Review Loops Made Easier – Part 2

This post was written by John White on Tue, 17 Dec 2013 16:55:53 +0000
Posted Under: review loop

What takes most of the time in getting content out the door? The review loops. Here are a few more ways to make review loops go as smoothly as possible.

yarn loops and review loopsIn my last post, I highlighted three ways to make review loops easier in your organization:

  1. Get all reviewers involved from the start.
  2. Ask your white paper writer to include the summary with the outline.
  3. When you send it out, tell reviewers what you do and don’t want.

I’ll finish up my list of 6 tips in this post.

4) Send drafts serially, not in parallel.

In the interest of time, you’re tempted to attach the outline or draft to email, copy all four reviewers and send it out to them in parallel at the same time. You’ll ask each of them to send his/her comments back to you in a day or two, then you’ll forward all of that to your marketing writer.

You’re better off sending a single, cumulative version to each reviewer in sequence. It’s better for the reviewers, better for you and better for the eventual outcome.

What happens when you don’t do that?

Your time-savings in parallel are really a false economy, because you run the risk of sacrificing quality. When you send a draft out for review in parallel:

  • reviewers are unable to see the comments other reviewers have made
  • you may end up getting back a heap of contradictory changes
  • either you have to reconcile conflicting directions or – worse yet – your writer has to reconcile them.

You’re better off sending it first to Sid, asking for his comments by the end of tomorrow, then forwarding Sid’s changes to Carole, then Carole’s changes to Bill, etc. Yes, I know it takes longer, but what you lose in time you gain in quality.

5) Politely persist in your follow-up, even when the reviewer is a customer.

Whether you work serially or in parallel, you’re still going to have to pursue some of your reviewers to get their comments to you. Obtaining these approvals is part of your job, so grin and bear it.

First, everything you send out for review should have a please-return-by deadline in bold type. That’s how people know that you’re serious.

If a reviewer is tardy in returning comments, I recommend sending a single email message within half a workday of your deadline. If you receive no reply within one workday, phone the reviewer.

After that, let office etiquette, politics and the relationship you have with your customer be your guide.

What happens when you don’t do that?

Your editorial schedule slips, and you start having trouble owning the very process these reviewers have begged you to manage.

Don’t hide behind email, though. If your email reminder doesn’t work, then pick up the phone. Leave a message if you have to, but don’t just keep lobbing email at your reviewer.

There’s really nothing wrong with polite persistence. In time, you begin to see whom you can trust as a reviewer, which is a valuable lesson.

6) Read and reconcile comments before you send them to the writer.

Do you read the copy that comes back from reviewers, or do you just turbo-forward it to your marketing writer? Yes, I know you’re busy, and you feel as though you’ve crossed the finish line by corralling all comments and changes and sending them to the writer, but you should have a look at them first.

In particular, scan the comments for food fights among reviewers.

What happens when you don’t do that?

When you don’t take the bull by the horns and reconcile points of contention among your reviewers, you put your writer between a rock and a hard place. If the reviewers haven’t managed to agree on messaging and substance, you shouldn’t expect your writer to do so. A smart writer will incorporate all the other changes, leave the discrepancies untouched and return them to you with a note.

After all, as a marketing manager, you own the relationship with your reviewers. It doesn’t make sense to hand it off to your marketing communications writer, does it?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.

photo credit: WillowW

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