Content Engineering

Content Strategy or Bust

Content engineer Philip WisniewskiMinneapolis, on any given spring or summer day, seems to be a great place to do just about anything. Add about 500 content-centric professionals to the mix and you quickly have the perfect environment for the exchange of ideas, best practices, and almost everything else related to content strategy. The 2nd annual event, Confab 2012, was again a smashing success, thanks to the organizers, Brain Traffic, and a number of highly accomplished and passionate speakers (Dan Roam, Ann Rockley, Jared Spool, and Karen McGrane, just to name a few).Confab 2012, The Content Strategy Conference, brought together a community of practitioners and evangelists with a passion for content strategy…which, if you have not been paying attention, is quickly becoming an over-arching discipline in marketing and communications departments to address the challenges of delivering content in a multi-modal, multi-device world.Part user experience, part editorial, and part content management, the practice of developing a content strategy is becoming a hot topic for brands and agencies alike.

Though more than half of the audience was just adorned with a content strategy title in the last 12 months, the elements of a content strategy have been around for many years: items like content audits/inventories, personas, style guides, taxonomies and content models, sitemaps and site architectures, content entry workflows, and editorial calendars. The discipline of content strategy attempts to transcend the typical myriad of individuals associated with these deliverables (information architects, copy writers, SEO experts, taxonomists, developers, researchers, etc.) to provide oversight, consistency across platform and channels, a unified vision, and a keen focus on the content and related tone, voice, structure, corporate governance models, processes, and technologies.

So why all this attention on content strategy, now? Well, without one in place, brands and their internal process, tools, and technologies will not accommodate the shift from a single user experience platform to one of many.The desktop is no longer the main communication platform between the brand and the audience, and as a result, the content that is so coveted by audiences needs to live on any device and in many formats. Content must be structured enough to live freely and independently of form and presentation in order to leverage responsive design. It must be consistent across all devices, and, it must contain meta-data that allows programmatic delivery based on context. All that is pretty darn challenging for organizations large and small.

Why is this so important for us at Kanban? Simply put, if our clients don’t have a solid content strategy, then any process, content structure, or technology we implement will fail (or will fall short of our own and our client’s expectations). No matter how advanced the tools may be, how well the implementation is managed, how much budget you allocate, or how much time you dedicate, our shared goal of delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time will be nothing more than a pipe dream.

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