Creating a New Footprint for Content Strategy Thought Leadership in the Pacific Northwest

By Andrea Zeller and Cheryl Lowry

Editor’s note: Andrea Zeller is a senior content strategist at Expedia and an adjunct faculty member with the Communication Leadership (Comm Lead) graduate program at the University of Washington. Cheryl Lowry is a content strategist at Facebook.

Our world is rapidly changing as we begin to use our mobile phones more than our laptops, and smart watches and sensors threaten to replace our mobile phones and everything we know about the Internet.  Soon we’ll interact with the brands that we love anywhere we want to, seamlessly. For brands, this new reality may be intimidating.

The old reality of content was quite different. In the past, “content” was often viewed simply as words arranged in a box on a page. Brands now recognize that to attract, engage and retain an audience, they must focus on the delicate craft of storytelling and messaging, and create a relevant, continuous flow of content across multiple platforms. And that content must be personalized, contextual, emotional and on-point. Given this new reality, it’s important that brands and others share a vision for content, and that students are well prepared to create exceptional content experiences. To this end, Comm Lead has launched ComMingle and now offers an online Certificate in Storytelling and Content Strategy.

ComMingle: A Virtual Community for Storytelling and Content Strategy

Initially, ComMingle will provide an online space where content strategists, communication professionals and organizations can start to document their content successes and challenges. ComMingle focuses on a rapidly evolving area of content strategy: Creating content for Internet of Things (IoT) experiences, which go beyond two-dimensional screen interactions, such as with apps and the Web.

As IoT technologies evolve beyond specialized gadgets designed for a technophile audience and expand into the realm of everyday experiences in the home and elsewhere, it’s clear that our communication strategies must also evolve. The key question to address? How do we make these new experiences simple and positive for everyone?

We want to help current and prospective content strategists connect with people, solutions and ideas so that they can tackle this question. Our goals are to provide actionable resources and an inclusive community for those who want to learn more, through research and case studies that support core storytelling as the next evolution of content strategy. More specifically, ComMingle will:

  • Help students and career-switchers connect with experienced professionals and learn more about the field of content strategy.
  • Provide a focused library of solutions and ideas for creating great experiences between people and platforms or products.
  • Help people who care about content strategy, and people who will be communicating with products and platforms in their daily lives.

We encourage those of you who have created successful content strategies for clients to share your experiences. What are we looking for? Describe how you addressed your client’s challenges, outline your solutions and approach and provide a summary of your results. We’ll publish your case study on ComMingle and promote it as well. For more information, visit the ComMingle Toolkit page. To submit your case study, contact us at commingleuw@gmail.com.

A New Online Storytelling and Content Strategy Certificate Program

We designed the curriculum of the online Certificate in Storytelling and Content Strategy program to provide students with a lasting framework for creating high-quality content experiences, and to account for key changes: To stay relevant, organizations need to be more human and friendly with people, and to engage audiences in exceptional experiences. The certificate program is designed to provide the key skill set that empowers professionals to take a seat at the table with higher-level executives and lead the conversation on creating content and user experiences.

Hanson Hosein, Comm Lead Director

Hanson Hosein, U.W. Communication Leadership Program Director

Rather than focusing on mastering ephemeral web tools, our goal is to endow students with a lasting framework for handling content at all stages. That includes determining the needs of one’s audience, creating powerful user experiences and measuring success.

As Hanson Hosein, Comm Lead Director, explains, “As mobile and the cloud hit critical mass, we’re moving into a ‘Communication First’ world. That means in this pervasive state of communication through all our 24/7 devices, every organization needs to master how to use content to leverage relationships throughout its communities and networks. It’s a storytelling muscle that needs to be developed, then regularly exercised.”

Hosein sees the online certificate program as an opportunity to put Comm Lead’s unique stamp on the emerging world of content strategy. The online program also serves as a great preview for the Seattle-based graduate program, he adds.

Note: Classes for the online Certificate in Storytelling and Content Strategy program started January 6, but spaces may still be available. For more information about this program, call (888) 469-65999.

 

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