Is Your Content Review Process Out of Control? How to Fix It

Companies crave content—high-quality, timely, and accurate content that is brand supportive and designed to connect and compel target audiences to some desired action. To achieve these goals content providers, publishers, and organizations must establish content review processes. These processes generally involve multiple touchpoints, and many eyeballs. Everyone is reviewing content for different reasons—from grammar, spelling, and style compliance, to SEO, content accuracy, and more. Content marketers in regulated industries are subject to even more scrutiny.

Unfortunately, more reviews means more costs. Circular rounds of review squeeze the life out of carefully crafted content.

Is your content review process out of control? The following pointers will help you streamline your process without giving up on quality, accuracy, and timeliness.

A Shared, Clearly Communicated Vision

Steve Kurniawan is responsible for content marketing and growth strategy for Nine Peaks Media, a performance-based digital marketing agency. As a freelance writer, he says he has encountered many different forms of review processes. Based on his experiences Kurniawan believes that the most important part of content creation is the content brief process. “The more detailed the briefing is, the easier for me to produce the content, and the easier the review process will be as we can always go back to the initial brief—and I can also use the brief to defend my work.”

Importantly that brief should be agreed upon by all involved in content review. It is, in essence, a shared vision of what success looks like.

Clear Roles

Each reviewer must also fully understand their role in the process—what it is and what it isn’t. In addition, the role of each reviewer should be clear. Is input  “for consideration” or meant as a directive: “You must do this”?

An important role in an efficient content review process is that of project manager. This is the point person who will be charged with gathering and considering inputs, determining which inputs are relevant and required and keeping the lines of communication open between all of those involved in the content review and creation process.

A Crazy Review Process

Too often review processes become circuitous. Rounds of reviewers make changes upon changes until the final, edited copy is, at best, bland—at worst, incomprehensible. Consider for instance the following copy review process.

  • First, copy goes to a copy editor to review for grammar/spelling/adherence to style. It may also go through a program like Yoast to address readability issues.
  • Then, copy goes on to SEO review. The writer painstakingly makes sure that the right numbers of words/phrases are used the right number of times.
  • Next copy is sent to an internal subject matter expert (SME).
  • Then, on to the head of marketing
  • Finally, copy moves on to representatives from legal and/or compliance
  • And then, after several rounds of edits, the copy comes back to the writer for revisions

Seems like a logical process. But think about this: what are the odds that over a series of 4+ reviews, that occur after readability and SEO review, that the same—or new—readability and SEO issues have been reintroduced? Quite high, actually. And so another round of reviews ensues and the vicious cycle continues.


A Review Process That Makes Sense

What if we were to turn this review process on its head, starting with legal, marketing, and subject matter experts to provide a high-level review to answer the questions of:

  • Is this information accurate? (SME)
  • Is this information of potential interest to our audience? Does it serve to help us achieve our goals/objectives? Is it aligned with our brand? (Marketing)
  • Does this information represent any legal or regulatory risk? (Legal/Compliance)

Marie Parks is co-CEO of North Star Messaging + Strategy, a messaging strategy and copywriting agency serving successful business owners. “The biggest danger in setting up a content review process is having too many cooks in the kitchen,” says Parks. “It can be tempting to give every stakeholder a chance to give content their check of approval. But there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and subjective back-and-forth.”

Building Efficiency Into the Process

Subjective back-and-forth eats up time and can ratchet up tension between various factions involved in content creation, review, and approval.

At North Star, Parks says: “Each project has a content creator and an editor who serves as brand quality control. We limit the number of rounds of revisions to keep the project timeline from spiraling.” If both the content creator and editor are “immersed in the brand,” she says, the process works well. To aid in this, she says, “we create custom guides to make sure the content creator knows how to leverage the brand’s voice.”

Goals and Benchmarks

How much does it cost to submit a piece of content through a multi-level review process? It can cost a lot. Document those costs to establish a benchmark for evaluating potential process improvements. This can clearly demonstrate the incremental costs of sending content through yet one more review.

It’s not necessary to give up quality by streamlining your content review process to include the required checkpoints while minimizing round after round of edits. The effort expended here will be well worth it in terms of cost, quality, and results.

*Originally published in EContent.


About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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