A Content Strategy Conversation — Chris Turner
This is part two of the content conversations series. Our guest today is Chris Turner.
Chris Turner has a decade of award-winning content strategy experience in the healthcare industry. Currently, Chris is building his own content strategy consultancy and content publishing platform, Contentarama. He’s also developing an online course about content strategy that will launch later this year. You can find Chris at seeturner.
What delights you the most about the work that you have done so far?
[CT]: Seeing customers find what they need sooner and hearing their positive feedback to new content or changes in pre-existing content. As a content strategist, my goal is to delight the customer/audience as much as possible.
What is your dream content strategy project that you want to get involved in? It can be for any group or organization, for any goals, anywhere in the world.
[CT]: Helping DC Comics set a proper content strategy for their television, movie and printed (comic book) projects. After seeing Marvel Comics do an incredible job keeping consistent between their film, television and printed content (while DC flounders), I would love to serve as a Chief Content Officer or Content Strategy Director for DC to ensure greater synchronicity between the various properties.
What is the most important need or pain point that content strategists have not been able to address as effectively as they would have loved to? It can be for standards, or defining expectations from CS as a discipline, a tool, or for anything else.
[CT]: Properly defining the practice and the roles and responsibilities for the world. There’s too much vagueness in the workforce over what we do, which leads to situations where employers say they want a content strategist when all they really want is a copywriter or a marketer.
On one hand, we have AI and automation for predictive intelligence and recommendation engines. At the same time, we talk about human centered design, and a personalized experience. How do you see a balance where you can use your awareness and experience to take certain decisions, while allowing technology to automate certain things?
[CT]: I believe content strategists need to be at the forefront of guiding AI and automation for this very reason of balancing it with human-centered design and personalization. In fact, human-centered design and personalization strategies should help inform and refine AI and automation work.
We talk about future friendly content that should make sense for all known devices and channels. Also, this content should be so planned that the architecture can support even unknown devices and unexpected contexts for the way audience may need it in future (as far as possible). How do you prepare yourself to address this massive challenge?
[CT]: You can’t. At least, not just yet. I think this statement is a very forward-thinking one, but it’s not quite possible — there are unknown unknowns, right? For now, however, I think the lesson for the content strategist is to be brevity-minded with content. The more concise and elegant in its simplicity content is, the better it will work across contexts.
My personal belief is that the line between content and code will blur and content strategists will need to develop a programmer’s mentality in affixing tags or code to content that is invisible to the audience, but it tells the applicable context what to do with it.
Can you name any companies or brands that you admire for their content strategy? And why do you admire them?
[CT]: Marvel Comics (see previous answer). These guys planned out their ambitious goal for films and television, making sure it aligned with the pre-existing comic book work.
They made sure that everything connected in a way that made for a more immersive experience for the audience. Their attention to detail delights my content strategist heart.
If you get a chance to have lunch with a content strategist in your favorite restaurant in the city of your choice, whom will you pick, and why?
[CT]: Ann Rockley. Because she made me realize we could do more with less content. She helped fan the flames of making content more modular and creating components that could be reused without repeated effort.
Who are the 3 individuals in CS whom you follow for their talks, writings, or for their social presence? Why them?
[CT]: Colleen Jones, who is incredibly savvy and knowledgeable about content strategy and rhetoric, plus she’s unfailingly gracious and eager to lend a hand.
Ahava Leibtag, who calls attention to issues before most realize there’s an issue in the first place.
Sara Wachter-Boettcher, who connected the dots for me on future-proofing content and leading me to explore Markdown syntax more deeply.
If you could weave a magic wand to seek one wish, what will you wish as a content strategist?
[CT]: That businesses would finally understand content strategy and put content strategists to proper work.