Hearing from three leaders in the content strategy field about their skills, backgrounds, professional starts, and continuing work during our online Google Hangout class was a comfort and a relief.
Panelists for our last night of #ContentStratClass were respected content experts Margot Bloomstein (@mbloomstein), a content consultant who wrote our textbook, Content Strategy at Work; Georgy Cohen (@radiofreegeorgy), an independent consultant at Meet Content (@meetcontent) and a content strategist at Cambridge digital agency Oho (@ohointeractive); and Niketa Patel (@niketa), who directs the Rebel Media Lab for social publishing platform RebelMouse (@RebelMouse).
As someone who wants to become more proficient in, and take a leadership role in digital content initiatives, I was encouraged by their stories. All have varied skills that mirror my own. All three spent time in the same kinds of work that I have. None had to “build up” a huge repertoire of content field-specific work history before being able to perform well in their roles. Their content career progressions happened naturally, with their innate skills from prior design, publishing, news, and writing careers propelling and serving their capacities. Those discoveries were confidence builders for me (I think newbie nerves explains that little sense of fear).
Many Skills Apply
For instance, as someone experienced in design/print, who’s also been a news reporter, PR strategist, marketing agency project manager, and academic web writer, I was really glad to hear how:
- Margot used her graphic design and visual communication background to create attractive pages of quality content, taking “skills from visual communication” and moving them “into verbal communication.”
- Georgy, who’s “been a writer forever,” and who “without realizing it, [I] became a content strategist,” found various callings in internet journalism, academic web writing and advancement, her own consultancy, as a university director of online content, then associate creative director for content strategy at a digital agency–mainly because of her writing talents
- Niketa, who mixed print and broadcast journalism careers, was a multimedia producer, built content strategies and social communities at CBS, ABC, and CNN, and was the person her company looked to when they needed a content person. She now helps news brands define content, audiences, and platforms, and find voice and mission in social content.
Their insights gave me a boost of confidence that the skills, interests, and judgment abilities I have in common with these experts, added to what I’ve been learning in #ContentStratClass, provide a solid basis for me to step more confidently into a content strategy role. It was good to see that there was no particular “magic potion” and no defined career path required for their achievement of success! I learned other lessons from the panelists, too, and the good advice they offered our class.
From Georgy, that “how to ask questions, and how to get answers,” something instrumental in her journalism work, is still very relevant to her work with clients, and that “those skills of being a journalist come into play.” For her, it’s not just asking the questions and getting the answers, that come into play, but also “having a sense of inquiry for the words on a page…the act of synthesizing…and the output of that.”
From Margot, how alot of what makes content strategy work is “taking charge; who is going to take care of this[material] in a consistent way. That’s what content strategy asks,” she says. She also says she likes to write her way through a problem by creating a narrative arch, and that sometimes, drawing on her design and visualization background, she “diagram it and draw my way through a problem.”
From Niketa, that making time for writing–and importantly, also for reading—is essential to her content work success. Because the amount of writing she has been able to do in each job has “ebbs and flows” across her career, she believes “It’s always good to set aside time for writing”—and Niketa “actually has to calendar it so it stays a priority for me.” she says. Writing’s counterpart, reading, is also important, she says….reading all kinds of things, industry blogs, topical things, and timely things.”
It was great to hear from experts in the field who have had similar starts and similar skills as my own. The panelists provided great information, and the event was encouraging, enlightening, and confirming!