How to make legal and compliance reviewers your BFFs

Legal and compliance people have feelings, too. Learn how to work with them, not against them, to make sure your content marketing is covered.

BY Mychelle Peterson
Imagination Contributor

Any financial services marketer knows that legal and compliance review is just part of the process. Any smart financial services marketer knows that building a strong working relationship with legal and compliance (L&C if you’re tight) can make life a whole lot easier—and content a whole lot better.

Here are a few words to the wise, based on an amalgamation of real-life scenarios I myself have lived through.

Before anything else, meet your L&C team

This is helpful whether they’re internal or you are working with a client. If you’re new to your organization or in a new role where you’ll interact with L&C regularly, invite them for an afternoon coffee. First, you won’t be just another faceless name in their inbox. More important, they can tell you a lot of helpful info upfront about what they are looking for during review—before you get a big fat "rejected" document on your desk. (Side note: Many lawyers are very funny. You might even become friends.)

Know their triggers

Many organizations have a list of “bad” words. It may be the use of guarantee (can anyone guarantee anything these days?), or perhaps the term expert is reserved only for expert witnesses in your organization. Either way, it’s helpful to know upfront what words and phrases to avoid. You can either edit them out before a document gets to L&C, or you can share the list with your team of writers, who will avoid them altogether.

For new ideas, bring L&C on board

If you’re developing something new and potentially risky, talk to L&C first. When my team was preparing to launch a new Twitter handle, having L&C at the table when we were discussing the pros and cons was a huge asset. They felt their voice was heard, and we were able to generate some excitement from them when we assured (another word that’s sometimes on the “bad” word list, but not here) them we would not be sharing anything that would cause their blood pressure to spike.

Bottom line: Bring L&C into the conversation early, and let them share their concerns as to how new ideas might put the organization at risk. Some you may be able to quell through thoughtful discussion, and others may be things you hadn’t considered. And that, my friends, is what L&C is there for: not to thwart you from achieving greatness, but to protect you.

"They can tell you a lot of helpful info upfront about what they are looking for during review—before you get a big fat 'rejected' document on your desk."

When in doubt, don’t

This is perhaps the best advice (again with the “bad” words!) I can give. If you know from the outset something is questionable, it’s probably not going to fly. Unless there is some burning need to forge ahead with the concept, why not rethink a little and provide L&C with something more palatable?

I recall a LinkedIn post by a member of a firm where I was working. The post was politically charged and perhaps one step away from libel. When approached by their friendly marketing director (that was me, naturally), the person said he knew it was probably “too much” but hit send anyway. “I can always delete it,” he said. And delete he did.

Push … gently

There’s nothing wrong with pushing back a little, especially when it’s something that you honestly see no issue with. Listen to L&C’s rationale, of course, and then consider how to reframe it, asserting your position.

It’s usually a case of choosing your battles. Some things you’ll feel strongly about, and those are the ones you push. But ultimately, if, for example, adding the word help makes L&C feel better about the institution not being on the hook for investment performance, well, is that so bad?

published: June 13, 2017