Content strategy scares the hell out of me. You too?

I'm attending Confab London

Content strategy isn’t a technique or a process or a seven-stage program that will solve your organization’s content problems. If it was that easy, we’d all be relaxing on our yachts right now (WiFi enabled, of course) instead of tearing our hair out.

If you’ve talked about content strategy with colleagues, you’ve probably heard a response along the lines of, “what’s the big deal? This isn’t rocket science and people have been doing it for years.” People say this because they think we’re talking about a fad, a new miracle cure that will take all the pain away. Here’s what I say to those people. Content strategy is a big deal because our organizations are doing such a poor job of it. However straightforward the techniques and principles are, we’re not implementing them, and we’re not achieving our objectives. Organizations will do anything they can to avoid talking about their content problems—at some level they realize that they can’t fix them without changing the way they operate. And so they choose denial.

You’re reading this because you’re sick of denial. You’re sick of badly written, out of date, organization-centric drivel that leads to poor user experiences and missed business opportunities. You’re sick of fire-fighting, endless redesigns, and the ethically bankrupt agency model. You’re sick of meaningless vanity metrics, waterfall design processes, and siloed working practices. You’re through with pretending and you’re ready to be honest.

The good news is that content strategy can help you. The bad news is that this shit is hard. Not hard to understand, or even hard to explain—the concepts are simple enough. No, content strategy is incredibly hard to implement, because if we’re truly going to stop the bad practices, we need to change how other people behave—and even how our organizations are structured. It’s a huge task, and it scares the hell out of us. If you’re ready to face that fear—to be brave by allowing yourself to be vulnerable—you’ll change the world. If you aren’t ready to face that fear (yet), content strategy can’t help you, and you need to get comfortable with the status quo.

The fear never goes away (unless you stop doing the work, of course)—but you’re not alone. The only way we’ll get anywhere with this stuff is if we work together, both within our organizations and outside in the community. I’m here to tell you that you need to get more involved in the content strategy community. We all do. There are other people out there who face the same challenges—people you can learn from, share with, and support. Honesty is subversive, and we need more people in our lives who are willing to be honest. (This also explains why content strategists are so much fun at parties.)

This is why I organize events about content strategy. I’m incredibly excited to be working with Brain Traffic to bring Confab: the Content Strategy Conference to London, 25-27 March 2013, at the Mermaid. If you book by 26 October 2012 (a week tomorrow) you’ll save £200. See you there.