Content Strategy: A Dangerous Method


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This presentation was delivered at Confab 2012 and it approaches the topic of content strategy from a slightly different angle. Specifically it highlights how Content Strategists often find themselves in the role of organization therapist and thus encountering unexpectedly powerful forces.

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Content Strategy: A Dangerous Method

  1. 1. CONTENT STRATEGY Confab 2012 Joe Gollner, M.Phil. Gnostyx Research Inc www.gollner.caCopyright © Joe Gollner 2011 @joegollner
  2. 2. Topics of Inquiry Three True Stories Content Strategy & Psychoanalysis Perspectives on Content Strategy True Story: Twin Portals The Emergent Role of the Content Strategist The Burden of Content Strategy
  3. 3. True Story: A Sibylline Web Site Engineering Process Support Site  10,000 pages of guidance material  Bilingual (English / French) Step One: Analysis  Deep textual analysis (NLP) used  Multiple personalities identified Step Two: Treatment  Establish intelligent content store  Introduce advanced publishing tools Step Three: Result  Good technical solution crushed by bureaucratic entropy
  4. 4. True Story: A Political Web Parliament of Canada Public Access  Large volumes of complex material  Bilingual (English / French) Step One: Analysis  Complex process & content structures  Opportunities for public engagement Step Two: Treatment  Internal optimization to speed access  Public engagement avenues explored Step Three: Result  Politicians wanted to curtail openness…
  5. 5. True Story: MyClassroom Education Portal K-12 Education Initiative  Curricular & Instructional Material  Multilingual (English, Punjabi,…) Step One: Analysis  Deep study of content structure  Involvement of user community Step Two: Treatment Bueller…Bueller….  Sophisticated management & publishing environment  Stakeholder participation in design, population & testing Step Three: Result  Great solution encountered strong union opposition
  6. 6. Content & the Unconscious Organization Accumulating Insight  Organizations primarily driven by unarticulated impulses  Especially evident in how technology is deployed • Automated processes are • Largely opaque • Often erroneous  Doubly evident in how content is presented to the world • Intense pressure to be accepted • External forces drive internal turmoil
  7. 7. Content Strategy & Psychoanalysis Parallels can be drawn  As a practice  As a discipline Practice  Establishing a working balance between internal & external forces Discipline  Establishing the background & skills needed by the content strategist
  8. 8. Freud & the Internal World Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)  Viennese founder of Psychoanalysis  Highly attuned to the practical questions of launching a new professional discipline  Observation on influence  Introduced a highly influential model of how internal forces are repressed & channeled within observable behaviour
  9. 9. Jung & the External World Carl Jung (1875-1961)  Swiss founder of Analytical Psychology  Early protégé of Freud who famously broke away from Psychoanalysis  Observation on Influence  Very focused on the shared cultural models historically used to describe & guide individual personalities  Myers-Briggs…etc
  10. 10. Content Strategy as a Balancing Act Proposition:  Content Strategy entails establishing a functional balance between: • Internal forces that drive an organization’s actions & communications • External forces  A Content Strategy balances that determine the  What you need to say environmental context  What the audience wants to hear for those actions & communications
  11. 11. The Intrinsic & Extrinsic Sides of Content A Moment of Practical Utility  The design of metadata structures for content resources  Distinguish between intrinsic & extrinsic metadata Intrinsic Metadata  Properties that are innate to the subject of the content asset Extrinsic Metadata  Properties that pertain to how the subject, or the content, will be used
  12. 12. Content Strategy & Organizational Personae A Content Strategy  Facilitates effective participation in the world  A persona that can be sustained Freud’s Dissection of Psychical Personality Jung’s Model of the Psyche  Ideally – A Content Strategy  Helps internal processes to strengthen & grow  Helps the organization to contribute positively to society
  13. 13. Content Strategy awakens Powerful Forces The Three Cases highlight an important truth  Framing a content strategy will often open many doors  Focusing on how an organization appears can raise serious questions  Implementing a content strategy will open more doors • Technology players • Forgotten stakeholders There can be more contributions than you bargained for
  14. 14. True Story: Twin Portals Discovery Portal  Discovery Portal Several Years of  New Initiative led by Operation business team Challenges with  Flexible environment site quality  Extensive usability tests raised sensitivities  A dialogue on content Data & IT stakeholders took control to limit  An immediate success system potential  IT sought control & failed
  15. 15. Content Strategy: The Rise of a Discipline Content Strategy  Emerged as a phrase during the late 1990s  Chiefly tied to Web content  A marketing focus New Directions  Channel diversification  Intensified marketing pressures  Diversified web specializations  The need has arisen for an integrative role
  16. 16. The Emergent Role of the Content Strategist The Content Strategist  A leadership role within Web teams  Capable of integrating the many Web specializations  Providing a system-view The Challenge  Becoming a conduit between Web teams & corporate strategy  Following where the content questions lead • Into the internal domains where content is forged
  17. 17. The Fundamental Content Archetype The Core Challenge facing Content Strategists INFORMATION  Leveraging the basic distinction between content & information  Content is potential information that needs management  Information is an action that needs to be effective CONTENT  Confusing the two is the source of many troubles Visual Credit:
  18. 18. The Burden of Content Strategy
  19. 19. Acknowledgement
  20. 20. ContactJoe Gollnerjag@gnostyx.comGnostyx Research Incwww.gnostyx.comContent Philosopher