Content strategy: the new name for copywriting?

Battle Formation

I’ve been hearing more and more talk about ‘content strategy’ recently. Unsure what it was, I went looking for answers.
I found:

What is Content Strategy?

Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.

Necessarily, the content strategist must work to define not only which content will be published, but why we’re publishing it in the first place.

Otherwise, content strategy isn’t strategy at all: it’s just a glorified production line for content nobody really needs or wants

From: The Discipline of Content Strategy by Kristina Halvorson

I was hoping to discover an interesting new discipline, but I feel like I’ve just discovered a new way to describe copywriting.

More time passed, and I began to warm to content strategy.

Why? Because ‘copy’ is the most important but least respected part of the web. Web copy is often thrashed out at the last minute, after a hundred interaction designers, user experience designers, information architects, designers, developers and colour consultants have spent months refining their corner of the website – and that’s just plain stupid. Copy is neglected, but maybe it’s neglected because nobody has pushed a serious alternative – nobody has pushed a grown-up approach to producing copy.

Copy needs to be more than copy for it to be taken seriously. A copywriter needs to be more than just a rent-a-pen. There needs to be a method, a strategy, a process for producing amazing copy, and if content strategy can be all of that, then wonderful.

I look forward to learning more about content strategy.


  1. Definitely, copywriting is a part of content strategy, with content strategy being the overarching plan for the content lifecycle. On my site, I describe content strategy as a repeatable system that governs management of content throughout the entire content lifecycle. I see a content strategy as having four salient components:
    First: It’s strategic. It governs what happens to content during the implementation stages.
    Second: It’s repeatable. A content strategy is not a one-off activity. It’s a way to handle content within a corporate context.
    Third: It’s governing. It’s being the guardian of content. It’s making all the important decisions about content.
    Fourth: It’s a system. It’s not a technology, though it can be technology-assisted. It describes an organic system.

    If you divide the content lifecycle into four arbitrary quadrants, then the first quadrant is the strategy, with the other 3 quadrants simply being the implementation of the strategy. I created a generic visual representation of the content lifecycle here:

    Comment by Rahel Anne Bailie — May 19, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

  2. Hi Rahel,

    Thanks for taking the time to share your understanding of content strategy.

    I totally agree that content strategy is more than just copy – something I need to learn more about!


    Comment by Leif Kendall — June 11, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  3. We’ve been working through this too. As you say, seems to be it’s not so much discovery-of-new-species stuff than it is a practical solution to how confused the process of planning and designing for copy has become.

    My colleague Tamsin sees it as part of the rise and fall and rise of the web editor.

    Whatever the interpretation, I think it puts the need for good writing back at the heart of communicating on the web, right where it should be.

    Comment by Charlie Peverett — June 17, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

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