Competing agendas, outdated policies and siloed communications weave a tangled web in large organizations, making the content approval process painstakingly inefficient for marketers. The more people involved, the more convoluted the process. The longer approval takes, the less agile the company. When your job is to connect with audiences who demand relevance and instant information, getting hung up in your organization’s own approval process will lead to failure.
To unravel and simplify the process, you need a content approval workflow; a conveyer belt for your content that gets it from creative, through approval to distribution without getting stuck or straying off course. But before your workflow will work, there must be a sturdy infrastructure in place.
Not a big fan of reinventing the wheel? Here is a step-by-step guide to help you increase the speed of your content approval process.
Take a long, hard look at every person involved in your approval process. Are they all really necessary? If you struggle for an answer, cut them out of the approval chain. The idea isn’t to hamstring your process by removing so many people that those who remain are bogged down. But it is necessary to optimize this chain by eliminating any unnecessary stops.
Before you shake your head skeptically and reach for your mouse—I’m already a step ahead of you. Certain industries like healthcare and finance have so many legal implications, every piece of content must pass through the legal department before publishing. Sometimes, content may even need to filter through a second set of regulatory lawyers. You can’t cut legal out, but their involvement notoriously complicates the approval process.
By eliminating other unnecessary people, you will make more space for legal’s involvement. By including the legal team in your initial plans for content marketing and helping them understand why it is important to your organization, you will have an easier time getting their buy-in for the process.
If you haven’t already done this, create and require the use of a style guide. A style guide is a set of rules for writing and designing content. Having one will establish your brand standard and ensure authenticity, quality, consistency and productivity. It will also help limit legal’s involvement by documenting clear guidelines that ensure content is compliant with legal and brand style requirements. In this set of rules, cover every aspect of writing and design, including:
How will you get your creative teams to follow this style guide? Keep it at a reasonable length. If it resembles the width of an encyclopedia, you’ll intimidate your staff. Make it accessible and easy for everyone to reference.
Who owns what part of the approval process? Without every single contributor understanding their role and sticking firmly to their role, your approval process will bulge, buckle and collapse. Some members of the process are “reviewers,” some are “approvers,” and others are “publishers.” Give each member in the approval process a label, define their responsibility and map out how content is to travel from person to person. (Hint, hint, this is your workflow!) Finally, put one key stakeholder or CXO (maybe you?) in charge of final approval.
There’s software for just about everything these days, including workflow management. For example, TrackVia and everteam are two of the top enterprise-grade workflow management softwares that aid in the automation and streamlining of complex content workflows. Check out this list of the Top 10 Workflow Software for more information.
If an organization wants to be agile, flexible and responsive, content must be publishable within a reasonable time frame. The key to speed is identifying who must review and approve content, and setting clear guidelines for creative and reviewers to follow. With the right infrastructure in place, your editorial team will have greater power to publish without fear of consequence
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