Consorting with Content

Rachel Lovinger   March 25, 2009
bum-rush-the-showLeave no Content Strategist behind. (image via GrooverFW)

On March 19th I participated in a Content Strategy Consortium in Memphis. It was organized by Kristina Halvorson (Brain Traffic) and Karen McGrane (Bond Art + Science), as one of the pre-conference events hosted by the IA Summit. As far as I know, this was the first event of its kind – people from different organizations getting together to formally discuss the practice of content strategy. Many of the 22 people there had some form of the words “content strategy” in their title, but many didn’t. Some were consultants, and some were in-house. In-house content strategists!! I was delighted to be a part of this group.

Everyone who attended had a strong interest in defining the practice, sharing knowledge, and making connections with other people in the practice. We had a series of presentations and breakout sessions, led by the participants, on topics that included: how to explain and sell content strategy; how content strategy relates to other disciplines, such as IA, IT, publishing and marketing; theoretical views of content strategy; case studies; and processes & tools. Most of these presentations will be posted online soon, and when they are I’ll include the link in the comments of this post.

At the end of the day we broke into groups to discuss four things: defining the practice, identifying the processes and tools, building community and evangelizing. In the two hours we spent working and discussing these topics, we broke the ice and came up with a few concrete ideas, but realized there’s a lot more discussion to be had.

The most valuable thing about this event, for me, was to experience the beginning of a real community being formed. I met a lot of brilliant people and I left feeling inspired and motivated and highly anticipating what comes next. Rest assured, when things happen as a result of this meeting, we will be announcing them here on Scatter/Gather. In the meantime, if you want to follow the thoughts of some of these ground-breaking content strategy practitioners, here are their names and Twitter handles:

Ian Alexander – @eatmedia
Margot Bloomstein – @mbloomstein
Jennifer Bohmbach – @evoljennifer
Shelly Bowen – @shelbow
Lorelei Brown – @beezy
Christopher Collette – @collettico
R. Stephen Gracey – @RSGracey
Stephanie Hale – @HaleStephanie
Kristina Halvorson – @halvorson
Margret Hanley – @magshanley
Colleen Jones – @leenjones
Rachel Lovinger – @rlovinger
Jeff MacIntyre – @jeffmacintyre
Keri Maijala – @clamhead
Laura Melcher – @lmelcher
Elena Melendy – @emelendy
Karen McGrane – @karenmcgrane
Chris Moritz – @chrismoritz
Melissa Rach – @melissarach
Erin Scime – @erinscime
Gene Smith – @gsmith
Samantha Starmer – @samanthastarmer

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15 Responses

  1. Presentations from the consortium will be posted by each presenter on Slideshare. A few have been added already, but there will be many more coming soon. You can find them all here:
    http://www.slideshare.net/tag/csconsortium

  2. […] Strategy Consortium By Rachel Over on scatter/gather I wrote a post summing up my experience of last week’s Content Strategy Consortium at the IA […]

  3. Brian Hansen says:

    With your permission, I’d love to add this list to the ongoing Twitter list of IAS09 attendees here:
    http://tr.im/hgga

  4. […] Lovinger’s Consorting with Content (including the consortium participant’s Twitter […]

  5. […] content strategists also tweet. Rachel Lovinger posted a handy list of Twitter addresses for the consortium […]

  6. […] all the content strategy experts in the room at the Content Strategy Consortium, I’m feeling more and more confident companies will have […]

  7. simon kelly says:

    Err, not so fast folks. I would argue that a content strategists have been around for centuries, we used to call them editors! In other words I would define a content strategist as someone who marries the best practices of investigative journalism, magazine editorial planning, information architecture and marketing. In other words they need to pay closer attention to story-listening (the investigative peeling away of layers to unearth the brand truth and take a narrative, as opposed to data-driven, approach to consumer, brand and category insights) to define a brand’s story platform. This platform informs the brand’s authority to publish content and enables the content strategist to create a content plan that supports both the marketing objectives as well as the audience information needs. Content strategists that are trained in journalism know that a content plan needs to engage an audience over time and build trust through a consistently authentic voice that delivers useful and entertaining experiences each time (aka publishing), as opposed to most branded web-site launches that may start off with a bang but soon fizzle over time due to lack of a long-term content plan.
    Twitter: @kellbags

  8. In response to Simon Kelly: Yes. Do you feel you’re contradicting something here? Because I don’t believe anyone in the Content Strategy community–certainly no one who attended the CS Consortium, which was fundamentally an effort to place exactly the concerns you address in your post at the center of website design and development practice–would argue with your points. Perhaps you’re thinking of the way in which “content strategy” (little c, little s) is being misused as a term by the traditional marketing community. If so, you might want to think about joining forces with those of us who self-define as Content Strategists. Best, Elena (@emelendy)

  9. Simon,

    I think that what you’re describing is one aspect of Content Strategy, but not all of it. There’s also a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes – content organization, structure, metadata, migration, planning, tools, processes, workflow, governance, etc., etc. Editors have been doing some of these things for a long time, while other of these responsibilities have fallen to Information Architects, Project Managers, Technologists, Designers, Business Analysts, and people with many other titles.

    I would argue that all of these people, regardless of title, are practicing Content Strategy. At Razorfish we happen to have a specialized role for these responsibilities. In the interest of refining that practice, it’s useful for all of us to take part in conversations with a larger community of people (again, whatever their titles may be), who are also practicing CS. Welcome to the conversation!

  10. […] fan the flames further we’ve since had discussions arising from the inaugrial meeting of the Content Strategy Consortium at the 2009 IA Summit, followed by some great presentations, as well as further impacting articles […]

  11. admin says:

    I recently noticed that some of the people who didn’t have Twitter accounts at the time have since created them. I’ve added those to the list!

  12. […] all the content strategy experts in the room at the Content Strategy Consortium, I’m feeling more and more confident companies will have […]

  13. […] exclusively on pushing the product or service on a user.  In 2009, Halvorson founded the first Content Strategy Consortium to kickstart a national conversation about content […]

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