Here at Acrolinx, we recently had the opportunity to host one of our fast track webinars with Gretyl Kinsey, a technical consultant at Scriptorium Publishing. In her role at the North Carolina based content strategy consultancy, Gretyl has worked on developing and implementing content strategies for dozens of companies across a variety of industries. In our webinar, she shared some of her key learnings from those experiences, focusing on why having a content strategy is so important for any company facing challenges around localization, scalability, and consistency.
After the webinar, Gretyl sat down with us to talk about some of the key points from her fantastic presentation, which we have captured below.
Acrolinx Team: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Gretyl. Let’s start at the very beginning with what your definition of a content strategy is.
Gretyl Kinsey: Sure. To me, a content strategy is a plan that you make for how to handle your content creation processes. That plan can apply to any kind of content your company produces — technical content, marketing content, sales content, you name it — and should be designed to solve your content problems, improve efficiency, and help your business’s bottom line.
AT: Ok, so what do you see as the key to getting a content strategy right?
GK: I’d say there are two main points to keep in mind. First, your strategy needs to be tailored to your company’s specific goals and needs. In other words, it’s important to remember that just because you see another company doing something that seems to get results, don’t automatically assume that you should simply follow their lead. It doesn’t work that way because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to content.
The other point I’d stress is that good content strategies solve the issues that you’re facing right now. Great strategies, however, take a longer-term view and help you ensure that you’re prepared for the future.
AT: How can having a content strategy help companies that are having a tough time localizing their content?
GK: Localization can definitely be a challenging, time-consuming, and expensive undertaking. Having a good content strategy will help companies confront those issues by forcing them to plan ahead so that they avoid the pitfalls that can often make localization so difficult. For example, you can plan ahead to ensure that you’re using terminology consistently across your content, that you’re avoiding jargon and colloquialisms, and that you’re being culturally aware and sensitive. Simply having a plan for all of that will go a long way toward saving you and your translators a lot of time and energy.
AT: In your presentation you went on to say that localization often goes hand in hand with scalability. How so?
GK: I’ve worked with lots of fast-growing companies whose content teams find themselves under the gun as they scale. They may suddenly find themselves with more employees in more locations or with more products to sell and more releases. Or maybe they have more localization requirements or simply more requests for content in more formats. That’s fine if their content creation processes can keep up with the demand, but if they can’t, it’s usually a sure sign that they need a content strategy. And, just like with localization, the key to being able to scale successfully is having a strategy that help you to always plan ahead.
AT: And where does consistency fit into the equation?
GK: Having inconsistent content can be a huge problem, and one that can make localizing your content and scaling your content creation processes a lot more difficult. It’s important to ensure that your content is consistent in terms of language, style, structure, presentation, and branding. When it is, it really helps make your content all the more effective. When it’s not, it’s confusing for the end user, makes translation more difficult, and can bring your attempts to scale your content machine to a halt.
While making sure that your content is consistent seems obvious and relatively easy, it’s often overlooked. Unfortunately, that just leads to more problems down the road when it comes time to make changes to your content or scale up your efforts.
AT: What advice do you offer your clients to help them ensure that they keep their content consistent?
GK: I tell them they’ve got two choices. They first is to create a really comprehensive style guide that defines things like what style their writers should be using, how their content needs to be structured, and which terms are and aren’t acceptable. But for that option to work, they’ve actually got to enforce its use and make sure that every piece of content is being reviewed against the guide. That’s a lot easier said than done.
The second option is to automate that whole process by using a content optimization platform that enforces style guidelines so that writers don’t have any choice but to adhere to the company’s standard.
AT: And what’s the payoff of having a content strategy that allows you to more easily localize your content, scale your content creation processes, and ensure that your content is consistent?
GK: I think it’s as simple as this: By putting some upfront time and money into making sure that your entire operation is running smoothly and that you’ve thought ahead about how to handle things, you’ll have a lot easier time further down the track when it comes time to adapt to whatever may come your way. That, in my view, is worth its weight in gold.
AT: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Gretyl!