When Content Wars Commence, Be A Targaryen

You need a thick skin to battle content subject matter experts

It’s an odd thing to work in a highly-dysfunctional work environment. It’s stressful, draining, and ultimately too toxic to withstand. But there are unintended positive side effects, like developing a thick skin–practically dragon hide–when it comes to content wars.

I work in higher education, which has the strange distinction of being a kind of bifurcated organizations. There’s administration and faculty, as the two typically warring factions. But then toss in a bevvy of support services, student life, and the more process-based areas like financial aid, business/tuition office, registration, AND THEN the purely service-based like Marketing and IT, and it’s easy to see how things which are shared become contentious.

The website is ground zero for contentious things. It makes any redesign/restructuring tricky. Particularly when the existing governance and workflow don’t work well (assuming that those things even exist. And then implementing either one is fodder for an entirely different post).

Content is King Queen

I don’t need to trumpet the


message at this point, but it’s so fascinating to me that this is by far the topic that tends to get the most scrutiny and most attacks from the widest variety of people. But, when it comes to updating, editing and crafting *good* content, all those people disappear / become too busy / just don’t do it.

Earning That Targaryen Armor

In my first web strategy role, I took this personally. Like, very personally. If someone disparaged something I had worked on, if they didn’t respond to my requests for information, if they threw me under the bus and claimed untrue things, I defaulted into silence. It took a while (and a really good boss, and some new coworkers) to bring me back up again, and learn how to stand my ground. In essence, that baptism by fire taught me how to discern usable criticism from the babbling insecurities of others (because usually people disparage to deflect from their own perceived inadequacies).

Bringing this background to environments that are much more functional has a few unintended consequences: I think I bring a different focus and drive than others who haven’t had to prove themselves and hold their own publicly, and I also don’t dwell on the slights of others. Don’t let negative Nellies drag you down; take what you can from the experience and leave the rest. Eventually, you’ll weather enough to withstand the fire.

(stray observation: this turned out to be much less ASOIAF-themed than intended)


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