What Is a Content Strategist?

Over the weekend I had to explain what I do to someone who doesn’t deal with content, and I found it a good exercise. Finding the right words to make foreign concepts relevant and doing it succinctly — that’s a hallmark of good content.

I wear many hats, but the most encompassing title is content strategist. In the content strategist role, I plan content and create the process to create and maintain that content. While I think that says it all, that doesn’t mean much to people outside the industry. Explaining what that entails provides clarity.

Content strategy is more than writing. That’s why I use the tagline “creating content with a purpose.” I usually start a project by trying to understand the audience and goal of the content. I also need to understand the business objectives.

Concrete examples shed light on the idea. Here are a few deliverables: content assessments, content inventories, gap analysis, maintenance plans, and content templates. The content itself is the tangible result of all the work the content strategist does. The content strategist paves the road for meaningful, actionable, and useful content that remains relevant for the future.

I think we’ve stretched the term content strategist to subsume what we used to call an editor, and in many cases editor and content strategist are synonymous. But the role should be more than that. The content strategist needs to better understand the whole picture, beyond the words and pictures. There are elements of information architecture and interaction design, and even some business strategy. Content strategists need to assimilate all the pieces and bring it together under the context of communicating to users.

I welcome the growth of content strategy over the past few years — it shows businesses grasp the importance of content planning and the need to process in creating content. And I’m available if you happen to need some help with your content strategy.

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