Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
January 29, 2010

What Does Tweaking Cost Your Company?

Develop a business case for reining in approvals.

First there was “DBT,” or “Death by Tweakage”: When a brochure or newsletter “fails due to unnecessary tinkering or too many last-minute revisions.” (

Then came “nanomanagers”:  “Bosses who have taken micromanaging to a whole new level of  nitpicking.” (

Then it was “death by redlining”: “Redlined documents [are] like a theatre director giving line readings to actor[s] rather than helping them explore the character and give a stronger performance …‘when you say this line, raise your right eyebrow.’” (Matthew Stibbe, writer-in-chief for Articulate Marketing)

How much does DBT cost your company?
So here’s the question: How much is all this tweakage costing your company? (The answer to that question is also the answer to reducing redlining, nitpicking and nanomanaging.)

One of my clients ran the numbers and found that her organization spends north of a million bucks a year on do-overs.
Now find out how much it costs your organization. All you have to do to find an answer is to run the numbers:

  1. Choose a random sampling of communication projects. 
  2. Have project managers track the number of hours spent reworking the copy or design on each project. 
  3. Multiply those hours by companywide hourly wages, including benefits. 
  4. Come up with an average rework cost per project. 
  5. Multiply that by the number of projects your group completes each year.

The result: A reasonable estimate of how much your organization spends — in creative time only — on tweakage.
Once you have that number, you’ll have a compelling business case for reining in the approval process.

Develop an Approval Process That Doesn’t Drive You Nuts
Nothing makes your job worse than the approval process. It stalls the production process, garbles your carefully crafted copy and turns you from a professional communicator into a pleading, whining comma jockey.

The bad news is you don’t win the approval process war comma by comma. If you’re begging for the authority to choose whether “that” or “which” is the right word to use in the fourth paragraph, you’ve already lost. In fact, the only way to win the war is for the communication group to own the approval process.

If you’d like to find out how to run the approval process so it doesn’t run you, please join me at PRSA’s Feb. 11 teleseminar, “Develop an Approval Process That Doesn’t Drive You Nuts: How to Gain Authority and Get Your Copy Approved Faster.”

You’ll learn how to:

  • Reduce the number of reviewers.
  • Create guidelines to support your approval process.
  • Use simple scripts and approaches for communicating with approvers.
  • Deal with difficult approvers and improve efficiency.
  • Use quick tricks for making the process easier and better.

Ann Wylie, president, Wylie Communications, works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. She travels from Hollywood to Helsinki, presenting writing workshops that help communicators at such organizations as NASA, AT&T and H&R Block polish their skills and find new inspiration for their work. For PRSA, she presents programs like “Writing That Sells — Products, Services and Ideas” in onsite sessions across the country. Ann is the author of more than a dozen learning tools, including, a toolbox for writers. In addition to writing and editing, Ann helps organizations launch or revitalize their Web sites and publications. She has served as a public relations professional in an agency, corporate communicator for Hallmark Cards, editor of an executive magazine and consultant in her own firm. Her work has earned more than 60 communication awards, including two IABC Gold Quills. Get a free subscription to her “Writing Tips” e-zine.

Join Ann for her teleseminar, “Develop an Approval Process That Doesn’t Drive You Nuts: How to Gain Authority and Get Your Copy Approved Faster.”

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