Another lockdown first, some new words and the future of content strategy

A picnic table in a garden, with a laptop, notebook and coffee mug on it.
My office for most of this month

This month, I had another lockdown first: a socially distanced business meeting. It was in my garden, because the web designer I’m working with lives locally.

Debate of the month: the future of content strategy

Kristina Halvorson, who wrote the pioneering book Content Strategy for the Web, kicked off a discussion on Twitter about how content strategy is perceived.

Her company, Brain Traffic, exists “to elevate and advance the practice of content strategy”, so she’s got a big stake in this. But so have all the people on the ground who are following careers in this area.

There was some frustration in terms of career progression, but also because people know they could do better work if they were allowed to do content strategy properly in their organisation.

In the US (where Kristina is based), content strategy currently seems to be overlooked in favour of more fashionable disciplines such as UX and “service design”. Here in the UK, it’s been overshadowed by “content marketing” for years, while now “content design” is all the rage. This proliferation of labels can be confusing for people who aren’t content specialists (this could include decision makers such as senior management and HR people). That means that organisations may leave out part of the content jigsaw, resulting in content that is not as effective (or well managed) as it could be.

I think part of the problem is that these activities tend to overlap a lot. As you can see from this educational guide, content strategy, in a nutshell, is simply about planning, creating and maintaining content. The important bit is that it has three parts, not just the one in the middle! But it can be broken down into a large number of other elements, not all of which will be done by the same person, and that’s where things can get confusing.

I liked the comment from one person: “Me, for years: ‘You need content strategy.’ Client: ‘No we don’t. What we need are A, B, C’ (all elements of content strategy).”

That’s a bit like me, except I don’t tell people they want content strategy. I’ll listen to clients, find out what they need and do it. It’s likely that it will involve elements of content strategy, but if they’re not familiar with the jargon I’m not going to “blind them with science”. The results speak for themselves.

Things I’ve learned this month

I’m glad to learn new words and phrases, but less happy about the circumstances in which I learned them.

Optical allyship (surface-level support)

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). This seems to be superseding the more common POC in the US.

In other news

I learned another new word but I can’t help feeling it shouldn’t exist: dename.

It was National Freelancers Day on 18th June so I joined in a Twitter thread asking which song should be the “national anthem” of freelancers. Suggestions included Living On A Prayer, I’m Still Standing and Money (That’s What I Want). My idea: I Will Survive.

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Posted in Content, Content strategy

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