The Rise of the Content Strategist – Cheryl Lowry via Flip the Media

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Link: The Rise of the Content Strategist – Cheryl Lowry via Flip the Media

One way to know that tectonic changes are happening in an industry is to see people’s titles change when they aren’t being promoted. Newest example? Editors are becoming Content Strategists, and there is increasing demand for this ‘new’ specialty:

The Rise of the Content Strategist – Cheryl Lowry via Flip the Media

Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web, first published in 2009, has been a big influence, as Peter notes in his post. In her book, Halvorson defines content strategy as “the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.” How does this differ, though, from what professional content writers, editors and managers have been doing all along?

I see it as a question of abundance. When I began writing content, creation was the goal. Marketing copy. User guides. FAQs. Help systems. Writers and editors produced and published words, and moving up the chain meant managing an editorial calendar and other writers to produce ever greater sums of copy. As print gave way to the web, this became considerably easier and cheaper to do. Many companies employed (and still employ) a strategy that web usability expert Gerry McGovern refers to as “launch and leave:” produce a ton of content, and then leave it sitting there unmeasured and unmaintained. Clay Shirky calls this abundance a result of post-Gutenberg economics, in which “the cost of producing [content] has fallen through the floor… .and so [now] there’s no economic logic that says you have to filter for quality before you publish.”

However, several recent trends have contributed to organizations demanding more from content.. The Great Recession, the rise of web analytics, and the voice of the customer amplified by social networks have all given companies more tools and incentive to create and maintain “useful, usable content.” Organizations are now realizing that content ought to earn its keep — it should drive conversion (sales, donations), or reduce call drivers (solve frequent and actual problems customers have). If it doesn’t, it’s just polluting the relevance and searchability of content that does.

So, the content strategist is concerned with the full lifecycle of media, not just production or aggregation. I think this title will absorb the brief rise of ‘content curator’, because it sounds shinier.

TFA Team

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