The Discipline of Content Strategy

Kristina Halvorson’s workshop was actually entitled The Practice of Content Strategy but she early on used the word discipline and it seems quite suitable because it is both a discipline and requires discipline. Coming from a business oriented point of view Kristina recommended that we all try to behave as consultants within our organisations. This is a useful approach because it gives you a bit of distance from the content, allows you to focus on the expertise you bring to the table and reinforces the need to create alignment throughout the organisation and document the strategy well.

Kristina's Core Strategy Slide from Webstock 2011
Kristina's Core Strategy Slide

Having a content STRATEGY is all about getting alignment around the goal(s) of the website, specifically the business goals that the website is to achieve, and determining how those goals are to be achieved through the website. Kristina kept coming back to business requirements driving site objectives as well as site objectives which was a very important point and one that is frequently overlooked.

I got a couple of good quotes…

“Content Strategy plans for the creation, delivery & governance of content that is useful, usable, productive & profitable”.

‘you don’t launch content – you commit it to a lifecycle’

“most of us don’t have web1.0 figured out”

Kristina says to start with determining who the site’s stakeholders are and finding their pain points and also the content that they have an emotional connection with. There are three main steps to coming up with a content strategy:

  1. working out the content ecosystem – that is what you already have (by taking an audit) and the internal and external factors impacting it,
  2. creating a strategy of what you are trying to achieve on the website, and
  3. coming up with detailed specifications e.g. how you are going to achieve those goals.

In coming to terms with your existing content she uses an acronym ROT – Redundant, Outdated, Trivial, to determine if a page is worth keeping much like the librarian’s MUSTY criteria for weeding physical content.

She was also very big on documenting everything, especially agreements on goals, processes etc, and on getting stakeholders to literally sign-off on these. Documentation needs to have risks and assumptions built in so that if any risks actually come to pass you have all agreed that they were a possible outcome.

A note on curation – this came right at the end but was interesting. She also mentioned that the Brain Traffic twitter is being used only for curated content about Content Strategy type topics rather than for all kinds of stuff.

Here are some links she recommended.

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