Lots of organizations realize that their content is more chaotic than strategic. But content strategy isn’t something you can just bolt on to your existing process. Content strategy usually requires a fundamental shift in how you work and think. Let’s see if your organization is ready.
Something you might not know about me: I’m a raving fan of the movie “The American President.” There are so many sections of that movie that I could quote chapter and verse, which is funny because I’m normally terrible about remembering quotes from movies, or even whether or not I’ve seen a film before. (Seriously — I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have gotten 45 minutes into a movie, and I turn to him and say, “We’ve seen this before,” and he says, “I tried to tell you that!” Happens all the time.)
But “The American President.” That one I know. And the part I love the most is the speech Michael Douglas (as the president) gives at the end. You know the one…it includes this section: “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad, because it’s going to put up a fight.”
Believe it or not, I’m going to entirely resist the urge to tell you how that speech relates to politics today. Because I’m here to talk to you about whether or not you’re ready for content strategy, and this speech definitely relates to that question.
Content chaos surrounds us
Is this familiar? You were going along about your business, and then you looked around one day and realized you were sitting in the middle of content chaos. It happens. It happens to most people in organizations of any size. There are a lot of humans communicating, through every medium imaginable, and things get complicated fast.
I’m not going to spend too much time today describing what I mean by content chaos (that might be fun another day, though…I’ll make myself a note.) But here are some situations that might resonate with you:
- Multiple departments creating content for multiple reasons
- More than one agency working on brand, design, and content
- Multiple audiences that need different things from you
- Too much content to keep up with
- Inability to describe content’s role in your organization
- Content that’s a line-item expense instead of a business asset
I could go on…but you get the idea. The first three items on that list aren’t necessarily signs of chaos, but they describe the situations that chaos loves to infect. The last three stress me out just typing them…and that’s just a small part of what it feels like to live them.
Many organizations have decided this isn’t the best way to live or work, and they’re right. But I have to confess, we haven’t done enough in the content strategy discipline to share the hard truth about this work.
Content strategy isn’t easy
Content strategy is advanced communications, to borrow from Aaron Sorkin, not just a set of tools that you can bolt on to your existing process. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. In fact, I’ve seen this so often that I’m 100% comfortable saying something that might make me super-unpopular.
You will not see benefits from content strategy unless:
- You are ready for hard truths about your business strategy and your current way of working.
- Your business is willing to do the organizational therapy to change the way you think about content, and the way you use content.
- You realize that there are entrenched systems that created your content chaos, and some of them will have to change to make effective communication possible.
Content strategy isn’t fairy dust or a magic potion. It’s not one-size-fits-all. It is hard work, and the system will resist you.
But content strategy makes it possible to connect with your audience in a deeper way than you ever have before. Content strategy protects you against all kinds of liability that you’re ignoring right now. Content strategy makes all of your communications efforts more effective.
So yeah, I’d love to talk to you about content strategy. I’d love to see you do this work and get the results. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.