content strategy 101

“Is planful a word?” audience: “No”

guides the planning of what we are going to do and not going to do with our content

a different set of questions: not just what, but a bunch of other questions. (THIS SLIDE.)

for what it’s worth every morning I wake up feeling dumb and not caught up

core strategy.
content components: substance, structure
people components: workflow, governance

to talk about the web as a platform is a category error – jeremy keith quote (conference crossover FTW)
“we’re not going to talk about refrigerators”

role clarity, process and tools

“we think if we have this magic word governance that all of our content problems will go away. No.”

the case study:


stakeholder: who is accountable, who is responsible, who are the leaders of the team

side conversation about content strategy & agile. “Our number one [role?] is to keep asking questions”

interesting to think that TBH we are neither Agile nor Waterfall.

when you begin [content audit] understand the primary buckets of information and how they relate

could I write an XSLT for going through all the pages in a folder? get a CSV that could be imported into Excel?!

exercise: do your own content audit (use this for user workshop)

gradual continuous audit is kinda like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. (intriguing)

links to additional resources for auditing

“content wrangler” (which has ALWAYS been my role, all the places I’ve worked, all the way back to the CMT newsletter)

“group therapy” (ahahahaha. seriously, I need to write the actual version of that blog post.)

“where was I? bitter? listening? right.”


fascinating interview experience

“facilitate discussion across disparate disciplines”

suggestion to invite people out for coffee interviews – half an hour, “hear more about what you do” (is that feasible as a smaller scale version of the “work session”?)

first question to ask of a stakeholder: “what keeps you up at night?”

we should totally do a research thing across print & web, to go out and talk to various prospective student audiences. can someone not-me do that?

yay, card sorts! (except, gotta back up first…)

so in our current process, maybe even before figuring out how to organize it, talk about who owns it, how it gets updates, etc.

“respect the complexity”

“As a bear, you have some core objectives”

super-vague financial services industry “strategy” that totally reminds me of the credit union’s mission statement.

strategy statement (this slide.)

should we do any of this before Sandy leaves?

the strategy can limit what content initiatives get started. “we’re not going to go down to the campground, we’re going to the river”

she actually suggests starting with the tactics of content strategy, that actual strategy is HARD.

“as a content strategist, you need to know a little bit about a lot of things” (again, that’s pretty much how I’ve been in every job ever, even pre-web.)

messaging pyramid: I actually feel like we’re really doing well with this, or at least that’s the direction we’ve been approaching asymptotically.

1-3-6 exercise, is also in the book.

“content strategy is not a project. content strategy is a process”

“what is it that we’re going to shift?”

the messaging pyramid needs to go to all the deans, senior team, etc.

“your message should not show up as content on your website”

really, seriously, this needs to be the thing we do at our next team meeting.

messaging pyramids: per audience!

this would be great to do in conjunction with our existing audience & goals.

Exercise! [note: this is some serious noodling around…]

an education you can afford, that allows you to connect your interests and goals, that makes sense in the real world

we are a place where you can really explore and discover, where you do more creative and exciting things than anywhere else.

we give you a chance to get an education that uses all of you

we give you an excellent education that isn’t like anywhere else

a school where you can be you while being successful as a student, a person, a citizen.

Evergreen is a college where students use their whole life experience and connect across disciplines to do more with their future.

But effective feels like the wrong word. Successful, purposeful. Get careers (and graduate without a lot of debt), but also be good citizens, engaged, creative, thoughtful. An education that exposes you to more.

See more. Do more. Make the connection. Be exposed to different perspectives.

It’s interesting because I’ve had to go through and do the explanation a few times here in person of “what even is Evergreen”.

Mentioned that when she was asking how that went, and interesting discussion of difference between business position and messaging. And the message is more the emotive part.

Again, try the 1-3-6 exercise in a CMS user group? Which is nice because it gets people thinking about other folks’ websites.

Style guide. OH HAI.

She references the mailchip guide, which is what we were working with a while ago.

Voice: who are you, centrally.
Tone: its implementation in a specific audience/circumstance

what are our tone adjectives? and what are the examples? – we need these for the CMS users!!!


Yes: Connect with everything you need to get started and succeed in college.

No: We are very happy you are here and we look forward to helping you succeed at Evergreen.

Yes: We give you the power and the responsibility to take charge of your education. See an academic advisor to get a broader perspective on choosing and using what you learn.

No: Evergreen students need to take charge of their educational development, since there are no required courses, and we encourage you to do this in consultation with an academic advisor.

Yes: instead of taking a bunch of unrelated classes, you learn about the interconnections of subjects in the real world.

No: In order to address this need in a rigorous and effective way, the College took two years to develop a new way to connect faculty and students that preserved the centrality and integrity of full- and half-time interdisciplinary programs.

It’s funny, I found a lot of both the yes AND no bits throughout the site. I think our writing has gotten so much better in the last year.

Not what we talk about, but how we talk about it

Find the extreme examples, maybe even from competitor sites? Like what Justin did with the intro sentences in that one workshop.

“Content Center of Excellence” 🙂

Empowering them?

“write like you talk”

give more constraints to help people from feeling overwhelming

a continuum: “welcoming, but not pushy or demanding”

editorial calendar

“You can’t know all the things!”

Portal: what are the top tasks? Do we have analytics? (I think so….) Audit all the materials that are focused on internal audiences.

The last step in our process of sheparding them should be developing an editorial calendar?

“Making plans to review or create content”

so also relates to the This Is Week X concept.

OH HEY. If we have these editorial calendars for each section, can that all feed INTO “this is week X”?

And for connecting some of the pieces that are NOT for prospective students: the magazine, news site, and something else that I can’t remember.

(oh, right, the Evergreen Mind blog.)

So maybe DK isn’t entirely wrong about having a sequence of stuff, an editorial calendar for admissions — but to think about it in a different way?

“also the cake. the cake is very powerful.”


If you commit to this content, you’re also committing to this maintenance schedule. <3

But you don’t do this for every page, but key pages.

Are the page tables and the wireframes being created together? (audience Q) that would be awesome, but usually wireframes are already done.

what is something bad that keeps happening?

symptom: we can’t get stuff from faculty.
problem: our internal setup isn’t actually organized around the pieces of content that we’re creating. faculty don’t have any direct

symptom: last minute magazines

symptom: freakout from specific stakeholder(s)