More companies are pouring marketing dollars into online content in the form of websites, blogs, Facebook pages, tweets and the like, and they’re using content strategists to orchestrate their efforts.
I know a bit about this since it’s how I made most of my living for the majority of the past two years. Only I never knew there was a new name for the job I was doing.
More journalists are taking on the responsibility of working as content strategists, and as they do, they’re sharing what they’ve learned with other writers and editors.
I’ve come across two recent articles about the subject that are worth passing on. One looks at why editors make good content strategists. The other focuses on common mistakes companies make when creating or carrying out content marketing strategies – good info should you be one of those editors hired to manage such a project.
From Editor to Content Strategist
In a post called Making the Leap from Editor to Content Strategist on the American Society of Business Publication Editors website, Sara Zailskas makes a compelling case for why editors are uniquely suited to this type of work. Zailskas was an editor before losing her job a year ago and retooling her career to work as a content strategist for Realtor.org, the website for the National Association of Realtors.
Zailskas writes about rubbing shoulders at a recent conference with content specialists who didn’t come from the news biz and who were still learning about things like editorial calendars and how to execute the same message in multiple media, “concepts editors in trade publications use daily,” she says. “As editors, we often underestimate how transferable our editorial experience is, and those skills are particularly important to content strategy.”
These jobs won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Like custom publications, advertorials and other quasi-journalism endeavors, content sites ultimately fall under the responsibility of a company’s marketing department, so content strategists have to learn how to play nice. That’s not always easy to do, especially if you’re coming from a newspaper or magazine newsroom and are used to a strict separation of editorial from advertising or marketing. If this is something you’re interested in, Zailskas points out that you won’t always have the final say on decisions, and you need to be a great communicator because it’s very likely you’ll have to explain the rationale behind everything you suggest. Based on my own experiences in this area, I agree with those last two points 100 percent.
Read what else Zailskas says editors need to be prepared to do in the complete post.
How Not to be a Content Marketing Failure
The next pearl of wisdom comes from Joe Pulizzi, the mind behind Junta42, an online matchmaker that helps pair up writers and other independent contractors with companies that have content marketing projects.
Pulizzi is a content marketing evangelist, speaking on the subject at conferences on a regular basis. Last month, he posted a video from a recent conference presentation on the ways content marketing strategies can bomb. (Sidetrack: Pulizzi’s post came out the same day Zailskas’ did – how cool is that?) The video runs about 50 minutes, with a solid explanation of the concept at the beginning and the really good stuff coming in the last half. Pay attention to what he says about mistakes and how to fix them: I’ve lived though some of those and can vouch for his analysis – it’s right on.
Here’s a link to the video on Vimeo: Why You are Failing at Content Marketing.