Last week, we had the first Structured Content Strategy meeting in Spain (to our knowledge) organized by Urbina Consulting and Blue Stream Software in Valencia. The turnout, as expected, was small. OK – it was WAY smaller than expected. Still, it was the occasion for a few practitioners to start to make some headway towards creating a community in this country where “content” as a business asset is still unknown or misunderstood, and many content professions don’t even exist in the official repertory of professions.
We had people from Valencia, Barcelona, and Bilbao, who work with software, machine industries, tools, etc. Spaniards were in the minority. Canadians were in the majority. This is also indicative of the state of content strategy activities in Spain – though in Barcelona, we do have a lively, active Meetup group which is mostly composed of Catalan and Spanish practitioners.
The economic crisis in Spain is such that many from the Barcelona group who wished to attend were not able to make the 3-hour train trip to Valencia – and that, also, indicates something.
What is remarkable is that despite these conditions, against all odds, the meeting took place. One of the very intense topics of discussion was just how much the local culture in Spain influenced the way that we have to present, sell, and execute content strategy. This highlights a very important aspect of our work that we sometimes forget: content is profoundly cultural. When we create web sites, almost automatically, we do it with our own cultural viewpoints, we read signs and symbols as we would in our home cultures. Even those of us who live and work outside our native countries, or have done so in many different situations, are subject to this habit. It requires an effort, a real bit of work, to get outside our cultural blinders.
Another important theme that came up, was how often we get called for a specific, fairly delimited service, only to find out that what the customer really needs is, in fact, content strategy. This doesn’t mean, however, that you get to call it that. My own contribution to this was an exposition of how I got called to do “documentation” and ended up providing a host of services. The client, even though they know and acknowledge this, still thinks of me as “the doc guy.” I called it “stealth content strategy.”
In addition to my presentation, there was one by Fabrizio Ferri-Benedetti on selling content strategy in Spain, and Pablo Eguileor presented the work his team has done in applying content strategy in a technical communications context.
All these presentations will be made available on line soon.
The result of this meeting was to strengthen our determination to beat the drum for structure and strategy, and to continue to work collaboratively to establish the discipline here in Spain.
It’s a good moment to be initiating this activity, especially with Confab Europe coming to Barcelona this autumn.
If you’re a content strategist in Spain, let us know – leave a comment here and join us!