Interview with an… Enterprise Content Strategist

Kris MausserWe’ve interviewed a number of content strategists as part of our job Q&A series. Now we find out from Kris Mausser, co-owner of Kina’ole Inc and founder of one of Canada’s first content strategy consultancies, what exactly is involved in being an enterprise content strategist and how to get into this line of work.

What is your job title?

It’s funny, I don’t really have a title. My business partner and I believe titles can be too limiting, and often don’t really reflect the roles people take on. As such, my elevator pitch to potential clients is that of senior management consultant with a specialisation in enterprise content strategy.

What does your job involve?

In addition to running our management consultancy, I help clients solve enterprise content problems. Many organisations today are not optimised for delivering consistent and engaging omni-channel content experiences for their customers. I help them to maximise their internal efforts, whether by breaking down organisational silos, gaining customer insights for better service design or developing more effective workflows.

In essence, I help companies adopt publishing cultures regardless of whether that is their core business or not.

What qualifications/background do you need?

There are no specific qualifications that could catapult you into a role like this. I personally think breadth of knowledge is more important than depth of knowledge, however. While it’s important to know about best practices in content strategy, it’s equally important to know about complementary disciplines as well. If your perspective is too narrow, your recommendations run the risk of being short-sighted.

I believe my unique sales proposition is one of experience. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients, from a wide variety of sectors, from all over the world. To me, experience and character trump formal education.

What’s the most challenging part of the job?

On the part of my clients, it’s a combination of faith (or lack of) and unfamiliarity with enterprise content strategy. While a client may recognise the pain points they are facing as an organisation, and they may have a limited understanding of how enterprise content strategy can help, they may still not trust the process enough to embrace new ways of doing things. That’s tough. Especially when I believe so much in what I do, it’s hard to take a step back to where they are and appreciate that change is scary.

What do you love about your work?

I love helping people. In my job, I get to help people every day and that is so rewarding. I love helping companies succeed. Getting to be a part of that is what gets me out of bed every morning.

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into your profession?

Get as much experience as you can, and always keep learning from a variety of disciplines. You can only learn so much from a book or a conference. It’s only when you start getting your hands dirty that you’ll gain the most insights into what works – and what doesn’t.

What’s the rate of pay?

As senior consultants, we either charge by the hour or by the project. A general per diem would be US$2,000-3,000.

Is there job mobility and security?

Every year I see more and more companies looking for help managing their content assets more effectively. I don’t think many organisations have come to realise the full impact digital content has on everything from reputation management to customer experience. I think this is definitely a growing field that will be more and more in demand every day.

Any advice on training and development?

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about enterprise content strategy being the second generation of content strategy but I think it’s more like the next generation of business strategy. There are a few books that I keep coming back to over and over again that help to situate enterprise content strategy within this new model of doing business:

  • Gamestorming
  • The Connected Company
  • Managing Enterprise Content
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto

I’m also very excited about two new enterprise content strategy books that will definitely be taking up space on my bookshelf this year:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

On a beach in Jamaica! Just kidding. Actually, I see our company taking on bigger projects that look at all facets of organisational design, not just from a publishing perspective. I’m quite interested in digital centres of excellence and the movement away from the web team as infrastructure support, and more towards an intrinsic service function within the organisation.

Do you have a motto/guiding principle when you work?

Yes! In fact, I believe so much in this principle that we renamed our company to Kina’ole because of it. Kina’ole is the Hawaiian word for flawlessness. It means: “Doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, for the right reason, with the right feeling… the first time.” It’s not only the philosophy behind our service approach with clients, it’s what we believe drives successful multi-platform strategies today.

Any final words of wisdom?

If you’re looking for enterprise content strategy at your organisation then you’re looking for that larger change management piece. Something I’ve run into a lot lately is the confusion in the market between page-level content strategy, content marketing strategy and what I call enterprise content strategy.

It seems content strategy has become the catch-all buzzword for any and all content work these days. So I think a bit of caveat emptor or ‘buyer beware’ is in order any time you seek to fill a content strategy role. Make sure your expectations are clearly defined ahead of time. Otherwise, you risk not achieving the content goals you had hoped for in the position.

Kristina Mausser is a business management consultant who specialises in delivering enterprise content solutions for clients around the world. She is the co-owner of Kina’ole Inc. and co-organiser of UX Poland, Central Europes largest conference on user experience. You can find her on Twitter: @krismausser and on LinkedIn.

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