From Editor to 'Content Strategist': Semantics or Fundamental Change?

By Kinsman, Matt | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, July 2008 | Go to article overview

From Editor to 'Content Strategist': Semantics or Fundamental Change?


Kinsman, Matt, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


AT THE FOLIO: PUBLISHING SUMMIT earlier this year, Meredith Publishing Group president Jack Griffin said, "We don't hire editors anymore, we hire content strategists." He was referring to Meredith seeking out editors who aren't simply about putting words on page but driving a multimedia editorial strategy.

But does the term "content strategist" represent a fundamental shift in editorial approach or is it just repackaging what editors have always done under a spiffy "new media" name? Folio: polled a selection of editors from the consumer and b-to-b sides on what the term "content strategist" means to them and the ramifications for the mindset of editors in their day-to-day jobs.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Wyatt Kash

editor-in-chief, GCN:

One of the biggest differences is the need to think more holistically about the user experience online. Both roles require understanding who your readers are and anticipating what will keep them engaged. In print, that usually means looking for, developing and packaging stories that are relevant to your reader. But online, you need to anticipate how and why people come to your site, what they're looking for and how easy you make it for them to do some of the things they expect. We did a reader survey that found more than 25 percent of readers were getting our e-mail newsletters via smart phone (mostly Blackberry and Treos). If they clicked the link in the newsletter to read more of the story, they ended up on a Web page that was nearly impossible to read. We opted to build a set of mobile-friendly Web templates and today we get more than 50,000 page views a month from mobile viewers.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Monika Bauerlein

editor-in-chief, Mother Jones:

In our opinion, there is no huge difference between an editor worth his or her salt and a content strategist. Both need to think about what kinds of stories to tell; how best to get those stories to an audience; and how best to get a conversation going between the audience and the institution. The difference is that the Internet enables editors, or whatever we chose to call them, to take advantage of that two-way street in many more ways than used to be possible in the past. …

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