This year, something extraordinary happened. A successful mobile design and development agency asked me to join its team as their first content strategist. I said yes.
What makes me excited about my current role is that, not only do I have more experience with what works and what doesn’t when introducing content strategy to an organization, but my managers and company executives (who are brilliant, by the way) understand the value of content strategy and encourage teams to collaborate with me. This is huge.
That said, I have a lot of work ahead. Some of my co-workers still struggle to understand how content strategy can help their projects. It’s not their fault—they’re busy professionals, and content strategy is an incredibly broad discipline that can include editorial, technical, design, and organizational tasks.
Content strategy is tough to pin down, and that makes its value sometimes hard to understand.
Are you introducing content strategy at your organization? Whether your role is officially called “content strategist” or something else, you can do it!
As I’ve thought through how I plan to communicate the value of content strategy in the New Year, I’ve identified 3 spheres of influence that I’m going to focus on, and some tactics aimed at each sphere. These ideas might help you start socializing the value of content strategy where you work.
So with that, I give you:
The 3 spheres of content strategy influence
1. Your co-workers
Before I could take part in all those fun and exciting client projects, I’ve had to let my co-workers know that a) I exist, and b) I can help.
This is the part of process where Facebook’s Sarah Cancilla made t-shirts for content strategy-friendly co-workers designating them “Friends of Content Strategy” (FOCS for short).
Aside from t-shirts, here are a few ideas for letting folks at your company know that content strategy is a thing:
- Attend a company “lunch and learn” session and give a presentation about content strategy.
- Crash a regular meeting for a team that’s not yours. At my company, these are usually lunches. It could be a community of practice (like the Project Managers’ lunch) or a project-based meeting. Ask for 5-10 minutes to talk about content strategy.
- Send out an internal email newsletter describing specific ways you can apply content strategy to projects like the ones at your company. Use examples.
2. The public
You love content strategy. (If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.) Don’t be afraid to position yourself as the face of “content strategy at [your organization’s name].”
But how? Here are a couple ways:
- Write a series of posts for your company’s blog, describing how you do content strategy at your company.
- Sign up to speak about content strategy on behalf of your company at local meetups or industry conferences.
3. Your clients
For an agency, this is the big one. All your internal and public-facing efforts are meant to bring you into meetings where you can share the value of content strategy with clients. If you’re a good listener and willing to take initiative, you can:
- Gather information about the types of projects your agency takes on. Then identify the types of clients (by industry, for example) that content strategy can help the most.
- Ask to be invited to project meetings. Get up-to-speed on the clients and listen for problems that CS can help solve.
Once you’ve taken these steps, zero in on a client and project you’d like to help with. Talk to the person in charge of the project (it could be a lead, account manager, or project manager) and give them your pitch. Ask them for feedback and find out whether they think your services could help the project run more smoothly. If so, they can set up a meeting for you to pitch your solution to the client.
Building a content strategy practice takes time, patience, and persistence. In fact, as Carrie Hane stated, a lot of content strategy is saying the same things over and over again. If it doesn’t work right away, don’t be discouraged! Keep trying, learn from your mistakes, and modify your approach. Here’s hoping that soon you have more project work than you can manage.