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How people talk about and think about content strategy – Day 1

by , Content Strategist, GatherContent

This video is the first in our 2016 Content Strategy Advent Calendar series. Here, content strategy expert, speaker and author, Kristina Halvorson, sheds some light on a refined quad to frame how people talk and think about content strategy.

Video transcript

Ho Ho. Ho Ho Ho. Happy holidays from GatherContent, and me, Santa. I’m just kidding, it’s not Santa. It’s me. I’m Kristina Halvorson and I’m delighted to help kick-off GatherContent’s 2016 holiday content strategy advent calendar. This is the 82nd take I’ve had to do so that I get all those words right. So whatever happens in the rest of this, you guys are just going to have to roll with it. Alright.

So I’m here today, I want to chat to you a little bit about a topic that’s near to my heart, which is how people talk about and think about content strategy. And I’d like to say that I’m fully aware that content strategists everywhere have a love-hate relationship, mostly a hate relationship, with this topic. But I still think it’s important and I’m kind of excited about this new idea that I’ve been kicking around with folks about where content strategy can sit within larger conversations. About publishing, and design, and operations and management design.

So I want to start real quickly by showing this, which I’ve been talking about, it seems like for my entire life. This is the quad that Melissa Rach and I introduced when we co-authored Content Strategy for the Web: Second edition. A million years ago. I don’t need anyone else writing me about why I haven’t written a new book. I’ve been really busy, really busy, dong stuff.

So anyway this kind of was an attempt to show that content strategy was a set of activities and a role that could really work to help tie together kind of the content product, and then the people who work behind the scenes to make that content happen.

So substance is like the information, editorial approach, the messaging. Structure is like the information architecture and then the content structure kind of behind the scenes. Workflow is how content (you guys can’t see it if I keep doing this). Workflow is how it moves throughout the organisation and then governance are like the policies and guidelines that we use to make sure everybody is working from the same page when they create content.

So that has worked great and what I find though is after this step of the conversation, people are like great, ok now what do we do and where do you go and where should you site and what team should we hook you up with. So at the project level that’s fine, right. Like we do discovery and assessment, we do analysis, we do strategy and a roadmap and we do all the content strategy blah blah blah stuff that we need to do to make sure content is awesome in whatever end product you’re creating.

But then people have been talking about product content strategy, and content engineering, and content design and all this stuff which has kind of been amazing and has a little bit made my head explode, but has also really complicated the conversation in terms of being able to say here is what we bring to the table to make your content more awesome. At least in my experience.

So I kind of put this together because the way that I’ve kind of been able to talk to people about it, or audiences especially outside of the content strategy community, is to say look, content strategy if you can think of it as almost like the thing that lives between kind of these different disciplines. It lives in the fibres between editorial and experience design, which I’ll show you in a second, and it’s the questions and the vigilance and the decision making and the communication of those decisions around content, almost like integrity, like content making sure that it is constantly either helping us meet our business goals, or serving our users, again in a way that’s meaningful to them. And gets them the results that they’re looking for.

So here then is sort of how I’ve been talking about it, which is in terms of really talking about designing the experience with content, and how content shapes that experience, and kind of people’s interaction really with technology and content deliverables. And then content operations which equals not just this workflow and governance piece, but also how are we structuring the content itself and its relationship with kind of the software and the platforms that manage it, in order to kind of make it do what we need it to do and what our audiences need it to do.

So this has been, and then showing that like, look, this is not content strategy per se, here. But this is where content strategy can sit in terms of continuing to create and help facilitate the conversation that can and should exist across these, I don’t care if you call them silos or teams or whatever, to sort of help continually evolve and define and protect the content and what it’s supposed to be doing and how awesome it is.

So that’s my holiday present for you. I hope you like it. If you don’t, I don’t, I didn’t get you a gift receipt so there’s nothing to return. But anyway, I really am excited and looking forward to opening up the little boxes for every other part of the advent calendar. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t chocolate when you opened it up, but I have Santa. Ho ho ho, Happy Holidays and thanks for playing. Alright, have fun, bye-bye.

About Kristina

Kristina Halvorson

Kristina Halvorson is the CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, a world-renowned content strategy consultancy. Brain Traffic delivers content strategy, large-scale audits, and digital content development to clients around the world. Their team of strategists includes some of the best-known names in the content strategy community, and their work continues to redefine and evolve industry best practices.

Published in 2009, Kristina’s book Content Strategy for the Web (1st edition) was, at the time, the only book published on the topic. Today, Content Strategy for the Web is considered the “gold standard” for content strategy literature and is credited with creating the foundation for what is now a rapidly-evolving industry.

Kristina is the founder of Confab, the first U.S. conference dedicated to the topic of content strategy. The conference debuted in May of 2011, selling out several months in advance and attracting attendees from all over the world. She also regularly conducts online seminars about content strategy and works closely with Fortune 500 companies as both a speaker and consultant.

About the Author

Content Strategist, GatherContent

Rob is Content Strategist at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways, WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy at leading industry events.

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