8 ways to be a more strategic content strategist
Part of strategy work is figuring out how to be strategic
Tealfeed Guest Blog
As content strategists, we have to stretch outside what’s expected of us, especially in the realm of product where we can be outnumbered by design, product management and engineering. How can we have more strategic impact?
Even with the good fortune of working alongside amazing teams, I always felt like my closest partners were my biggest hurdles. Why? Simply because I was limited by their unclear or fixed or pre-defined view of what content strategists do. Typically that view’s based on that one group’s needs for content within a larger set they may not have insight to.
If that underutilizes our strategic skills, it’s on us to demonstrate otherwise. How would they know what to ask from us—except for a lot more of the same?
Harder, better, faster, stronger 😉
Part of strategy work is figuring out how to be strategic. Although there’s no one way or pixie dust to scatter, here’s what’s worked for me.
#1 Get out of the employee mindset
How do you think about yourself and your work? At some point, I stopped thinking of us as a service depot or collaboration partner-aid. It helped to look at the company as an internal marketplace where we all have expertise to sell and trade with each other. How would you enlist people to help you implement your idea?
The easiest place to start is the team that requests work from you. You have experience working together toward common goals. What happens when you try turning the tables, asking them to work on something for you?
# 2 Look for systemic problems
Be clear in your own thinking about what’s strategic and what’s tactical. When looking for approaches, separate the two. Ask broader questions like, “Is there a hidden cause to the problem with xyz content’s performance?” “What’s affecting content quality beyond the screen?” “Are you thinking of an approach at high levels, removed from individual words and messages?” “Are there content solutions you can apply to more than one place or thing or time?”
#3 Go short and long
Whether you have visibility or not, your company is probably doing both in parallel. Business has us work in a world of sprints, but marathons are necessary too. While growth is the favorite short-term value, you can also look ahead to the future. Build long-term cases on values like efficiency, cost savings, capability building or improved overall quality.
#4 Include something new
Don’t stick to what’s familiar in content. Why hesitate to dig into technology and product development? Other language-oriented capabilities like semantic web or search? Tools for scale like metadata, machine learning, design systems or globalization? A ton of stuff is waiting for you to pick up as components of your content strategy and strategic partnerships.
#5 Influence farther
Find allies and stakeholders in the problem. Ask someone to connect you to people they know who might benefit from a solution. Theyʼll name two more, and theyʼll name two more. Keep going until you can assemble a team. Meet & Greet is one of my most frequent activities.
The further I’ve extended myself beyond my most frequent partners, the fewer preconceived notions about content strategy got in the way. Things felt more loose, and we took advantage of that.
In unexpected places you can find someone who cares, willing to give you input or help. Once, I discovered a visual regression testing team that could automatically supply “source of truth” screenshots of the product for Help Center content. Not the first place that came to mind.
#6 Remember it’s not personal
At work we’re all in a similar position: vying for stuff from other people. When you get shot down or end up at the bottom of the priority stack, don’t stop trying. Keep on. Though it can hurt, it’s not you. (You’re awesome, motivated and putting your ideas out there!). It is ever-present market economics. Back to what I was saying in #1.
In business, people are granted more by virtue of the role or the product or the project. Actually, this distribution varies quite a bit from one company to another. Gold at one place might be bronze at another and vice versa.
#7 Create connections
Everyone knows that organizational silos aren’t so great for content. One area of strategic work is to bring awareness to activities within silos, helping to break them down. Can you promote standards and guidelines? Maybe get rid of duplication or waste?
In his book, No More Silos, Michael Andrews says, “Any extra effort is more than offset by the shared benefits realized.”
And as it turns out, silos aren’t great for people either. Can you bridge the content people across your whole business to boost each other? Do something better together? When things get tough, the group can inspire and conspire.
#8 Push on the inside
A while back, I went to a training for managers. It included a game about investing resources across competing priorities. At the end, if you hadn’t set aside at least 10% for personal growth, you’d lose the game. Their point: a leader’s job is being at your best, for many reasons, including for the benefit of people around you. That’s a strategic contribution anyone can make.
This article was originally published by Jennifer Schmich on medium.
Tealfeed Guest Blog