The Capital “E” of Review Loops

The long and short of review loops

Review loops rarely go fast enough for me.

I spend a lot of time reminding — “pestering” is a less compassionate way of putting it — reviewers to turn drafts around. That’s because we need to return the drafts to the writers in time to incorporate changes and move on to production, like layout or preparation for the blog platform.

Most reviewers forget that, of course. They send me their comments and changes at the eleventh hour, then expect that everyone downstream can be ready to publish the final version in no time flat.

Oddly, I find those reviewers at the top and bottom of the organization, but not in the middle.

Review loops: Long at the top and bottom, short in the middle

The distribution of reviewers resembles a capital “E,” which I’ve depicted in the image above.

The lower you are in the organization — say, a marketing coordinator or content specialist — the longer it takes you to run a review loop and return the draft to the writer. That’s usually because you’re not yet empowered to make decisions about such things. Your responsibility is to route drafts around the organization among those who are so empowered (and pester them to send their comments).

You might think that review loops get shorter at the other end of the corporate spectrum. I don’t find that to be the case, paradoxically. The higher you are in the organization — say, a vice president or a senior director of product management — the longer it takes you ALSO to run a review loop and turn a draft around to a marketing communications writer.

There are several possible reasons for that. People at the top travel a lot. They spend most of their time putting out fires. Their time is precious. They are closer to the current messaging and need to ensure all content adheres to it. They can’t imagine reviewing something and not needing to provide lengthy comments and changes.

Goldilocks and the three review loops

But if you’re in the middle of the organization — say, a content marketing manager or a director of marketing — you can run a pretty short review loop and keep the project moving. You understand the project, you know whether the draft meets the organization’s goals, and you’re already responsible for the face you show the world. You’re confident in your ability to gauge and approve outward-facing content.

It’s a happy-medium place to be, especially in the B2B content marketing process.

And, it goes deeper. In the middle of the organization, you’re more likely to view the writer as a peer, rather than as a superior or a subordinate. It’s easier for you to sympathize with a good writer’s objective: to do a good job in the shortest time possible. It’s easier for you to want the writer to succeed.

Raise your hand if you too see this “E” as you route drafts through your organization. How do you deal with it?

photo credit: A. Pismo Clamm


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing 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 Content Marketing Writer.”