Content Strategy Lightning Talks Meetup – 26/02/13

lightning talks

Last night I attended the Content Strategy Lightning Talks which was the second meetup I have been to organised by The London Content Strategy Meetup group. This one was held at The Book Club in Shoreditch and was different to the previous meetup in that there were 9 presenters who each had 5 minutes to present 20 slides – that’s just 15 seconds per slide!

As you can imagine, it was quite fast and furious and there is barely enough time to take notes before the next speaker steps up, but I highly recommend it. If you are looking to learn a bit more about content strategy and meet some friendly, like-minded people, these meetups are a great way to get started.

Here’s a quick outline of all the speakers I saw.

How Age UK changed its online donation culture – Rob Mansfield (@robram)

Rob wanted to encourage more donations to Age UK’s ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, which had not performed too well in previous years, so he changed the way they thought about content and put more focus on the end goal. Previously, there had been multiple, smaller campaigns all sitting within the ‘Spread the Warmth’ message, which Rob felt sent a confusing, fragmented message, so they were scrapped and replaced with one simple ‘give us your money’ message. This message was promoted using videos, a new blog and content which visualised the tangible benefits of donations and had clear CTAs, resulting in a 900% increase in donations.

When content strategy is a matter of life and death - Cat Townsend (@catisnotpretty)

Based on her experience working in medical manufacturing and incident response, Cat discussed how good content strategy can save lives, when creating a disaster recovery plan for Royal Mail. She emphasised the importance of tone of voice and consistency in order to make users of the plans feel calm and safe, as well as making sure the right people see the right content so they know exactly what to do should something terrible happen.

Creating a content strategy for advocacy websites - Catherine Scott (@scott9808)

Catherine explained how she put content strategy at the core of an advocacy programme without compromising activism. She said that often clients see public affairs websites as being all about taking action while communicators focus on telling a story. Catherine used a case study from a community website where she was responsible for content strategy.

Malcontent Strategy: where UX at? - Chris Atherton (@finiteattention)

Chris talked about how clients sometimes want a content strategy implemented before there is any content, which is obviously difficult work. She used ‘Time to Change’, the mental health discrimination campaign, to explain how she used focus groups of young people to create multiple personas, from which they created a content framework to target each group. Interesting discoveries included that many young people get their information on mental health from celebrities in magazines and many don’t have any knowledge about mental health at all. From this information, Chris determined which types of content could help increase their knowledge, making them more aware of mental health issues.

10 content strategy visuals that changed the world – Sue Davis (@suedavis68)

Sue showed us the 10 content strategy models and diagrams, which she uses most often when training people in web writing and content strategy. She showcased some diagrams we are all familiar with, such as the Content/People Components model from Brain Traffic, and others that may have been new, like the Content Strategy Burger. She believes that some visuals help portray important ideas better than others, and asked us to think about whether we had any ideas waiting to be visualised which could help others.

Applying Lean principles to content strategy – Ellis Pratt (@ellispratt)

Ellis explained how the principles of Lean manufacturing can be applied to developing and managing content. He stated that Lean content is way of writing that focuses on maximising value and minimising waste. Since the Agile development methodology is based on Lean principles, it will help you to position content management within an Agile environment.

Making publishers ‘appy with HTML5 - Clare Evans (@clare_lisbeth)

Clare discussed the challenges she faces when taking a publication from print to digital, using HTML5. She gave us a list of things we should avoid, such as to underestimate the differences between print and digital, as well as between different devices, mistaking your CMS for inDesign and ignoring templates, as well as taking contributions and advice from the print team, or anyone for that matter!

Content cautionary tales – Rupert Bowater (@rupertlb)

Rupert taught us about the perils of immersion in specialist content, based on his 15 years of experience. The main risk is probably being incredibly knowledgeable about boring topics that you have inevitably had to become immersed in, such as letterboxes. He also listed a benefit – He often gets a carriage to himself on the train as he is leafing through a picture book of skin diseases.

On co-creation – Elizabeth McGuane (@emcguane)

Elizabeth gave a heartwarming talk about co-creation and the crazy places it’s led her, from living in an eco-cabin in Scotland amidst grazing Highland cows, to dancing onstage in a toga in South Africa. Content is often an isolating job, so she emphasised the importance of finding like minded people who you can bounce ideas off.

There were also two speakers who unfortunately could not be there last night due to illness: Lee McIvor (@leemcivor) and Rahel Bailie (@rachelab). Get well soon guys, and hopefully we will get to see you both speak at another event soon.

content strategy lightning talks

Photo from Jonathan Kahn

As I said before, it was a really great night and I urge you attend the next one if you are at all interested in content. And don’t worry about going alone as everyone is super friendly and there is always someone who will pull you over to join in their conversation (Thanks Ros!). Also, big thanks again to Jonathan Kahn and Richard Ingram for organising it. See you next time!

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