Kristina Halvorson’s Keynote: Confab 2011

Here are my notes from Kristina Halvorson’s keynote speech from Confab, 2011:

  • The Unified Theory of Content Development for the Web by Mark McCormick was written in 1998!
  • Content drives form, not the other way around.
  • We’re at a critical point because everything is a mess, also because there is the mobile user, tablets, wifi etc., Users now want information when they want it (on mobile, etc.) We’re screwed! Our content is not ready for that. We have got to get our act together—planning for multi-channel, on-brand, user centered content.
  • You need to create some kind of internal infrastructure for planning, development, and governance within your organization.
  • This conference is about the people who work with content, the changes that have to happen in our organizations. It’s about preparing the content and caring for it, as a business asset.

“Why Confab” (Kristina’s call to action)

  • Articulate—what do you think content strategy is—how will it be meaningful to you and your organizations.
  • Investigate—pick at least one session you have absolutely no interest in, whatsoever—you’ll benefit.
  • Integrate—content strategy requires us to figure out what is going on within other silos in your organization.
  • Appreciate—different perspectives, different disciplines—that’s what being a consultant is about—it’s about listening.
  • Ideate


There’s a land grab going on around the definition of Content Strategy. What does Content Strategy mean? Everybody has their own ideas. Kristina doesn’t care! Content Strategy is big, complicated, and we’re still figuring out how it can influence us and our organizations. Talk to each other about the definition of Content Strategy—blog about it, tweet about it. Keep the conversation going.

Kristina sees this statement often on the web, and disagrees:

Stop talking about it, Start doing it

Kristina says we can’t stop talking about Content Strategy. We need to learn about new ways to frame the problems. She says we must reframe the challenges in different ways, depending on what we do, how we’re measured. Don’t stop stalking about Content Strategy! Continue the conversation among yourselves. Keep talking, even if people aren’t listening.


Ecosystems: when one element shifts, another element shifts. Things influence one another and this is the world in which our content lives. Our content is out there, many factors influence it. Investigate different parts of you ecosystem. Without understanding everything that influences your content you can’t move forward. Open up your mind and listen to other points of view. You can disagree and debate, but don’t tell people they can’t or shouldn’t be talking about Content Strategy. Instead of jumping to conclusions or solutions ask, “tell me more about that.”


Frame: definition: form or to make as by fitting and uniting parts together, conceive or imagine, as in an idea, formulate or give expression to, to shape or adapt to a particular purpose.

* Several models shared: key concept: be open to others’ ideas.

Sage words from Erin Kissane on the conversation and the need to be curious:

Anyone who thinks “editorial content strategy” is not a real-world problem is insufficiently versed. Ditto “data CS” and “marketing CS.” (Source)

By all means, let us differentiate ourselves. But we don’t need to pretend the specialties of others are irrelevant. (Source)

Doing so makes us seem small, insecure, and incurious. And beloved, we cannot afford to be incurious. (Source)

Five critical roles: Creator, Advancer, Flexer, Refiner, Executor. We gravitate toward a certain style as a strength, but embody elements of all.


  • generates concepts and ideas
  • reframes the problem
  • recognizes alternatives
  • peceives the bigger picture
  • is not constrained by fear of failyre of existing rules


  • recongizes new ideas ain there early stages…


  • mentors and guides team contbutions
  • can play 3-4 roles at any given time…


  • challenges the concepts
  • analyzes detects possible flaws, identifies potential problems
  • revews plans modifies as needed


  • implements ideas and solutions
  • is focused on successful outcomes
  • pays attention to detail
  • prefers to let others take the lead
  • enjoys having resp for final results

Thinks about these roles–where are your strengths. I don’t work with people to build where they are particularly challenged. I want people to build strengths, and explore them. Think about where your natural strengths are.


I had a vision: when I went online in May, 2008, I searched for Content Strategy, and found 13 mentions. I had a vision that everyone would be talking about Content Strategy. Content is the soul of our converations. We needed a lot of people to make that happen.

From Matt Grocki
I’ve been managing and creating content since 1996, and I’ve never faced a greater sesnse of urgency and purpose in my career #contentstrategy @mgrocki (Source)

This isn’t new stuff, but where we are is brand new. If ever there was a time to step up and own your content, now is the time.

I had a vision, what’s yours?

3 thoughts on “Kristina Halvorson’s Keynote: Confab 2011

  1. Thanks so much for sharing from Confab 2011. Your summary is such a relief since I wish I could have been there this year. I feel as though I’m still a part of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s