What Is a Director of Content Strategy?

January 21, 2013 by

director of content strategyI was at a party recently and got asked what I do for work. When I replied that I am the director of content strategy at a venture capital firm called OpenView, the guy who had asked the question stared at me with a blank look on his face. He explained that he understood the venture capital part, but that the director of content strategy bit wasn’t entirely clear to him.

Ok, so maybe it’s not a job title that’s completely ubiquitous yet, but content marketing jobs of all flavors — director of content strategy, director of content marketing, content strategist, managing editor, content marketing manager, etc. — are all becoming increasingly common. A quick search on indeed.com, for example, turns up hundreds of hits, including one I might add for an OpenView portfolio company.

Be that as it may, I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t know what a director of content strategy does, so I wanted to provide my take on the role:

The Job

As soon as you put the word content in a title, it’s funny how people automatically assume that you’re a writer in one form or another. For a director of content strategy, I’d say that’s pretty far off the mark. The truth be told, I only spend about 5-10 percent of my time actually writing.

So if not writing, what exactly does a director of content strategy do? Well, typically someone in the role is responsible for setting and executing a company’s content marketing strategy, i.e., figuring out how to create, distribute, and promote the kind of highly relevant, valuable content necessary to attract, acquire, and engage our target audience.

What it Entails

Being a director of content strategy can mean a lot of different things depending on where you work, but in general terms, it means that you’re in charge of your company’s content marketing efforts, including:

  • Deciding what content the company is going to create and at what intervals
  • Leading a team of in house and/or freelance writers and editors, graphic designers, proofreaders, and social media specialists
  • Establishing and enforcing your company’s editorial standards
  • Creating efficient content creation processes
  • Developing a content distribution strategy
  • Choosing and managing an effective CMS
  • Utilizing social media and other marketing channels to promote content
  • Optimizing content for search engines
  • Developing and maintaining an editorial calendar
  • Capturing a variety of metrics to measure the effectiveness of our content, and retooling our approach based on those results.
  • Ensuring that the content that’s being created is helping to drive your ultimate business goals

Skills and Experience

A director of content strategy or content marketing typically has at least 10 years of experience in marketing, communications, and/or publishing or other editorial roles. People in this role need to be problem solvers who are able to juggle a lot of different tasks at one time. They also need to be leaders, planners, and strategic thinkers, who can wear a lot of different hats. They might need to be a blogger today, a podcaster tomorrow, or a videographer the next day. No matter what they might be doing on any given day, they’re also the ones responsible for making decisions about what a company should be focusing on from a content perspective, which these days ultimately drives just about every aspect of marketing.

Ok, so that’s a real quick look at what a director of content strategy does. Now it’s your turn. If you’re a content marketer, what’s your job look like on a day-to-day basis?

 

 

  • http://twitter.com/jay_zo Jay Acunzo

    Great read, thanks Kevin! The only thing I’d add is a big one for me personally and a few friends/contacts who do similar roles each day: educating the marketplace. It’s a loose, even frightening proposition to plan, produce, distribute and analyze “content” (what’s that mean, anyway?) for a business, and so there are plenty of people grasping for what to do, how to do it, etc.

    I find a big portion of my day is sharing knowledge, packaging knowledge for clients, and even interacting with brands and customers in order to educate about this stuff. Fun? Yes. But we’re in such an early stage of brands as publishers that it’s a big part of the daily routine for a lot of us.

    • http://twitter.com/kevinrcain Kevin Cain

      Great point, Jay, and I couldn’t agree more. So how does the need for how-to, instructional content and packaging it for clients fit into your overall content strategy? Also, when you say you’re interacting with brands and customers, how do you do so specifically? Very curious to hear more about your role and some of the challenges / opportunities you face.

      • http://twitter.com/jay_zo Jay Acunzo

        Thanks! So I’m the dir. of content at Dailybreak and we plug into brands’ content strategy and increase their engagement across web and mobile. As such, we often have to talk with our clients (Chevy, PUMA, AT&T, McD’s – that size brand) about their content strategy, and what they’re looking for. When I write materials such as white papers, too, it focuses on where we fit in the world of content, and why ROI from content marketing and “engagement” is definitely possible with gameified experiences such as our ad units.

        At the end of the day, part of our pitch and our relationship with brands is focused on engagement and content and this two-way street between brands and consumers. It’s 100% consumer-initiated, as is our ad unit.

        As for challenges: budgets aren’t all that large yet (the usual channels still claim big budgets), and as a startup, we’re understaffed to do our own B2B content marketing as well.

        • http://twitter.com/kevinrcain Kevin Cain

          Sounds like you’ve got your hands full. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if the last Content Marketing Institute Report would help you make these case for the budget you need?

  • Curt Raffi

    So guys, in your mind who did these roles typically roll up to ?Marketing, product marketing, communications or some other group?

    • http://twitter.com/kevinrcain Kevin Cain

      In my mind, the role typically reports into the CMO. Content should drive marketing strategy and therefore this role needs to be working closely with and influencing the CMO.

  • http://www.kranzcom.com Jonathan Kranz

    I think it’d be important to have a “nose” for a story. The funny thing about a good content strategy is that it should be planned enough to coordinate efforts around a common platform of messages and goals, yet flexible enough to seize unexpected opportunities, fast. A good content director has to be able to find that balance and make prompt judgment calls.

    • http://twitter.com/kevinrcain Kevin Cain

      I couldn’t agree more, Jonathan. Thanks for your comment!