I was blessed to work on a project last year in which I was hired as a Content Strategist and yet made no documents, not one. Instead the entire project was about balls-to-the-wall making, coding and breaking. It was strategy in the midst of a muddy game, I guess. Whatever it was, I’ve not been the same since. In terms of finding projects that are truly going to satisfy me, I’m near ruined. I’ve tasted the nectar. If you’re a Matrix fan, I took the red pill.
In this post I’ll attempt to sketch for you, albeit in a haphazard way, the scene of that work, what I did, how strategy grew out of making and what worked and what didn’t.
Getting from outside to in on a project team
I so often hear of Content Strategists finding it difficult to get themselves and their processes satisfyingly integrated into a project team and design process; I’ve found this myself and have both failed and succeeded in wrangling my way in. I do wonder if this word ‘strategy’, used in days of advertising-old to spell out 1. expensive research, 2. documentation (and lots of) and 3. presentations – a primordial state of pre-ideas and pre-production – if it is not making matters worse? Is it this one-two-three approach that’s putting us in a position, or should I say ‘me’ and not assume a collective, of always skirting projects and never really being able to enjoy the flurry and design fury of the let’s-make-it-happen project storm. Add to this my hooting-and-tooting to be called in earlier than I usually am i.e. when the client realises “holy shit, we have no content” and I’m almost never privy to the main course, no, that’s for the designers and coders, the people who make stuff. Strategy is before anything gets made, content is last minute. Didn’t you know?
To use a football analogy: I believe that we as Content Strategists can and should be involved throughout a project process, not just as a referee shouting from the side lines, or a goalie fending off bad scores, but with sleeves rolled up, shin guards on, locked in team play and making and breaking with the rest of them.
(Sports fans and eagle-eyed readers: yes, the feature image references rugby and not football.)