Waiting for the content strategy penny to drop

Feeling minimalist today so I’m reducing the summary of this post to one sentence:

  • Nobody knows what I do!

But then again, maybe I’ll add my second sentence

  • But they get it after I’ve finished working with them!

In the US content strategists have made a name for themselves at companies like Brain Traffic and Facebook (did it all start there? I don’t know). They seem to be all over North America like a rash (good on them).

Here in the UK there are content strategists lurking around – OK, in London and the big web agencies in the South East they’re probably out and proud – but not in my neck of the woods as far as I can tell. If you know differently I’d love to meet up – perhaps we’d form a select band: a Welsh content strategists’ association?

I’m delighted to find there’s been a UK Content Strategy Association in the UK since 2009 and I really must get out more to events like Confab – but sometimes it seems like I’m a Lone Ranger.

Lone Ranger-blog

But then again, if nobody’s heard of ‘content strategist’ as a job title I can’t really blame them – as a journo who fell into re-writing people’s web content, the idea of being a content strategist is a relatively new one on me.

And as I’m working for my own tiny web firm not an large agency, I’m forging a solo path, starting with small projects and learning as I go along. I’m also working on a much larger site in a content role, www.nationalparks.gov.uk which has helped hone my content skills.

The easiest approach to explaining how I can help the kind of small tourism businesses I deal with in these parts seems to be a simple: ‘I can help with your content’. Cue relieved looks all round.

Then the clincher is: ‘You don’t necessarily have to pay for a new website’. Watch those recession-wearied faces light up!

Of course then wrangling content from the client can be tricky, unless it’s more of a revamp than a new content job. But so far it’s nowhere near as tricky as making a reluctant interviewee spill the beans for a newspaper article (and no, I didn’t have a cheque book!). A little coaxing, a little herding cats and a little bit of initiative on my part and we get there.

The other day I thought of a new way to help the content strategy penny drop – it pains me to say it, being a wordy bird, but it’s a visual ‘before and after’ approach. So now all I need to do is start screen-grabbing examples to show prospective clients and watch their faces to see the fog of confusion clear…