Content strategy by stealth

  • Published on
    21-Apr-2017

  • View
    592

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

Transcript

<ul><li><p>Content strategy by stealth</p><p>Kate ThomasCS Forum, October 2016</p><p>Good morning</p><p>Thank you CS Forum</p></li><li><p>Freelancing at a digital agency</p><p>Digital transformation of Acme Finance:</p><p>Global insurance / financial investment companyHundreds of years old (the default choice)Losing financial customers to digital disrupters</p><p>The most profitable meeting of my lifeFirst meeting with client, Susie</p><p>The agency had created a digital transformation strategy six months previouslySome projects were rolling out of thisContent strategy was set up as a separate stream, and I was brought in to helpAcme was losing customers to digital disrupters who were easier to deal with. And on the surface, cheaperMore of a get-to-know-you session than anything else</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Writing for the web workshop </p><p>Tone of voice</p><p>Content measurement</p><p>Structured briefing templates</p><p>Governance</p><p>Archiving and retention</p><p>Translation / localisation</p><p>Centralised? Devolved?</p><p>Content purpose / strategy</p><p>Conversation with Susie turned to problems shed had with a recent content updateI suggested a writing for the web workshop to helpFor this, wed need to do work on tone of voiceNeed to understand content strategy and purposeThen create briefing templates linking content back to strategic goalsYoull be investing a lot more in content so will want to measure performance and impact and ROIMore people are going to be involved too, so we need to think about access, permissions, approval, who writes, who edits, who has the final sayAnd of course when contents done its job, it needs to come off the site, so well need some rules around sun setting content - what do we have to keep? Who says so? What compliance and legal issues are in play? As youre global, you also need to think about translation and localisationWhat happens centrally? What happens locally? Is authority devolved or centralised? Who makes decisions? Whats relevant for individual markets? How do markets relate to other markets?</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Writing for the web workshop </p><p>Tone of voice</p><p>Content measurement</p><p>Structured briefing templates</p><p>Governance</p><p>Archiving and retention</p><p>Translation / localisation</p><p>Centralised? Devolved?</p><p>Content purpose / strategy</p><p>The what, why, how, when, for whom, by whom, with what, where, how often, what next of content*</p><p>A global content strategy* Kristina Halvorson, Content strategy for everything</p><p>Conversation with Susie turned to problems shed had with a recent content updateI suggested a writing for the web workshop to helpFor this, wed need to do work on tone of voiceNeed to understand content strategy and purposeThen create briefing templates linking content back to strategic goalsYoull be investing a lot more in content so will want to measure performance and impact and ROIMore people are going to be involved too, so we need to think about access, permissions, approval, who writes, who edits, who has the final sayAnd of course when contents done its job, it needs to come off the site, so well need some rules around sun setting content - what do we have to keep? Who says so? What compliance and legal issues are in play? As youre global, you also need to think about translation and localisationWhat happens centrally? What happens locally? Is authority devolved or centralised? Who makes decisions? Whats relevant for individual markets? How do markets relate to other markets?</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Yes!</p><p>We have to do this! </p><p>This is exactly what we need!</p><p>Says Susie</p><p>Yay! </p><p>Lets do it!</p><p>Says I. </p><p>Huzzah!</p><p>Says the commercial manager for the agency </p><p>Huzzah says the commercial manager for the agency. Whos rubbing his hands, as Ive just brought in an unexpected windfall of hundreds of thousands of pounds, over a multiyear engagement. </p><p>Woo hoo! Content pays!</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>None of thisSusie</p><p>Freelancer with some UX experience</p><p>Married to Steve, our main client contact</p><p>Had been at Acme for six weeks</p><p>What happened next?</p><p>Like any great boom, there is a bust. </p><p>Susie, it turns out:</p><p>An organisation, youll recall, hundreds of years old, full or lifers working towards their pensions who have seen many such initiatives like ours come and go over the years and theyre well practiced at just shuffling papers, ignoring emails, carrying on as they were and not really changing their work practices which are just fine. Thank you very much. </p><p>From a global, interconnected network of user centred content working hard to achieve strategic objectives, there was instead a slow diminishing of vision to the fatal words:</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Well do the content in-house, </p><p>Susie</p><p>Like any great boom, there is a bust. </p><p>Susie, it turns out:</p><p>An organisation, youll recall, hundreds of years old, full or lifers working towards their pensions who have seen many such initiatives like ours come and go over the years and theyre well practiced at just shuffling papers, ignoring emails, carrying on as they were and not really changing their work practices which are just fine. Thank you very much. </p><p>From a global, interconnected network of user centred content working hard to achieve strategic objectives, there was instead a slow diminishing of vision to the fatal words:</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>#fail</p><p>What to do: I had grand plans to pay rent and feed and clothe myself - I needed to keep the contract going. </p><p>But more importantly, the client couldnt achieve what they wanted without this work. </p><p>So I decided to go dark. I decided to do content strategy by stealth!</p><p>Which brings me to the six lessons I learned by going undercover.*</p></li><li><p>Lesson 1: Start small (And plan your way out)</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>What happened</p><p>I went too big too soonOf course Acme needed a content strategy</p><p>Every digital endeavour needs a content strategy</p><p>Content strategy = business strategy</p><p>Content without strategy is just stuff</p><p>I went too big too soon. Please dont do this.Of course Acme needed a content strategy.Every digital endeavour needs a content strategy. Content strategy = business strategy. Content is what you and I and everyone in the world today uses to make decisions that shape our lives. Its how businesses manifest themselves to the world. So of course it has to be strategic.</p><p>And in the same way companies make strategic decisions about the number of widgets theyll make this quarter based on customer needs, business goals and marketplace realities, content needs to relate to what customers are looking for, what the business is trying to achieve and whats happening in their particular corner of the world.</p><p>Content without strategy is just stuff. [https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140210115838-5853751-content-without-strategy-is-just-stuff] Its not tied to strategic goals. Its not being measured, no one knows how long it needs to be on a site to do its job (which isnt written down anywhere, remember). And the client will waste their time and money and not achieve what they want*</p></li><li><p>With five minutes reflection</p><p>Theres no way Acme could agree to my plan</p><p>(With six minutes reflection,I wouldnt have agreed with it ;)</p><p>Sound and theoretically awesome! </p><p>Basic assumptions, but meaningless: No genuine user insightNo real client involvement</p><p>Insight from users and data would all come in good time - Id make it part of my plan.</p><p>I knew that. But Susie didnt.</p><p>One of our primary tasks as content strategists is to help translate, demystify and deconstruct digital for clients. Our opinion counts, but were guides, helping clients navigate THEIR digital labyrinth. </p><p>We need to harness insight and mould into their framework, not assume or dictate it *</p></li><li><p>Break. It. Down.</p><p>Not present deliverables as faits accomplis.</p><p>Start with strategy. And dont stop.</p><p>Base every decision on insight. </p><p>Be flexible. Be open. Be inclusive. </p><p>What I would do next time </p><p>Break. It. Down. No one likes to hear they have 12-months work ahead of them just to get to the start line Do not present deliverables as faits accomplis. Keep deliverables at the service of the strategy. (Otherwise clients will focus on the deliverable, not the work.)Start with strategy. And dont stop. Keep this at the heart of all conversations and work.Base every decision on insight. If this doesnt exist, which it didnt in this case, build intelligence gathering into your plansBe flexible. Be open. Be inclusive. Include stakeholders on the journey; it will make your work more meaningful. (And allows you to demonstrate a show dont tell approach in action, helping educate the client about the work ahead.)</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Lesson 2: Find allies (Or, You cant always pick your friends)</p><p>The main problem with this account was the leadership team at the agency and at Acme. At the agency, directors of:Strategydesign experience </p><p>They had produced the holy grail of a digital strategy and loved to talk to each other and Steve, the client stakeholder about it. And no one else. </p><p>All account and major project decisions were made between these four. At weekends, at dinner *</p></li><li><p>Leadership</p><p>Directors of strategy, experience, design+Steve</p><p>Project governance</p><p>No standard project controls=Competing deadlines, resource strain, duplication</p><p>Digital strategy</p><p>Underweight+Lacked robustness=No solid foundation</p><p>I had 3 challenges.</p><p>A second problem (not unrelated to the first) was that none of the standard project controls were in place. e.g. no coordinated strategic oversightfew fully costed and planned micro projectsno agreed standards or style no roadmap of coordinated delivery</p><p>Such poor project governance plus 25 people working on the micro projects for the account meant:competing deadlinesresource strain redundant and duplicate activity</p><p>And then we had the digital strategy itself. This was on the underweight side, lacking robust input from content and user research that meant it was found wanting when put to the test. Which left me and the 25 others working on the account without the solid foundation we needed to guide our work.*</p></li><li><p>A leadership team that didnt want to share</p><p>No access to client stakeholders</p><p>25 people working 10-hour days</p><p>The account was profitable but chaotic*</p></li><li><p>What I did</p><p>Aligned with others working on the account:</p><p>Invited myself to meetings for the micro projects </p><p>Created deliverables for these </p><p>Interrogated and investigated and asked questions in context of micro projects</p><p>Focused on how I could help them</p><p>I sought out and found allies.I gave up on ever having meaningful client contact. So my chance of decent insight from stakeholder interviews etc had disappeared</p><p>Fortunately, there were quite sensible senior strategists, designers, and project managers amongst the 25, and I worked directly with them. To pick up an point in lesson 1, this is where being flexible and inclusive comes into its own. For me, softening my approach meant I could:Invite myself to meetings for the many micro projects to understand what was happening and seed content strategy adviceCreate deliverables for the micro projects e.g. copy briefs for an appInterrogate and investigate and ask questions in context of the micro projects. (Much easier for colleagues to grasp my meaning at this level rather than the huge beast of a global content strategy.)Work out how I could help them. I was a mere contractor at the agency for only a few months. But these senior staff couldnt just sprinkle some freelancer magic and walk away like I did; they had to deliver a viable product for the client. One that was commercially advantageous for the agency. So the more I could do to help them, the better.</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Persistence</p><p>Being consistent in my advice </p><p>Listening</p><p>Ignoring rejection</p><p>Acknowledging reality </p><p>What worked</p><p>Yep. You need a thickish skin, and need to know which battles to pick, as youre not going to win them all.</p><p>*</p></li><li><p> Lesson 3: Just do it(You dont need a content strategy to do content strategy)</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Doing content strategy should not be confused with having a content strategy. </p><p>Very few organizations have a content strategy.</p><p>Carrie Hane Dennison @carriehd</p><p>My favourite I think of the six lessons. Borrowed from Carrie Hane Dennison. *</p></li><li><p>3 x lunchtime sessions about content strategy</p><p>14 x content strategy cheat sheets</p><p>Aligned the editorial style guide with Acmes corporate guide</p><p>Updated tone of voice guidelines</p><p>Governance roadmap</p><p>2 x project briefs for Acmes corporate site, and e-commerce site</p><p>Worked with UX to agree landing pages for TV campaigns</p><p>What I did</p><p>And so this is what I did. 25 people working on the account were keen as mustard - talented, super helpful and happy to get stuck in. They were all busy working on the many microprojects and were keen doers, whod all drunk the agency cool juice about how work doesnt count unless its done at midnight. </p><p>My task was to guide this enthusiasm into more effective channels:Ran 3 x lunchtime sessions presenting on content strategy (Which means there are now 25+ people roaming around London who have a better idea of what content strategy is and how it can be used)Created 15 content strategy cheat sheets, on different topics Aligned the projects editorial style guide with what the client had provided (that was languishing on the server)Updated their 80 slide TOV presentation to a more manageable 20 slides and presented that to the teamWrote a roadmap for them to create a governance framework (from nothing) (Using Lisa Welchmans book, Managing Chaos, as my inspiration) Wrote the SOW for two big mini projects: content strategies for the clients corporate site, and their e-commerce siteMade sure that a related TV campaign had somewhere sensible to land on the client website </p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Used standard deliverables </p><p>Cheat sheets created specifically for the agency team to use with Acme</p><p>Used content strategy and the content strategy framework to move projects forward</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>14 one page cheat sheets covering introductory topics - content strategy, content audit.Plus more conceptually challenging, Adaptive content, Intelligent content </p><p>3 sections:What is it?When and how is it helpful?What this means for Acme</p><p>*</p></li><li><p>Dont let perfect be the enemy of good</p><p>Seek forgiveness, dont ask permission</p><p>Dip into the grab bag of content strategy tools and find something that suits</p><p>What I learned</p><p>Do not let perfect be the enemy of good. Dont wait until all conditions are right or you have been given permission or have orders to go forth and strategize. Another gem from Carrie Hane Dennison (https://gathercontent.com/blog/content-strategy-on-every-budget)</p><p>(And I'll expect you'll find there'll be no forgiveness asked for.)</p><p>Theres plenty in there. Create something that suits the context you need.*</p></li><li><p>Lesson 4: Own it(No one else is thinking about content like you are)</p><p>OK folks. Time to step up.*</p></li><li><p>Re-setting the scene</p><p>Acme and the agency: content is king!</p><p>Words were everywhere! Apps, microsites, design treatments, navigation labels</p><p>Content free for all! </p><p>Lorem ipsum ruled the day!</p><p>Acme and the agency knew content was the magic bulletEveryone was buy with content: 25 people were creating apps, microsites, design treatments, navigation interfaces in the micro projects. Words were everywhere. And before I worked on the content strategy treats I was just telling you about, it was a content free for all. Lorem ipsum ruled the day!*</p></li><li><p>Which was a problem</p><p>Content had no value: Acme didnt kno...</p></li></ul>