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How digital PR teams can foster a culture of great feedback, and why it’s important

Hannah Marshall from NovosHannah Marshall in Digital PR

29th March, 2022

How digital PR teams can foster a culture of great feedback, and why it’s important

In all working environments, we’re expected to review other people’s work, and peer to peer feedback is a huge part of the success of any digital PR team. 

It’s important to have discussions about how your agency approaches feedback so your team is all on the same page.

 

Why is feedback important?

  • Improves the quality of the work produced
  • Offers different perspectives on challenges and the way briefs are answered
  • Any small errors or grammatical issues can be removed
  • Progression: Good feedback allows people to learn and develop in their role, in turn, helps people’s progress into management roles

 

What are the barriers to effective feedback?

There are many reasons why we sometimes don’t deliver the most effective feedback possible. Most of the reasons are just a consequence of everyday workload, but there are ways we can overcome these barriers. 

Time: We don’t have enough time to really go over a piece of work so we do a quick check.

  • If you find yourself in this position, ask if someone else in the team can support you. Look at your list of priorities and balance this with when the person needs the document back by.

Uncertainty: We’re not entirely certain on whether the piece of work we’re looking at meets the brief or what needs to change in order for it to meet the brief. 

  • Ask if there is someone else in the team who feels more confident with this type of task. Ask for more information about the brief from the person. 

Fear of upsetting the other person:

  • As long as your feedback follows the SPARK format and is not personal, it shouldn’t upset the other person. If you fear it will, you can discuss it with your manager first.

Mutual understanding: 

  • If there is a lack of mutual understanding that you’re both helping each other. This can be overcome by including a third party and fostering an overall culture of feedback. 

 

How do people tend to receive feedback?

It’s good to have an awareness of how people receive feedback. People can decode feedback in many ways but there are two different types that are good to keep in mind when speaking to someone about their work.

It’s also worth noting that neither of the below are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

  • Objective: When a person receives feedback at work and they see it as entirely about the work and not a reflection of themselves.
  • Subjective: When a person receives feedback at work and they include themselves in the picture, they take feedback in a more personal way. 

 

What is effective feedback?

Effective feedback is when we’re reflecting on each other’s work, developing what is already there, with the aim to improve on quality and clarity. 

SPARK

  1. Specific: Comments are linked to a word, phrase, or sentence. Rather than broad overarching comments.

  2. Prescriptive: Like a medical prescription that aims to solve an ailment, prescriptive feedback offers a solution or strategy to improve the work, including possible revisions or links to helpful resources or examples.

  3. Actionable: The peer knows what steps to take for improvement, without needing little additional communication from the person.
  4. Referenced: The feedback directly references the task criteria, requirements, or target skills.

  5. Kind: It’s mandatory that all comments be framed in a kind, supportive way.

 

The main ‘don’ts’ of effective feedback

✖ Re-write work for people – people don’t tend to read through work that is re-written for them, meaning they won’t learn from the experience 

✖ Leave vague comments like “think this could be better”

✖ Just accept peoples feedback or suggested changes without taking it in. It’s clear when people take feedback on and when people just accept changes and move onto their next task.

✖ Send someone a piece of work to review that you know is not quite up to scratch, or you can’t find a solution for and are expecting the other person to solve the person. If you’re struggling with a specific point, outline this to the person beforehand. 

✖ Be inpatient – you’re in a team, sometimes we make mistakes or have an ‘off-day’. Always be kind to one another.

Your digital PR feedback checklist

Here’s a checklist of things to consider when reviewing someone’s work.

  • Client tone of voice – does this piece of work reflect the client’s tone of voice? Refer to any tone of voice documents.
  • Industry the client is working in – does this align with the industry standard?
  • Is this relevant? Are journalists covering this story at the moment? If not, how could it be?
  • At Novos, eCommerce is our specialism – So, when reviewing work we’re considering, how does this piece of work impact our overall goal? How does this ladder back to driving revenue?
  • Does this link to the overall client KPIs at this very moment in time? 
  • Is it in line with any previous client feedback we’ve had? Have you kept a log of past client feedback and ensured future work reflects the client feedback too?
  • Does everything have a point/make sense? In decks, every slide should have one point to land. In written copy, every sentence should serve a purpose – not just be a filler.
  • Feedback on the good parts as well as the parts that could be improved.
  • Does this seem like something the media would cover? Does it mirror the tone of voice and writing style of the press you’re targeting?

Making sure you’re on the same page when it comes to culture as a team is important, having open discussions about each other’s work is key. If you’re interested in more articles around the topic of culture, then hear from our Founder, Sam Hurley, on how digital agencies can build a healthy culture.

Hannah Marshall from Novos
Article by Hannah Marshall
NOVOS' digital PR manager, Hannah has a wealth of experience working on PR campaigns for some of the country's most well-known brands. Her expertise lies in designing creative campaigns and liaising with top media outlets to secure coverage. She’s passionate about all things creative, digital and sustainable.

How digital PR teams can foster a culture of great feedback, and why it's important

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