How to tame the content approval monster

Tame the Content Approval Monster

Lurking in the corner of your office is an unseen threat to the success of your content marketing efforts. It’s the approval monster and his favorite activity is not to dismember, devour and destroy, but rather to plant his fat butt on top of your content, bringing your publishing process to a screeching halt.

No approvals. Not today. Not for a week or two, if you’re lucky!

As you scale your content marketing production, one of the challenges you’re likely to encounter is content approvals. If you don’t have a streamlined process for managing them, they WILL become a bottleneck and compromise your ability to publish content consistently.

Here are some ideas for keeping content flowing smoothly in your organization:

Clearly define your content workflow, and make sure you distribute it to everyone who has a hand in content production, as well as any relevant subject matter experts and stakeholders. Everyone needs to be working from a common set of expectations and roles. This article includes a simple “swim lane” diagram that can help you understand what a typical content process looks like.

Don’t treat all content the same. Certain types of content, such as ebooks and video scripts, deserve a full-blown vetting process. Other types of content, such as social media posts and images for your company’s Facebook page or Instagram feed, should he managed with much less attention and oversight. You should be able to publish them as soon as they’re produced, or on a schedule that you decide. For a valuable perspective on this topic, including an awesome red light/yellow light/green light model, please see Marcia Riefer Johnston’s article on the Content Marketing Institute’s website.

Centralize all of your internally-written and contributed content in Google Docs. This cloud-based word processing tool enables you to collaborate easily with others, track revision history and much more. This article from SmartBlogger explains how to make it the engine of a scalable content production and publishing empire.

Set time limits on content reviews. Let your article sources and department managers know the turn-around time you require. But here’s the important part: Also let them know that if you don’t hear from them by that date, you will assume they are okay with the content as is, and you may proceed with the publishing process.

Identify production bottlenecks and reduce or eliminate them. Diagram your content production process, so you understand who is involved and what the dependencies are at each step. Next, measure and document how long each step takes. Then select a standardized period of time (such as a week) and determine how much content each person could produce within that time frame. Gathering this data will help you identify where the bottleneck is in your process, so you can reduce or eliminate it. For a full explanation of this process, please read this article.

Follow the model publishers use. Publishers don’t have the luxury of having content hung-up in approvals. They operate on a very tight schedule. Accordingly, they take a more streamlined approach to this important part of the publishing process. They establish rules and monitor for editorial compliance once and then enforce them rigorously to all content. This model enables content producers to focus on what they do best – creating high-quality content, – but within an agreed-upon framework. This article contains a deeper explanation of how this works.

What is your approach to content production, reviews and approvals? If you don’t have clearly defined content roles, responsibilities and processes, now is the time to set them up.