Published: 17 October 2017

Tips for giving feedback to creatives

Giving good feedback can save you time, stress and late nights fixing mistakes that needn’t have happened. Fewer rounds of changes will keep your costs down too. But how do you make sure your feedback is well received and inspires the results you’re looking for?

When giving feedback, here are four things you should be:

Honest

If you’re not sure about something, however trivial, say so. Yes, be positive and polite. But you don’t need to pretend you like something just to be nice. A good creative will respond well to straight-talking feedback. It’s part of their job to justify and explain any creative decisions they’ve made. But remember, “I don’t like it” will need supporting with a bit more detail. Refer to your original brief and point out anything that doesn’t match up with, or work hard enough to achieve, your aims and objectives.

Upfront

Express any doubts at the earliest opportunity. The longer you wait to discuss your concerns, the harder or more time consuming it will be to change copy or design you’re not happy with.

As part of your project plan, agree several points in the process to give detailed feedback. Make sure you show it to everyone who needs to see it at these points. Give your colleagues plenty of time to gather their thoughts – and your creative plenty of time to implement changes. Ideally, don’t leave it until the last round of feedback to show it to people whose opinions matter most…

Specific

If the copy or design is “off-brand”, try and point out which part of the guidelines it contradicts. Rather than “it needs to be more engaging”, can you be clear about what you want your audience to do/think/feel after they’ve interacted with the communication?

If you’re offering several people’s feedback, make sure you collate it carefully. It’s not unusual to end up with contradictory comments. If this happens, discuss it with your creative. They can help you decide the best route to go down and give you persuasive explanations for colleagues whose ideas you’re not going to implement.

Challenging

Make use of the expertise you’re paying for. When there’s a problem with the copy or design, you don’t need to find the solution yourself. Your job is to articulate the issue, it’s their job to fix it.

For example, rather than instructing your designer to make that image x% bigger or that font bold, remind them that a lot of your supporters are over 70 so the design needs to be accessible. Let them use their expertise to pick the best colours, text size and layout that are effective and meet your brief. Instead of rewriting a headline yourself, tell the copywriter why you think it doesn’t work for your audience. Ask them to come up with several alternative suggestions for you to choose from.

If you suggest a change that isn’t possible or just won’t work, a good creative will always tell you why. And they’ll come back with a successful alternative. If they don’t, challenge them – and keep working together until you’re both happy with the results.


Image: WoCinTech Chat, 2017. CC


Sarah Myers, copywriter and editor, freelance

Sarah has over 15 years' experience as writer, editor and project manager. She has worked in-house for Mencap and Macmillan Cancer Support, as an editorial manager at a charity copywriting agency, and is now freelance. Her clients include a wide range of large and small charities and specialist communications agencies.