I skimmed the premiere issue of Chief Content Officer. Although it’s promising, I am disappointed in the contents and on-screen quality of this first issue. And wondering about its content strategy…
My comments are critical, because I expect this magazine to be an exemplar — to practice what it preaches.
CCO is still in beta, so we can hope its limitations will be resolved shortly by its publisher, the Content Marketing Institute.
Unclear Content Strategy
The content strategy for this publication feels fuzzy, in terms of editorial objectives and readership assumptions. It appears to be writing for newbies. I’d hoped to find CCO an exemplar of thought leadership, a source of inspiration for people who are, or aspire to be, chief content officers for their enterprises and media companies.
Plus, I’d hoped it would provide useful case studies and in-depth guidance to content practitioners and executives, helping them advance their skills and perspectives. Instead it feels as if it’s aiming too low, delivering “fast food” thought nuggets rather than real substance.
Hence my notion that it’s trying to serve content newbies rather than mavens — if so, that’s a logical disconnect from the publication’s title, and the capabilities required of a so-called “chief content officer.” Assuming CCO’s aspire to the C-suite…
By way of example, here’s a story called “Anatomy of a Content Strategy.” There’s no depth here. Maybe the headline sets up the wrong expectations. This is something like an infographic, with links to the sponsor’s online content.
What Does “Content Strategy” Mean?
Perhaps my real issue is with the rampant misuse of the term content strategy, given the connotations of anything called a strategy. Strategy, when viewed from a C-suite perspective, is more than a collection of tactics. Strategy defines the business context, the goals to be accomplished, and the tactics to be deployed to accomplish those goals. Strategies explain how resources will be mustered to execute those tactics.
As a result I had expected this story to illuminate what’s involved in architecting or setting a content strategy — the upfront work that should guide the tactical execution and production choices, and inform the messaging.
Given my understanding of content strategy, I’d hoped this article would speak more about Kinaxis’ (the showcase company’s) business objectives, audience (or customer) characteristics, readers’ and viewers’ media/channel preferences, etc.; and how Kinaxis chose to map the content and delivery options so they serve audience (customer) goals while meeting the company’s business objectives.
In other words what’s the rationale or game plan that drove the specific content types and sequence of activities that CCO magazine illustrates here with the Kinaxis example? Perhaps CCO could have tackled this with a Q&A conversation between the story’s author and the chief content officer at Kinaxis. (Better yet, by showing us excerpts from some of Kinaxis’ planning documents or templates.)
Perhaps I was expecting this story to be a case study. It’s not; instead it’s an attractive visual navigation device that links to specific content objects that have been created by Kinaxis, without explaining the underlying logic. When I clicked the links for each step in the sequence shown here, I’d expected to see more explanatory information; instead, you see links to downloadable versions of the specific content elements that were created by Kinaxis for their supply chain audience.
What you see is an illustration of a sequence of tactics, devoid of the strategy in which these tactics make sense.
If an organization’s chief content officer is not driving the content strategy, who is?
Production Quality Issues
When viewed on either a Mac or a PC, the visual quality is disappointing, particularly for the copy blocks (the text). The on-screen text has anti-aliasing problems (jaggies), and appears blurry with either PC Firefox or Mac Safari.
Here are some examples. Each scaled-down graphic links to the screen shot. The first example shows a text copy block (captured on a Mac at 72 dpi, shown here full size):
Here’s a page as displayed on a PC with Windows 7 and the latest version of Firefox (captured at 110 dpi), shown here scaled down, with a link to the full-size image. It too has jaggy text, although perhaps not as blurry as on the Mac. I found these pages to be hard on the eye, if I actually tried to read them on my high-res displays (>1280 x whatever).
Clearly, the on-screen page rendering technology that the publisher has chosen aspires to mimic the print version. That’s a laudable goal, but it hasn’t been realized.
Because the font rendering challenges get in the way of readability, these issues need to be resolved…
As long as I think of this as a first draft effort, I’m OK with it. But if this is the dress rehearsal for the final production, it falls short.
Aim higher, guys!