You want to skip this paragraph, don’t you? I know you do, because I do, too. We all do when reading online, and I for one am tired of the long wind-ups to the meat of a story (see no. 3, below). So, without further ado, here are my five reminders for excellent content strategists:
- Know the technologies you’re dealing with in a content strategy project. Nailing requirements goes a long way when telling developers how and where you want content managed and delivered and to whom. Knowing how a platform works – or having used it extensively – enables you to recommend out-of-the-box features and offer perspective on how an integration actually works (or not). Yes, your developers should be a strong resource for this information, but you bring a different perspective to the discussion.
- Grammar, spelling, and punctuation matter. If you’re not strong in these areas, study up on your own and let technology support you. You can choose from a plethora of content-related tools – everything from Grammarly for checking grammar; Kapost and Contently for content marketing; Acrolinx for multilingual content production at scale; and MadCap for technical writing – but even simple Word prompts can help. Even though technology catches a lot of mistakes, there’s still no substitute for a human proofreader with a sharp eye and solid editing skills.
- Get to the point. Most of what we’re reading online now is educational – we want to learn or use something from it. Keep the narrative intro short and relevant, not rambling.
- Keep your standards high, but don’t kill off your contributors. There’s a fine line between keeping a consistent brand voice and tone in the name of quality and stripping out all personality of something like a blog post. If your content has a byline, let the writer sound like themselves, even as you clean up any grammar, redundancy, or lack of clarity.
- Study design, coding, XML, painting, screenwriting – anything that adds another creative dimension to you and your view of content. When I was a traffic manager at an ad agency, I asked a copywriter friend how I could learn to write ad copy. He said, “Take a poetry-writing class” and handed me a book of haiku. Best advice I ever got. Poetry is evocative, visual, and concise, just like the best narrative prose. Expand and flex your creative muscle so you bring new ideas from other disciplines to your content strategy projects.