The Intersection of Content Strategy and TechComm

Different facets of the same problem

coin_janus_225-212Content strategy and technical communication are different facets of the same problem. Content strategy means that you use information to achieve business goals. Technical communication is information that enables people to use a product or service.

The content strategy comes first. After you establish a content strategy for a particular business, technical communicators (and other writers) are needed to actually execute on that strategy.

There is a lot of interest in the various writing communities—tech comm, marcomm, and so on—in the question of content strategy. Many writers wonder, “Should I become a content strategist?” (and some gutsier ones simply have rebranded themselves).

Different skills for different tasks

Technical communication and content strategy, though, are not the same thing, and they require different skill sets. Technical communicators need the following:

Content strategists, by contrast, need the following, according to Rahel Bailie:

Technical communicators tend to have the most difficulty with the requirements and business analysis.

A specialized version of management consulting

Another way of looking at content strategy is that it is a specialized version of management consulting. Here are some of the skills that the Institute of Management Consultants USA lists for a successful management consultant:

This list of skills deviates quite significantly from a typical job description in tech comm.

Does it make sense for a technical communicator to shift toward content strategy?

shift keyIt depends on your interests. For example:

Generally, content strategy requires a more holistic view of information and tech comm requires a more tactical perspective.

As a content strategist, you will be asked to look beyond your core area of competency (for example, tech comm or marcomm writing) and think about how you can align content development efforts across the organization to support business goals.

This is not a good fit for the “You’ll pry Favorite Software from my cold, dead hands” contingent because if your favorite tool doesn’t meet the business’s goals, it is your job to identify a better alternative.