This morning I listened to an interesting interview on one of Dan Benjamin’s shows. He was talking to Erin Kissane about her new book, The Elements of Content Strategy. Say you are using a website to communicate something to someone, or enable communication between a group of people, or both. The something you are conveying or facilitating is your content. According to Kissane, the job of a “content strategist” is to figure out how best to make sure that content is assembled, presented, and maintained in a way that’s appropriate to its audience.
You might think that the term “Content Strategist” is evidence that the job market in the online sector must be picking up, because as an occupational title it’s got a slight buzzing sound around it. However, Kissane turned out to be a very thoughtful interviewee—one of those rare people who thinks about and then answers the questions they are asked. The book (which I bought and read over lunch: it’s short) is a handbook for this new occupation or, as the author calls it, discipline. Despite a denial at the outset, it’s also implicitly a manifesto for it. Content strategists, she argues, live at the intersection of editing, curation—the dread online phrase of 2010—and marketing.
They help you decide who your site is for, and what it’s for, and then develop a framework that lets you choose, care for, and publicize your content.The Elements of Content Strategy is an elegant argument for some principles to bear in mind, and a useful summary of a few heuristics you might use, while executing that task. I could have done with it to back me up at more than one meeting I’ve suffered through on the topic of Redesigning Our Website or Why Don’t We Start A Blog About That, or Perhaps The Twitter Will Excite The Kids, or what have you.
I am not planning to become a Content Strategist myself. What’s interesting to me is the way the book defines one end of a spectrum occupied, way, way on the other end, by Tim Armstrong’s infamous memo, The AOL Way. Think of it as The Elements of Typographic Style vs Comic Sans for Fun and Profit. In Armstrong’s vision, content is a kind of homogenized product much like the cheapest sorts of lunchmeat. It should be extruded and shaped in accordance with the requirements of PV targets, SEO keys, Searchrank projections, and the demands of advertisers.
Author – Erin Kissane – Source