Copy Review: Actionable Input & Feedback—Part I

by | May 9, 2023

If your work—or part of your work—entails creating content that must be approved by others, this little ditty is for you.

Full disclosure: I have never tended to land on the emotional/upset side of things when my copy is being reviewed. I’m more of a salty, that-makes-no-sense, that-isn’t-an-actionable-comment kind of person myself.

We’re all humans and we can’t control how someone is going to approach it, whether they’re the person drafting copy or someone weighing in on edits.

(Clients past and present, I love you—this is a safe space, yes?)

Whatever your responsibility, and wherever you are on the spectrum of responses to the review process, these tips can:

  • make the process smoother

  • make input more actionable

  • make the process FASTER

Most of these are written from the perspective of the copywriter (natch), but they’re good for anyone who produces, reviews or approves copy.

Spend the time and have the big conversations upfront.

We’ll get more granular about types of things to ask in the following suggestions, but this is time well spent. Make a point to have a kickoff meeting on a big copy project, if you can, to set some boundaries, get input from those involved and make everyone feel comfy cozy about the whole thing.

Share examples and get on the same page.

Not everyone is a verbal maestro with the ability to translate their thoughts and expectations into clear instruction. Ask people to bring examples to project kickoff meetings of things they do and do not like. May seem elementary, but it’s a quick way to know where everyone’s expectations stand from the get-go. Discuss them. Use this time to say why or why not you, the copywriter, think what they’ve shared will work for the project about to commence.

Send out early, incomplete drafts to check in.

This is not always possible. And not always desirable if you have an inexperienced group. As the writer, you’re going to have to make this choice. BUT! And I emphasize “BUT!”, if you have a group of experienced folks with whom perhaps you have worked before, I say do it. Maybe send the first part of a draft with notes or questions to one person in the review group you know well and trust. This is a great way to nail down tone, style and art direction before you travel too far down the path.

That’s it for now. Helpful? Feeling good about things?

Stay tuned for Part II where we get a little deeper and talk specifics for handling gridlock and making peace with compromise …

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