A practical, essential part of a content strategy bookshelf, and a strong orientation to anybody getting into the field.
Meghan Casey’s The Content Strategy Toolkit delivers what it promises: a well-structured, content-rich set of tools for content strategy practitioners both novice and advanced. I appreciate the practicality of this book. The author organizes her thoughts into a linear, logical flow, communicated in useful bullet-points, making it easy to browse and read.
Casey packs her book with a workshop full of well-crafted and useful content strategy tools, including a stakeholder matrix, project kick-off email, project team matrix, session plan and even a sample agenda.
In addition to these many tools, Casey offers clear directions for mapping out stakeholders processes, artifacts and deliverables; project management guidance, including timeline, material, reporting and rhythms and a strong overview of the content inventory, auditing, and mapping process.
Casey also pays close attention to the stakeholder interview process, including questions and documentation review process notes. These notes culminate in building a discovery inside workbook incorporating best practices from UX design, market research, and general business consulting.
While this may seem like an overwhelming amount of material to keep under control, Casey does a good job of aligning all the parts into a strategic framework that ties everything together, from the beginning of the process through the resulting outputs and actions.
Casey offers a nod to Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s book Content Everywhere in her overview of structured content and entering content into the CMS.
Her content types and components tend to be large, chunky, and high-level — so it’s at this level a high level introduction to modelling.
The book does have a tendency to focus on personal and in-person outputs and processes involving sticky notes and whiteboards best suited for traditional and co-located teams, and not much guidance is offered on how to apply the same processes in distributed environments. It may be that content strategy is a full-contact sport, but the nature of business is increasingly distributed, and content strategists should be prepared to embrace various kinds of collaboration.
As a content engineer, I also would have appreciated seeing more about content modeling. Casey does reference Rachel Lovinger’s article on the A List Apart website, but largely breezes over structured content and content modeling. Content strategists should embrace and understand content modeling as a core competency, even though content engineers should ultimately own and maintain the content model in collaboration with IT and development stakeholders. The content strategists who are equipped to natively understand and be able to contribute to content models will do their clients great service by contributing to content reuse structure.
Casey wraps up her book with a very helpful outline of content governance, editorial management, and other content maintenance topics. She also provides a list of all the tools used in the book, though I wish she had also included additional references to third-party materials and resources for students.
All in all, I give The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right five stars, because I believe it to be a practical, essential part of a content strategy bookshelf, and a strong orientation to anybody getting into the field. For other content strategy tools and templates, you might also check out the freely available tools from the Content Strategy Alliance. Those tools are helpful, but the context provided by Meghan Casey’s book is invaluable for any student of content strategy.