Content Strategy in the Fortune 500Jul 6, 2011 By Nicole Jones
Your corporate site has everything. Product details. Media info. Legal terms. Calls to action. Friendly support. People flock there every day. It’s the perfect feeding ground. Duh dun duh dun duh dun.
On the corporate communications yacht, progress is harder than it should be. Stakeholders are everywhere; strategy is a quarterly deliverable; silos divide us all.
Working with content isn’t new here, but the idea of content strategy may be foreign to peers and executives. You may spend more time fighting for changes than making them; you may even feel like a pebble trying to change the sea.
But don’t be discouraged. You can make waves with what you have today. Whether you’re a writer or communications lead, it’s relatively easy to sneak in strategic work without being eaten alive.
Communication as a Process
Here’s an outline that has helped me:
Research. Survey the water from shore.
- Fish for answers.*
- Does the project make sense?
- Why is it important?
- Who is the audience, what do they need, and what action should they take?
- Is there any data to support the project?
- Does the content apply to other countries or languages?
- Who owns the content, and who will update it?
- Interview the experts. Start with stakeholders. Talk to customers if you can.
- Inventory existing content.
- Does this relate to other content assets (e.g., article, product image, video, FAQ)?
- How do competitors talk about similar topics?
Plan. Chart your course.
- Define the problem.
- Develop an approach. State what will change; specify goals and steps to get there.
- Outline next steps with timelines. Set deadlines.
- Set rules for anyone that touches the content.
- Get the project stakeholders to agree to the plan.
Execute. One nautical mile at a time.
- Get your hands dirty. This may mean writing the content. For larger projects, it may mean developing content templates, workflow recommendations, an editorial calendar, style guidelines, metadata schemas, and more.
- When the new content is ready, ask for approval from project stakeholders, Marketing, and Legal.
- Need content for other languages? Work with a localization specialist.
- Push the content live.
- Keep an eye on your work.*
Some of these tasks may be up to a writer or editor, but it’s important to know how your organization handles each part of the process.
Feedback is Imperative
*This flow assumes you have a feedback loop. Don’t have one? Start here:
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Analytics (e.g., click maps, search terms, popular pages)
- User reviews or discussions
- Contact center data (e.g., metrics, escalations, popular canned responses)
- Employee satisfaction surveys
Terms of the Charter
The tasks aren’t easy; what we do is work. But if you want to practice content strategy in the Fortune 500, you can start today.
With the “why” compass in your pocket, you’re on your way to content ownership. You are the reader’s advocate. You are the content expert.
So dive in—and be patient with your progress. Even small copy changes take a few tidal cycles.