Content strategy guides the creation and management of content that’s useful, useable—and effective. I focus primarily on the editorial side of content strategy, developing guidelines for content that does what it’s intended to do and consistently reflects the character of the brand.
“I knew we’d struck gold when Heidi joined our content strategy team. Her recommendations for a strong editorial plan and a discernible digital voice is exactly what we needed to take our content from hodgepodge to unified. Her ability to translate the editorial vision into tangible, compelling copy made her a true asset to the redesign. I look forward to working with Heidi again on future projects.”—Ren Vasey, Content Strategist
Content strategy services
Brand voice & tone guidelines
Brand voice and tone guidelines help content creators craft work that is effective and consistent. I help clients define their brand voice, the audiences they address, and the right tone to strike in various contexts for those audiences. Through workshops, materials review, interviews, and other research, I work with brands to identify, describe, and document details about:
- The brand itself: what and who the brand is and isn’t; why it exists; and what it does
- The audience(s): who they are; why they’re listening; what they need and want; and what various emotional or mental states they may be in when consuming branded content
- Content topics: the brand itself; its work; its partners, clients, or customers; and its key functional elements (the areas in which the organization works, such as technology, food, apparel, etc.)
- Content types, cross-referenced by the audience’s starting point, purpose, and goals when consuming each type
- Content themes
- Brand voice and tone: descriptions of how all brand communications should feel and sound, as well as how they should not; and descriptions of the appropriate tone to take with specific audiences pursuing a variety of goals in a variety of emotional states
- Use of language
- Best practices for maintaining the voice
Drawing from a half-day discovery workshop I led with owners and team leaders, I developed a comprehensive Brand Voice & Tone guidelines, Editorial Style Guide, and Best Practices & Examples document for Seattle agency 8ninths. Read about the work.
Editorial style guides
While the brand voice and tone guidelines provide high-level direction, the editorial style guide describes the nuts and bolts of exactly how content should be written. If the brand voice and tone guide is a snapshot of a complex, lovely garden, the editorial style guide is the diagram and instructions for planting, weeding, and watering that will show you how to achieve that garden. Working from the “snapshot,” I apply each high-level decision to the mechanics of language to develop a guide that outlines the do’s and don’ts of:
- headlines and subheads
- links, buttons, and other CTAs
For the Rivkin Center’s website refresh, the team wanted to change the tone of the site from academic to warm and empathetic. I developed an Editorial Style Guide that provided examples of language to use and to avoid. See the whole project.
Content best practices & examples
While a snapshot and a detailed plan will help you design a garden, you need to feel the earth in your hands and smell the flowers to truly know gardening. Likewise, to really understand how to employ the brand voice and editorial style guides, you’ll need best practices and examples. This document provides real-world applications of the rules we’ve set up; incorporates samples of writing from existing brand materials; and shows do’s and don’ts for usage of:
- links and CTAs
- inclusive language
This document can also incorporate specific writing examples for various channels, such as:
- blog posts
- social media posts
- website content
- brochure copy
- white paper content
- press releases
- client communications
I worked directly with Information Architecture Institute President Abby Covert to develop an Editorial Style Guide and Content Best Practices, including some components of brand voice, for the IAI’s recent website refresh. Read about the project.
Workshop: creating & maintaining consistent content
Developing guidelines and getting people to use them are often two different stories. People follow guidelines when they understand why, how, and when they should, in addition to what those guidelines include. The best way to get buy-in from an organization’s stakeholders and content creators is through a workshop that explains these things and emphasizes the value of consistent content. In an interactive workshop, I’ll walk through the documents described above and generate further examples with your core staff so that everyone understands and is on board with using the valuable brand materials we’ve developed.
Additional content strategy services
I’m also well-versed in those aspects of content strategy that involve spreadsheets, such as content inventories and audits, and in developing core content strategies for websites, email campaigns, social media campaigns, and the combination of these.
Get in touch
Let’s talk about how I can help your organization get the most from its content. Reach out.
“Working with Heidi was a breeze. She always came prepared with great ideas and was willing to dig right in and collaborate. Her expertise and intelligence are only outmatched by her personality and professionalism. I’m definitely looking forward to working with her in the future!”—Cindy Pae, Director, Experience Architecture, Allen & Gerritsen