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Can we start writing before the content strategy is complete?

Can we start writing before the content strategy is complete?

Dear Client,

You are awesome. Your deadlines are insane, and truly impossible to pull off with any sense of confidence. And yet still, awesome.

You do know that one thing simply must come before the other, even with a team of five writers and editors and proofreaders, right? How can we write before the strategy is complete? How can one proofread — let alone ensure alignment with strategy — before the content is created?

Pybop client letterAnd yet we did it.

Your cheerleading along the way — and I’m not the cheerleading type — was truly helpful. And unreal. I found myself first doubting its sincerity (and how wrong is that?), because, seriously, who is that positive these days, without a secret agenda? Who takes the time to really appreciate the journey, and the people with you on the journey, while they are up to their eyeballs in career-influencing deadlines?

Sure, you wanted something. You wanted to meet those deadlines. But I confess, flattery does indeed help make it happen. And even more interesting? I find that it, along with the playful banter and teasing, influences the work — the story — itself.

Its tone. Its fluidity and believability. Even, and especially, its measurable impact.

Yes, we did it, and I realized this is part of The Magic Layer of content strategy that I’ve always struggled to explain. The part aside from the content strategy deliverables and above the workflow process. The part that is essentially the grease that makes a successful content strategy and even more so, a brand story, succeed.

It’s the people, not the parts. OK, I’ve talked about that before, the people being The Magic Layer, but I was talking about skills and communication and collaboration. But I totally missed the part about the fun and secure relationships and joking that makes the people who are working the strategy part of the story. They bring the story to life.

This may sound hokey. But consider this. If you were worried, competitive, inflexible, afraid of change — or just plain stuck in an unhappy environment — a really amazing brand story would be very difficult to make happen. Especially when so many people are needed to share that valuable, life-changing story in bits and pieces all over the place.

Client, our project is one of the first where I feel that our fast-paced, on-the-edge-of-hysterical work influenced the work itself — in a good way. Had you been tense or frustrated or had unrealistic expectations of what “first draft” means, we might have run into some bumps and blocks. The work might have needed dozens of drafts and development re-dos to get it right.

But instead, we flew.

I feel like I’ve run a marathon while playing Cat’s Cradle and doing algorithms in my head. And as we cross the finish line, I can’t help but think of us, as a team, and the fun we had being all soaked up by this interactive content that is for an audience who is not us.

So anyway, I’m gushing. But I do want to say thank you. This experience I will bring to all my client projects. I believe it has made me a stronger content strategist. And, even better, it was fun.


Author Shelly Bowen

Shelly Bowen, Pybop's chief content strategist, has led teams of writers and creatives to develop websites and interactive content for more than 15 years. Read more about Shelly.

Contact Shelly

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