Review: Content Strategy at Work
Content strategy, as a distinct field, is relatively new. Erin Kissane picks out the threads of its origins by identifying the kinds of people who find themselves engaging in it — marketers, journalists, technical writers, and others — through choice, by default, and by necessity. Content strategists are not only content producers; we are the people who dance with information architects, graphical designers, web developers, and our clients and their subject-matter experts to ensure that our clients’ messages find the right audience at the right time in a way that engages and — if we are all on our game — delights them. We help make content usable, flexible, adaptable, and powerful.
“Great! But what do you do?” you might ask. Happily, Margot Bloomstein’s Content Strategy at Work: Real-World Stories to Strengthen Every Interactive Project provides an answer.
Drawing not only on her own experience but on the experiences of others, which she gathers through numerous interviews, Bloomstein builds an enlightening set of case studies around the activities of content strategy. From gathering content inventories to updating the outdated to optimizing for search engines to making content more share-able, Bloomstein walks her readers through how to make our content more valuable, engaging, and manageable. Bloomstein discusses content creation and curation, writing for websites, brand development, and social media in content strategy — as well as how content strategists work with information architects and graphic designers. And she does it all through telling stories from the trenches in a way that enlightens and (oh, yes!) entertains.
From the Tufts University “Light the Hill” project to the Johns Hopkins web team’s work, Bloomstein illuminates how content strategists bring value to digital and social media projects. Careful planning, intentional content creation, and well-considered governance turned many a nightmare-waiting-to happen (or nightmare-in-progress) into success stories. And Bloomfield documents them for content strategy professionals in ways that resonate with and instruct us.
Content strategy: an antidote for that stuff we haven’t updated lately
In the foreword, Kristina Halvorson (one of the gurus of content strategy) writes that “the word ‘content’ immediately inspires anxiety about the stuff that hasn’t been updated lately, or docs that are overdue, or the expensive CMS that still hasn’t been implemented despite months of delays” (p. xi). But content doesn’t have to be a dirty word; and content strategy doesn’t have to be a battle. Bloomstein cements the value of our profession in easy-t0-read stories and thoughtful discussion about what we do, why we do it, and with whom.
If you add only one book about content strategy to your content marketing or content management library, make it Content Strategy at Work by Margot Bloomstein.