Building a Content Strategy in Higher Ed

It’s painful. I’m not going to lie. But once you dive into some juicy content books that give you advice and resources, it actually turns into a mega-organizing opportunity. And I LOVE organizing.

The books that have been keeping me up late at night (seriously, content gets me really excited) are:

1) Clout by Colleen Jones

2) The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane

3) Content Strategy for the Web by Kirstina Halvorson

Web Comm is in the process of our third homepage redesign. While this is SUPER exciting, the deeper we dig, the more we realize just how much content we are going to need to produce. Our strategy in the past qualifies us more as content aggregators than producers. But that’s all changing. We are evolving from curation to creation.

As a result of my binge reading I wanted to share some insights with everyone. This isn’t a review per say, but just some snippets that will hopefully convince you that these books know what they’re talking about. They are worth every penny. Or feel free to borrow our copies and start building your own content strategy!

Clout by Colleen Jones

“The editorial calendar and ongoing strategic evaluation of your content will help you avoid a rut.”

This is the perfect opportunity for us to start actively utilizing an editorial calendar. We use Google Docs because it is easy to manage and update with our team. We have a couple of different calendars that work with each other, but they all require a team effort. We plan to evaluate how these calendars are working for us at the ending of each semester, and modify as necessary.

“React to a Crisis Promptly- I can assure you it’s much better to say something trustworthy sooner, not later, so people don’t panic or spread rumors.”

So true. It’s good to monitor the situation and be the ones releasing official information. We recently came up with a detailed plan of action in case of emergencies. What if we weren’t able to update the OU homepage, then what? Now we have this plan ready.

Elements of Content Strategy by Kissane

Needless website content includes:

-Mission statements, vision statements, and core values

-Press releases

-Long, unreadable legal pages

-Endless feature lists

-Redundant documentation

-Audiovisual dust bunnies

Erin, you had me at “press releases.” My new mission is to convince the world that press releases do not belong on websites! This book lays it all out and is a super fast read.

Content Strategy for the Web Holvorson

“Page Templates: wireframes or diagrams that represent page-level content that repeats throughout your website.”

These are quite handy once you have identified content needs and knocked out your style guide. Not only do they save time, they help with consistency.

“What content do you have? The content inventory is nothing more than a spreadsheet that captures information (such as page title or URL) for each web page or content module you’re responsible for creating, reviewing, or caring for.”

One of the super helpful things about this book is it gives you real advice for how to conduct a worthy content audit. The more thorough the audit, the better you can gage how much work you and your team need to do. Halvorson rocks because she gives us tips for numbering, items to rate on each page, and specifics to look at regarding the project’s purpose, scope, goals, and user needs. Needless to say, I took a lot of notes on this one!

Maybe I’m the only one who gets tickled by consuming content about content. Reading about the web in a book may seem backwards, but it really does give you some downtime from your screen and an ability to explore things you probably already do or want to do. I hope I’ve convinced you that these books are a great start. Let us know what you think!

I’d suggest putting these on your radar for content inspiration! (Also, see Cory Miller’s recommendations from a previous post)

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Building a Content Strategy in Higher Ed

  1. I love reading about this, too, and I’ve been reading two new books on the topic. picked up two newly published books that go beyond the 101 of “what is” and “why” of content strategy by getting down to the nitty gritty and providing actual resources for a start-to-finish content strategy project. They are: Content Strategy at Work by Margot Bloomstein; and Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy by Ann Rockley. Loving every chapter.

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