Considering The People Behind Your Content Strategy

As I mentioned in my previous post, Confab is a professional highlight every year. The 2013 edition was no exception.

I always leave with new tools or ideas that I can immediately apply: whether it’s Jonathan Colman’s perspectives on measurement, Jeff Eaton’s tips on working with development teams, or Stephanie Hay’s Mom Test.

Yet I’m equally drawn to a couple of comments that should cause any content wrangler to stop and consider how they approach the people aspects of their work.

“Every pixel has an owner.” (Paul Ford)

Paul’s point is simple and powerful: You may be tackling ineffective or poorly written or unnecessary content across your organization. But every pixel was created by someone who felt it was important, advocated for it, and crafted it.

In other words: Before you tear that content apart, consider the person (or people) behind it. It may not influence how you feel about their (still-lousy) content, but it will undoubtedly make your interactions more healthy and productive.

And that leads to the second related Confab quote that continues to resonate:

“If you don’t take an interest in the people who create content, your content will fail.” (Corey Vilhauer)

This isn’t about offering insincere praise, creating forced relationships or writing a better CMS manual. Instead, it means considering what your awesome content strategy means to the folks who will implement it: How it fits into their daily routine. Whether it’s understandable. Whether they feel they’ve influenced it. Whether you “get” their needs, wishes and motivations.

It’s been said many times that content strategy is really about change management. As you attempt to improve content in your organization, never lose sight of the individuals and teams who will ultimately determine its success.

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