9 Apr 2008

Getting the nod

Some things in life should require a careful approval process: new therapeutic drugs, architectural blueprints and NASA lunar expeditions, for example.

But for seasoned communications professionals, approval processes (such as getting content signed off) can sometimes be compared to fingernails scraping across a chalk board.

I’ve worked in both hemispheres, across numerous industries, as a consultant and as an in-house flack. The story never changes. It is often a drawn-out process, involving many people sending conflicting, cryptic comments and inserting new problems to fix - all the while finding it impossible to meet deadlines. Sound familiar?

No doubt checks and balances are important. The question is how to keep the checks and balances checked and balanced.

Streamlining the sign-off process boosts efficiency, lowers costs and ensures timely communications. As cheesy as it sounds, keep the following clichés in mind:

- Too many cooks spoil the broth – i.e. limit the number of people involved. Where possible, appoint a single person to collate comments from their respective areas, thereby minimizing the amount of people finalizing content.

- Some things are best left to professionals – i.e. don’t feel obliged to incorporate all received comments. Review suggested amendments with a critical eye and question if they are truly necessary.

- There’s no such thing as perfect – i.e. compromise is part of the approval process where there are two or more competing views. Accept it.

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