Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Death by Review

All marketing and PR professionals have faced the same problem at some time in their careers: death by review.
The professional produces the desired material on time for review. And that’s when the fun starts. Due to almost endless review and approval loops, the signing off on the produced document or design is often beyond the deadline.
Apart from frustrating, long and complicated approval circles also comprise the quality. Remember the quotation: “a camel is an animal put together by a committee”? That’s often the end result.
So how to avoid this pitfall?
The following seven steps may help.

1) Do your research. Make yourself an expert by not only knowing exactly what the ideas, concepts and procedures within the company are, but also what has been done by the competitors. Check market and industry trends as well.

2) Define the project and process in detail. Put in deadlines of the deliverables, as well as the consequences when deadlines are not met.

3) Try to limit the review committee to 3 people (for internal marketing/PR) and only one project manager (for external agencies).

4) When planning the project, make a detailed timeline with some buffer for unforeseen events.

5) Limit the amount of drafts to be reviewed. Avoid “creeping elegance” – the tendency to try and improve the content by making changes again and again.

6) If possible, use templates (such as press releases, newsletters) or other materials (e.g. colors, fonts, icons, images when creating new brochures or posters) that were already approved by the company before.

7) Try to backup the content of the document or design with trends, customers’ reactions or competitors’ material. It makes the acceptance by the company a lot easier. This relates to the first item: research

Depending on the company or organization, it might be impossible to implement a smooth review procedure. In that case, there is only one thing to be done: grin and bear and make sure the blame is not on you.

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