Sure, you need content people. But can you assess them?

Sure, you need content people. But can you assess them?

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Australia’s digital content skills shortage has resulted in a university offering a content marketing major. But how important is a formal qualification if, as an employer, you don’t have the ability to properly assess it?

University of Canberra offers content marketing major

In mid-​September 2015, Australia’s most significant media commentator, Mumbrella, published the news that the University of Canberra is adding a content marketing major as part of a journalism degree.

Content marketing has been a buzz-​phrase for a few years. Those of us in the content space have seen it emerge and grow into the beast that it is today. Like content strategy, those driving that emergence come from a range of fields: Journalism, professional writing, social media, online publishing, SEO, and probably also curatorship.

Tertiary training in content marketing says, ‘this is valid work now’.

The main reason why the news piqued our interest is because of what a formal degree does for a discipline’s public validation.

There is no formal training in ‘content strategy’ for example, because the field is so young. And even if it did exist, the debates about what constitutes content strategy would be enough to make a generic learning framework extremely difficult to develop. And, like content marketing, our professionals come from a range of fields: Museum and art curatorship, editing, software and systems.

When a tertiary institution embeds a field of study into its framework, it says to the world that this is now a valid thing to be doing. Even if people don’t truly understand it, it automatically has kudos when you can study it as part of your degree.

Will universities be able to adapt fast enough?

Traditionally, universities have been slow to change, slow to adapt. In an area like digital content, where trends come and go with the regularity of seasons, and where the very nature of promotion changes and falls, will they be able to keep up? More importantly, will the major give its graduates the ability to learn independently, to spot and predict trends, to adapt?

The other interesting question is where a university embeds a field like content marketing. In the University of Canberra’s case, it’s within journalism. But you could just as easily place it among public relations, or marketing, or advertising (each of which would also be perfectly valid), or even philanthropy. Each context would give it a different flavour, a different approach, a different style, and a slightly different skill-​set. Content marketing is not the writing of content after all, but the marketing of content that is already written.

Employers need training in content skills too

In April this year, a study was published that proclaimed Australia’s shortage of digital content professionals. Content marketing — like content strategy — has emerged in spite of a lack of formal qualifications.

And while digital skills shortages are a real thing, there is a significant risk that if you don’t know how to assess experience (or don’t know what to look for), you will rely on qualifications instead.

If you were asked to assess the skills of a content professional, could you do it?

Would you understand the complexity of the work and be able to apply it to your specific environment? Would you understand enough about what your business does to make a strategic decision about what type of content professionals you need?

In many cases, small to medium sized companies aren’t able to make informed decisions about who to employ for what, and why. Many people, for example, put Brutal Pixie in a content marketing bucket, when in fact we are not marketers. Having the ability to differentiate between digital content skills is just as important. And yet this type of training is something that few business owners are lucky enough to get their hands on.

Find out how this kind of training can help you. Contact us today for a conversation about what that might look like »

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Leticia Mooney

The Brutal Pixie is Leticia Mooney. Race: Eladrin, Class: Publisher. --- Leticia is Australia's foremost authority on publishing in a business context. She ghostwrites for, and advises, entrepreneurial individuals in the professional services.

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