LavaCon Session Summary: Sarah O’Keefe on Tech Comm Content Strategy

Day 3 of Lavacon 2011

Developing a Tech Comm Content Strategy

Sarah O’Keefe walked us through a well-planned technical communication content strategy at Lavacon 2011.

A tech comm content strategy needs to be carefully considered through the entire lifecycle of content.

Lifecycle and considerations:

  1. Develop: Authoring and editing, storage, management, reuse, localization.
  2. Deliver: Formats to generate, generating.
  3. Deploy: Distribution, access.
  4. Destroy: Archive, delete, revoke, expire.

For each part of the lifecycle, you’ll have specific tasks that may or may not overlap into different parts of the lifecycle. You may experience the lifecycle in random order throughout the project.

The key to a great content strategy is to figure out goals first, then develop strategy and tactics.

Figure out business goals first. This means identifying the very high level business reasons behind the content, which could include increasing product visibility, avoiding legal exposure, reducing volume of support calls, meeting regulatory requirements, or building the user community and thus loyalty.

Once you have the business goals identified, it’s time for strategy. A strategy should still be big picture and might include making content easy to find and easy to use, delivering attractive content, or delivering content that is accessible to particular end users. Often strategy includes LOTS of deliverables, including but not limited to a needs and gap analysis, training, and planning.

After strategy, you start working on tactics. Tactics includes implementation, tools, and technology. This means selecting the tools you’ll use to meet your strategic goals. Tactics answers the question: How do we get there from here? Make sure you evaluate risks for tool and other tactical choices (don’t publish to an obsolete device unless you have a really good reason to!).

So if you’re plunging right in to the tools and technology of content strategy, beware! You’re working from the wrong direction. Your business goals should drive your strategy, and both in turn help you determine the tactics.



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