Grayton Integrated Publishing: custom publications and content, creative services
Grayton Integrated Publishing: custom publications and content, creative services
Grayton Integrated Publishing: custom publications, publication design
Grayton Integrated Publishing: native advertising, advertorials, writing, graphic design
advertorial design, advertorial samples
Getting approvals on content is not always easy. Here, Grayton team members look at some techniques for smoothing the process. 
Q: Projects seem to slow down during the internal approval process. When that affects the schedule and, ultimately, the budget, what can be done?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just go about the business of creating a magazine without getting approval from seven layers of management? In reality, that rarely happens. Even Grayton’s smallest clients often endure a multistep approval process. Accepting this and planning for it accordingly is the best approach.
You have to assume that people will procrastinate; it’s human nature to put off today what you really don’t have to do until tomorrow. To offset that, be very clear about exactly what you need and when you need it. 
If you’re routing approvals through five different people, you’ll want to record who has seen that particular document on what date. With multiple approvals, it can help to provide e-mail updates stating who has responded and who hasn’t so that people are held accountable to their colleagues. 
Don’t just send things out into the ether and wait, assuming that people will respond without reminders. You need to remind people, and you need to determine which kind of reminder will be most effective. Lawyers tend to like things in writing; executives might prefer that you schedule a brief meeting to review their changes. As you go about this, be polite, pleasant, and exceedingly persistent. 
Sometimes money talks. If people are dragging their feet, they might be motivated by your saying, “We need this approved by such-and-such date or the meter starts running.”
It’s also important to help your outside creative team navigate the approval process. For example, once you get multiple sets of changes back from the various reviewers, you can save time and ward off huge issues down the road by compiling the edits and giving your team one set of changes to incorporate. Your outside vendor doesn’t know your internal political pecking order; you’re the one who needs to make the call when Executive A’s edits contradict Executive B’s.
Q: Does it help to set a schedule for review in advance?
When Grayton starts a project, we ask how much time is needed for internal approvals. Will a one-week turnaround work? Or will travel schedules and meetings make two weeks more realistic? 
Then we look at your company calendar to take into consideration holidays, conferences, vacations, and so on. During this planning period, we ask reviewers for their preferences: How much time do you need, and how would you like materials to come to you? There’s no point in giving someone three weeks if they tell you that they’re going to need no more than three days. 
When people have input up front about how the system will work, they’ll have a feeling of buy-in and are more likely to cooperate down the road. 
Q: Getting projects reviewed and approved has always been a nightmare in our company. Is there a better way?
Grayton once worked on a joint project involving two large companies. Because there were two groups contributing content, we knew we’d need to get our ducks in a row right from the start.
We began by holding a kickoff meeting to explain the process and make clear what was needed and—most important—who was responsible for each part.
Next, we scheduled a series of regular status conference calls, during which we would review where things stood and which pieces were still outstanding. Like clockwork, we would see everything that was due flow in an hour before the conference call. Nobody wanted to be on the phone and have it broadcast that they had dropped the ball.
Q: I don’t want to nag my executives. What’s the harm of getting a little behind schedule?
Of course the ultimate decision about sticking with the original schedule is up to you. But in almost every case, time means money. A few years back, Grayton worked with a client on a series of marketing materials that were filled with technical specifications. The client ended up taking so long with approvals that new equipment came out in the meantime—equipment with all-new technical specs. 
Everything had to change, and the client ended up paying twice for the same result. 
Q: Anything else I should keep mind?
Remember that it’s normal for reviewers to make changes—your goal is to prevent the big changes from happening too far downstream, when it’s more expensive to accommodate them. For instance, if you’re creating a brochure, make sure your reviewers are on board with the concept and everyone agrees that a brochure is the right vehicle for your message and your audience. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re about to send the brochure to the printer and a key reviewer asks, “What’s this?” or “Shouldn’t we be spending the budget for this on an ad instead?” If your reviewers have had the opportunity to provide big-picture input early on in the creative process, then by the time you get to the end of the approval cycle, changes should be relatively small. Instead of questioning the validity of producing a brochure, they’re asking you to make a few minor wording changes—revisions that can be handled quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.