Conversing with Compliance for Better Results

Posted By Bruce Boyle on December 15, 2014

It is a great temptation when you’ve just ghost written a staggeringly dull opinion piece for an executive in the financial services industry to blame the executive or, more often, the compliance department.

Most executives are not—and could not be—as uninteresting as what appears under their names in trade media, business media or, increasingly, social media.

That isn’t surprising to anyone who spends time with executives. What should surprise most communications professionals, though, is that a compliance department is not necessarily the enemy of candor, personality or the simple declarative sentence.

It is likely that a compliance department person is as equally tired of rehashed clichés posing as provocative ideas as any of us.

Rather than simply sending things to compliance as part of a ritual rejection exercise or, worse yet, self-rejecting without ever getting a compliance opinion, it is much more productive to have regular conversations with compliance about what will and what will not work in a changing communications landscape.

It pays to share, for example, the growing use of social media with compelling content by some of your most conservative peer companies.

It pays to revisit a corporate communications philosophy that may be outdated or no longer warranted.

One of the most awaited and admired pieces of business writing every year is Warren Buffet’s annual letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. It would be an hour very well spent with a compliance department to establish their level of risk tolerance if they had the final edit on that kind of communication.

You might be pleasantly surprised.