An article in the current issue of PR Influences discusses the approval process for media releases.
The article asserts that “approval” is not really what the writer needs from the process but, rather, “for people to contribute their knowledge on the matter so that the piece is accurate and conforms to company policies.” The recommendation, therefore, is to rename the process and avoid calling it “approval.” Among the suggested names are “refinement” and “completion.”
The article asserts that the writer should take control from the start as an initiator with the appropriate skills and training. The writer should seek help, but not permission or approval, from key people in their area of responsibility, e.g., for the legal department to review privacy, for product managers to review descriptive accuracy and for marketing to ensure that the copy is ‘on message.’
The article also points out that the process should be streamlined to include only the people that are really necessary. Remaining team members should be sent a “read only” document or PDF file to prevent them from doing actual editing or rewriting on the material. They should be asked to send back their comments, suggestions and inclusions as “area experts” via email.
According to the article, team members should be informed of who the intended audience of the material is so that they will not read it as if they were the target audience.
Team members should also be given a company deadline and should be made aware that it is linked to, and critical to, a larger activity.
Finally, the article says that process team members should be provided with clips of the coverage in the appropriate media, together with thanks for their contribution in the joint effort of putting out the media release.
This is a rather tricky thing to accomplish as past experience shows that people tend to overdo their part in such a process. Everyone suddenly becomes a critic, an editor and a rewriter. Ideas tend to branch out in all directions. Before you know it, the media release has become unrecognizable. With the abovementioned tips, though, the media release writer is better equipped to deal with the process and the people along the way.