Organizations acknowledge the tremendous value of their content — content being anything and everything customers encounter along the way to the product, from ads to websites to printed packaging and user manuals. Whether an organization’s product is an energy-efficient appliance or a soccer camp for kids, content is what helps people find it, buy it, figure out how to use it, review it, and recommend it to others.
Managing content — video, photos, audio, brochures, packaging, user manuals, sales training materials, and customer service documents — constitutes major work at any organization. Or at least it would if people did it.
In my experience, most companies don’t. Instead, various tribes within the company create pieces of content in the absence of an overarching organizational content strategy. This is why a company’s flagship product is called “Wonder Widget” in the video and “Widgetarama IIZ” in the catalog. It’s why the brochure, website, and tradeshow banner have the company name in three different fonts — one of which is Comic Sans.
CEOs often accept out-of-sync content as inevitable. Which is really sad because they could dramatically improve not just content but marketing return-on-investment and customer satisfaction if they had a content strategy in place.
Recommended reading: The Language of Content Strategy
The Language of Content Strategy by Scott Abel and Rahel Anne Bailie provides an essential tool for getting a grip on content and developing a content strategy. The 130+ page book from XML Press is a glossary of 52 key terms from the content management field. Each term comes with a definition from an expert and a succinct, one-page explanation of why a content strategist needs to know about it.
Some terms (like editorial calendar and style guide ) are familiar. Others (folksonomy and augmented reality) may have you raising your eyebrows. My guess is that you’ll recognize a lot of communications issues and problems you’ve encountered in your organization described in terms of content management solutions. These range from supporting a product simultaneously in several international markets (globalization) to developing content that can be used for a variety of projects (single sourcing) to determining who, internally, owns communications/content strategy (governance). I particularly liked message architecture, which is a key part of maintaining your brand’s tone.
The book is intended to enable content professionals “think big about content” — to engage with others in the content community, and sell their strategic plans to colleagues (and, one hopes, to management).
It can’t happen too soon.