Not Content with Content: Lavacon Content Strategy Conference 2014

What is content strategy?

I have to admit that I was a bit confused about what the term “content strategy” means. When I came to Lavacon, a content strategy conference, in Portland, Oregan, I felt excited about learning everything it had to offer. Content strategy is a fairly new term. It came into existence in the late 2000s and started with web development. Kristina Halverson, author of Content Strategy and the Web and a presenter at Lavacon, wrote one of the most popular definitions of content strategy:

“Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”

The content part of the above definition can be written documents, documents on the web, emails, etc. It can also be video-based or even charts and graphs.

The “useful, usable” part of the definition is important because it involves using feedback and metrics from the client. This feedback is used to make sure that the content can be used as a solution for a problem and that the client isn’t given extraneous information.

If a company is providing content strategy correctly, it can ensure that the company’s clients receivethe same information regardless of who they talk to because good content strategy encourages communication across all business units.

Picking the right enterprise-level technology for a company

I attended many panels over the course of the conference. One of my favorites was about purchasing new enterprise-level technology. Rather than talking about different tools specifically, Liz Fraley, the CEO of Single-Sourcing Solutions, discussed in her presentation “How to Pick a Tool” processes that companies can use to choose which enterprise tool is right for them.

The first question that she asked at the beginning of the panel was what processes the companies have in place when selecting the correct enterprise tools. Unsurprisingly, most of the people attending the panel had no idea, other than they need to send a request through to the information technology department.

Ordering enterprise-level technology is completely different from shopping for technology for your own home computer. You can’t read a few reviews and expect to be knowledgeable enough to make a decision. Fraley offered up some practical ideas for the selection of a new enterprise tool. One was to take training courses from different companies to see what the new tool is like in practice.

A step that some other presenters suggested was to do a technology pilot program, but Fraley didn’t agree. She compared piloting enterprise tools to having several different contractors come in to re-design your kitchen: it wasn’t practical and it meant nothing could get done in the interim.

Fraley ended the presentation by revealing a variety of questions that she uses when consulting with different companies to implement content management tools. The questions were made to gain a deeper understanding of a situation and company in order to create a requirement analysis.

Picture of a tree at the Portland Japanese gardens

A brief break at the Portland Japanese gardens helped to rejuvenate my brain between panels

If you are interested in learning more about content strategy or the conference, the slides for all the panels have been posted on SlideShare. Links to the PowerPoints can be found here.

 

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