A Complete Guide to the Content Approval Process
Learn what a content approval process is, why it matters, what should be included in a checklist, and the key players involved in it.
The demand for business content is surging across all industries. According to HubSpot, 70% of companies now invest in content marketing, with video being the primary form of media. At the same time, businesses are also producing lots of blog posts, web copy, and social media copy in an effort to drive sales and improve visibility and brand awareness.
That said, companies need to be very careful about quality control when publishing content at a high clip. For this reason, a trusted content approval workflow is critical for success.
Read on to learn what a content approval process is, why the content approval process matters, and the key players involved in it. You’ll also learn how to define a content approval process and what to include in a content approval checklist.
What Is a Content Approval Process?
A content approval process is a plan to oversee all aspects of messaging, branding, format, quality, and costs during production. By establishing this process, companies are able to control the digital materials they publish for customers and ensure all of it aligns with their policies and expectations.
There are several types of content approvals. For example, companies may require internal project approvals from marketing managers or department leaders, executive approvals for budget and strategy purposes, technical approvals from subject matter experts, and partner approvals when publishing press releases and joint marketing materials.
Who Is Involved in the Content Approval Process?
A content approval process brings together all stakeholders who have a hand in content production. This may include marketing directors, managers, editors, executives, and third-party producers and consultants.
As businesses increase their content investments, many are putting more time and attention into quality control and strategizing. For this reason, more and more C-level executives and directors want to participate in content planning and production to add value. In other words, content is no longer siloed to marketing departments.
"A content approval process brings together all stakeholders who have a hand in content production."
Why Does a Content Approval Process Matter?
Here are a few reasons why companies need a comprehensive content approval process.
Keep Content Pipelines Moving
Just about every company today requires approval before posting content. But without an efficient system in place, content can hit a brick wall and wind up idling.
In light of this, having a content approval process ensures that the right team members can access, review, and make a decision on content in a timely manner. This keeps content pipelines moving and prevents backlogs from accruing.
Content can be a tremendous asset for a company—something that can drive sales and influence customers. However, it can also be a major liability. Companies need to ensure the content they publish is free of material that could potentially damage their reputation or lead to lawsuits or complaints. This is especially important for companies in highly-regulated industries like finance and healthcare.
A content approval process reduces risk by holding team members accountable for what they publish. Having multiple people review content for accuracy helps improve safety and increases confidence in business content.
Content approvals also help control costs. Content production is very expensive, particularly when producing material at scale. Companies must exercise caution to limit output in order to avoid going over budget.
A content approval process aligns teams and production goals. It also gives management an opportunity to direct production and limit wasteful spending.
Ensure Optimal Quality
Companies have a responsibility to produce high-quality, impactful content. But content is often complex and requires careful scrutiny and polishing in order to be effective.
By creating a content approval process, companies have an easier time enforcing quality standards for their content. This leads to stronger content and better ROI.
What Does a Content Approval Process Look Like?
A content approval process may sound complex, but it’s actually pretty simple.
For example, the process might start with a marketing manager asking for a series of emails to help promote a product or event. This is a multi-step process that requires obtaining budgetary approval, assigning the right content team—like writers, designers, and product teams—and moving the content through production until it’s ready to publish and distribute.
Ideally, the entire process takes place in one central location. While companies have traditionally managed this process via email, more and more organizations now manage content approvals using SaaS tools and collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams. If you’re using Slack, Wrangle offers an extensive selection of process approval templates that can manage your entire content review process from start to finish.
In this type of workflow, team members submit work for approval along each step of production. Writers and designers usually submit initial drafts, notify team members, and iterate until the product meets expectations. Content typically needs to move through multiple rounds of approvals before it’s ready to be distributed.
Some companies tend to be stricter about approvals than others. A growing number of companies are also automating content approvals to streamline the process and reduce time to value.
How to Define a Content Approval Process
Content production varies across teams. For example, editorial departments have different workflows and production environments than video departments and social media teams. With so many different workflows taking place, it helps to define a standard content approval process that all teams need to follow. With that in mind, let’s examine a breakdown of how to define a content approval process.
"With so many different workflows taking place, it helps to define a standard content approval process that all teams need to follow."
1. Create a Single Source of Truth
A content approval process must have a single source of truth in order to reduce risk and prevent internal confusion. This is important because producers and managers often want to move quickly when producing content, and approvals can take time.
In some cases, team members may try to circumvent lengthy approvals by going offline or sending a quick message. When this happens, key stakeholders can lose visibility into approvals, making it difficult to enforce quality standards. To prevent this, it’s important to pick a single platform and require all team members to use it for approvals.
2. Communicate Your Approval Standards
It can be frustrating for content producers when companies aren’t clear about expectations like branding and style guides. This leads to rework, lengthy approvals, and project delays. Companies can avoid unnecessary slowdowns by communicating approval standards for production teams ahead of time.
3. Outline Key Individuals
The final step in defining your content approval process is determining who needs to approve specific types of content. For this step, it’s a good idea to consult with department leaders to outline key internal experts who need to have a hand in approvals.
How Do I Create a Content Approval Process?
Since your business is unique, you’ll want to create a custom content approval process that matches your organization’s exact needs. However, you can use the following checklist as a guide to get started:
- Evaluate your current practices and standards.
- Identify and eliminate issues that contribute to content approval bottlenecks.
- Consider migrating your team to a central platform for content approval.
- Communicate approval standards to team members and vendors.
- Create an official approval hierarchy.
- Establish alternate approvers to assist when team members are unable to grant approval.
- Track content production KPIs and optimize your approval process over time.
Accelerating Content Approvals Using Wrangle and Slack
You’ve learned about why a content approval process is important. Now, let’s look at how you might set one up. Wrangle is changing the way teams communicate and make requests on Slack, with an automated approval and ticketing system that eliminates issues like channel babysitting and nagging for approval. With the help of Wrangle, content approvals on Slack are faster, easier, and more effective. The Wrangle application keeps a clear record of the approval chain making it easier to see where work is getting blocked.
Here’s a quick guide on how you can manage content approvals in Slack using Wrangle. Add Wrangle to your Slack workspace. Don’t worry, it’s free to get started and easy to remove from your workspace.
Once installation is complete, you’ll be directed to Wrangle’s web-based workflow designer. Click “create workflow” in the top right.
Now, you can either create your own workflow using the blank template, or choose one of our pre-built templates. We’re working on creative reviews for a blog, so let’s use the pre-built template on the bottom row called “blog post publishing.”.
The first part of your content review workflow is the intake form. Your users will access this form in your Slack workspace. You can edit this to your liking and even add things like conditional logic. We included important items like the location of the blog post the requester will be asking us to review.
Now, we have our first approval step. We are going to assign Beverly as our approver as she’s the editor for our blog. You’ll notice we will post any notifications for this workflow in a specific Slack channel that is relevant to content reviews. Of course, you can select any Slack channel that makes sense for your business. Notifications can include reminders when a step is due helping the team meet important deadlines.
Once approved, the workflow will alert us and we can move onto the publishing stage. We have assigned a different individual in our Slack workspace to publish since he has access to our blog.
Finally, we have a final step that alerts us to report back with reporting on the performance of our blog post.
Now, all we have to do is save our workflow. Our content review process workflow is now available in our Slack channels. If a team member has a blog that needs review and approval, she can easily access this workflow in Slack. Remember the intake form we created? Now that we’ve published our workflow, this is what it looks like in Slack. All a user has to do to find it is type /wrangle in the chat box or click on the Wrangle app in Slack and click start a workflow.
Once submitted, the reviewer, which in this case is Beverly, our editor, can see the request in Slack or within the Wrangle web application. The individual who requested the review can also see the requests in Slack, and from there, can make edits or comment on the request. In fact, any team member with access to this Slack channel will be able to follow along to maximize transparency. If you have a private workflow, you can even limit who sees updates.
If Beverly had dozens of these to review, she might not want to go through the Slack channel to find each one. That’s where the Wrangle web application comes in handy. From here, she has the same ability to edit and approve, but in one birds-eye view. If Beverly approves in the Wrangle web application, the requester will automatically get a notification in Slack informing her that the blog has been approved and has moved to the next stage of the workflow.
To learn more about how you can use Wrangle to move more content through the pipeline, request a free demo today.
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.
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