Content Strategy and the Stakeholder Matrix

Content strategy impacts many different people within an organization. The content strategist is not an island working alone to roll out massive changes. The content strategist is not an authoritarian taskmaster who can hand out directives and wait for her/his coworkers to implement the changes. Rather, an effective content strategy is a collaborative task and the strategist must be a team player. The content strategist must be able to motivate people within an organization to do the following:

1.     Join the content strategy team and work toward the team’s goals.

2.     Remain engaged with the objective of the content strategy.

3.     Maintain group buy-in, even though some people might resist change.

There are often different categories of decision makers: strategic decision makers, money people, champions, showstoppers, and interested others (Halvorson & Rach, p. 41). Essentially, these categories demonstrate that many different people are impacted by content strategy, but not all of those impacted have the same interest in the outcome, nor do they have the same influence on the process.

Given the diverse needs of the target audience, there are likely many options for organizing who the stakeholders are and how one should approach them, but I needed something a little more concrete to wrap my brain around this process. I did a little research and found a brief discussion of the stakeholder matrix (Casey, 2015). What I like about the matrix is that it provided an opportunity for the content strategist to list the stakeholders and then categorize each stakeholder by her/his role. It also provides space for documentation, where the strategist can predict the concerns that particular stakeholder might have and how the strategist will address those concerns.

I don’t think there’s a specific space for this in the matrix, but I’d probably add a section for how I plan to communicate with that stakeholder. For example, strategic decision makers are directly impacted by the process. If possible, I’d like to have face-to-face contact with those users to get as much participation from them as possible. On the other hand, I might be able to contact interested others via email, as their interest in and power over the project would be more indirect.

Having a place to identify and document the needs of my stakeholders would be valuable to me. This would fit very naturally into my work habits and it would help me think critically about the people my decisions are going to impact. It would also give me the opportunity to evaluate what each person might need from me, rather than just focusing on what the project needs in general. For example, I already noted that email might work as a communication tool for people not directly impacted by the process, but for those in a decision making role, email might not suffice.

Also, this is a process that could cause some coworkers to resist. Communicating via email likely won’t do much to smooth the process or encourage those who resist to jump on the team. Further, those in decision making roles or funding roles will be more inclined to support the project if there’s a face associated with the project, if the project has a positive impact on morale, and, of course, if it is successful.

 

 

References

Casey, M. (2015). A roadmap for creating an effective content strategy. Retrieved from http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2422809

Halvorson, K., & Rach, M. (2012). Content strategy for the web (2. ed. ed.). Berkeley, CA: New Riders.