Can I get some creativity with that content strategy?

I have confession to make. I’m struggling with content strategy. Specifically, the strategy part.

Let me walk you through what’s been niggling at my brain.

Uncomfortable with the definition

The Content Strategy Knol says that “content strategy is an emerging field of practice encompassing every aspect of content, including its design, development, analysis, presentation, measurement, evaluation, production, management, and governance.”

Kristina Halvorson, of Content Strategy for the Web fame, defines content strategy as “the practice of planning for content creation, delivery, and governance.”

We’ve all seen Erin Scime’s diagram of the content lifecycle.

All good stuff. And yes, it all sounds very strategic – well almost. These definitions basically equate content strategy with a process. If your content strategy is good it’s because your process is good. The quality of the content is determined by the quality of execution. But something is missing. It’s not giving me the whole story.

Well-executed, lame content is still lame content

I don’t want to downplay the importance of good execution. We need it. But I would like to see content strategy put more emphasis on creativity. We need to pay more attention to the idea behind the strategy in the first place, what I sometimes call the strategy of content.

I’d like CS professionals (me included) to dedicate more brain-time to the creative uses of content, to creating new kinds of content, to building new kinds of customer experience involving content, to finding new strategic uses for content. If content is king and the customer experience is content, then we have duty to create better, more interesting kinds of content.

So here’s a plea for putting creativity in the driver’s seat of content strategy. As far as I’m concerned, creativity has been absent from content strategy – and I think that this is why I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. (or maybe all those damn vuvuzelas).


5 comments on “Can I get some creativity with that content strategy?

  1. Chris Moritz
    June 14, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    Agreed! I’ve been making this argument for a while now. I, too, get a little uncomfortable when content strategy gets equated with content planning. No doubt content planning is a huge part of CS; it’s just not the same thing.

    At a very basic level, an “educate” content strategy is going to have vastly different planning & sourcing parameters than a “demonstrate” content strategy.

    Once you’ve got the strategy in place, a plan can be developed against that strategy. If you delve right into planning, you might waste time and resources.

    • Rich
      June 15, 2010 at 7:57 am #

      Well put. I like the distinction you make between “educate” and “demonstrate”. I find that clients tend to doze off when you try to explain the merits of good content governance. It doesn’t light any fires, even if it can in the long run save them money and time. The people making decisions about the web site aren’t bean counters, they are communicators. They want to see smart ideas, not good housekeeping. IMHO, all too often planning and process are used as a way of avoiding the hard questions that real strategizing requires.

  2. Kathy Hanbury
    June 14, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    Well said! I couldn’t agree with you more.

  3. Jeri Hastava
    June 21, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    Good grief. I haven’t even put away my party hat yet. Are we already done celebrating the emergence of content strategy as a discipline that’s been instrumental in bringing the importance of content to the attention of the mainstream?

    Having been an advocate of content when “content wasn’t cool,” can’t I just bask in the glow of having found a niche for a little while longer before I tackle the finer distinctions? 🙂

    I do agree with you, and I like your idea of “the strategy of content.” And it can take a pretty darn “creative demonstration” just to help clients embrace the concepts of content strategy. Thorough planning and flawless execution alone can’t turn a frog into a prince. It takes a creative kiss to achieve that happy ending.


  1. Tweets that mention Can I get some creativity with that content strategy? | RICHTEXT -- - June 14, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Charlie Peverett, Gabriel Smy and Richard Thompson, Richard Thompson. Richard Thompson said: Can I get some #creativity with that content strategy? #contentstrategy #text […]

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