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How to get lightning-fast approvals for corporate communications

Posted on 10 Jul, 2013 by in Collaboration & productivity, Customer stories | Leave a comment

There’s never a dull day on the Huddle marketing team. Whether we’re launching a new campaign, organizing an event or helping our customers tell the story of how technology has transformed the way they work, it’s always full steam ahead. And it’s full steam ahead in multiple time zones, across our London, San Francisco, and New York offices, and wherever our events, customers and management team may be on any one day. But regardless of time zones, offices, and whatever the specific project is that we’re working on, one thing sits at the heart of everything: The importance of the approvals process. Yes, I will happily hold my hands up and admit that the approvals process is not the most thrilling of corporate communications activities. It is neither a sexy, all singing, all dancing integrated marketing campaign, nor a fantastic customer advocacy story that takes your technology from concept to reality for anyone outside of your business. But it is vital to all of the above. Every press announcement, customer case study, research report, trends jack, and blog post has to go through the approvals process. And it’s the corporate communications team that has to facilitate pushing content through the layers of approval and ensure that all approvals are received by a specific deadline.

This has to go out today

And in many cases it can be a logistical nightmare. Take the trusty press release: the most familiar tool in the corporate communications team’s tool kit. Yes, the corporate communications team may draft the initial content, but this draft has to be reviewed and approved by the CMO. The quote has to be provided by whoever is the most appropriate member of the team and should the press release be on a particular product launch or feature, it then has to be reviewed and approved by the product team to ensure everything is spot on. Now, this approvals process is already starting to look a little unruly, but if you throw into the mix external customer approval – should it be a customer announcement – or an additional quote from the analyst community, you have to not just deal with the internal approvals process, but approvals across the firewall.

The final, final version

With multiple people involved in the layers of the approvals process, everyone providing their feedback and thoughts, or amending the document, and corporate communications teams at external parties commenting and updating different files, how do you keep track of which document is the latest version? How do you ensure that everyone is on the same page and all feedback has been incorporated? Most importantly, how can you be 100% certain that the press release going out the door on the set date is the “final, final, final” version that has been reviewed and approved by everyone who needs to be involved? And where are all versions of a document stored in the event of having to revert to a previous iteration?

Having made the leap to Huddle from an agency more than three years ago, I know that the approvals process labyrinth isn’t just an issue faced by in-house corporate communications teams. On the agency-side, the issue of ensuring the correct press releases, case studies and artwork are put live at the correct time can be multiplied 10-fold as teams work with numerous clients, projects and campaigns on a daily basis.

In most cases, people rely on emailing attachments back and forth, possibly an extranet and/or an intranet, ftp sites and consumer file storage tools to manage the approvals process. In our Enterprise Information Landscape study of 4,000 office workers, 65% of US office workers and 70% of UK office workers continue to revert to email when it comes to sharing documents with people across the firewall. When managing the approvals process, this is simply not practical and corporate communications teams can waste time, risk errors and experience many frustrations when relying on these legacy communications tools. The worst case scenario is that a release goes out to the press and over the wire that isn’t final and approved or campaign artwork that isn’t final goes live.

Huddle removes the pain from the approvals process

  • It’s simple to set deadlines and allocate approvals to people: In a few clicks, you can set a document for review and approval by specific people and for a specific deadline. Huddle then chases everyone automatically, so you don’t have to keep nudging people through the approvals process.
  • All comments are attached to the version of a document they’re referring to: You can instantly view all feedback around a document, who provided it and when. No more sifting through inboxes to find the latest email chain.
  • Internal and external colleagues can securely access documents: Whether you are working solely with internal departments, or need to extend approvals to customers and partners, and then share this information with your creative agencies, all relevant parties can see the most up-to-date version of a file. There is no risk of everyone looking at a different version of a document.
  • Full visibility of who has reviewed and approved a file: Huddle’s simple traffic light system indicates whether approval is completed, in progress or not started and you can see who has already reviewed the document.
  • Full audit trails: Should previous file versions need to be referred to or used, Huddle’s full audit trail feature time stamps, records and stores all actions around a file.

And Huddle hasn’t just transformed the way my corporate communications team manages the approvals process, find out how it transformed the way the Kia Motors’ marketing team works in the Managing messages across borders – the story of Kia Motors webinar.

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