What’s a Good Process for Content Approvals?
Like other marketing professionals, content marketers are constantly under the gun to deliver fresh content that feeds the successful content engine. Which means time is of the essence. Between brainstorming new topics and content pieces and then publishing or delivering final versions to the client, there is often very little margin for error. Conceptualizing and then writing the content must be followed immediately by an efficient review and approval process.
The Problems with Approval Processes
There are inherent problems within any approval process, especially if the various steps in the process are not made clear from the start. For example:
- Delays and bottlenecks: due to too many (or too few) approvers or an overly complex approval process
- Lack of clarity: miscommunication about who approves what, when things are due, and what needs to be approved
- Scope creep: revisions might change the content so much, it fails to meet its goal
- Errors: content goes out with errors despite an approval process because of a lack of ownership or confusion about correct file versions
So what are some ideal approval processes for content?
Traditional Approval: Publishing’s Chain of Command
In the publishing industry, approvals are straightforward and follow a linear waterfall workflow. Each piece must be finished and approved before it’s handed off to the next person in the chain of command.
Here’s the approval flow:
Writer > Copy editor > Managing editor > Designer > Creative director > Editor-in-chief approves final
Traditionally, freelance writers are given an assignment and a deadline. Their draft is handed to an editor — typically a copy editor, who may hand off the final edit to the managing editor. The edited version is then laid out by a designer, who assembles a visual mock up that a creative director will approve. Finally, the editor-in-chief will look over the layout and either approve it or ask for revisions on design or copy.
This process takes away any complexity and approvals at each step are clear to all involved. Just watch out for bottlenecks when individual approvers (i.e. editors, creative director, EIC) are swamped with other work.
Digital Approval: Online Review, Proofing & Approvals
There is an alternative to a linear approach however. Project management software like Wrike can give you the ability to assign multiple people to approve each step, and even assign someone as the final approver in a chain. This allows a team of editors, for example, to edit work simultaneously and still have a final editor in the chain sign off on the work.
Here’s the approval flow:
Writer > Multiple editors > Designer > Multiple approvers > Project owner publishes final
By using software like Wrike for Marketers’ Proofing & Approvals feature, you can help clarify who approves what, and even remind approvers when there are tasks waiting their approval. This feature also clarifies what the status of each piece of content is because at a glance, you can see who has yet to check the work.
Final Tips on Building a Content Approval Process
To ensure an efficient approval process for your content engine, we recommend the following actions:
- 1. Define approver roles:
Decide who does what, and who has final say (and ownership) on a piece of content. This takes away the anxiety of wondering who still needs to approve a campaign or a blog post before it’s launched.
- 2. Review periodically:
See if your system works after a month or two. If it breaks down too often, it may be too complex.
- 3. Forget email:
And finally, for sanity’s sake, stop using email to get approvals on work. It’s too easy to lose or misplace an important comment or a revision instruction. Use a proper work tool that promotes accountability by allowing you to see all comments and approvals status at a glance.