Strategy

7 Ways Marketers Can Get Creative With Compliance

Marketers find few things as grim as compliance. So before we get to the keys of compliance, let’s talk a little bit about death. (Trust me.)

When a famous person passes away, The New York Times can publish a detailed, reported obituary immediately. When Steve Jobs died in 2011, the Times had a 3,500-word article up within an hour. The obituary writers don’t possess other-worldly typing speed; they were just well prepared. While covering Jobs’s death, for instance, the writing started in 2007. When the time came to let the story go live, all they had to do was give the article a final check.

Mastering the content approval process isn’t as fulfilling as writing an important longform article, but it’s important nonetheless. And with some creative thinking, it doesn’t have to be a headache that gets in the way of your job. You can still publish content at the speed of news.

In highly regulated industries like finance and insurance, you can’t just publish whatever you want, whenever you feel like it. Brands have to deal with oversight groups like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). You can, however, work with your compliance team to find reasonable solutions instead of always treating them like a nuisance.

basic workflow

In financial services, savvy companies tweak their workflows to avoid approval timelines that can last upwards of three months. If you meet with compliance at the start of the project, they’ll at least be aware of what you’re working on and can flag potential issues ahead of time.

An adjusted workflow that builds in multiple compliance checks might look something like this:

advanced content workflow

How to get compliance right

Marketers have started to figure out how to build better relationships with compliance teams. If you’re looking for more efficiency, here are 7 realistic steps anyone can take to increase productivity.

1. Create a shortlist of requirements

Review previous instances of working with compliance to learn what went well and what needs improvement. Make sure you talk to people on your compliance team as well. Look for patterns that are unique to your content program. Then create a clear checklist that both marketing and legal can scan as they’re working on a project.

2. Train your team on compliance

Don’t put all of the onus on the compliance team. Content teams benefit from knowing the ins and outs of the approval process. Knowledge upfront reduces friction later on.

3. Invite legal into the creative process

Ask someone from compliance to join an editorial meeting once a month. Their perspective could help you shape ideas in a way that leads to smoother approvals down the road. They’ll also be able to identify potential issues before you waste time on something that gets removed anyway.

4. Make friends

Develop good professional relationships with the compliance team. They’re doing what they were hired to do, so don’t hold it against them. If you get along with them, maybe they’ll give you a break or two.

5. Develop options for different scenarios

If you know a government report will be released on a certain date, you can always create two options ahead of time that account for different scenarios. Once the report goes live, you’ll be a step ahead and ready to publish your story right away.

6. Agree on turnaround time for content templates

Compliance doesn’t always have to be open-ended. Giving legal a deadline could spur them to act faster. If approval takes too long for your liking, see if you can negotiate a standard for different content formats. Maybe news commentary takes one week while whitepapers take a month. Depending on the topic, maybe you can makes the case that some content doesn’t need any extra approval at all.

7. Respect their time by over-communicating

Once you’re familiar with company practices, bring issues to their attention early and often. Like you, they have to juggle a lot of work, so they’ll appreciate the reminders.

working with compliance

As a final piece of advice, it helps to use some sort technology platform when figuring out compliance. Given that compliance issues often result from a lack of transparency or communication, relying on manual processes doesn’t always work. Technology can handle the logistics, freeing up marketers to focus more on the creative parts of their job. Additionally, it’ll automate certain things like record-keeping, version control, and workflows if you need to review anything down the road.

Want to learn more? Click here to read our report on the keys to high-performing finance content.

Image by Sesame
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