If your company operates in a highly regulated industry like financial services, it’s not uncommon for the approval process for content to become contentious. But when compliance and marketing can’t see eye to eye, it can be both unpleasant and unproductive. Even if you outsource your compliance function, establishing and maintaining solid working relationships with the people who have the final say on your content can make it easier, faster and less painful to generate powerful content that’s compliant with industry regulations.
Here are seven ways to ensure your teams collaborate effectively.
1. Understand your colleagues’ objectives. Keep in mind that while your marketing team is likely focused on engaging audiences with compelling and powerful messages, compliance’s first priority is to make sure the business doesn’t violate rules or attract regulator attention for the wrong reasons. Keeping these different – but not incompatible – objectives in mind is an essential first step to a harmonious relationship.
2. Educate yourself about the biggest regulatory problem areas. You don’t need to pour over legal journals or memorize heaps of disclosure language, but it can be valuable for marketing folks to regularly scan industry headlines. That way, you are aware of what the relevant regulatory agencies – and your compliance colleagues – are most attuned to. We’ve found it’s also helpful to ask compliance folks periodically about what risks are top of mind for them.
3. Don’t put them in a time squeeze. Understand the compliance team’s process, including how much time they’ll need to review different types of content pieces, and account for that in your content-production timeline. Although sometimes delays are inevitable and you might periodically need to ask for a quick turnaround to meet a publication deadline, don’t make a habit of sending last-minute requests.
4. Check on grey areas. If you’re exploring a new topic that is potentially problematic, consider sharing your ideas early on with compliance to get initial feedback about any clear no-nos. Although it doesn’t make sense for compliance to spend time reviewing multiple iterations of a document, the earlier you can identify that content is in a regulatory red zone, the less time you’ll waste later.
5. Review before you write. From the first draft, marketing should aim to create content that reflects a basic understanding of the applicable regulations and won’t require significant edits just to stay on the right side of the rules. Filtering your writing in this way should mean your content needs only minimal changes. It also can help you gain trust from your compliance team.
6. Keep a log of compliance edits. You’re probably quite familiar with some the biggest regulatory taboos, but it’s likely that a good number of smaller issues will crop up periodically. If you maintain a running list of the changes compliance has made to your work, it can become a reference that helps you avoid repeating the same errors again and again. Use it each time you create a new piece and over time your submissions will require fewer and fewer compliance changes.
7. Talk through any problems. When a compliance issue is raised, don’t be afraid to reach out to articulate the objective and try to collaboratively find a solution. I’ve sometimes found that when I share what I’m trying to say and why, my compliance partner not only becomes more collaborative, but sometimes comes up with an idea I hadn’t even considered.