Content strategy survey results: part 3

Since, many moons ago now, I conducted a survey of web content professionals I’ve gotten around to displaying the results for gender, age and location as well as revealing where we work and where our talents lie. Now, using a novel combination of see-saws, coloured blocks and gravity, I reveal which tasks content strategists are more likely to take on or, in some cases, get landed with. How do these results compare with the work you do?

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Order your diagram prints from Society6

After having to disappoint literally ten people who asked if I had any plans to sell prints of my diagrams, I’ve finally bowed to the pressure.

One of the primary reasons for my long-standing reluctance was the thought of organising the printing, handling and distribution of the prints myself. Getting to the stage where I’d be on first name terms with the Post Office cashiers as I negotiated another shipment of thundersticks to a far flung land didn’t exactly fill me with much enthusiasm.

So when I stumbled upon these fine folks at Society6 and realised I could get away with placing any would-be customer in their capable hands, I finally got excited by the whole idea. You see, when you or I buy a product from Society6′s stable of ridiculously talented artists from around the world, they handle the production, packaging and shipping on the artist’s behalf. I know. I’ve rubbed my eyes a few times now and it still reads the same.

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Ending 18 years of self-exile from the stage

I’d long considered public speaking to be a domain other people inhabited. That was, however, until the beginning of this year when I drew up a longlist of things that would take me out of my comfort zone, only to find that speaking in public occupied no less than three items.

I waited until the very last hour before making my submission for CS Forum 2011 before gasping in an equal measure of delight and horror weeks later upon seeing my name and mugshot amongst some of our industry’s most celebrated pracitioners. My mind rapidly turned to the question of how I was going to close an 18-year speaking gap between a school production and an international conference.

So imagine my relief when the chance arose to deliver a 5-minute lightning talk at the inaugural London Content Strategy Meetup event “Wrapping up Confab, unwrapping CS Forum”. I now had an excellent opportunity to put myself through the ordeal of speaking and see how I react under the pressure.

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Content strategy survey results: part 2

Between April and May web content professionals from six continents were surveyed about their life, work and education. In part 1 of this series I used a colourful array of charts and maps to display the results for gender, age and location. Now, not so hot on its heels, here’s part 2 which attempts to shed some light on the working lives of today’s content strategists.

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A content strategy survey fit for a king

As I explained in an earlier post, I’m aiming to create a diagram that will attempt to map the different paths we have taken to reach the field of content strategy. So if you belong to this burgeoning collective of web content professionals then this survey (and I) would greatly benefit from your input. May it mark the start of your long-term participation in this fanciful experiment.

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Help shape my next diagram

As a final flourish to my last post, in which I shone a little light on the process I followed to create ‘Partners for the content strategist’, I whimsically floated the idea of getting the wider online content community (I’m sure there’s a better term than that) involved in the conception and development of a similar diagram. On reflection, I realised this wasn’t such a bad idea at all.

Often, what moves me to pick up a pen and doodle is the need to solve a problem using pictures, or its to help stimulate my brain to reveal unrealised and surprising connections and relationships, often between people and tasks. The trouble is, I’m all too aware that the finished diagrams only offer a single viewpoint – that of my own. I think I’d be interested to see now what we can conjure up together as a community. I know the end result will be all the richer as a result of your input.

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‘Partners’ diagram: my workings out

Because my diagrams are almost always born out of a desire to solve a problem or align certain things in my own mind I’m more than aware that a diagram such as ‘Partners for the content strategist’ is unlikely to sit comfortably with everyone. So, to help you understand why I came to certain conclusions and shed a little light on my process, I thought I’d show you my workings out.

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Diagram: Partners for the content strategist

When every facet, subset, and silo is boiled down the task of understanding how an organisation can be effective with their content is, in essence, what content strategy is all about: everything we do is driven and measured by it.

Working out why and how an organisation’s content needs to change cannot be achieved without three key considerations: the status and potential of the content itself, the platform that supports its delivery, and the people involved in its creation. The potentially dizzying amount of skills and responsibilities this requires means the content strategist must seek out all the available knowledge within an organisation, capture it, and use it effectively. Clear communication, a respect for each other’s skills and time, and a shared common goal can help forge the working partnerships that make such changes possible.

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Bureaucracy: a tale of fear and loathing

Not only do bureaucrats have to contend with being widely regarded as life’s great water-carriers and spoilers, they frequently find themselves being used as a collective political punchbag — one which everyone, regardless of their political leaning, is invited to take a free swing at. The problem, I believe, is this modern toxic image that bureaucracy conjures up in our minds: one of dull, overly-fastidious drones stifling genuine and blindingly obvious progress, safe within the confines of their ivory towers of power. But wait: wasn’t it bureaucracy and systems of government at their most pure and infantile that helped elevate human civilisation from the laborious rigours of jabbing one another with sharp sticks and trading nothing more than furrow-browed stares? No, not really, but looking back through history we can confidently point to bureaucracy as one of the chief reasons how one empire could outlast another by centuries.

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