Book Review: The Elements of Content Strategy

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Jason Campbell avatar

As the level of respect for content strategy has gone up; so to has the demand for practitioners of the craft. If you are starting from scratch or filling in your gaps, this book provides the fundamentals you need.

What This Book Is Not

The Elements of Content Strategy is not an attempt to justify the existence of content strategy as a discipline, nor is it a rallying cry for other creative and technical professionals to give up their careers and head where the grass is greener.

This book is not an attempt to recreate the great works that came before from Kristina Halvorson and Colleen Jones, nor does it pretend that those books don't exist.

This is not a textbook to accompany an imaginary curriculum, nor is it a fancily titled version of Teach Yourself Content Strategy in 24 Hours.

The Elements of Content Strategy does not dive too deeply into any one aspect of content strategy, nor does it skim over the tentpoles of the discipline at a height as to be useless.

What This Book Is

 To quote the author,

(The book) collects our discipline's core principles, competencies, and practices for easy reference..."

The book, itself, is split into three sections:

Basic Principles

Content strategy is a creative discipline. Rarely, if ever, does a content strategist just crank out widgets. Every client's needs are different and every project has different requirements.

Therefore, rather than lay out a checklist of "how to do content strategy," the author provides an overview of the "core principles about what makes content effective -- what makes it work, what makes it good."

These principles are intended to be pulled from and applied based on your client's needs and your project's requirements.

Learning Opportunities

The Craft of Content Strategy

In this section, the author defines content strategy as "the planning and leadership of content projects and online publishing endeavors." The author goes on to describe the role of a content strategist on a project as being "the point man."

I think this is an excellent analogy because, too often, projects get caught up in the complicated and expensive technology being used or the sexy and cutting-edge UI being implemented. What is a content project or an online publishing endeavor without the content?

Understanding the importance of content in the overall arch of project success is where the craftsmanship of a talented content strategist is laid bare.

Tools and Techniques

The book concludes with a section intended to either fill the toolbox of an aspiring content strategist or enhance the skill set of an experienced content strategist. The section begins with a discussion about methodologies, but it avoids getting too academic.

The most beneficial aspect of this section, and the book as a whole, is that it is written from a practitioner to a practitioner. In other words, the author is an experienced content strategy consultant and the book is written using real-world examples that people working in content strategy will recognize and benefit from.

Very few books are both informative and useful while still being enjoyable to read. I commend the author for accomplishing this challenging trifecta.

About the Author

Erin Kissane is a content strategist and editor who splits her time between Portland, Oregon, New York City and various client sites around the country. She currently practices her craft as part of the leading content strategy consultancy Brain Traffic.