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In It Together: Co-Creating Your Content Strategy

When I turned my web writing job into this “content strategy” thing back in 2008, I thought I’d hit the jackpot: Finally, I had the tools to solve the problems that plagued my projects. Content wasn’t left ’til last, projects weren’t delayed, concerns weren’t limited to design and development. Win, win, win.

But then some terrible someone always came along to spoil my party. I’d make a style guide; the authors would stop following it. I’d work out a content model; the designer would insist on an interface it couldn’t support. I’d go through the audit results; the client would smile, nod...and go back to business as usual. I wanted to make content meaningful. Instead, I was making documents. I was making fantasies. Sometimes, I was even making enemies.

I was overwhelmed, overworked, and disappointed—until I changed the way I saw my role. Instead of tying things up with a bow and delivering it to others’ doorsteps, I learned how to make the work theirs instead—to create strategy with them, not for them.

In this talk, I share the ways I overhauled how I work, and how that’s led to more successful projects and more satisfying client relationships.

In It Together: Co-Creating Your Content Strategy

  1. in it TOGETHER co-creating your content strategy sara wachter-boettcher confab barcelona 2014 flickr.com/photos/proimos/6635587829
  2. Before flickr.com/photos/-keito/2530177035
  3. flickr.com/photos/scoobyfoo/1332722025
  4. Content audits Strategy statements Style guides Content models CMS requirements Workflow charts
  5. flickr.com/photos/djwtwo/7891312188 After
  6. Here’s your style guide!
  7. Here’s how the content works!
  8. ‘‘ I audited all 9,456 pages of your current site, and I have a plan for how we can cut everything by 40%! — A very hopeful me
  9. flickr.com/photos/roboppy/1297032301 What I wanted to create.
  10. flickr.com/photos/dmatos/4485684994 What they saw instead.
  11. flickr.com/photos/shellysblogger/5130860580 What it all ended up as.
  12. flickr.com/photos/gotshoo/699267876
  13. flickr.com/photos/raster/3380860520
  14. flickr.com/photos/tigergirl/1236320261 We can’t tame everything.
  15. flickr.com/photos/e_monk/4234741849 WITH > FOR
  16. Co-creawhation?
  17. things that 3 actually work
  18. Do, don’t 1 just talk.
  19. Find something to rally around.
  20. flickr.com/photos/digitalart/2958134354
  21. Mix things up.
  22. creative manager economist editor comms director designer
  23. Build a shared perspective.
  24. the user’s journey
  25. content we have
  26. content we need
  27. activities build ALIGNMENT
  28. Things to remember: 1. go in with a goal 2. provide guideposts 3. choose input or output
  29. Ask, don’t 2 just tell.
  30. flickr.com/photos/_flood_/8432638921/ Being right is easy.
  31. Helping others learn is hard. flickr.com/photos/tulanesally/3349979270
  32. ‘‘Let’s look at your content. What do you think is working? What’s not?
  33. the site the vision the user journey the snacks the criteria
  34. flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/8463350573 Habits, not rules.
  35. before after
  36. Practice, not training. flickr.com/photos/larrison/7995889201
  37. involvement leads to OWNERSHIP
  38. Things to remember: 1. validate their answers 2. make sharing feel safe 3. build muscle memory
  39. Interpret, 3 don’t invent.
  40. flickr.com/photos/streetwrk/8140770540 the artist
  41. the content strategist flickr.com/photos/streetwrk/8140770540 flickr.com/photos/wolfworld/3597078422
  42. flickr.com/photos/lilab/168431468 People, not puppets.
  43. ‘‘ We can have one team that’s the responsive team and this team just goes on and makes the site responsive … The organization would have learned nothing from this exercise. — Livia Labate, Marriott Responsive Web Design Podcast
  44. ‘‘ Because we have so many people today that are contributing to these sites, how are we going to get to a place where they feel equipped to do that? — Livia Labate, Marriott Responsive Web Design Podcast
  45. Lend shape to ideas. flickr.com/photos/mtsofan/9881150335
  46. ‘‘Does this reflect what you said? Is anything missing?
  47. flickr.com/photos/101018579@N06/12068350556 Reframe constantly.
  48. ‘‘Where do you see this fitting into the priorities we talked about?
  49. clarity furthers COMMITMENT
  50. Things to remember: 1. be a guide, not a genius 2. find what feels right 3. help others shine
  51. so what’s our JOB again?
  52. flickr.com/photos/cedwardmoran/633158834 Not just making.
  53. Not just fixing. flickr.com/photos/pedrosek/9506355716
  54. We guide progress. flickr.com/photos/adwriter/14398549931
  55. flickr.com/photos/hitchster/5895019230 Diagnose problems.
  56. flickr.com/photos/jiuck/5432237804 Make big stuff less scary.
  57. flickr.com/photos/dingatx/4794442002 Help everyone feel capable.
  58. Moltes gràcies, Barcelona! sarawb.com @sara_ann_marie rfld.me/content-everywhere flickr.com/photos/proimos/6635587829 Flickr images used via Creative Commons Attribution license unless otherwise noted.