A Content Strategy Conversation — Val Swisher

This is part of the series of conversations that I originally published in ContentHug, in 2015.

Thank you Val Swisher.


[CH]: A few content strategists got into this role because ‘nobody else was doing it, and so there was a need for content strategists in the team’. Now, since it has kicked off relatively well, what next to address something else. For example if we talk about titles, what can be the next title of a senior content strategist. If not for title, what next in terms of ownership or value to a business?

[VS]: The next thing all content strategists need to address is global content strategy. Much time has been focused on US-based content strategy of all sorts (technical, web, marketing). But, not nearly enough time has been spent sorting out global content, how to manage it, and how to use it as a strategic asset.

[CH]: Assume that you get your dream job or contract, as a content strategist, lead or otherwise. What is the most important thing that you have learnt so far that you will put into practice there?

[VS]: Do not be US-focused. Global content needs to be addressed.

[CH]: Content strategists often need to push things around, such as to get a buy in. Can you share some experience when you had to take a really tough call, such as for style guide for voice, for user education, or governance structure?

[VS]: There is a tension between the “voice” many young companies want to use as part of their brand, and the translatability of that voice. I have had many conversations with customers about the fact that much of the content they are now creating is full of jargon and colloquialisms that do not translate. It is always a tough call to discuss this with a company that is invested in a particular voice for their brand.

[CH]: How do organizations address the content ownership concerns when we have content strategists, content marketers and even data scientists? What is your role in defining the content ownership process?

[VS]: I work with customers to help figure out who owns the content at each phase of the lifecycle. This includes source content and translations. Different companies have different needs for content ownership depending on the size of the company, the amount of content, the number of languages, and so on.

[CH]: What role content strategists can have in disruption–technology or otherwise?

[VS]: Content strategists should be playing a big role in disrupting the status quo. The status quo of content has led us to having way too much content that is difficult to find, hard to manage, outdated, and more. Content strategists need to be looking for better, smarter, more advanced ways to help companies manage their content through the entire lifecycle. The status quo will not do any more. There is just too much content to not be strategic with it. If you aren’t strategic with content, it becomes a liability, rather than an asset.

[CH]: Can you name any companies or brands whom you admire for their content strategy?

[VS]: Coca-Cola has an amazing grasp on their global content strategy. Clearly, they put a lot of resources into it.

Their global websites recognize the differences from country to country. Each website is transcreated for the specific location and demographic. They do an amazing job.

[CH]: If you could weave a magic wand only once, what you wish as a content strategist?

[VS]: I would wish that customers would wake up and take care of their content in all languages, not just English.


Vinish Garg | Products. Experience. Stories.