Thursday, June 23, 2011
At this point there are 3 to 4 well-known and accepted definitions of content strategy. To me it is a two-fold process: an overall plan to plan, create, publish and execute different content types and a way of thinking about your organization as a publishing entity.
After practicing content strategy, or some form of it, for more than 10 years, I’ve come to the following 3 unbreakable rules that are true no matter the size of the project, the enthusiasm of the client or the teeth-grinding tedium of the content audit.
1. Follow the Benjamins.
While Jack Welch’s name may be an anathema in some circles, he ran one of the world’s most successful companies, General Electric, for more than 20 years. Mr. Welch introduced a fascinating management style into the corporate culture; he actually rewarded top performers by moving them around the company. Why? Wouldn’t it make sense to sharpen these rising stars’ skill set in one environment? But Mr. Welch understood that in order to be truly successful for GE, you needed to understand how the company made money.
The same is true for content strategists. Our job, more than any other, is to understand our clients' business model, so we can apply what we know about how the numbers at the bottom grow fat and green to the planning and publishing of content.
2. Respect other UX Professionals.
We can argue about definitions. We can play tug of war over whose role it really is. At the end of the day, multidisciplinary user engagement teams have more success than those that are made of UX professionals with the exact same ideology and mindset.
We all have clients—both internal and external. At the end of the day, however, we are all working for one person (no, not the man)—the end user. And our job is to make their engagement experience one that is truly easy, intuitive and maybe, perhaps, maybe even joyous.
3. Don’t cut corners.
I assigned a content audit to one of my writers this week. Man, she hated that assignment. She moaned and cried the whole way through it, even doing it differently than I suggested. I told her, “You must trust this process. If you want to get truly great at doing content projects, you have to understand why due diligence in all areas of the process are truly important.” This morning I got an email with the subject line: “ok, I get it.”
In talking to other content strategists, I find that each brings her or his own creativity and experience to each step in the overall process. But they know that the hard work of digging into the weeds, getting dirty with the details, challenging assumptions, asking “Why do you do that?” over and over again is critical to success.
I’ve thought about these rules for a long time and I’m interested to hear if you find that there are others.