Conference Content

December 2, 2010

My current assignments in covering technology and lifestyle events has me flying back and forth across the United States. So, it was a relief this week when I found myself signed up to cover two events in my home state. Both Gilbane and the Boston Auto Show are going on as I type this and instead of being stuck in a tiny airplane seat over the midwest, I’m in a cushy chair at the Westin Copley listening to a session on content strategy.

Irony? Perhaps. Especially when you think about what I do — I create content in various forms for myriad clients. Listening to Margot Bloomstein and Colleen Jones, I actually got a few new nuggets of assistance on how I might better manage my day-to-day operations as a content catalyst. And also what I can jettison in my list of things to do.

Here’s that session overview. For more, hit up either Margot or Colleen on Twitter – they’re at @mbloomstein and @leenjones.

Right from the start, Margot struck a chord with her question about content strategy. She asked…

“When did a clear plan and concrete communication goals become nice-to-haves?”

Seriously. How often have you been in a meeting where the communication’s plan was driven by what management wanted and not by what might motivate the audience? I know it happens to me all the time with some of my corporate clients. They pay me to create missives, brand messages, customer profiles and spec sheets. And for the most part I have freedom to do the job the way it should be done. But from time to time I find myself hamstrung by directives from on high.

When facing this forced track, I often have to alert the client that content isn’t what they want to hear. Not what they feel like saying to themselves about themselves (can you say daily affirmations?), but messaging that means something to your paying audience.

Essentially, this gets down to the entire team knowing what content strategy really is. Margot gave the definition:

Content Strategy is Planning for the creation, aggregation, delivery and governance of useful usable and appropriate content in an experience.

What this definition really does is set content strategy apart from other types of communication. Underlying this philosophy is the belief that the Web isn’t a static medium. It does not exist in one point in time. How will interaction occur in the future.

Essentially, before you can create a message, share it with the world and then start counting your receivables, you need to have a plan. A truer sentiment in business operations has seldom been shared.

The session went much deeper than this, but right now I’ve got to run across town to look at some new cars and see what’s happening at the Auto Show.

But for the first time in a while, I was able to sit back and really listen to the content…how very appropriate.

And I liked the session because it really dug into the nuts and bolts of sharing a vocabulary between divisions and professionals. It gave ideas on how to collaborate, refine messaging and really determine what a company is looking to convey in their messaging.

This and other sessions are continuing throughout the day today at Gilbane. If you have a chance and want to learn something about content, you might want to head over to the Westin.

How do you manage your messages? Do you even know what your most important content is? Please share in the comments here.