Episode 8: Ahava Leibtag, Aha Media Group - FAQs and Plain Language

September 4, 2018

In this episode of The Content Strategy Podcast, Ahava Leibtag of Aha Media Group joins Kristina to talk about one of Ahava’s specialities: taking a plain language approach to creating content in the healthcare sector. She also shares ideas for streamlining content governance workflows and chimes in on the great FAQ debate.

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About this week’s guest

Ahava Leibtag

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 20 years of experience in writing, messaging, and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and writes thought leadership about content strategy and content marketing. Ahava is the president and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy. She is the author of The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web. Follow her on Twitter @ahaval.



Episode transcript

Kristina: Hello again. Welcome to The Content Strategy Podcast. I’m your host, Kristina Halvorson. This podcast is brought to you by ContentStrategy.com and Brain Traffic, a content strategy consultancy. Find out more about Brain Traffic at BrainTraffic.com.


My guest today is the very lovely, intelligent, witty, and kind—and let me come up with a few more adjectives—Miss Ahava Leibtag. Ahava is the president of Aha Media, and Ahava, why don’t you tell me a little bit about what Aha Media does.

Ahava: First of all, ditto, Kristina. Thank you for all those lovely adjectives.

Kristina: Let’s hug. Let’s hug right now.

Ahava: So, Aha Media Group helps companies simplify their communications with their audiences, and we do that through content development and content strategies.

Kristina: Great, and you guys specialize in healthcare, right?

Ahava: We specialize in healthcare and financial services. So, what we say is that we help people make the most important decisions of their lives. And so the plain language approach that we take and the intricacies that we bring to UX and search lend themselves towards industries like healthcare insurance and financial services.

Kristina: You’re hired. Say, I want to dive right in. Can you talk to me a little bit about your history with plain language? We haven’t actually ever really talked about this before. Ahava and I go way back. Oh, I should also mention you are the author of The Digital Crown.

Ahava: That’s correct, which you wrote the forward to. Thank you very much for that.

Kristina: Well, you’re very welcome. All right, let’s stop hugging and get down to business.

Ahava: But hugging is so much more fun.

Kristina: I know. Sorry, listeners. Sorry for the internal fan-girling. So, talk to me about ... because I have done a lot of thinking about plain language and kind of what it means and how it’s defined, and where do you ... I know that you do a lot of intense training with your writers, that you’ve got a pretty large writing team at Aha Media. Tell me where you start with the fundamentals of plain language, and any resources that you sort of take advantage of when you’re getting to plain language.

Ahava: Sure. So, the first thing that we say is remember who you’re talking to on the other side of the screen. So typically when people come to websites to learn information about healthcare and financial services, they’re in a state of high anxiety. And so automatically, their literacy drops, because they’re nervous about what they’re trying to learn. Or they’re in a state of trying to gather a lot of research, and they’re trying to process everything that’s in front of them.

So one of the things that we talk about is having a tremendous amount of empathy for the person, and so that means that your language has to be simplified. So, there’s a really funny episode of The Office where Michael Scott ... Oscar’s trying to explain something to him about accounting, and Michael Scott says to him, “Pretend like I’m five.” And so that’s sort of where we go. We go, not pretend like I’m five, but really understand that people’s literacy has sort of dropped as you’re talking to them.

And then there are all sorts of tricks for turning language into more simple terms. One of the things we talk about in healthcare is that you have to name what the condition is, because very often people are searching for it. But after that, you don’t need to keep using the words to scare people, you can sort of talk about it more simply.

For example, “supraventricular tachycardia,” you can just refer to as an arrhythmia in the rest of the copy. So, we’re really trying to think about how to make things more simple. So to me, plain language isn’t just about the words that you’re using, it’s also about the structure and length of the sentences. It’s a little shameless plug, I’m on the board for The Center of Plain Language, and there’s a lot of resources—

Kristina: Oh, now that I did not know.

Ahava: ... Oh yeah, so there’s a lot of really great resources there as well, and HHS actually, the government, has some really great stuff on plain language as well for healthcare writers. So, there’s always great resources out there to learn how to get better at that kind of language shaping.

Kristina: So, one of the questions that I get asked often when I’m sort of touting the power of plain language, especially online, is well what do I do with all of the highfalutin academics or doctors and surgeons who really feel like, well in order to maintain my reputation and to be taken seriously by my peers, I need to use a certain level of language that’s sort of more academic or more scientific, and I don’t want to dumb it down. How do you respond to that?

Ahava: Yeah, so I actually once had a really great conversation with a doctor that I think shows a good way to go about this. She was giving me the exact ... she’s a pediatrician, and an academic pediatrician at that, and she was giving me sort of that exact argument. “Well, if people read this, it’s my reputation on the line.”

So I said to her, “What happens when you have a patient that you’re treating, and that patient moves out of your metropolitan area? Where do you send them?” So she said, “Well, we know each other, we’re all part of the same field.” I said, “But let’s say you don’t know somebody in that area, what do you do?” So she said, “Well, I ask a friend or I do some research.” I said, “And do you go to the patient pages on the website to understand better about what the doctor does?” And she was quiet. And she goes, “Okay, point well taken.”

So, we really try to focus on the audience for the doctors. We say to them, “When you pick up the New England Journal of Medicine, you’re expecting a certain kind of language. But when your patients are coming to a website to find out if you’re the right doctor for them, would you speak to a patient in your office the way you would write for the New England Journal of Medicine? Or would you speak to them as a person sitting across from you, having to deliver difficult news?”

And so that automatically brings them into the understanding that this content is not for their colleagues, it’s for their patients. And their colleagues rarely look at this content, and even if they do, they understand that this content is not written by a doctor for other doctors, it’s written for patients. And I think that that’s where we have had the most effect when we’re talking to doctors about quote unquote, “Dumbing things down.”

Kristina: Are there any tools online that you use or that you can point people to in terms of like being able to measure grade level or readability?

Ahava: So, I don’t believe in readability and grade level, and this comes from Ginny Redish, because Ginny is very against that, and she walked me through all the research. The research is old and it’s faulty, and a lot of it is based on reading levels from the 1950s, which unfortunately I don’t think that we have the same reading levels now.

So, there are different things that people use, tools, Flesch-Kincaid is inside of Word. I know that there’s another tool, though the word escapes me now, something about Shakespeare or Hemingway. I think it’s Hemingway. But what I always say to people is if you want to see if your content is readable, read it out loud. You will see automatically if it’s understandable, ‘cause just to your own brain, remember visually and from an auditory perspective, we sense things very differently. And so when you listen to yourself read your content, you’ll automatically see where you’re complicating things.

Kristina: I give that advice all the time, and when I used to teach writing for the web courses, that was one of my top tips, so I think it’s really well taken, and I think that encouraging people to do it regularly too, because people feel stupid sitting at their desk and being like ... kind of muttering to themselves, but I think it’s one of the most powerful tools that you can provide to any writer.

Ahava: Absolutely.

Kristina: Say, something that you mentioned that I want to get back to was offering people answers in the context of their questions. You had a little bit of a heated exchange, which only in the content strategy will we have heated exchanges about frequently asked questions, but you had one on Twitter last week. Can you tell me a little bit about what that was and where it came from and kind of where it landed?

Ahava: Another content strategist wrote an article about how you should never use FAQs, and I don’t believe in the words “never” or “always,” particularly in marriage, and also in the context of what it is that we do, because what we do is changing so quickly and it’s so nimble, and it really requires us to be able to pivot quickly, like Ross on Friends.

So, I wrote back and I said, “I don’t really think that that’s a great way to think about it because of questions and answers and the way that search is moving,” and I don’t know, I opened up the gates of hell somehow. I wish I could figure out how to open up the gates of heaven in the same way. What became clear to me, which is arguable, but I think I’m onto something here, is that there seems to be this attitude within people who think of themselves as rigorous content strategists, that they don’t need to think about search unless it’s about structured content. They’re not, I don’t think, so focused on all the changes that are being made in search the way that they probably should be.

Now, one woman did post a Yoast article, which was helpful, and I think the crux of the debate to me was, to me it was FAQs can be useful, and so we shouldn’t not never use them, which everybody on the argument seemed to think that that wasn’t true, that good structured content eliminated the need for FAQs, which I think is ridiculous, because audiences sometimes need one place to find their questions answered, or it’s a good way for them to dip their toe into a subject.

And then the other part that I was saying, which was really disagreed with, was that you should write your pages with questions and answers. And that really comes from looking at natural language processing. I mean, I found an article from Google itself who says that according to Gartner Research, by 2018, 30% or more of enterprise search queries will start with a “what,” “who,” “how,” or “when.” And if that’s in the enterprise search queries, imagine what that’s looking like outside of enterprise search, meaning Google itself, and not Google specifically for a particular company. And if you look at what Google’s doing, when you ask a search term, it will say to you, “These are other things that people ask.” And they’re in the form of questions.

So, Gerry McGovern sort of came back and said, “Well I’ve watched people struggle on usability tests, reading questions ... it creates—” you know, he didn’t say this, but my understanding of it is that it creates eye drag. But I think that what we know is that when people have a question in their head and they go to a page that has the question there in the heading, I think the match in their head works better. And so we’ve written thousands of webpages, we’ve had some of our webpages inside of featured snippets, which we know is where Google is pulling voice answers from, and I think with the way that voice is moving, we really need to think about creating our content like that.

And so there’s room for argument, but what bothered ... you know, I’m perfectly willing to say I’m wrong about it if somebody can prove to me that I’m wrong. But what bothered me about it was that there seemed to be this feeling that there’s only one way to do this, and it’s sort of a monolithic approach, and I think that’s dangerous inside of content strategy.

Kristina: You know, I would agree, and I think that where this comes from and what I used to say over and over is that, “Look, if your content throughout the website experience is not answering questions to the point that you’ve got to lean on a frequently asked questions page, then you’re doing it wrong.” But I think especially what you said about dipping your toe in the water of a certain subject or of a certain product or doing business with a certain company, that there can be a place for that.

I think that there are also potentially industries where frequently asked questions are bogus. I mean, I think that one of the people who really speaks out passionately against FAQs is Sarah Richards, and the work that they did on GOV.UK, which was revolutionary in the content strategy community in that it stripped away everything except for core user needs and being able to address those in plain language.

But I have a question though. When you say that Google is leaning towards kind of the questions, you know, answering people’s questions versus sort of directing them at the topic level, can you explain to me a little bit, when you talk about writing to the question, are you talking specifically about grouping them on things like frequently asked questions, or are you talking about structuring pages around questions? Are you talking about including questions in the navigation nomenclature? Tell me a little bit more about what that means.

Ahava: Yeah, no, to me it’s strictly related to the page itself. So, on the page itself, it might say something like, “How do I open a checking account?” Or, “How do I pay my bill at a hospital?” I’m not talking about navigation nomenclature at all, and I’m not talking about ... what was the first thing you said?

Kristina: Directing people to frequently asked questions pages.

Ahava: No, no. So here’s what I want to say about frequently asked question pages and Sarah Richards. I think she’s 100% right, but she had control over that site. What I’m talking about is the reality of what most web managers are dealing with, which is thousands of uncontrolled pages that somehow new ones spring up at night in the CMS, because somebody had access to creating a new one, where you have distributed work forces writing content, and you don’t have the ability to sort of strip away and really create great content all the time.

So, I think sometimes an FAQ page is a bandaid page, and that’s not great. I’m not saying that’s that should be where we start, but I’m saying that they are a tool in our toolbox that we sometimes can and should use.

Kristina: You’re a brave lady.

Ahava: I know. I know I am. But it’s kind of sad to me that I’m brave about FAQ pages.

Kristina: Yeah, exactly. That’s your call to action is go out on the battlefield for FAQ pages, ‘cause there’s nothing else going on in the world that we need to be worrying about. Jeez.

Say, I want to pivot a little bit, and kind of dig into something that you sort of said in passing that I think you’ve got a lot of experience kind of witnessing and assisting with, which is this idea of these mammoth websites that are sort of a slave to distributed publishing.

I know that you’ve talked about governance, you teach a stellar governance workshop, can you tell me a little bit about with these large websites, what kind of editorial or staffing structure are you seeing within enterprises that really ... or within any size organization really … that really works to kind of help maintain content integrity over time?

Ahava: Is it really bad to say I haven’t?

Kristina: Nope, ‘cause that’s what I always have to say. I’m like, “But let us help you try to get there.”

Ahava: I think there’s a couple of different issues going on here. So, if you look at the companies that are really successful today, a lot of them started when this technology was already emerging or they were part of shaping that technology. And so they didn’t set up their companies to be so siloed. There was a more holistic approach, and there was sort of a bleeding of roles and responsibilities.

I think in these larger old fashioned companies, you sort of see them really struggling with this because there’s a lot of turf wars. I’ll give you an example of some place that’s doing a really good job with content, and that’s the Cleveland Clinic. And Amanda Todorovich who leads their content, she said to me once a long time ago, “We’re the clinic, so we don’t have departments. Everybody’s together, and the financial reporting structure all goes to the top.”

And I think that when you see a lot of issues around content governance, you’re really looking at financial reporting issues, because people are fighting to market on their webpages the way that they think is right for them, or they’re trying to get their content out there to prove whatever it is that they need to prove from an earning potential, and I think that that’s where you see a lot of the reason why we have the governance issues that we have.

So, you’ll very often see this between sales and marketing teams. Marketing teams are like, “Well, the content needs to be like this.” And the sales people are like, “Hey, I’m on the front line, people. I know the content needs to be like this.” And so you end up writing these duplicate pages, not perfectly duplicate, but you know, really sort of regurgitating the same material, and I think it creates dissonance for the people who are reading them, the potential customers.

Another thing that we see in healthcare is that schools of medicine will write patient-focused content, but it’s written in that high academic level, and the hospitals who are responsible for bringing patients through the door are writing patient-specific content because they know that that works, and then they’re having these SEO problems because the school of medicine pages are older and therefore have more SEO traction. So, it’s a big old mess, and I think governance is more around politics than it is around anything else.

Kristina: Yeah, I fully agree, and that’s really painful to kind of have to introduce to organizations as a reality when they’re saying, “We need to get our content under control, and this buzzword governance is gonna fix that.” And what I try to tell them is that look, governance is really a set of policies and standards that can act as a foundation for people to build upon, but it’s not about wrangling all content so that it is perfect once you’ve got governance implemented.

Ahava: Right, and you know, Meghan Casey also once, I was once interviewing her for a blog post, and she said this to me and I thought it was so true, she said, “At Brain Traffic, we’ve never seen it work unless there’s an executive sponsor who makes it part of peoples’ review process.”

Kristina: Yeah, that’s exactly right, and that is something that we counsel all the time. And it can be very difficult because to your point, executive sponsors can exist across a wide variety of functions, and they’re all reporting up with different measures of success.

Ahava: Right. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where the executive person will say, “This is the way it’s gonna be, and I’m saying it.” And then like two months later, they’re like, “Well, I couldn’t push it through.” You know?

Kristina: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Well, another thing that I often come back to is Rahel Bailie’s Content Strategy Maturity model. I use that all the time in workshops that I do with clients, where it goes from rudimentary content practices to mature content practices, and there’s like five stages in between. I always tell people, “Look, it’s rudimentary, tactical, and so on, and most organizations that I see are at the tactical level. And I can’t take you from tactical to mature with one governance project. You have to kind of mature through the stages, just like anywhere else within your organization.”

So, I find that that’s …

Ahava: I totally agree.

Kristina: ... I find that that’s really helpful just in terms of setting expectations.

Ahava: How to eat an elephant.

Kristina: Yeah, exactly. Especially when everybody around it is blind and nobody can tell what it is. Oh, the elephant metaphor …

Ahava: It’s a good one.

Kristina: ... it’s the gift that keeps on giving, my friend.

So, tell me some ... you mentioned that Cleveland Clinic does a great job with their content. Tell me some other organizations, and it can be healthcare, financial services, or elsewhere that you think are doing a really great job in terms of delivering kind of that useful and usable content across the site experience.

Ahava: So, these are my clients and so therefore I know them pretty well, but I do think ... I think Mayo actually came out really far ahead in the pack, and I don’t know that ... I think that they have the search equity, but I don’t know what they’re continuing to do to drive their content to be really interesting. I do think that they’re working on some voice apps that I think are really interesting.

Hopkins has made a huge ... Johns Hopkins in Baltimore has made a huge push on their website. I worked on their content strategy. It’s unbelievable to see what they’ve done in the last five years. They’re really thinking I think very innovatively. Stanford Healthcare has done something really interesting in terms of combining their patient education content with their marketing content, and they’ve really plotted a very sophisticated user journey. So that’s exciting to see.

I think for me, looking at the healthcare space, it’s sort of easier for me to talk about. Looking at the financial services space, we tend to do projects that are more internally focused or that are blogging types of projects, social media types of projects. And I think it’s hard to really see innovation there. Sometimes what I see happening is that people are following, I think, old school practices of sort of keyword grabs, or they’re looking to blog about topics that don’t necessarily relate right back to the customer experience, because they want to sort of develop what they think is an important financial relationship with people, and I’m not always so sure that that’s the way to go.

My feeling is, it’s the way that I felt when I read your book, you know, it’s very simple. It has to serve business objectives—content—and it has to help users accomplish tasks. And if it doesn’t fall into those two buckets, I’m not really sure why companies are doing it. And so I sometimes get into these weird sort of arguments with my clients ... or not arguments, but I’m sort of like, well how are you gonna push the needle on this stuff? And they’re like, “Well, that’s not what we’re focused on right now. We’re just focused on getting content up and proving to our executives that it’s a worthwhile program.”

And I just, you know, jaw hits the floor, because why are you wasting your time trying to convince them that a faulty product is going to work? So, you know, I just think that ... I don’t necessarily see so much innovation going on everywhere, but with the clients that I’m deeply embedded with, I do. And I’m sure there are other people doing great stuff too, I just don’t necessarily know about it from the same perspective.

Kristina: So, I’m really interested in something you just said with your financial services clients, which is that they want to get content up so that they can demonstrate results to executive sponsors to show that it’s working. And I would point the finger directly at the content marketing industry for encouraging people to kind of take that route and to sort of say, “Content, it’s the way forward, and here’s how you demonstrate ROI, and here’s how you win the business case,” without really thinking about what is this content actually going to help people do that is tied directly to your business goals.

Tell me what you think about the state of the content marketing industry, and if that sounds like a loaded question, it is.

Ahava: I was about to say, now you’re the one being brave.

Kristina: Oh, as though I haven’t said anything about content marketing for the last 10 years.

Ahava: Oh, so what do I think of the state of the industry? I think that there are a lot of people trying to do good work, and I think that part of why it’s hard to do good work is because it’s very hard to sustain something like that over a long period of time, and that’s really the goal.

The goal is to create a relationship with your customers, and I think that ... Guys like Marcus Sheridan, who built a pool business doing that, you know, that’s a really great example of content marketing, but that’s a very small, contained universe. You walk into a big Fortune 500 company with so many differing sorts of professionals and so many different points of view about how to get the business where it needs to go. It’s very, very challenging. And so I think that you see some really great examples, I think you also see exactly what you just said, which is sort of these grabs to throw things up on the wall and make decisions.

I’ve talked about this before. You know, middle managers want to prove their value, and so they need to have things that they’re working on that they think can move the needle. And I think in a lot of cases, people are doing some really excellent work that does move the needle for them. Then the question is how do they measure that and so on. But I think the state of the industry is like every other industry. There’s some really good people doing some good work, and then I think a lot of it is just trying to keep the hamster wheel moving forward.

Kristina: So, you mentioned that ... you talked about content marketing building a relationship with your customers, and every time I hear those words, you know, like building trust, building a relationship, building loyalty, I sit back and I think about with all of the products that I come into contact with every single day, with all of the services that I depend on, you know, for living, if I had to name organizations with whom I feel I have a relationship of some kind, like maybe I could come up with four or five.

And so, how realistic is it when we’re telling people, “Form a relationship with your customers, and drive that loyalty, and make them depend on you, and make content that is—” Oh, what did David Beebe from Marriott say? “People are craving our content, they’re hungry for it.” Like, how realistic is that?

Ahava: I don’t know the guy, but that’s crazy.

Kristina: Yeah. I know. “People are sitting around waiting for our content.” Really?

Ahava: So, I think that the way that I see content is sort of the front door to the relationship, and sometimes the back door too. So, if you’re trying to create a relationship with a customer, and the first thing that they encounter about you is your website or your content, or they encounter your service or your product and then they go to your website to learn more about it or to get a question answered, I think that’s where you start to build trust. If you can answer their questions, and you can answer them in a way that makes them feel like it was a worthwhile investment on their part, either their time or their money.

So, I don’t think content is the end all and be all, I think it’s a part of the relationship. You know, when you think about building a relationship with a friend, do they text you every once in a while to see how you’re doing? Do they send you emails? Do they share information with you that they think is valuable for you to know? Do they get together with you? Do they seek out your company? I think that’s sort of a really good metaphor for what it’s about. And I don’t necessarily think it’s always about giving people information and answers to their questions. It could also be about entertaining people or providing an extra value add.

So, I agree with you that content isn’t the only way to create trust with people, but I think it’s a good way to start. I think it’s also a good way to nurture a relationship with people, and it’s also a really good way to seal the deal. I guess I shouldn’t call it the back door, but sort of the sealing the deal.

So I don’t know. I hear where you’re coming from, but I also think that it can be a very valuable part of not necessarily building a lifelong relationship with people, but building a relationship with them around bad interaction.

Kristina: Yeah, and I would agree. When I step back and think about the companies I feel like I have a relationship with, it is really like they’re there when I need them, I can go to them for help, I get the help I need, I get out. And so it comes all the way back around to what we were talking about at the beginning, which is making sure that the language that I’m encountering on the website is useful and usable, and that it is focused on my core tasks, and that it supports me in doing what I need to get done, and that it doesn’t get in my way. And that if it makes me smile along the way, that’s fine, in certain situations …

Ahava: Yeah, no, exactly. Exactly.

Kristina: But that is I think when I think about forming a relationship with a customer, I’m not thinking about getting their attention and getting them to return to your blog every week or day or whatever, because how many sites do any of us go to every single day besides like Facebook or Twitter or CNN or whatever?

Ahava: Right. Yeah, no, I agree with you, but I do think that there are ... for example, in hospitals, so there are certain blogs, like for example, Seattle’s Mama’s Doc blog ... so that’s written by a doctor, Wendy Sue Swanson, and I do think people go to that resource because I do think that they come to see her as a trusted resource.

I think the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub, well they don’t call it that anymore, but their blog is a thing that I think people do look at. So one of the things that we’ve leaned on is social media to distribute things to people that they’re looking for, and we lean on search for them to find it. And I think if people find articles that make them feel better or make them feel like they know what to do next, I do think that that gives them that warm fuzzy feeling for whoever delivered that information to them.

Kristina: Yeah, I would definitely agree with you. I think that where I get all riled up is when people are competing for those eyeballs or just cranking out crap day after day, hoping that one article will maybe catch someone’s eye so that they have a click that they can add to their success metrics. That’s what makes me crazy.

Ahava: Oh, totally. Totally. Well, the vanity metrics is a huge problem, but I think we’re gonna try to solve that in the next few years by getting better CRMs in place. And the technology has to catch up to what the marketers want to do. So I think that that’s a huge part of it also.

And not just the marketers, but anybody who’s dealing with content, product content, all that kind of stuff. I mean, if you don’t have a way to measure what’s really happening when people consume your stuff, then you’re sort of out there blind when you’re doing your planning.

Kristina: Right. Okay, I want to end on another question that you may want to …

Ahava: Hide under my desk?

Kristina: ... punch your monitor when I ask you ... but you just said, “When people consume your stuff.” I got called to the carpet in an article recently for not being too invested in the word “content,” or not being ... I think they called me strangely incurious about the word because I was jut like, look it’s what we have, it’s what we have to work with. You can argue information, you can argue stories, you can argue whatever, but content is what we have and content is what we’re working with.

Wait, do you run into people who are like, “Eh, the word content, I hate that word,” and what do you say to them?

Ahava: Yes, I do run into those people. And I run right into them. No … with a battering ram! [laughs] I say, “How do you define it?” It’s a tactic that you use with your children, right? They ask you questions and you’re like, “Well, what do you think?”

Kristina: Yeah, exactly.

Ahava: So, I think it’s anything that communicates information about the identity of the brand or a piece of information that people are coming to find. I think that’s the best way to define it.

Kristina: Do you hate the word?

Ahava: No. Not at all. I’ve built an entire career on that word. I mean, I don’t …

Kristina: Yeah!

Ahava: ... I don’t hate it at all. I mean, no. I think people who try to get so stuck in the nomenclature, I’m not really sure what the goal of that is. I think that there’s value in defining things so that everybody in the room agrees on what we’re talking about, but I also think ... you and I have talked about this a lot. Content strategy isn’t really a great way to say what it is that we do, and content marketing isn’t really either. There’s a lot of ... this whole new move towards like, “I’m a product developer,” or, “I’m a content strategy micro-interaction writer.” It’s like, come on, people, you know? Just say what you are. Talk about plain language.

And so, I think that getting so stuck in defining something to that granular of a level isn’t really that helpful. Let’s be honest, content is like pornography, you know it when you see it. [laughs]

Kristina: Amen, sister. All right, I’m so glad that you took the time to speak with me today. Thank you so much. Lots of really great stuff to think about, and hopefully we can have you on again sometime in the future.

Ahava: I would love that. Thank you for your time as well, and a shout out to your audience, because we’re all in the trenches together, so let’s make ‘em happy trenches.

Kristina: Yeah, no matter what we call it, it’s the trenches.

Ahava: Exactly.

Kristina: All right, thanks a lot.

Ahava: Thank you.


Kristina: You’ve been listening to The Content Strategy Podcast. I’m your host, Kristina Halvorson. This podcast is brought to you by ContentStrategy.com, and Brain Traffic, a content strategy consultancy. Find out more about Brain Traffic at, of course, BrainTraffic.com. Thanks, and we’ll see you next time.

About the podcast

The Content Strategy Podcast is a show for people who care about content. Join host Kristina Halvorson and guests for a show dedicated to the practice (and occasional art form) of content strategy. Listen in as they discuss hot topics in digital content and share their expert insight on making content work. Brought to you by Brain Traffic, the world’s leading content strategy agency.

Follow @BrainTraffic and @halvorson on Twitter for new episode releases.