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Effective Ways to Meet Your Deadlines - Work in Sync With Your Sources

In many healthcare organizations, communications managers find themselves relying on their colleagues for the content of their publications. While many are moving toward online and social media, the fact remains that it's often difficult to obtain accurate content in a reasonable time. Are you such a manager? Are you using a process that's draining your energy-and is not very effective? Here are some tips for getting the material you need, and getting it on time:

ATTITUDE

Accept the truth: getting materials by deadline is a continuing challenge, especially if you are working with clinicians who are not writers and may be convinced their own work is more important.

bullet Resign from the "nagging parent" role. Make it clear that if you don't have material by the deadline, you're always prepared with substitute material.

bullet Spend some time talking with your sources about how they perceive the publication. Can you help them see the publication's benefits to their own work? See if you can articulate some shared goals, such as staff or patient education.

bullet Use a positive tone indicating you are confident sources will respond on time. YES: "This is a great opportunity for you to tell about diabetes prevention, and I'm going to help you make sure it happens." NO: "I really, really need this material on time if I'm going to get the newsletter out."

SCHEDULING AND BACKUP

bullet Whenever possible, provide realistic deadlines that allow plenty of time for your sources to respond. Start with your final deadline, and work back from there. Build in time for the craziness at the end. If there is no craziness, then you have some time to breathe!

bullet Be sure to have a small library of graphics and content you can pull out of your hat to fill in when needed.

bullet Populate the office Outlook calendar with your deadlines for all to see.

bullet Ask yourself: do you really need your source to do the writing? If so, how can you help them get it done? If not, how about a brief interview with them, so that you can write the piece yourself?

bullet Try handing your source a rough outline rather than a blank page. If your content is accurate, your source can easily expand it. If it's not accurate, your source will be motivated to make it right and get it done!

bullet Stick to your deadlines. It's one thing to say "I can give you a couple more days" and quite another to say "Oh well, I guess I didn't really need it by the deadline."

bullet "I have nothing for you" is actually useful information, so thank your source and ask them when they expect to have the material.

bullet Meeting and program schedules: If you are looking for a meeting or program schedule, it may be in your office Outlook calendar. If so, pull it together, and ask your source to review it.

MESSAGING

bullet E-mail #1: initial request to all sources for material, with deadlines. Be positive, no whining, assume that everyone is going to cooperate happily. Use the "request a read receipt for this message" in your e-mail. Avoid the red "urgent" exclamation mark except on rare occasions.

bullet E-mail #2: Send a message to all, thanking those who have met their deadlines. Be positive. YES: "The material we have looks good and there are just a few holes to fill in." NO: "We still have a lot of missing material."

bullet E-mail #3: A few days before final deadline: send an email to those still holding out, saying "Really looking forward to your article, sorry I've not yet heard from you. If I don't have the material by deadline I'll assume you don't want to publish this month. Is there some way I can help?"

bullet E-mail #4: once you've gone to print, or gone live on your intranet, send a thank-you note to all your sources, even those who've been unhelpful at best.

bullet Avoid voice mail messages at all cost-they are too easy to ignore. If no response to your e-mails, stop by the source's office for a friendly chat.

Try some of these tactics and see if they make your life easier-and give you more time to do your own writing.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com
ezine article

Jane Sherwin

Jane Sherwin,
M.B.A.

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