Tinker, Tailor, Content Strategist

by Rachel Lovinger

6 Reader Comments

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  1. “However, editing represents a very small segment of my responsibilities as a content strategist.” “Editing” also represents a small segment of what editors should do. As someone who has leveled the complaint that annoyed you: the difficulty I’ve had with Content Strategy is not that I think it’s “just editing,” but that everything content strategists do ought to be done by your site’s editorial staff. There is no new discipline here; web work just needs to understand more completely the editor’s role. Does the editor in chief at some magazine or newspaper “edit”? No—she does everything that we now call content strategy. I’m not saying web editing is just like traditional editing, of course—but your misrepresentation of what editors (can, should) do is epidemic in web work. What I will say in favor of “Content Strategy” is that it has been somewhat successful in establishing the value of this work.
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  2. Matt, a big part of that particular point is that a lot of organizations that now find themselves creating content don’t have editors at all. Not only that, they have no idea how to build an editorial capability. Content Strategists can help them establish the team and processes to do this, and in those cases they are playing an editorial role. But most Content Strategists I know would not look to be embedded in that role beyond getting things established. In addition, I’ve worked with many editors and they all had so many daily responsibilities that they didn’t necessarily have the leisure to step back and think about their content, their processes, and their systems in a holistic, strategic way.  And yes, some of them didn’t have the technical knowledge. I’m not saying there’s no overlap - in fact, I tried to make it clear that I’m getting more comfortable with the overlap - but I do think there’s a need to share the responsibilities, and I do think there are people who’s experience and skills cause them to lean towards one role or the other. On top of that, there’s definitely a need to clearly articulate Content Strategy concepts, activities, and approaches. So, whether the person responsible for those tasks has a title of “Managing Editor,” “Content Strategist,” or “Chief Content Officer” the discipline still needs to be defined and discussed.
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  3. Some good points - I think there is confusion within the corporate world on how to structure and promote online content. Some businesses are doing it right undoubtedly, many are doing it on an ad hoc basis - seat of the pants so to speak. Whether we need new terminology for this and structure though is debatable. My view is that content development (and the subsequent management thereof) should be driven exclusively by marketing (likewise online itself) - already too many corporates separate their communications by various disparate teams (corporate affairs / marketing / editorial / sales etc) resulting in contradictory and confusing messages. I think the key message that needs to be hammered home is the holisitc one. Businesses need to approach content creation and communication as a single entity, and communicate - where possible - a single coherent message or collection of messages. The development of a content strategy is a key part of that, but it cannot be done separately. Contradictory I know ;-)
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  4. I love that you referred to content strategy in terms of translation and negotiation for all parties involved—stating that we must “translate our message into the native language for each discipline.” I think so often those components of the job are forgotten or surpassed by the tremendous amount of work required to deal with the nitty gritty details. In the end we are problem solvers, orchestrators, editors, and rule creators/sticklers that spend our days endlessly combing through details and making plans, but if we do not also act as ambassadors for the content, educating affiliates on its importance or how how to successfully manage their roles, even our best-laid plans will fall by the wayside.
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  5. Website content is pure communication with the people served by the website.  The business needs to develop a cohesive content strategy from a Marketing perspective, that simply helps the website users to accomplish their desired interaction with your business service.
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  6. Whatever framework you put in place it is likely the content creators will want more options and flexibility. Developers will want more control over content entry. I find content strategy should be less about workflow and more about creating ‘effective’ content. A tougher challenge given the majority of commercial web content really isn’t generated by enterprise level organisations, with the resources to invest in good copy development.
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