Debating Content Strategy

You may be like us, in that you’re excited about the ways content strategy can help your institution communicate more effectively via the web. But Gerry McGovern asked a striking question in a recent blog post: “Is there such a thing as content strategy?”

He argues that while we may think content is great, senior managers may not care. They just want to get things done — they don’t care about content audits, even though we may seem them as essential to achieving that manager’s ultimate goal. In selling content strategy, McGovern posits, content may be the last thing we want to mention. For him, a more effective strategy is centered around customers.

Isn’t the first skill of the content professional to have empathy for your audience, to understand what they care about and communicate to them in their language? Most senior managers should have an organization strategy with which they are charged to implement. We need to tell them about how we can make them more successful by helping them implement THEIR strategy.

The post sparked a firestorm in the content strategy community. Karen McGrane contends that the rapid pace of change in our industry requires us to DTDT (Define the Damn Thing).

If we want bigger budgets, more time to do it right, and more specialized, skilled people to do it, then we have to stop screwing ourselves over by denying the existence of other people’s jobs.

Jim Woolfrey also chimed in, deconstructing McGovern’s argument that advocating for content strategy creates strategic silos within an organization:

It is the lack of content strategy that helps promote the silo-fication of content creation, in which the silo with the strongest voice prevails, however disconnected from the customer’s needs and culture that voice might be.

McGovern did have his defenders, though. Ireland-based content strategist Shelly Wilson tweeted, “The skills, knowledge and understanding matter more than labels.”

So, what do you think?

Source: Is there such a thing as content strategy? by Gerry McGovern, New Thinking, February 27, 2012; What I do matters. Yours is bullshit. by Karen McGrane, February 29, 2012; Yes there is by Jim Woolfrey, Strategeezy, February 28, 2012

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About Georgy Cohen

Georgy Cohen is associate creative director, content strategy, at OHO Interactive in Cambridge, Mass.. Prior to OHO, she worked with a range of higher ed institutions, including stints at Tufts University and Suffolk University and as an independent consultant, on content strategy and digital communication initiatives. Keep going »

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