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August 17, 2021

How to Manage the Content Approval Process with Many Stakeholders

If you work in marketing or on a creative team, you may be familiar with the concept of content approval. You may have also experienced that collecting feedback and getting approvals can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking — and it gets even more difficult the more stakeholders that are involved. The fact is that you need a structured content approval process to be able to deal with a large number of stakeholders and still keep the overview of all incoming feedback and change requests. 

What is a Content Approval Process and Who is Involved?

The content approval process is part of the content creation process. In this stage, several stakeholders can be involved to give feedback, request changes or accept content before it is published. 

They can include members of the marketing team, members of the product team, designers, brand managers, compliance managers and upper management. It is important to work and communicate with all of them for a smooth approval process. 

But before you can have a content approval process, you first need to go through the content creation process. Content creation is the process of developing topics or ideas that appeal to your buyer persona, creating written or visual content around those ideas and making that information available to your audience in the form of a blog, video, infographic or other format.

The content creation process can look like this:  

SEO image

The content approval process covers the review and editing stage as well as the approval stage, consisting of the following steps: 

  1. Content is shared with reviewers
  2. Reviewers leave and discuss feedback
  3. Editor adapts the content
  4. Reviewers give their final approval

A content approval process can also be referred to as a combination of quality assurance, target alignment and optimization processes. This process also ensures that the content is mistake-free and aligns with compliance and brand guidelines. 

Summarized content approval gives you the ability to:

  • Find and fix mistakes before they're published
  • Improve the performance of your content by optimizing it
  • Make sure the content is consistent with your overall branding

How to Structure Your Content Approval Process

So now that you know what a content approval process is and why it is important, the next step is to set up a structured process that allows you to easily scale the number of involved reviewers and keep all feedback organized. Depending on your organization, the content approval process can take a few hours, days or even weeks. 

This is what a typical content approval process looks like:

1. Define your review groups

First, you need to determine who needs to review and approve your content. What sections do they need to review? And at what stage of the project? When you have this clearly stated, you can create a list of all stakeholders and assign them to different groups.

2. Set up your review steps

Now you set up a review step for each group of reviewers. This allows you to better structure your process and share each file with the right review group at the right stage of the project. 

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The number of steps can be different for each campaign or content piece. With a large number of stakeholders involved it’s very likely that you will need to create more review steps to separate the different reviewer groups. 

3. Share content with your first review group

This officially kicks off the approval process. The first group of reviewers are added to the first step, they get access to your content and are invited to leave their feedback.

invite reviews to team review4. Receive feedback and edit content

Now each reviewer of this group can leave comments and annotations directly on the file. Since reviewers can see the comments from others, they can discuss different opinions immediately with each other. After that, the content editor can have a look at the feedback and make appropriate changes to the file. 

lemonade bottle review

5. Get approval

You will need to share the revised version with the same review group to get the approval needed to move the file to the next review group. If for some reason approval is not received, then you will need to make more corrections until you can finally move the file to the next step.

  1. More feedback rounds 

The number of review rounds depends on the number of review groups you have defined in step 1. After getting the approval from the first review group, move the file to the next review step. Receive a new round of feedback and edit the content as necessary, and share the revised version. Repeat until you receive approval from these stakeholders, then move the file to the next review step, and so on, until you have received feedback and approval from every stakeholder group.

approval workflow diagram7. Final approval

This means that your content has ticked off all the boxes that qualify your content as suitable for publish. After the last review group has given their approval, your content is completed and you can make use of the content as you deem fit. 

To manage all the steps listed above as easily as possible, we recommend using content review and approval software such as Filestage

This tool supports your content approval process all the way through: 

  • Set up your process with multiple review steps on a centralized platform
  • Invite unlimited reviewers
  • Track and manage all comments and annotations
  • Get the final approval

With a content approval software, you can organize your process and review documents, videos, images and audio clips all in one place. You are also able to collaborate with your team while keeping the entire process as transparent as possible.

Three Best Practices to Improve Your Content Approval Process

The goal of having a structured content approval process is to get a 'go-ahead' as soon as possible. Here are some tips that will get the whole process moving along smoothly and efficiently.

1. Give your reviewers clear instructions

Give your reviewers context on the project and what you expect from them to help them give precise and valuable feedback. For instance, if you have specific guidelines that each reviewer can tick off, that will speed up the process and reduce the chance of miscommunication. 

2. Set due dates for reviewers

It is important to let your reviewers understand that you will need their timely feedback or approval. They also have tasks and jobs that they need to get done. Hence, they may need a slight nudge regarding your particular content. Setting due dates for reviewers allows them to structure their time and tasks even better and allows you to get feedback and approvals on time.  

3. Make collaboration easy

The greater the number of stakeholders involved in the review round, the more varying and even conflicting feedback you might receive. That is why you should provide your stakeholders a shared platform where they can communicate with each other directly in the file to discuss different opinions and come to an agreement. Features like mentioning users, adding attachment to comments and making annotations in the file can streamline collaboration.   

Conclusion

Having many stakeholders involved in the content approval process doesn't have to be a hassle and time consuming. With a structured process and the support of content approval software it can be so much easier to collect feedback and get approval for your content. 

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Muriel

Muriel is Content Manager at Filestage, an online proofing solution that frees teams from chaotic approval processes – making work more joyful and productive. From large enterprises to independent agencies, Filestage helps teams share, discuss and approve all their files, all in one place. Learn more at filestage.io.

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