Blackad bookshelf: The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane

A clear, useful, concise guide to content strategy. It's 70 pages long, so you have no excuse.

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If Content Strategy for the Web was a full-scale battle plan for your digital content, then this little volume is like the arsenal for your troops. And yes, the military simile is a favourite for books like this one about content strategy – we’re either battling for the content, carrying the torch for it, or working at its coalface.

Whatever it is, we’re definitely doing something suitably dramatic and distant from sitting in front of an audit spreadsheet. Anyway, back to the book.

The Elements of Content Strategy

Fighting talk aside, it’s an excellent guide to the principles, craft, tools and techniques of content strategy, and you should read it. That won’t take you very long – at 70 pages you can tick it off your to do list before the coffee cools.

Erin’s even chopped the text up with good headers, bullet lists and roundups to make sure that if you are skimming, you’re getting the most out of it. So let’s have a skim:

The basic principles of content strategy

Before she goes anywhere, Erin makes sure to lay out what it is you should be aiming for when you think about ‘good’ content. Good content should be:

  • Appropriate — right for the user, and right for the business
  • Useful — define the content’s purpose, then evaluate it against that purpose
  • User-centred — think like your users
  • Clear — the content works, communicates, leaves you in no doubt why it exists
  • Supported — once the content is alive online, someone needs to look after it
  • Consistent — use a style guide
  • Concise — cut out the waffle

The craft of content strategy

With the basics out of the way, Erin puts the content strategist into context. She examines what this content strategist person might have been doing in previous jobs, and she shows the influence of the editor, curator, and the marketer on content strategy. It’s more than a neat history lesson: Erin’s main point here is that you need to cross-train in all these disciplines.

The tools and techniques of content strategy 

These come thick and fast. First up, get to know the people in information architecture and user experience. And do your homework: be aware of a couple of methodologies, but don’t be tied down by them. Evaluate. Design. Execute. Charm your stakeholders, relish the strict parameters of the project, and check your assumptions about everything. And there’s a guide to making good content templates in 60 seconds. Done.

Maybe it’s not quite that easy – but there’s something about the breadth and tone of the book that makes it seem like it just might be.

Get The Elements of Content Strategy from A Book Apart

LIKED THIS? Now read: Content Strategy for the Web

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