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Bare Bones Content Strategy:
How to Create a Sustainable
Governance Plan
Rick Allen
@epublishmedia
Confab Higher Ed 2015
#...
Content strategy 

is simple.
“
2
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
Content strategy 

is simple.
“
3
- Said No One Ever
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
4
Content is complex
https://flic.kr/p/JbqW
5 https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
6 https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamtea/1792070920/
Content is confusing
8 https://flic.kr/p/8NGv5D
9
Plan Create Revise Approve Test Publish
Tasks:
• Determine
need for new
content

• Request new
content
Tasks:
• Create d...
10 https://flic.kr/p/8qQ5iS
11
Complexity is the problem
https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
12
“Complex” is hard to sustain
https://flic.kr/p/5dxQ8W
13
Plan for simple
https://flic.kr/p/7tBgbY
Simple is hard.
14
1. easily understood or done.
15
sim•ple
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
/'simpəl/
adjective
“a simple solution”
16
Understand the complexity
17 https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
18
Simply goals
https://flic.kr/p/ceQ8Q9
Simplify goals
19 Source (2013): http://osls.emory.edu/about/meet_the_staff1.html
Emory University
Office of Student Leadership and Servi...
20
Content goals should:
• Clearly identify content value for users

• Provide guidelines for determining what on-page
con...
21
Complex goals
• Improve customer service

• Improve enrollment, retention, and alumni
relations

• Better reflect the c...
22
• Provide new student orientation information,
introducing resources and encouraging
engagement

• Describe the disting...
Simplify success metrics
https://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/2710949826/
A goal that can’t be
measured is useless.
24
25
Clear goals + relevant success metrics 

= valuable insights
26
1. Transformative
2. Community-building
3. Valuable
4. Vibrant
Messaging Guidelines
#confabedu
27
Transformative
We educate responsible, passionate, cooperative individuals who
actively work to make the world a better...
Content creation workflow:
Plan Create Revise Approve Test Publish
Tasks:
• Determine
need for new
content

• Request new
...
Content creation workflow:
Plan Create Revise Approve Test Publish
Tasks:
• Determine
need for new
content

• Request new
...
Content creation workflow:
Create Revise Publish
Tasks:
• Create draft of
new copy
Tasks:
• Copyedit

• Return to
author f...
Content guides
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
Planning for guides & tools
• Who are the people using these guides?
• What are they trying to accomplish?
• What do they ...
Focus your content
strategy on real needs.
36
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
• CMS Page Template
• Content Audit
• Content Matrix
• Content Model
• Content Template
• Content Worksheet
• Editorial Ca...
• Message Architecture
• Persona
• SEO Copywriting Guidelines
• Taxonomy
• User Flow
• Web Publishing Guidelines
• Web Wri...
Content audit findings
1. Voice and tone is inconsistent across the
website—some pages are too casual, others
are too form...
Content guides & tools
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
• CMS Page Template
• Content Audit
• Content Matrix
• Content Model
• ...
Make content guides
easy to use for the 

people who use them.
42
1. Keep your audience
in mind
2. Use plain language
3. Be concise
4. Make content
scannable
5. Write meaningful
headers
6....
Content guides
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
The best content strategy
is the one that works 

for you.
45
The end game
Governance
Together.
49
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
4
Relationship Management
Make content strategy
relevant and meaningful.
51
http://amandaallwood.tumblr.com/post/5439769860/fave-the-best-stuff-on-the-internet-related-to
Talk results, not content.
People don’t care about 

the process, they care
about results.
55
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
56
Speak human
https://flic.kr/p/quaZ56
Content strategy plans for the
creation, publication, and
governance of useful, usable
content.
“
57
Kristina Halvorson
Au...
Content strategy is to copywriting
as information architecture is to
design.

“
58
Rachel Lovinger
Razorfish

http://boxesa...
Planning for the creation,
aggregation, delivery, and
governance of useful, usable, 

and appropriate content in an
experi...
Use plain language.
60
I make sure the content on our 

site is useful for the people 

who need it.

“
61
Amanda Costello
Lead Content Strategis...
I help people to tell their 

story online.

“
62
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
I help people understand what
content works and what doesn't
so they can make their website
better.
“
63
#confabEDU • @epu...
I help people understand how 

to make content happen.

“
64
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
Help people understand
how content strategy
benefits them and they
will care.
65
What should people learn 

or do when they come to 

your website?
“
66
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
Let’s help them do that…
67
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
Rick Allen

@epublishmedia

rick@meetcontent.com
Thank you!
Say hi next time.
#confabEDU • @epublishmedia
Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan
Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan
Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan
Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan
Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan
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Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan

As content professionals, we strive for clear, concise communication on the web. We cut clutter, hone our message, and plan for purposeful content.

Just like our content should be straightforward, so should our plan for making content happen. “Simple” is understandable and manageable. “Complex” is confusing and time-consuming. We need to take the right steps, not every step. We need to use the right tools, not every tool.

Ongoing content strategy requires cultural support for governance with buy-in from the top and bottom of our org chart. This means creating a content plan people understand, with straightforward tools and training people can use in their everyday work. Content strategy is complex. It’s our job to simplify it.

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Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan

  1. 1. Bare Bones Content Strategy: How to Create a Sustainable Governance Plan Rick Allen @epublishmedia Confab Higher Ed 2015 #confabEDU https://flic.kr/p/386RKA
  2. 2. Content strategy 
 is simple. “ 2 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  3. 3. Content strategy 
 is simple. “ 3 - Said No One Ever #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  4. 4. 4 Content is complex https://flic.kr/p/JbqW
  5. 5. 5 https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
  6. 6. 6 https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
  7. 7. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamtea/1792070920/ Content is confusing
  8. 8. 8 https://flic.kr/p/8NGv5D
  9. 9. 9 Plan Create Revise Approve Test Publish Tasks: • Determine need for new content • Request new content Tasks: • Create draft of new copy • Send to content editor for review Tasks: • Copyedit • Return to author for rewrite or send for approval Tasks • Review content for accuracy • Return to author and editor for rewrite or submit for publication Tasks: • Build content in email or web template • Submit for publication Tasks: • Publish content on schedule Content is time-consuming
  10. 10. 10 https://flic.kr/p/8qQ5iS
  11. 11. 11 Complexity is the problem https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
  12. 12. 12 “Complex” is hard to sustain https://flic.kr/p/5dxQ8W
  13. 13. 13 Plan for simple https://flic.kr/p/7tBgbY
  14. 14. Simple is hard. 14
  15. 15. 1. easily understood or done. 15 sim•ple #confabEDU • @epublishmedia /'simpəl/ adjective “a simple solution”
  16. 16. 16 Understand the complexity
  17. 17. 17 https://flic.kr/p/iccxG8
  18. 18. 18 Simply goals https://flic.kr/p/ceQ8Q9 Simplify goals
  19. 19. 19 Source (2013): http://osls.emory.edu/about/meet_the_staff1.html Emory University Office of Student Leadership and Service
  20. 20. 20 Content goals should: • Clearly identify content value for users • Provide guidelines for determining what on-page content is appropriate and useful • Ensure content is unique and organized appropriately • Lead to the creation of content that inspires action • Define benchmarks for measuring success • Determine who is needed to review and approve content #confabedu
  21. 21. 21 Complex goals • Improve customer service • Improve enrollment, retention, and alumni relations • Better reflect the culture and values of our institution #confabedu
  22. 22. 22 • Provide new student orientation information, introducing resources and encouraging engagement • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of our M.S. Biology program and how it can help students achieve their professional goals • Inform current students about course scheduling and policy information Straightforward goals #confabedu
  23. 23. Simplify success metrics https://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/2710949826/
  24. 24. A goal that can’t be measured is useless. 24
  25. 25. 25 Clear goals + relevant success metrics 
 = valuable insights
  26. 26. 26 1. Transformative 2. Community-building 3. Valuable 4. Vibrant Messaging Guidelines #confabedu
  27. 27. 27 Transformative We educate responsible, passionate, cooperative individuals who actively work to make the world a better place. 1. Service-oriented • Active, hands-on • Responsible • Conscientious 2. Passionate • Inspiring • Engaging • Positive and hopeful 3. Collaborative • Cooperative • Mentoring
  28. 28. Content creation workflow: Plan Create Revise Approve Test Publish Tasks: • Determine need for new content • Request new content Tasks: • Create draft of new copy • Send to content editor for review Tasks: • Copyedit • Return to author for rewrite or send for approval Tasks: • Review content for accuracy • Return to author and editor for rewrite or submit for publication Tasks: • Build content in email or web template • Submit for publication Tasks: • Publish content on schedule #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  29. 29. Content creation workflow: Plan Create Revise Approve Test Publish Tasks: • Determine need for new content • Request new content Tasks: • Create draft of new copy • Send to content editor for review Tasks: • Copyedit • Return to author for rewrite or send for approval Tasks: • Review content for accuracy • Return to author and editor for rewrite or submit for publication Tasks: • Build content in email or web template • Submit for publication Tasks: • Publish content on schedule #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  30. 30. Content creation workflow: Create Revise Publish Tasks: • Create draft of new copy Tasks: • Copyedit • Return to author for rewrite or publish Tasks: • Publish content on schedule #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  31. 31. Content guides #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  32. 32. Planning for guides & tools • Who are the people using these guides? • What are they trying to accomplish? • What do they need help with? #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  33. 33. Focus your content strategy on real needs. 36
  34. 34. #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  35. 35. • CMS Page Template • Content Audit • Content Matrix • Content Model • Content Template • Content Worksheet • Editorial Calendar • Editorial Style Guide • Information Architecture • Message Architecture • Persona • SEO Copywriting Guidelines • Taxonomy • User Flow • Web Publishing Guidelines • Web Writing Guidelines • Wireframe Content guides & tools #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  36. 36. • Message Architecture • Persona • SEO Copywriting Guidelines • Taxonomy • User Flow • Web Publishing Guidelines • Web Writing Guidelines • Wireframe Content guides & tools #confabEDU • @epublishmedia • CMS Page Template • Content Audit • Content Matrix • Content Model • Content Template • Content Worksheet • Editorial Calendar • Editorial Style Guide • Information Architecture
  37. 37. Content audit findings 1. Voice and tone is inconsistent across the website—some pages are too casual, others are too formal. 2. Most content is not written with web writing conventions in mind and include long, dense copy and non-descriptive link text. 3. Content is not optimized for search. 4. Academic program pages are missing key information and don’t offer users any clear next steps. #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  38. 38. Content guides & tools #confabEDU • @epublishmedia • CMS Page Template • Content Audit • Content Matrix • Content Model • Content Template • Content Worksheet • Editorial Calendar • Editorial Style Guide • Information Architecture • Message Architecture • Persona • SEO Copywriting Guidelines • Taxonomy • User Flow • Web Publishing Guidelines • Web Writing Guidelines • Wireframe
  39. 39. Make content guides easy to use for the 
 people who use them. 42
  40. 40. 1. Keep your audience in mind 2. Use plain language 3. Be concise 4. Make content scannable 5. Write meaningful headers 6. Limit paragraphs to 70 words 7. Use bulleted lists whenever possible 8. Use the active voice 9. Be professional and human 10.Include valuable links Web writing guidelines #confabEDU • @epublishmedia Source: meetcontent.com/blog/web-writing-guidelines-for-content-contributors/
  41. 41. Content guides #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  42. 42. The best content strategy is the one that works 
 for you. 45
  43. 43. The end game
  44. 44. Governance
  45. 45. Together. 49 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  46. 46. 4 Relationship Management
  47. 47. Make content strategy relevant and meaningful. 51
  48. 48. http://amandaallwood.tumblr.com/post/5439769860/fave-the-best-stuff-on-the-internet-related-to
  49. 49. Talk results, not content.
  50. 50. People don’t care about 
 the process, they care about results. 55 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  51. 51. 56 Speak human https://flic.kr/p/quaZ56
  52. 52. Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content. “ 57 Kristina Halvorson Author, “Content Strategy for the Web”
 http://alistapart.com/article/thedisciplineofcontentstrategy #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  53. 53. Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design. “ 58 Rachel Lovinger Razorfish
 http://boxesandarrows.com/content-strategy-the-philosophy-of-data/ #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  54. 54. Planning for the creation, aggregation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, 
 and appropriate content in an experience. “ 59 Margot Bloomstein Author, “Content Strategy at Work”
 http://www.slideshare.net/mbloomstein/content-strategy-smartusefulpapertrained_ecs/ #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  55. 55. Use plain language. 60
  56. 56. I make sure the content on our 
 site is useful for the people 
 who need it. “ 61 Amanda Costello Lead Content Strategist, CEHD at University of Minnesota
 http://www.slideshare.net/amandaesque/grandboss #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  57. 57. I help people to tell their 
 story online. “ 62 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  58. 58. I help people understand what content works and what doesn't so they can make their website better. “ 63 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  59. 59. I help people understand how 
 to make content happen. “ 64 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  60. 60. Help people understand how content strategy benefits them and they will care. 65
  61. 61. What should people learn 
 or do when they come to 
 your website? “ 66 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  62. 62. Let’s help them do that… 67 #confabEDU • @epublishmedia
  63. 63. Rick Allen @epublishmedia rick@meetcontent.com Thank you! Say hi next time. #confabEDU • @epublishmedia

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