I bet I know what’s making you crazy.
Waiting for that article you wrote two weeks ago to get approved by the higher-ups.
In many organizations, getting content approved is a huge obstacle standing in the way of success. Creating a steady flow of audience-focused content requires a certain pace and rhythm. While Real-Time Marketing seems like something of a fad, a content marketing effort often requires a predictable rhythm – this helps the audience begin to rely on your content as a source of reliable information. A sloggy approval process can leave you flopping around aimlessly, pouring content into the black hole of approvals.
And then you’ve wasted time creating content, your “editors” are performing a task they clearly don’t have time for, and the audience is left unserved (at least until they go find someone else who will deliver them high quality content).
On a more macro scale, it can impede organizations from transitioning their marketing department to a newsroom model, something that is increasingly appealing. Newsrooms don’t have to operate at breakneck speed all the time and but they typically need to operate faster than “business pace” in order to deliver content in the right place at the right time.
What you need is an approval process. One that’s efficient but still thorough.
Here’s how to design that process.
Establish the approval process at the beginning. You don’t want to have to make this up on the fly. Worse yet, if you have no approval system in place, you’re inviting chaos and other potential problems. Not the best foundation for an effective content marketing program.
Once the approval process is designed, be sure that you have the necessary buy-in all the way up the chain. Your goal is to create an efficient, repeatable that’s good for content marketing and good for business.
Fight for efficiency. The point of an approval process is to make sure you don’t get the brand or yourself in trouble. But it can’t be so onerous that it inhibits audience engagement. Design an approval process that works for the content team. You want to design an approval process that is as simple as possible. This will help to ensure that content creation does not become a burden across the organization. Not every blog post should require approval from the legal department (although, importantly, some do). Brands that embrace content marketing need to trust their content creators; if every word you write needs to be examined by a team of lawyers, your organization is doing it wrong and will fail.
Be a team player. Just because you designed an efficient approval process, don’t hide behind it. Remember that a content marketing effort exists to benefit the organization, and that sometimes it’s smart business to over-communicate. If you produce content you think is going to be provocative, or that will stir significant industry conversation, at least give the top dogs a heads up. Nothing makes the CEO angrier than being at an event when someone asks her about something you wrote that she isn’t aware of. On occasions when the subject matter could be sensitive, it’s not a bad idea to seek a greater level of approval. This will help to build trust in your editorial and business judgment with those higher ups, and give you freer reign as they become accustomed
Operate accordingly. Once the approval workflow is established, follow it. If you know that it’s going to take two weeks to get the necessary approvals, then you have to work ahead. Magazines with long lead times have been doing this forever, and so can you.
Establishing an efficient approval process is a critical step in designing your content workflows. Many content efforts have bogged down because there was an assumption that content would somehow magically be approved.
Don’t be silly. Design an approval process, and stick to it.