First published as part of the 2010 American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education.

Creating meaningful messages is still central to effective communication. Yet too often communicators get focused on the latest tools (Twitter much?) or slick creative, and lose sight of their goals and strategy.

This paper will focus on tips for organizing a story-based content strategy across your organization’s communication channels — old media, new media and even social media. We’ll use case study examples from our work at Nazareth College to illustrate higher-ed-specific tips.

There are many leading thinkers in content strategy, including Kristina Halvorson and Rachel Lovinger. This paper scratches the surface, and we’ve included a resources section at the end for those who want to learn more.

What this is about: Content strategy

The emerging discipline of content strategy may seem like shiny packaging for things that communications professionals have been doing for years.

By giving it the name “content strategy” and pulling its pieces into a process, we’re trying to right a wrong: Too often, content is an afterthought. We do it when we absolutely have to. This is especially true on our websites, where lorem ipsum placeholder copy lives well into the final drafts, FPO stock imagery fools everyone into thinking the page will look that good using the same old archive photos, and copywriters toil in isolation from information architecture, design and production teams. And you thought a content management system (CMS) was going to solve that problem? Wrong.

When we say “content,” we mean to include text, charts, images, video and audio, in formats such as print, social media, email, web, syndication, etc.

“Content strategy” blends the roles of many content-related disciplines including creative direction, editing, copy writing, information architecture, search engine optimization and so on. Content strategists create plans that include the why, how, when and where for content development, and they also make sure that content 
has a plan for ongoing maintenance.

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