i'm okay, you're okay: navigating challenging content strategy conversations

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IM OKAY, YOURE OKAY: NAVIGATING CHALLENGING CONTENT STRATEGY CONVERSATIONSAhava Leibtag Aha Media GroupJune 9 2016

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@ahavaL #collectiveconf2

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Dude, last night I had a dream

8DUDE, LAST NIGHT I HAD A DREAM.

Dude, last night I had a dream

9YOUR DREAM SOUNDS DELICIOUS.

Dude, last night I had a dream

10SATISFY YOUR CRAVINGS.

Dude, last night I had a dream

11SPICE IT UP WITH.

Dude, last night I had a dream

12ALL COMES WITH A FREE HAPPY ENDING SUNDAE.

Dude, last night I had a dream

13SO COME ON. GET IN. GET FRIENDLY.

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Seoul Secret

YOU JUST NEED TO BE WHITE TO WIN.15

"We may have overlooked this matter, overlooking the fact of being racist because this is something that doesn't exist in Thailand," Yulihan managing director Wattanapak Jinsirivanich said on 9 January. "We fully admit that this is our mistake.

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233 people died in Sandy and it cost $75 billion to recover18

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2,400 people lost their lives in Pearl Harborwhat better way to mark that occasion with a cartoon character of pasta?19

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68 retweets and 25 favorites; just proving that its not only corporations that can be incredibly insensitive22

Challenges with Conversations around Content

Hoe does this happen? Incidentally, in 2011 Friendlys went bankrupt. How can we build a system of giving and receiving critique that helps us develop as content professionals? Because in the same way that we learn to develop all these tools, like a messaging architecture and a content model and a content audit, we need to learn how to build an effective toolbox of managing feedback and critique.25

Content is personal.

Content is personal. Were not selling vacuum cleaners.26

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Content is intimate.

Content is intimate. Very often it is created within us before it sees the light of day. The creative process is challenged when critique is involved. 27

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Ultimately content is a creative enterprise rather than a solution, in the way people see design as a solution. So content has unique challenges.

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Often content is critiqued one on one instead of in a team. And wordsmithing can be come this tedious back and forth exercise that doesnt necessarily focus on asking the difficult questions about objectives. And because its not always approached in teams, it can open up the opportunity for very challenging conversation that dont start in the right place of Were all putting on our critique hat now.29

Feedback is often given in writing making it challenging to interpret and manage. 30

Sometimes, theres a culture of fear.

31Culture of Fear.

Story about woman at the bank 31

Maybe someone else will say something.

This is the hardest because its about being the one afraid to raise your hand. What if I sound stupid? What if no one agrees with me? What if I say it and everyone blames me when it goes wrong. 32

But the thing is, as content professionals, its our job to talk about the elephant in the room. Its our job to speak it and describe it for others. We sit directly at the intersection of business goals and customer experiences. In fact, when I introduce myself to a group as content strategist, in order to talk about my role in the project, I say, as a content strategist my job is to advocate for the customer experience as well as the integrity of the brand. So if its our job, and yet Ive just described how hard it is, how do we do it and do it well when faced with critique and challenging conversations?

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Wed rather blow up bananas and be wrong, then take a chance. 35

Adding to your ToolboxWhat are the tools we need as content strategists and UX professionals to have challenging conversations around content?36

Is there a way for us, as content strategists, to build conversations that are uniquely suited to talking about content? Can we help build cultures or at least introduce ideas about feedback that help us do our jobs better?36

Never again was what you said the time before.37

This talk was inspired personally by making so many mistakes in these types of conversations. (tell the blog story). Im a systems girlcould I create a system for giving feedback around content and introduce it to our community? Because theres a lot of talk about giving feedback around design, but do we have that in the content world? 37

With help fromMargot BloomsteinDan BrownJonathon ColmanLisa GatelyMatthew GrockiAnn HandleySteph HayKevin HoffmanAaron Watkins

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When:Stakes are highOpinions varyEmotions run strong39

These books gave me a lot of ideas about how to build meaningful conversations in times of conflict. And it also set my mind to rest about something I was grappling with for years: Can you be direct and honest without hurting peoples feelings? Can you turn the tide in a challenging conversation or approach it in a different way to make it as productive as possible when you are giving or receiving critique. 39

Biggest thing (to approaching challenging conversations) is establishing the relationship.40

41CLIENTVENDOR

42CLIENTVENDOR

43TEAM

Good relationships require discipline.45

Discpline is remembering what you want. And when we want to build strong, good relationships, we remember we want to have good relationships. 45

BUILDING TOWARD A CONVERSATION THAT WORKS

How can we build more courage into our conversations?46

Do I look fat in this pair of jeans is as difficult a conversation as is my website bad.(Kevin Hoffman)47

Get me to basically.48

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Focus on what you dont know. Ask a lot of questions to get at what you really need to know. 49

Critique is about co-creation. What does this thing need to do?(Steph Hay)50

Create an environment of dialogue51

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Dialogue is a process for getting all relevant meaning into a shared pool.(Crucial Conversations)53

When people feel comfortable speaking up and meaning does flow freely, the shared pool can dramatically increase a groups ability to make better decisions.(Crucial Conversations)54

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Be Specific56

FeedbackOnly give the feedback you were asked to giveUse data and research to depersonalize feedbackKeep feedback engaged in problem solvingI do want to focus on this/I dont want to focus on that

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Emotional?Use strategy and goals to keep it out of being emotional Unsolicited feedback is when people get defensiveIf its not specific, you go down the rabbit hole of hell into feelings

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PRACTICEPROVIDING CRITIQUE60

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How can I approach this differently?61

Providing CritiqueSlow and LowFocus on whats workingWeve encountered this in the pastthis is how weve managed to sort it outTake it back to business reasonsDoes it make sense contextually?62

When Things Break63

AfterwardWhy/How did I position that in an insensitive way?What can I do better the next time?64

I cant see it in an honest way.64

Find your sounding board.65

Im too close to thisI cant see it in a honest way. Can you help me.65

If I have a regret, its because I didnt understand what the person really cared about. But often every time it happens, I realize I should have figured it out.66

Content Feedback and CritiqueGet it to basicallyCreate an environment of dialogueBe specific Practice providing critiqueTake responsibility when things break 67

Bad critiques are indicative of teams that dont perform well. The product of critique is not just better content and better productits better practitioners. (Jonathon Colman)68

Thank you!Ahava LeibtagAha Media Groupwww.ahamediagroup.comahavaLLinkedinFacebook

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Questions?70