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Posts Tagged ‘Content Strategy

Forget Content Strategists: We need Village Storytellers.

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Begin the Begatting!

“Content strategy” has such a corporate feel to it. Such strategized-promotional-content-puzzle pieces, dreamed up in isolation, will move forward whether or not anyone cares. But here is exactly where strategy and art must date, marry and get busy begatting fecund stories.

No human will be interested otherwise.

No amount of strategizing can actually make that happen. Art must take over. Art connects with emotion. Art is a human meaning-making activity not easily controlled by a corporate agenda. If controlled too-tightly, art quickly becomes something less than art.

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I’m working with a group of writers who need to understand this. Their task is to pull people into the causes they have begun to champion. They will identify their mission and purpose, complete with telling details about their target audiences. They will strategize about content and assemble editorial calendars, but in the end, it is the art of storytelling that has the power to pull anyone forward.

My theory is that strategy works best as a beginning point. You do your best to get a strategy in place, but then you move forward. As a writer, I know from experience that stories and strategies grow up best together. Each talking to the other. That is because the weaving of the story actually makes new strategy elements available (and vice versa). Elements appear that would not be apparent except that the artist has accessed that deep subconscious, chaotic place where connections are made and much foolish talk swirls around very bad ideas before anything worthwhile appears.

Sometimes when I get stuck in the analytical side of strategy, I set it aside to tell stories just to open possibilities. I am not alone in that practice.

There is a push for strategists today. But I would rather work with their more human cousins: story-teller strategists.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Kristina Halvorson & The Discipline of Making Stuff Up

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Content Strategy and Brain Traffic

Someone asked a perfectly reasonable question:

What is content?

Our Social Media Marketing class is composed of collegiates with a passion for writing and communicating. Whether from the Journalism/Communication school or from the English department, we’ve come together around this notion of producing content in pursuit of a vision.

So we write.

While “content” seems a rude way to talk about the deep thinking that goes into a paper on, say, the merits of determinism, it’s a term that works pretty well for less lofty/more human conversation. The kinds of conversation suited to inviting in semi-interested onlookers.

Content is the stuff we use to describe our vision for…whatever. If we’re building a coalition to alleviate homelessness, the content we produce will point to the problem, tell stories about real people, show the inadequacy of current solutions and keep offering attitudes that illustrate the need and humanity of the man on the corner with the sign. If we work for a company that makes implantable deep brain stimulators, our content will highlight the current science behind Parkinson’s disease, show current (inadequate) ways of dealing with the disease, harp on the benefits of such stimulation without hiding the downsides.01302014-content-strategy-diagram

Kristina Halvorson, founder and CEO of Brain Traffic and co-author of Content Strategy for the Web will join us today (provided she can plow through 4-6 inches of new snow) to talk about the disciplines involved with making stuff up. Because that’s what content is: making stuff up. For a purpose. Making stuff up in accordance with a discipline, toward a specific end, to meet a particular business or social objective. That’s why content and writing go so well together: there’s nothing a writer likes more than stepping into a big idea and exploring the main streets, side streets and alleys and foot paths with words and images and video. Sometimes we have a map to start with. Sometimes we make up the map as we go.

Mostly we do both.

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Image credits: Brain Traffic

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