Appreciating Content Strategy as a Whole

Since I’ve started reading articles and listening to presentations about content strategy, I’ve got the impression that people are talking about a lot of related parts, but I haven’t got my brain around it as an organic whole. For example, part of content strategy has to do with branding, and another addresses production and delivery of content, while yet another is about workflow.

I think it’s a tendency—at least in Western cultures—to build a whole by first defining the component parts. When we have no sense of something as an integrated whole, we start with the pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle, expecting that the picture will emerge if we get all the pieces right, in their proper place. When we take this approach, we strive endlessly to distinguish more precisely what’s “in” the field and what’s “out.”

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Content Strategy Divination: A Woolly Discipline?

Professor Trelawney is among my favorite characters in the Harry Potter saga. She’s the professor of the art of “divination,” the ability to view the invisible and discern the indiscernible. At one point in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, at least in the cinematic version, Hermione Granger denounces divination as a “woolly discipline,” preferring ancient runes, but perhaps she dismisses it too quickly.

I am convinced that every website has a content strategy behind it—whether intentional or not. With a little investigation, inference, and imagination, therefore, we ought to be able to “read” the strategy—without trances, tea leaves, or even a gazing crystal. What better way for content strategy noobs like us to learn what makes a really good content strategy, than learning to recognize them at work in others’ sites?
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What is content strategy, anyway?

Content strategy is, at its simplest, all the decisions you make about the content on your website.

Now, be honest: When you were planning and building your organization’s website, how many of those decisions did you make intentionally? How many decisions just seemed to make themselves?

Sorry for putting you on the spot. Believe me, I’ve never put in the kind of care that I probably should have in building websites, so you’re in great Noob company with me. The important thing is that we’re going to do better, starting now. Right? Right.

So let’s make a fresh start: Where does content strategy begin?
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The Definitive Guide to Content Strategy for the Complete Noob

(Anyone know where I can download it?)

Yeah, so the term #contentstrategy is spreading, and people are getting really excited. Some folks really seem to get it, and some are actually doing it. Some have been doing it for a long time, but only now have that moment’s insight, “Oh, so that’s what it’s called.”

And then, there are the noobs, like me.
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