did the copywriter make some mistakes or did you not provide them with a clear enough brief?

Finally, here’s something every copywriter will agree with. Providing alternatives options is always better than just rewriting the copy yourself. It shows that you respect the writers’ work and that you’re working with them to get the best results and the most effective copy.

 

At Cam’s Writing, we work with our clients more than for them. Together, we can discuss the copy we’ve created or localised and make sure it matches everyone’s expectations.
If you’d like to know more about our services or if you need tips about content marketing and copywriting, give us a shout.