The 6 skills every content strategist must have

No matter the kind of content strategy project – for a large corporate intranet, an e-commerce website, a university, or something else – the people creating the content strategy need six skills. Some of these skills can be taught in school, while others come only through experience.

1. Strategy

A content strategist must be able to understand the organization’s goals and simultaneously see where the opportunities are across audience groups. They may learn this information by reviewing existing documentation or conducting/commissioning interviews or surveys with internal staff, audience members, or both.

 

2. Empathy

A goal of content strategy is for an organization to be able to determine the right content in the right formats and channels. In order to help the organization achieve that goal, content strategists need to have a deep grasp of what’s going on for top-priority audience members in their daily lives. In addition, they need to have empathy with the challenges faced by internal subject-matter experts, typically involving goals, resources, time, skills, people, or politics.

 

3. Connection and analysis

Content created in a silo and delivered to an audience segment is likely not as effective as it could be. The content strategist examines content to identify patterns and determine what’s working and not working. Pulling together content from different pools and in different subject areas, content strategists help the organization tell a bigger story. Content strategists also connect the people who conceive and create the organization’s content to make sure they develop perspective about the context of their content.

 

4. Editorial

Content strategy has its roots in editorial skills and thinking, and that core is still critical. The content strategist documents the organization’s voice and tone, or helps to define it, and also creates the framework for enforcing that voice and tone. He or she also helps define the editorial style that will exhibit the organization’s voice consistently.

 

5. Technical

Even if the content strategist is not an IT expert, he or she must know the opportunities and limitations of the organization’s current and future platforms and channels, to make sure content needs drive implementation choices. (All too often, IT drives this, and content suffers.)

 

6. Communications, coaching, and educating

The content strategist is in the unique position of making sure everyone inside the organization involved in content planning, creation, management, deployment, and promotion work in concert toward common goals. This change management is often a significant effort, and takes lots of time and patience. People at different levels inside the organization need communications, mentorship, training, and reinforcement.

So, content strategists, which of these skills do you have already?

3 Comments to The 6 skills every content strategist must have

  1. Paul Muth says:

    Great post (as usual), Hilary! Modesty aside, I think I have all of those skills. I would particularly point to #6 as the Great Forgotten Skill. Reaching across departments and building stakeholders is crucial.

    I should mention that I see many “Web Strategy” job descriptions looking for all of the above, plus backend coding skills (Javascript, PHP, etc.) I think this is wholly unrealistic and distracts from the content strategy skill set.

  2. This is a great thought-starter for me today. I’ve been thinking about #1, and how we can help each other think more strategically. Thanks Hilary.

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