Content strategy and content marketing walk into a bar…

There has been a lot of talk lately about the difference between content strategy and content marketing. A lot. Well-mannered missives have been fired by my colleagues in both fields, and perhaps the most prominent event thus far has been Kristina Halvorson’s SXSW talk, Go Home Marketing, You Are Drunk.

Around the time that Kristina was taking the stage in Austin, I was beginning my stint as a contributor to our company blog, wondering what I was getting myself into as the debate heated up in blog posts and on message boards. The post I was working on at the time wasn’t exactly Pulitzer material. What would my fellow content strategists think? Or for that matter, my friends from my past life as a journalist? Most importantly, what did it mean for my future as a writer?

I kept thinking back to that scene in Season 3 of Girls, when Hannah is talking to her fellow GQ “advertorial” writers about how they wound up there.

Was I having a Hannah Horvath moment of my own? After all, I get free snacks, too.

I don’t loose sleep over my writing career, because I’ve found fulfillment in the transition to content strategy. But here’s the thing: when you’re in-house, it’s a different landscape when it comes to content. Many of my company’s content marketing practices were well established long before they hired me as their first-ever content strategist. But, I’ve cheerfully championed the pillars of content strategy that we were missing, like a style guide and messaging standards. Meanwhile, my colleagues have zeroed in on my writing experience—that thing I was willing to cast aside for the sake of moving forward—as a thing to value.

Over time, I have played up the “expert writer” card and managed to establish myself as an editorial guide on whom my coworkers can rely for sound feedback without judgment. And, I’m pleased to say that the overall quality of our content has improved.

A consultant would move on to another client at this point, meanwhile my role has grown to include product marketing, with a strong emphasis on customer experience. My work has gotten even more interesting, and I can be very, very busy.

That means that, wearing my editor’s cap, I can’t be a gatekeeper through which all content flows—that was never intended to be my role—but I can be a resource for my coworkers, be it an extra set of eyes, or the ace in a hole to write a monthly blog post.

We’re not going to catch every typo, and I won’t be adding each and every one of my posts to my clips, but that’s not the point. I’ve learned that ours is a whip-smart content marketing team with larger, well-thought-out goals, and they are moving toward them with or without me. But, let’s be honest: they’re my goals, too, because we all want the company to thrive.

The best thing I can do for our team is support them and offer up the tools from my experience to help them succeed. I would think this excludes them from the same category as the companies that Kristina was lampooning in her slides, but someone wants to call our content marketing team “drunk,” fine. I’m buying their next round.

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