During our presence week in London, we gathered some insights about the work of a content strategist. Within the discussion three content strategists described lots of challenges and gave us even more tips on how to compete against all critic and bring the content strategy to life.

What are content strategists doing?

Content strategists, like Felice Hawley, Liz Inskip, Lisa Moore and Martina Stansbie work in different types of companies. These can be agencies, industrial enterprises, technology and service providers. They start by analysing existing content, competitors and target groups and care for the development of a detailed content strategy. This content strategy needs to be implemented in the company and someone needs to ensure that all content activities are geared towards the content strategy. These are tasks of a content strategist, as well.

Content strategists see the full picture

Content strategists collaborate with people from a lot of other disciplines. They need to get everybody on board, as Liz Inskip told as she was describing her work. Content strategists need to see the fuller picture and should have knowledge and experience in a lot of disciplines, like:

  • Information architecture
  • Usability experience
  • Marketing
  • Content creation
  • Social Media

They need to speak the language of specialists and put their topics in easy understandable words to make it comprehensible for experts and management from classical divisions.

The challenging part of a content strategists work

Sounds like quite an interesting job? It is. But there are some challenges in the field of content strategy, too. The main problem, according to Felice Hawley, is that people do not understand the aim of a content strategy. They see it as confining regulations that hinders them in their work. In some cases this might be true. But only because it affects their way of working. It is not a worse way of working, it is a different one and this is often the problem. So content strategist are at the moment some kind of change manager, as well.

Show me what it does for me

This challenge in mind, content strategists need to find a way to get people on their side. Showing others what the content strategy does for them might convince them of the necessity of a content strategy. So the main job of a content strategist is to make jobs for others easier. Therefore content strategists need to understand the internal teams and find their pain points. For example the customer service:  They will love the content strategist if helpful and traceable content on the company’s website reduces the amount of phone calls.

Useful tips for prospective content strategist

Asked for some helpful tips on how to educate within the discipline of content strategy Felice Hawley, Martina Stansbie and Liz Inskip named the following:

  • Start small:
    Look for a small project you can work on and show the power of a content strategy by clear objectives and KPIs (Key Performence Indicators)
  • Do listening:
    Speak to your team members. Take their doubts seriously and try to make their jobs easier
  • Be a teacher:
    Be prepared to explain and state the necessity of a content strategy with all the advantages
  • Serve food:
    When you need to get people to work on a topic, make it as comfortable as possible. Serve foods and sweets to make them feel in good hands
  • Try to get high level support:
    Convince one or more people from the senior management to have some support in what you are doing
  • Look for mentors:
    Try to find someone that listens to you. As a single content strategist in a company talking to other content strategists brings joy to the heart

Is content strategist the right job title?

Within the discussion about tasks and challenges of content strategists, some other job titles came up. Is content planner, content designer or content engineer a better description of this field of activities? Depending on the focus of one content strategist some of these job titles fit better than other. Referring to the blogpost of Anne Rockley, where she introduced two types of content strategists, the front-end content strategist might be called a content designer and the back-end content strategist might be better described by the job title content engineer.