Stories and Strategy: Highlights from the Los Angeles Content Strategy Innovation Summit

Content Strategy Innovation SummitOn Thursday, Sept. 10, about 100 content strategists and content marketers gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the Content Strategy Innovation Summit. Here are select highlights from the day’s sessions.


Google Apps – Engaging with Your Audience
By Veronique Lafargue
Global Head of Content, Google

Lafargue has been involved in Google Apps for business projects, and she argues that the key to effective content in these products is authenticity. How to achieve it?

  1. Define your core; know your brand and what it stands for.
  2. Decide who is NOT your audience. This can help focus product and content efforts.
  3. See the heroes in your customers — the people who want “to make work better, more fair, more fun.”
  4. Bring a piece of yourself to the content you create.

HLS Online Strategy 2: Web Platform Migration and Content Strategy
By Keith McCluskey
Senior Director, Online Strategy, Harvard Law School

McCluskey delivered an update about his experience in a multi-year project to upgrade the design and content platform for Harvard Law School. Among his tactics:

  • Keith McClusky Presents about Harvard Law School
    Keith McClusky delivers an update on Harvard Law School’s online strategy.

    Listening: Seek out and share best practices and other information with industry peers.

  • Starting small: After being denied the full budget for a redesign effort, begin with a pilot project that is less expensive and will show the value of stronger content design and strategy.
  • Getting buy-in: Develop an online strategy committee that unifies deans and other stakeholders, especially the ones who might throw up roadblocks.
  • Scrum: Tap into the Agile methodology to create a list of tasks that can then be prioritized.

When Words Are The Product
By Anna Bloom
Content Strategist, Facebook

Based in London, Bloom is working primarily on advertising products for Facebook. In approaching the interface content she creates, she strives for the most honest, effective terms. “When words are the product, we need to be professional truth seekers.” Her steps to crafting such content:

  • Gather the facts.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Be honest about what works, and be open to surprises.

Strategy, Storytelling and Stakeholders
By Dave Howard
Manager, Content Strategy, Herbalife

Howard works on marketing, brand, and website content for the health and nutrition company. He spoke about the emotional connection and business use of stories. He cited the The Heath and Heath attributes of a successful story, and, yes, the attributes are an acrostic that spells “success.”

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

Creating Trust and Belonging Through Content
By Joscelin Cooper and John Campbell
Content Strategists, Airbnb

In their work, Cooper and Campbell focus on how content can incite emotion, change behavior, and shape experiences. They drew on literary examples to show how thoughtful writing can be integrated into a user experience to help users feel that they belong to a unique, safe community.

Why focus on examples from fiction and drama? Because literature offers valuable content lessons about

  1. Story
  2. Clarity and concision
  3. Character and persona
  4. Authorial intent and “getting back to real life”

Literature also offers inspiration for whittling content down until it is as simple and precise as possible. In the words of writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”