Getting senior management to approve copy and proofs can be frustrating and stressful.
Journalist Jill Wedge gives helpful tips in an article that recently appeared in the British Assocation of Communicators website.
“Get in early and manage their expectations,” says Wedge, a journalist for 20 years before moving to PR then corporate communications.
- Explain the purpose of the publication (especially if new), it’s target readers, the role of the story within it and what you expect them to contribute. It also helps if you indicate if it’s a feature or a news story, if photos are to be taken etc. In regard to photos, schedule a time for photos as soon as possible to avoid conflicts in schedule.
- If copy will come from the customer, specify the word count, a clear deadline and then call them or their secretary to check if they can meet the deadline - or need an extension.
- In regard to interviews, explain when they’ll receive written copy, then confirm how much time they have to approve it. Check their schedules always - they might take time off for a holiday. Remind them of the length of copy at this stage and that they’ll have to delete something if they add something on.
- Be clear on deadlines and tell the approving officer when you need their sign off - and what will happen if they don’t meet the deadline (costly changes to time-sensitive components of the project, re-scheduling of printing, etc).
- Giving exact dates for deadlines rather than a vague ‘end of next week’ makes you sound more professional and gives them something to work to.
- If you fear they’ll still ignore your deadline, give a false, early one, which will buy you time if the worst happens. Have a talk with “repeat offenders” about future issues. Ensure their messages get across in the magazine or website. Conduct frequent dialogues so they know you’re on their side. Understanding the production process will make them realize how difficult it becomes if they delay you - and all the other senior people’s articles! You might even find one of their peers can help you out if they think their own agenda is at risk.