How to Write a Policy Brief for Advertising your Business

Advertising yourself or your business means being honest and letting people know what you stand for as an individual or as a business (sometimes both). The concept of a policy brief is that it presents research findings in a brief and easy to read document.

The key is that it isn't filled with jargon so that non-specialists are able to read and understand it. How to write a policy brief depends on what its purpose is and what type of agenda for which you are writing it.
Policy briefs are used in government, communities, businesses (small and large), and they can be used in advertising – which is done for all of the above.

What Is a Policy Brief?

Policy briefs are used as different things in different industries. People running corporations and even elected officials will sometimes need to write policy briefs that offer a simpler explanation of complex issues.

They can be used to point out certain standards that must be met for safety regulations for corporations. In advertising, a policy brief may assist you in ensuring that you have truth in advertising, which is important.

Whether you're advertising a new drug or the next political candidate for your cause, you want your advertising to be truthful and not misleading. Your policy brief helps the other people on the advertising team understand what approach you want to take. It helps keep everyone on the team in the know.

In the long run, your policy brief will save others countless hours of research and will make sure your entire team is on the same page.

When you need to know how to write a policy brief for advertising, you need to start with a summary of the information people need in order to understand the advertisement or the goal of the advertisement. A policy brief may also include suggestions, arguments, and various possible courses of action.

You will need to be concise, use evidence, and organize the information in your policy brief effectively.

Using Policy Briefs in Advertising

Traditionally, policy briefs are used to change a policy, which is the concept from which the document gets its name. The “brief” part of policy brief explains that it needs to be short and easy to read.

In advertising, your policy brief may be to implement a new advertising strategy or change one, or it may be to implement new policies in advertising. This brief can be important in all sectors in which advertising is used.

What might need to be changed when it comes to advertising policies? Consider an advertisement that might be misleading, which can get a company or politician sued. In this case, you need to create a policy brief that explains why truth in advertising is important, shows research on the misleading information, and offers a solution (a new advertising strategy).
Policy briefs, in the most straightforward example, are meant to change something. What do you need to change in your advertising strategy?
How to Write a Policy Brief

If you're ready to learn how to write a policy brief that you can use in advertising, here are the steps you're going to need to take.

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These tips will help you create a structured policy brief that is concise and easily gets the point across about the policy and advertising changes that need to be set forth and how this can be done.

1. What's the Purpose?

How to write a policy brief in advertising, and in any other field, starts with the purpose of the brief. What are you trying to change or tell people about?
Whether you're changing the policies behind your advertising strategy, changing the strategy altogether, or you simply want to raise awareness about your business or political candidate, you want the purpose to be clear so that you know where to go from there.

2. Who Is Your Target Audience?

Policy actors are the people that generally read a policy brief. Policy actors can be an individual or an entire group of people that have some sort of affiliation with the company or candidate – including a test audience.
These people may be able to directly affect the policy or advertising changes you plan to make, or they may be there to give you feedback.

You also want to consider the overall target audience for the planned changes, not just the people that will read and possibly implement the plan.

3. Keep It Concise

The idea of your policy brief is to offer solutions to problems, so you want to make sure you're providing a clear answer to the problem. It needs to be a realistic document offering evidence-based information with solutions that can be implemented in a cost-effective manner.

Consider how busy the people that are reading your policy are and use that as a way to gauge the length of the information you include. Make sure it's able to pass what is called the “breakfast test.”

It should be able to be read in the time it takes to eat breakfast or drink a cup of coffee – should be no longer than 4 pages, but can be as few as 1 page in length.

4. Make Sure It Includes These Things

What's even more important than who is going to read your policy brief is how it is written. Like all reports, policy briefs have a specific outline you should try to follow.

As you learn how to write a policy brief, these sections will become more familiar to you:

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  • Title Page – Reports require title pages, but you don't want to make the reader take up too much of their time on this page. It should be a simple title that lets the reader know what they're diving into. Keep it informative, yet short.
  • Overview – This should include a couple of sentences that sum up the information within the brief. It should point out the relevance of the paper, to grab the reader’s attention, and you might want to include buzzwords that draw the reader in.
  • Introduction – Your introduction needs to include why you feel these policy changes need to be made and why this is something important when it comes to making changes for the business, advertising, politician, or whatnot. The introduction also needs to put the research you've done into context for the reader.
  • Research Findings – You want to make sure that you explain this portion in a way that's understandable to a layman. This section should include the methods of research used and the results of it. You'll want to include data and point to specific literature used.
  • Recommendations – With the research you've done, what recommendations can you offer to make these changes to the advertising policies of the business or to the advertising strategies themselves? Make sure that they are changes that can actually be made (and try to only make 3 suggestions at most).
  • Suggested Sources – If there is something out there that can give your reader a little more background on the issue you're discussing, include it in a suggested sources section. You don't want to use a lot of references for this type of report.
  • Disclaimers and Author – Depending on who has created the brief, you may need to include a brief disclaimer (if it was created by a group, rather than an individual). You should include contact info for the author, including their name so that the person or people reading the policy can contact you for further information or to enact the next steps.

Final Thoughts on How to Write a Policy Brief for Advertising

There are many reasons to write a policy brief, and when you work in the advertising business, you aren't immune to these reports. When you learn how to write a policy brief, you're learning how to start the ball rolling on major changes, whether they're to a political campaign or advertising a new cereal that has more vitamins than all the rest.

You need to do the research and show that the changes you see fit actually do fit and are right for the company or the candidate.

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