The 5-step no-tears writing review process

If you call it an ‘approval process,’ you’re asking for trouble. Get your facts straight and keep your sanity (and your integrity) with this protocol.

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When I worked in the daily newspaper business, we were not allowed to show our stories to sources. At the time, that made sense. They might change their minds about something they’d said, or object to something I’d written. I didn’t have time to negotiate with them.

Now, as a corporate communicator, however, I welcome the chance to have my sources sign off on my work. They catch errors and prevent misunderstandings. They tweak my work in ways that are usually positive and helpful. But I welcome their editing in a way that keeps both them and me happy.

If your review process is driving you bonkers, try these five tactics:

1. Never, ever, use the words “approval process.” This puts the wrong idea in the source’s head. Instead, call it “fact checking.” To ensure this point is infinitely clear, that’s the subject line I put in my emails, in caps: FACT CHECKING.

2. Never attach the story as a Word document. This makes it far too easy for your sources to make too many changes. Instead copy and paste the story into the body of your email. Yes, this is a tiny bit of work for you but, trust me, it makes changing your words a whole lot more work for them.

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