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Compliance protocols exist to keep everyone in your company saying the right thing to the right person about your business and its products.

In industries like retail or travel, compliance can mean ensuring all employees are speaking on brand and on message. But in highly regulated industries, such as pharma and finance, compliance is a bigger, legal issue to contend with.

No matter the industry, though, one thing remains constant: The bigger the company, the harder to maintain compliance.

How do you manage what 300+ people are saying and presenting in their day-to-day business activities?

Your employees are not robots; they need to be able to react and adjust to what their clients and colleagues are saying. Businesses need spontaneity and flexibility to survive and thrive. But management must still ensure that messaging remains consistent, on point, and within legal bounds.

In federally regulated industries, one aspect of compliance is based on what and how you communicate to clients: You can say "this" to your customers, but you can't say "that"—and there are legal disclosures that need to be included with the message.

Another component of compliance for regulated businesses is what specific employees, depending on their job function, can and cannot say. For example, in pharma, a medical doctor representing a drug manufacturer may be able to present specific information about how to administer a particular drug to a room full of doctors, but a nurse or sales representative cannot.

A less obvious compliance component of both regulated and nonregulated businesses is brand messaging: All logos, colors, fonts, typography, messages, and taglines are required to be consistent throughout all forms of company communication. This type of compliance is often overlooked when dealing with presentations, in particular, which is why a compliance-focused presentation management strategy is crucial.

A company often does all it can to make its website brand-consistent throughout, but when preparing PowerPoint presentations, employees too often grab whatever's at hand, regardless of compliance, resulting in mixed company messaging and sloppy brand appearance.

Also important is making sure that all facts and figures—whether about business growth or product sales—are up to date and accurate, because sharing inaccurate information can have damaging effects on the employee's and company's credibility.

Any marketer who has to deal with the development, distribution, and presentation of sensitive company information knows what a headache that effort can be. Add compliance issues on top of it all, and you may feel a migraine coming on.

But that doesn't have to be so. Whether it's for sales decks, research results, or earnings reports, a presentation management strategy provides tools that you can configure to control and manage your content:

  • Controlled permissions. Permissions work on two levels: content and function.

    Content permissions put the right content in front of the right person so they can do their job. In the example of presentations by doctors and nurses, from a regulatory standpoint they are not allowed to present the same information. In that case, permissions would silo the content and direct the nurses' presentations to the nurses, and the doctors' presentation to the doctors. That reduces risk.

    Second, don't waste a nurses' time by having them weed through the doctors' presentations (and vice versa). Functional permissions determine what you can do with the content. Is it for internal use only, or can you email it to clients? Can you email them the entire file, at which point it's out of the company's control, or just let them view that file through a secure, tracked link?

    With permissions, you can control who sees what, and what they can do with the content.

  • Forced content. Forced content helps both Legal and Marketing maintain compliance.

    Regulated industries are required by law to include certain disclosure statements when they present data—whether financial projections or drug side-effects. Failure to include those statements could result in fines and lawsuits—a very expensive risk that's not necessary to take.

    Then, from a branding and marketing perspective, you want to make sure everyone gets it right—the right design elements and logo, correct pricing, product information, the correct version of the case study, etc.

    Forced content allows you to link particular pieces of content so everyone presents the complete story, in its entirety, and not just bits and pieces.

  • Organizationwide updates. Marketers continually update and refine content until it's proven to convert, but what good is it if employees in the field aren't using it?

    By pushing out updates to the field, you can prevent your employees from presenting outdated or otherwise incorrect information. Furthermore, when they know they have easy access to the latest and greatest content, the old habit of grabbing some old slide from some email will wane.

    Technology makes it easier than ever to share information, but marketers need to make sure they're setting up processes that direct the latest content to the proper employees.

Compliance protocols and processes need to meet C-suite expectations, but they need to be flexible and responsive enough for employees on the front line to be quick and creative—and, of course, compliant.

By implementing the above-outlined strategies, marketers are balancing compliance with productivity throughout the organization, creating a simplified and efficient process that maximizes results.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of AlexAnndra Ontra

AlexAnndra Ontra is a co-founder and the president of Shufflrr, an on-demand document management solution for dynamic presentations. She is the author of Presentation Management: The New Strategy for Enterprise Content.

LinkedIn: AlexAnndra Ontra