Digital copywriting: how to get your work signed off

Written by Alan Black

Just when you thought the copywriting phase was finished, the approvals process arrives to stomp all over your project plan.

The project committee can’t agree on anything. The subject matter experts add endless comments on everything from tone of voice to navigation labels. And the big boss can’t see how any of this fits with the wider strategy.

If this sounds even a little familiar, we promise you’re not alone.

Here’s how to avoid sign-off stresses the next time around. And the time after that.

Put one person in charge

No, not of everything. That would be crazy. Just make sure there’s a single person responsible for what goes into the final version, and what doesn’t.

Since you’re reading this, that person is probably you. But it’s not as simple as grabbing control – office politics is never that easy.

The answer is to make sure content approval is right there on your job description, and to check everyone on the project knows it. Not to gloat, but to encourage a defined process – it’s about clarity and responsibility, not egos and power-grabs.

You’ll still need all the expertise in your broader team. However, by reducing the sign-off committee to a membership of one, you’ll give your content a rare level of clarity.

Draw lines. Nice thick ones. 

The style guide shows what gets a capital letter, and what doesn’t.

The tone of voice guide explains how to bring the brand voice to life on the page.

The value proposition and messaging matrix set out what we need to say, and how we need to say it.

So far, so clear.

Add an easy-to-follow briefing process and you’re almost there. Great briefing is all about making sure the right experts contribute the right expertise, every time and on every page. No more debates about extending the scope of the project – because the scope is right there in the brief.

And of course, if you discover something you’ve missed, you can decide if it’s worth adding it in. With clear processes, you can make a quick, rational decision – and avoid being bounced into something you’ll regret.

Get buy-in 

It’s a cliché because it’s true: culture eats strategy for breakfast.

So how do you build the project culture that will help you deliver on strategy?

You get people involved.

Not by asking a few questions or holding a couple of ‘this is what we’re doing’ presentations. But by getting to grips with the business’ strategic plan, then involving the right people to help shape the messaging which will bring it to life.

This takes time and effort. So much time and effort that we built a completely new arm of Blackad to make sure our clients get it right.

When people, strategy, tactics and culture are pointing in the same direction, there’s nothing you can’t do. But when one of them isn’t quite right, you’ll struggle to get anything done at all.

So plan for consultation at every level – from frontline sales to operations.

Underspend your budget. Finish early. Bask in the glory. 

If we had to pick one area to focus on, we’d say ‘buy-in’. Without it, there’s too much potential for things to go wrong. But get it right, and you’ll not only have fantastic customer-centric content – you’ll have the platform you need to grow your business.

Want to know more? Listen to My Approvals Hell, our very first podcast episode.


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