The Breakdown: In anticipation of this year’s SXSW Interactive conference, our next interview in the SXSW Q&A series is with Margot Bloomstein (@mbloomstein), a brand and content strategy consultant who will be giving a talk called Content Strategy: what’s in it for you? One of the things we love about Margot is that she always comes up with the best metaphors for explaining content strategy concepts, as evidenced in her ALA article, The Case for Content Strategy – Motown Style. Margot always reminds us – in those rare moments when we forget – that we should be having fun with all this.
S/G: So, content strategy, what IS in it for me?
Margot: Fame, fortune, and everything that goes with it–what? No? Well, at least when you address content strategy, you can enjoy the peace of mind that goes with knowing you’re helping to facilitate communication. It’s only slightly less fabulous than glam rock. What else? Whether you’re a designer, IA, or broader web strategist, when you evangelize content strategy, you’re helping to create a more cohesive experience for your end user. More immediately, you’ll also strengthen your own deliverables and help your client appreciate a more holistic vision of the end product. Ready to rock your work from a new angle? Check out this workshop at SXSW.
S/G: What’s one of your favorite websites that demonstrates really excellent content strategy?
Margot: I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money, sigh) at REI.com lately. I appreciate that their content strategy reflects a clear brand strategy: REI is a co-op “owned” by its members, dedicated to inspiring, educating, and outfitting for outdoor adventure and stewardship. Therefore, they complement “expert advice” with user reviews and go beyond just commerce to offer content about trips, local events, environmental cleanup, and more. This plays out beyond the content types, too. Sentence case, careful punctuation, and detailed product descriptions combine to manifest a style and tone that are very democratic and accessible but experienced.
S/G: What’s the biggest myth about content strategy?
Margot: The biggest misconception is that content strategy’s just the latest fancy, expensive term for copywriting. And if you take care of the copy, you can check off content strategy, too.
S/G: What’s the difference between content strategy and copywriting?
Margot: What’s the difference between a nutritious dietary plan and a bunch of carrots? Carrots are great–but they may not even be part of the bigger picture if, say, your family doesn’t like them or you need to figure out how to get more protein into your diet. Content strategy and copywriting face a similar sort of carrot confusion. Content strategy addresses the what, why, by whom, at what frequency, how–all issues that may affect copywriting, but aren’t synonymous with it. Copywriting is just one aspect of the tactical execution of a content strategy. And for most of us, carrots are just one small part of a healthy diet, into which we also bring recipes, other ingredients, and preferences.
S/G: What are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW?
Margot: I’m looking forward to seeing the lightbulb moments. The content strategy workshop track offers a great opportunity for people in other roles to learn more about the processes, deliverables, and conversations that comprise content strategy. At the same time, we’ll arm content strategists with more ways to evangelize their work. I’m excited to see the meeting of minds as folks in a variety of interactive roles learn how content strategy–and engagement with content strategists–can enrich their work and empower their clients.