You’ve interviewed multiple sources for that news release, speech or internal communications newsletter article. After you write a great draft, you send it out to your reviewers for approval.

And you wait…

And you wait…

You send out a reminder email. And you wait…

And your deadline starts getting closer…

What should you do? It’s a common problem that faces every communicator who’s ever put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

For a recent workshop I presented to a client, I came up with 10 tips for breaking through the approval process log jam. Here are three of them:

  1. Give approvers a realistic deadline for getting back to you — Communicators are used to working on deadline but we should remember not everyone has our sense of urgency. Your failure to give an approver enough time to give you their feedback is your fault, not theirs. Unless you’re dealing with a crisis and need to send out an immediate communication, I recommend giving an approver at least a week to provide you their comments.
  2. Verify the approver will be available to review your copy — People take time off work for a variety of planned and unexpected reasons, including parental leave, sick leave, vacation, weddings, honeymoons, surgical procedures and funerals. When you interview a source, be sure to verify they will be available in the near future to review your draft. They might not think ahead and let you know they will be out of the office for two weeks, which could cause you a problem.
  3. If the approver has an assistant, c.c. them on your email(s) — Looping in the approver’s assistant can pay big dividends. If you need to ask the assistant’s help in reaching the approver, they will already know what it’s regarding and how soon you need a response. The assistant can also potentially warn you if the supervisor will be unavailable and when they’ll be back in the office.

Based on my more than 40 years of experience working in journalism and corporate communications, I’ve developed seven more tips for breaking through the approval process log jam. Want to learn more? Contact me for information about my workshop rates and availability.

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A new client recently asked me to present a virtual workshop on internal communications to its comms team. In preparing my presentation, I came up with five characteristics of what I believe constitute a high impact (high quality) internal communications program.

I was delighted to read the new issue of American Banker magazine (April 2021), which validated one of the characteristics I came up with: transparency.

The issue includes an article by Miriam Cross about the best financial technology firms to work for. The story highlights how a company called IntraFi distributes a weekly report to all employees. The report includes project updates from all departments.

Even if some employees only read the executive summary, “sometimes just knowing you are in the loop is comforting enough,” Cross quotes IntraFi CEO Mark Jacobsen.

The competition for top notch talent is fierce in the financial technology industry. The differences between a good and a bad place to work can have a big impact, Cross writes.

“Transparency is one of those differences,” Cross says.

I agree. Regardless of which industry or employer we’re talking about (except, of course, for the CIA), transparency is so important to establishing employee trust, engaging employees and keeping them loyal and motivated.

There are some instances, however, where transparency is not possible. For example, if rumors start swirling about two publicly traded firms planning to merge, transparency is not legal. It can lead to stock runs and possible jail time for those who leak such news.

The same is true of quarterly/annual earnings of publicly traded companies. The earnings results can’t be leaked ahead of time, even by a firm that views itself as 100 percent transparent.

Some Other Characteristics

Two other characteristics of a high impact employee communications program are:

  • The communication content is tied to — and supports — the employer’s mission, goals, values and culture. It emphasizes and helps explain the direction the employer is taking.
  • WIIFE (what’s in it for the employees). Whenever appropriate, news distributed through internal communications channels should lead with the benefit the employees will derive from the announcement. For example, an increase in annual earnings is of less interest to employees than the fact that it will result in higher salaries. So lead with the salary news first.

Want to learn the two other characteristics of a high impact, high quality internal communications program? Contact me for more information about my availability and workshop rates.

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Capt. Tom’s lesson: your most valuable possession is not fortune, fame

February 4, 2021

The death of beloved Capt. Tom Moore on Feb. 2 at the age of 100 reminds us that our most valuable possession is not fortune or fame. If you’re not familiar with Capt. Tom, last year this World War II vet and British resident set out to raise 1,000 pounds for the healthcare workers in […]

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Churchill said it best: Make it brief!

December 31, 2020

I’m reading the latest book by one of my favorite authors, Erik Larson. In The Splendid and the Vile, Larson recounts the many challenges Winston Churchill faced as prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II. Germany had already conquered Poland and Czechoslovakia. On Churchill’s very first day in office, Germany invaded Holland […]

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Lessons to be learned from the recent presidential election

November 8, 2020

Regardless of your political affiliation, the recent presidential election holds some major lessons when it comes to news writing and media pitching. Here are just four of them: Timing – The news media usually does not plan ahead. It typically reports on the daily activities of the world around it. But there are a few […]

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Word to the wise: Keep your opinions to yourself

September 22, 2020

This advice goes out to the newer and younger professionals working in corporate communications, public relations and media relations because I’m assuming old dogs such as I already know this: Keep your personal opinions to yourself. I was reminded of the wisdom of this advice yesterday when I read the CNN article that stated, “A public affairs […]

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Advice about goal setting applies to creating talking points: less is more

August 15, 2020

I just finished reading the highly informative, educational and entertaining book The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger. In it, he reveals how he rose from an entry level position at ABC Television in 1974 to eventually become CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 2005. Obtaining the CEO job was certainly not an […]

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Never forget to include the “why” when communicating to employees

May 6, 2020

I read an excellent article in the new issue of American Banker magazine by John Enger about how experiencing past disasters helped bankers deal with the coronavirus crisis (click here to read the entire article). Some of the past disasters the article mentions include Hurricane Katrina in the southern U.S. in 2005 and the 2017 […]

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Virus is a once-in-a-career opportunity for earned coverage

March 12, 2020

The coronavirus has become the number one news story in America and appears it will remain that way for at least the next eight to 12 months. It’s touching practically every segment of society in our country. I’m hard pressed to think of a story as big as this one during my 40+ year career. […]

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That memorable day when I met the world’s greatest journalist

October 22, 2019

In my last journalism job before I switched careers, I worked in the late 1980s as the Los Angeles bureau manager for what was then a small, family-owned, recreational boating newspaper called The Log (as in ship’s log). The Log was based in San Diego and published every other week. It was a free newspaper […]

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