Ever-Broadening Content Horizons
In her recent blog post ‘Content strategy – a revolution?’, Betty Tew is just touching the tip of the iceberg (or, whatever the equivalent in a cloud metaphor would be). I like how she refers to “the ever-broadening field of business and technical communications” because as I see it, tech writing (or technical communication) is becoming subsumed under larger circles in the Venn diagram of professional activities. It is still there and still important, but not the overarching discipline that it used to be. Silos that previously separated the specialties are going away. It’s time for us all to play together in the same space. Tech comm is playing a smaller part because more people want more types of information in more channels quicker. And no one has time to read it all, so we are working to automate part of the process and filter a lot of the content and design the interface so users don’t need so much explanation. So I think content strategy is part of the process of dealing with the disruption and change in our industry.
Challenge of Content Strategy
Last weekend I listened to Sarah O’Keefe’s webcast ‘Content strategy in technical communication’. When she got to the part where she asked the audience “What are YOUR challenges?”, I knew immediately – but I don’t think it is on her list of frequent responses. My biggest strategy challenge is not what amount or type of content to post or what format to deliver content, but how to build community, how to foster collaboration?
Content isn’t just something I create and send out to a willing audience. My strategy is to engage in conversation so content needs to flow both ways. Where in content strategy is any of that handled? Content strategy seems to focus on the content and the business value of content. But my customers do not need content (at least not content alone).
They need conversation. And how do you manage content once it is out there in social media, where others send it out, mix it up, create their own? When the conversation is happening and others join in, how does “content strategy” help?
I appreciate that Sarah wants so separate tech comm as a separate body of content with a different purpose from marketing communications and other more persuasive communications. It all might be blurring together and it might not be as useful as it was in the past to consider it as a separate type of content. Is segmenting persuasive comm. from tech. transfer useful? Let’s just say I’m not convinced yet. And talking about separate (but equal), can you really create a strategy for content that is separate from the rest of the company’s strategy? Is it really a separate process, a separate strategy? I’m wondering why we have content strategy as separate from sales strategy, service strategy, market strategy, product strategy, customer management strategy, etc.? Can anyone answer these questions for me?