ImageI haven't seen every episode of The Dog Whisperer, but the ones I have seen pretty much boil down to this: Walk your dog for 45 minutes every day, and make sure he knows you're the boss. Apparently dogs, like children, crave boundaries. So do copywriters.

Which isn't to say we can't produce brilliant, laser-focused work when left to our own devices; we have been known to heed the voice of our own, interior copy masters. Sometimes this leads to hitherto unimagined realms of daring; sometimes it results in a chewed-up couch. Once we've established a bond of mutual understanding and trust with you, however, let us off the leash and watch us fly like greyhounds.

We know you don't all have creative directors – boundary-setting specialists – at your disposal. Nor are most of you in a position to provide your copy purveyor with a detailed creative brief. Still, you'll get the ultimate in prize-winning behavior from us if you establish a few boundaries, however informally.

  1. Word count: I know it may seem hard to calculate, but you can probably determine at least an approximate range. If you leave it up to us, you may get something too long for your purposes (we tend to be barkers). Yes, we can always trim on the next go-round, but it's most effective to nail down length on the first draft.

  2. Content specifics: Never hesitate to say, "This is what I want, and this is what I don't want." Believe me, if we think you're off-target, we'll growl. If you can dash off even a rough list of content requirements, we'll save time up front and be able to lavish more on the fine-tuning.

  3. Tone guidance: If you're not 100% sure of what you want the tone to be, just throw some ideas at us. A spontaneous burst of adjectives can go a long way toward making sure we're speaking to the audience you need to reach.
That having been said, we understand that sometimes you don't really know what you want and can't even begin to figure it out until we give you something to work with. That's okay. We will continue to love you unconditionally, but we may try to snatch food from your plate every once in a while (especially if there's bacon on it).