AI Use: Your Thoughts & Feelings

Polling all colleagues and friends! Calling you here to serve up the results of the questionnaire you so kindly responded to about the one, nay—the many, data-slayer: artificial intelligence (AI). (And even more specifically generative AI.)


The original impetus for this poll was a panel that I participated in at the Healthcare Internet Conference, first week of November. I knew that I was not particularly enamored of current generative AI tools, so I sought input from the many, whose opinions are often a better representation of the public-at-large rather than my own editor-at-medium professions (as in -sions that were professed).*

I also needed input as most of my own job functions are not those that AI comes in particular use for, but more about that later. Let’s break down the deets.

NOTE: Unless stated otherwise, this blog was written purely by—me—Jennifer Brass Jenkins, and is owned by—me—Jennifer Brass Jenkins. Be assured, however, that no AI was harmed in the making of it.

Questions, Answers, Predictions, & Hypotheses

The poll consisted of 10 questions (I didn’t realize how nicely that number came out). Some Qs asked for more clarity, some asked for demographic information, and most asked for open-ended answers, in order to tap y’all’s hidden genius.

Out of about 80 recipients, I received 39 responses. (YAASSS–WAY TO SHOW UP FOR THE TEAM Y’ALL!!) Though not all answers were required and thus answered by all respondents, all questions had at least 30 respondents.

The first questions were basic:

  1. Do you use AI in your work?
  2. If so, how often?

Fig 1: Pie chart showing the percentage of users who use AI tools in their current work (71.8%) vs. those who do not (28.2%).

Fig 2: Pie chart showing how often those who use generative AI apply it with answer choices of daily, weekly, monthly, as needed, and a must-I option. (Note that two people chose “Do I really have to?”, which was one of my favorite answers.)

Out of the 39, 72% said they use generative AI in their current work. Of those, 18.8% said they use it daily. I’mma’ go out on a limb here and say that I think our web developers probably use it the most, aka daily.

Read this pithy commentary by our lead developer on how he uses and values AI. (TL;DR: He loves it and uses it for troubleshooting and ideation at work and home.)

Image 1: Chat screen with lead developer Mark Thomas (at U of U Health) about his experience with new generative AI tools.

For those who have used it, but perhaps have not incorporated it into their own processes more regularly, I added the answer “as needed”. (It’s hard to work something into your workflow that you don’t regularly need :D.)

Prediction: I believe that a year from now, our answers to this poll will not be significantly different. I do think, however, that we will have better incorporated gen AI into our processes.

AI Use at U of U Health

The next question focused on AI at our institution. The question about where AI is being used allowed users to add any reply. There were three main categories into which the answers could be classed:

  1. Generative AI tool use specifically
  2. Institution services/department references (some more specific than others)
  3. I dunno’ responses

With 34 responses, here are the cited uses of AI that our respondents are aware of at U of U Health:

Generative AI

  • Photoshop (for use in image editing)
  • Utah Magazine (not sure how but with development–I think giving/donor development)
  • Video editing and advertising
  • Idea generation
  • Epic (the electronic medical record system used by the institution)
  • Writing/rewriting/refining
    • Emails
    • Interview outlines (rough drafts)
    • Podcast descriptions (rough drafts)
    • Meeting notes
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Social media posts
  • Article or book summarization for learning purposes
  • Stock image/illustration search
  • Troubleshooting (I assume in context of web development)

Institution Services/Departments

  • Radiology services/department image reading
  • Biomedical Informatics department
  • Identifying “critically ill newborns who are best candidates for rapid whole genome sequencing and using that to guide care for these newborns. We are doing this work in collaboration with Rady Children’s (”
  • Lung cancer predictive screening: “We have used predictive models on lung cancer risk to help improve screening for lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths. We have increased the odds of screening for lung cancer at U of U Health by 5-fold (”

Obviously, if a respondent worked with a specific program/department/study using an AI tool, they were able to identify more specific use cases. 

Hypothesis: Many entities/programs are experimenting with the use of AI at U of U Health and this will continue for the next several years.

Time/Money Savings

The next question focused on savings in time and money. I did not structure the question here so that a respondent could choose multiple answers. Fortunately, I did add an “other” option, in which the respondents let me know of this misstep. 

Due to that, I have restructured the original data-generated poll graph to better categorize all answers:

Fig 3: Answer categories (and number of answers) of potential time or money saving uses.

Please note that the answer “Other” consists of the following:


  • Information Consolidation
  • Research
  • Brainstorming
  • Email Responses
  • Social Promotion
  • Longer Term Use
  • Audio

Greatest Potential Misuses

Question 5 asked users to choose (multiple choice) what they thought the greatest potential misuse of AI could be.

Fig 4: Line chart showing most selected answers regarding the greatest potential misuses or negative effects of AI.

Tied as the most selected were these two answers:

  1. Spreading misinformation
  2. Confusing intellectual copyright

Data collection and privacy ranked as the third potential highest area of misuse.

I also inserted a more qualitative, open-answer question asking users how they felt about AI and the future of work. Many thought it was great but has unachieved potential. Some worried about keeping up with changes in AI tools and applying them to their works.

Summary: Most respondents worried less, however, about whether we should be using these tools and more about regulation, quality of work produced, and costs.

Identifying AI Use Elsewhere

For Question 7, I wanted to see if respondents could or had identified the use of AI by other entities. Out of the 30 respondents to this question, some answers were pretty generic or just no/don’t know. 

Here are some of the more in-depth answers (categorized for easier analysis).

Obvious AI Use

(How can we joint this group?)

Less Obvious & Generalized AI Use/Hearsay

Summary: These answers confirmed what we all see, or don’t see: Everyone is trying out the tool or has been using it and we may or may not be able to guess. (Unless you are as good as the person who noticed that some newsletters have no soul…I feel you.)

Best Uses for AI

Next question: What are the best uses for AI? I’ve put these answers in a graph by categorization (by use case–and note that some respondent answers identified multiple uses).

Fig 5: Answer categories (and number of answers) around best uses of AI.

Here is the full list of responses (summarized):


  • Research (including time saving)
    • Social media influencer/hashtag research
  • Topic exploration


  • Brainstorming
  • Teacher/Intern/Sounding board
  • Higher-level thinking (INTRIGUING)
  • Design

Content Creation

  • Outlines
  • Thesaurus
  • Repurposing
  • Headlines
  • Captioning
  • Persona/brand extension (specific example: deceased artist covers–INTRIGUING OR DISTURBING?)
  • Photos
  • Illustrations

Analysis: Data & Other

  • Analysis
    • User sentiment
    • Arguments/presentations
  • Error reductions in the analysis of large datasets
  • Large text set analysis
  • QA (quality assessment)
  • Summarization
  • Information display


  • Conduct repetitive tasks
  • Enhanced tools
  • Chatbots
  • Enhance/complete
  • Speed up tasks
  • Note-taking
  • Copyediting
  • Productivity

Summary: These responses, I believe, confirm our own experiences. (Since we all could potentially be “experts” in AI use.)

Worst Uses for AI

For this question we had 34 respondents. Again note that some respondent answers identified multiple uses. See the answers, again categorized and then the full list:

Fig 6: Answer categories (and number of answers) around worst uses of AI.

Fact-Checking, Truth, and Editing

  • Use of AI as the final source of truth
  • Data verification/fact checking
  • Final drafts
  • Fake references

Classroom Work/Learning

  • Student use for classroom work
  • Inhibits creativity or skills

Process Impedimentation

  • Continual rewrites when you aren’t getting the rewrites you want from prompts
  • As the only tool


  • Misleading content
  • Use on news and government platforms
  • Intentional misinformation
  • Provider notes

Replacing the Hooomans

  • Replacing human thoughts and ideas
  • Replacing human-created work with lower quality work
  • Making bread–my favorite answer! And companies in San Francisco at least are experimenting with replacing humans in food service.
  • Replacing jobs
  • Takeover of content production

Copyright Infringement

  • Generating content without thought for copyright


The final question, again not required, asked for the main identity of each respondent primarily so we could see what disciplines were represented in our survey.

Fig 7: Respondents classified by department, program, or entity.

Note that Departments/Programs include the following:

  • OPMO: Project Management Office
  • Service Line Director (Dermatology)
  • IT
  • UUMG: University of Utah Medical Group

Thank you to all those who participated. Your input was greatly appreciated!!

The Whole Enchilada

So, that’s quite a lot to digest. 

If I were to say one thing that you should remember, it would be this: be cautious about the tools you use and what data is going where.

Note that any information you enter that is proprietary for your work, such as meeting summaries or email rough drafts, is used by open AI (such as ChatGPT) to continue training model.^

If you opt for a paid subscription model (which we all will have to eventually) and want to create something proprietary, consider the work it will take to customize this and if you might potentially switch tools (time investment vs. time the tool saves/contributes value).

In the end, nothing has really changed. It still goes back to time, money, and effort and how to make the best of the tools we have at hand.

Originally published on Pulse, the U of U Health Intranet, Dec 14, 2023

*Editor-at-large is a publishing title used in print, now often digital, publications. It refers specifically to an editor who writes on no one specific topic of specialty, but reviews trends and industry shifts.

My favorite editor-at-large of all time was ALS or Andre Leon Talley for the uninitiated. Both his perspective, as a Black American in fashion, and his self-deprecating take on fashion were unique and fantabulous.

^Source: Weighing the Open-Source, Hybrid Option for Adopting Generative AI, Harvard Business Review

Autopsy of a Content Strategy

The Medical Content Examiner’s Report


Ladies, Gentlemen, Non-Binaries,

Perhaps a proper report shouldn’t start in epistolary format, but I feel that my presentation at the 2021 Healthcare Internet Conference was really a love letter to my work over the last couple years. Mind you that work is not over, but still it’s been and continues to be a labor of love.

So what better tribute than to present on all my favorite things? We did indeed, me and my audience, become medical content examiners, for an hour or so.

Please enjoy this summary of the highlights, and, as always,




The Body—of Content

Timeline: August 2021

Data collection period: FYs 20 & 21, Jul 2019–Jun 2021

When I started planning this presentation, it wasn’t so much from the perspective of a problem to be solved, as a case study of an experience from the bottom up. Nine+ years ago, when I started this job at University of Utah Health, I had no idea where it would take me. Right now, it’s into the realms of content strategy. 

Before presenting, I always present/workshop my ideas for an audience. I find I can get very stuck inside my own perspective, and the feedback I get from my own reviewers is invaluable. For this presentation the feedback was: What are you making an argument in favor for? What problem are you really trying to solve?

I was intent on talking about the problem that I did solve: How to find organization and meaning in the content I worked on and propel it forward. Feedback from the team identified for me the question and the problem that we did solve: Documentation in service of content strategy.^

I covered the three following learning objectives in my presentation.

1. Documentation in Content Strategy

There are many pros and cons for documentation. Agile project management processes were formed on the mass retirement of much of documentation, but I think most content strategists could find value in documenting their content strategy. 

In a poll I was able to conduct at HCIC21 (thanks to the conference’s use of the app Whova, which made the experience a pleasure), I found that 70% of my poll respondees did not have a documented content strategy.

Image 1: Poll results from question: Do You Have a Documented Content Strategy? Btws, a shout out to those who do have documented strategies. I should have asked you to self-identify so we could share techniques!

The Content Marketing Institute notes that compiling a documented content strategy makes you feel more successful because you more easily demonstrate your success and feel more effective.

Image 2: Screenshot from Content Marketing Institute’s research summary on the pros of documenting your content strategy.

Boy howdy do I feel that way! The efficacy and control I feel over our work—not to mention contribution—was and remains significantly heightened by our use of a documented content strategy.

2. The Bone Structure—Content Modeling

For some reason, content modeling always felt somewhat of an enigma to me. I think that the more you dive into your content—and in this case document it—the clearer it becomes. Now I need to figure out a better way to communicate that model as my current model is a wee bit involved.

Image 3: Content model mockup; color coding shows the different purposes of the content.

I also expanded this model out to our entire ecosystem. I plan on using this model to communicate the expanse of our content types and perhaps argue in favor of a more coordinated approach. There is no doubt that we collaborate, but I know we can do so better and more clearly in a way that impacts our users.

Figure 4: Content model including content by many other entities: public affairs, publishing, strategic, physician referral teams, and others. All content in yellow circle references the content managed by my team.

3. The Analysis—A Reporting Process

Analysis is ongoing, as we all know. Whether it’s in pdf, dashboard, or other interactive format, the visualization of a body of work is most gratifying. It also can lead to a supremely successful feedback loop with particular clients. Here’s one example for you, the one I referenced in my presentation but didn’t include in the slides.

Skull Base Surgery Program

Clients: Neurosurgery & Otolaryngology Services

First off, I have to applaud these services for their collaboration. Collaboration between services in a health system can sometimes be very challenging. (Does the financial reimbursement model have something to do with that?) Whatever the cause, it takes forward-thinking specialists who can give patients an easier entry to get high quality care. And putting the patient first is the difference between a fair experience and an excellent one.

When we started work on the website for this program, our subject matter experts were very insistent on two things:

  1. We needed a program webpage.
  2. We needed webpages specific to anterior and lateral skull-base surgery.

Of course, I never say no to our stakeholders (in that direction lies madness…). I do, however say “and…”. In this case, I said, “and” to these pieces:

  1. What Are Skull Base Tumors
  2. Acoustic Neuroma: What to Expect at Surgery

These were experiments, of course. As you can see from the below screenshot, thanks to the experiments, the site traffic increased exponentially.

Image 5: Screenshot of Skull Base Tumors website report slide showing the exponential increase since publication in January 2020.

Users want to know what they will experience, where, and how.

In the report back to the client, there may have been some shocked faces. Then there was increased belief in our credibility. Now there is serious excitement for all of us. We are ALL collaborators. 

I look forward to what we are compiling now to increase our positive patient experiences.

Feeling like a mad data scientist certainly increases my feelings of efficacy and satisfaction. There is nothing more satisfying than establishing a successful and collaborative team that cares about the end goal: empowering patients to find good, quality healthcare.

The Writeup

Then, in the presentation, I shared our content strategy template, which you can find here. It contains all the elements you would expect.

Image 6: U of U Health content strategy template. Developed after research online and with information from marketing plans.

As we continue to work on this year after year, we gather more information and build a greater understanding of our audiences. Will this someday lead to personalization and greater refinement for the sake of our users? I sure hope so!!

So there you have it! The autopsy, or at least the summary report. Let me know if you are using a documented content strategy and if it works for you. I’d love to hear your experiences.

*Werking it is a form of the verb “work” but in drag queen speak. If you want to meet the forerunners of pop culture, do a little research into drag queens. If not, just sit back. You’ll soon see many of their -isms of every kind in mainstream pop culture.

^Immense thanks to my support team—Ashley, Nisjet, Sophie, Spencer B., and Mike H.—your absolute domination of all the things that needed to be done while I was gone made me feel so grateful. You are beyond competent—you slay.

Reflections on 2020 & End of Year Report

Part 1: Reflection and Her-Story

Salutations. It’s hard to know where to start, an unusual predicament for this slinger of words. Summarizing our work this year feels so much less important than trying to uphold the work of our fellow colleagues caring for those with COVID-19.

These are the times that most remind me of Dickens, and the words you have all heard of, even if you didn’t know who wrote them:

Image 1: Quote by Charles Dickens, the best of times, worst of times, from A Tale of Two Cities

Dickens, more so than any author I have yet read, captures the highs and lows of a year such as this. His genius for bringing characters—experiences you could relate with—out front and center has never ceased to amaze me.

Don’t get me wrong—he wasn’t a saint and has been decried as a writer of “fairy tales, pantomines” as opposed to prose, but when he died, people the world over mourned because of his loss, because of his stories.*

How Will We Tell This Year’s Story?

I do wonder how we will tell the tale of our work this year. How will we record our stories so that our history becomes his- or her- or their-story? What will the future remember about the year 2020 and about us?

Image 2: Quote by James Baldwin, the tale is never new and must always be heard, from Sonny’s Blues

What Have We Learned This Year?

As I looked back at our work this year, what I really wanted to ask my team was: what have we learned this year? So, before I get to some cold, hard data, we’re gonna’ run with a few reflections from the team.

Ashley (Content Specialist):

“What I learned:

  1. I miss interacting with coworkers at the office on a daily basis and the treats that would magically appear over on marketing’s side. 
  2. The thought of speaking up in meetings to express my ideas or feelings still terrifies me. However, meeting with clients one-on-one more frequently has really helped build my confidence in expressing my expertise. I learn best when I’m thrown into the lion’s den alone even if it makes me a nervous ninny.
  3. I love color-coding Excel spreadsheets! It helps me stay sane and organized when I’m managing 40+ freelance assignments. (I blame my color-coding madness on binging too many episodes of The Home Edit in quarantine).
  4. Location, location, location is of the utmost importance when working from home. A desk in front of a window with picturesque mountain views is beautiful, but extremely distracting. Sitting in front of a boring, blank wall seems to work best for my focus. 
  5. The Holiday soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Richard Eliot’s cheesy 80s saxophone music is THE BEST for editing freelancer drafts. 
  6. I initially invested in a new bike to calm my pandemic-induced anxiety. However, my bike (Jessica) did much more. Because of her, I made new lifelong friends and pushed my body to bike into oblivion (400+ miles).”

Melissa (Content Specialist):

“Well, while nothing seemed to go quite according to plan this year, I’m happy to say I’ve learned some important lessons in adaptability, self-compassion, and, most especially, the healing power of kitty cuddles. I gained a new appreciation for things I hadn’t realized you could miss, like office chairs, second monitors, and the clacking sounds of my coworkers’ keyboards (you never really know what you have until it’s gone, I suppose).”

“I persevered through piles of QA spreadsheets, wrangled with SMEs and freelance writers, and polished up pages until they shined. Thanks to all of my fantastic coworkers and friends for your support and patience as I’ve worked to conquer this year’s many unexpected challenges.”

Matt (Web/SEO Support Specialist):

“In 2020, I’ve learned to take a moment each day and be grateful for the people around me, the things I have, and the opportunities I’ve been given.  Many liberties that we all take for granted have been suspended for much of the year, and I plan to relish things like family gatherings and recreational travel in a way I’ve never done before. “

Jen (ME! Content Manager):

“I learned that I can work from home and like it!”

“This year also led me to deeply question my unconscious cultural belief in what I thought was an unsegregated and fair society. Relationships with people of all sizes, shapes, and races have always made my life richer . This year, however, my attention was transfixed by listening to people of color and I heard amplified the pain the White race has inflicted. I internalized how deeply engrained the social contract is within me from my White culture, and how much I have to recognize my privilege every day.”

“Also, I learned that my cats will always take me for granted, even if I’m home all day catering to their every need.”

Part 2: Cold, Hard Data

I have pretty high expectations of my team. In spite of the pandemic and the corona-quake and the hurricane of 2020, I expected good work, and I was not disappointed. Here are just a few numbers that attempt to measure the outstanding work my team has done (#humblebrag).^

Major Projects

  • Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital site content refinement
  • Training in new content management system: Drupal
  • Coronavirus site structure, content, and maintenance
  • 3 Drupal migrations:
    • College of Health 476 +/- pages (MAJOR SHOUT OUT TO OUR FAVE WEBMASTER: ALEX LARSON!)
    • College of Nursing 202 +/- pages
    • Center for Clinical and Translational Science 236 +/- pages
  • Clinical services lines work:
    • Destination care program​ sites
    • 24 content audits and analyses
    • 11 clinical content strategies
    • 14 detailed web content performance reports
    • 63/103 health library content pages (freelancer management, editing, SME interview, page builds, final editing—averaging 15–25 hours per piece); 63 complete and published as of the date of this blog publication
    • Major upgrade to billing pages adding:
      • Insurance information
      • How to read your statement
      • COB statement
      • Financial assistance
  • ​Academic & additional work:
    • 3 college/school site audits
    • 9 monthly content performance reports supporting assets, covering the following platforms: Health Feed, Scope, Good Notes, HCI Circle of Hope, Moran News, patient stories, press releases
  • Client management
    • 5 colleges/schools
    • 10 major services lines
    • 50 +/- additional clients
  • Maintenance. So. Much. Daily. Maintenance.

Events of Note

Superheroes of Search: SEO Workshop 40 +/- attendees

Greatest Happenings

  • Domain authority increase +1, 89 to 90**
  • MarCom virtual Halloween party. (Yes. It was a thing.)

It’s with thanks that we see the year close. We feel happy to be employed and have challenging, engaging work.

And finally, ask yourself: What did you learn this year and how will you tell your story of this year? Let me know.

Image 3: Quote from Zora Neale Hurston, years that ask questions and years that answer from Their Eyes Were Watching God

Originally published on Pulse, the University of Utah Health MarCom Intranet blog

*A.N. Wilson, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, pg 6, published 2020

^Please note that unless otherwise specified, all data is tied to the dates of Jan 1, 2020–Oct 31, 2020.

**Don’t understand why that’s a big deal? Talk to me or attend the upcoming SEO summit, Jan 2021. It’s a BIG deal.​

Day in the Life of a Content Manager

My department has recently been conducting interviews for new marketing specialists and even a content specialist. One of the smartest questions I think a candidate can ask is: What’s a typical day like for you in this job?

A few years back, I actually recommended to different academic departments in our institution that they build out content around this question in relation to life (day-in-the-life) as a medical student, resident, fellow, nurse in training, and surprise! It does really well.

Screenshot of content created for Day in the Life content series | Day in the Life of a Content Manager
Example of content we create for “Day in the Life” type pieces. These are used for recruitment on our academic websites and tend to perform well, which in this case translates to roughly 80% higher time on page compared to most of the other site pages.

So, in lieu of my sometimes so-deep-we’re-gasping-for-air posts, I’ll just stick to something simple: Day in the life!

Background: I’m coming up on year five of being resident web content manager at University of Utah Health. The journey has taken me through many sidewinders and close to some fascinating dead drops, but through it to date, I’ve kept these skills sharp and picked up some new ones:

  • writing,
  • editing,
  • data analysis,
  • SEO,
  • managerial work,
  • reporting,
  • client management,
  • project management,
  • networking,
  • reading, and
  • strategic thinking.

At this point in time, my team manages roughly 30K webpages across five (give or take) subdomains. At any time we are each (there are three of us and an SEO/digital analyst) managing 15 clients personally in a particular week, but that client list rotates.

The work we do is assist in structuring content governance (as we can’t manage all the pages personally), information architecture, new website set ups, and then conduct more in-depth content work for department priorities (that hopefully align with business goals), such as writing, auditing, and optimizing various webpages/content types.

First Things First: Pacify the Inbox (9–9:30 am)

Every morning when I get in and turn on my computer to check my email inbox, I make sure my water bottle is filled up. I also usually say hi to anyone else on the floor or around me. I may not have time or be in the mindset to start a conversation, but individually acknowledging co-workers by name as I see them throughout the day is really important to me.

As I review any emails that came in after I left the previous day, I use this as a way to orient myself to the day’s work load. I also double check the day’s calendar. The best days are mornings with just a few newsletters and few to no client responses. That means I can begin work on something substantive.

Then there are the days that I have meetings right away. I try to keep meetings first thing to a minimum—and our culture begets a lottttttt of meetings—but I really need those first few organizational minutes turning on computer and reviewing my calendar for the day.

Calendar day from first thing on through | Day in the Life of a Content Manager
Notice the blocked out “work time” areas. When I have serious deadlines to make, I can’t be open to meetings all day, so I block off time to work. Sometimes it makes other people crazy, but it keeps MY workload sane…

I’ll answer any truly important emails or emails with quick-Q answers. Now I’ll take time to review my task list from yesterday. These are items to follow up on from that I didn’t answer yet or small maintenance Qs that I want to follow up on.

If I have a high priority project, however, I’ll start work on that in the morning, as usually I’m a bit sharper mentally at this time.

High priority projects could include writing or editing something, QA’ing a website, continuing a content audit, keyword research, work in the content management system updating CTA (call to action) links that aren’t working or have changed for some reason. Anything I have scheduled to complete in the sprint* or for a meeting.


Depending on the day, I’ll either be in meetings or I might be taking care of any of the following five levels of work types:

  1. Basic maintenance: Updates to contact info, updates to provider/doc lists on websites, vanity url requests, contact info requests (who can help me do XYZ?), and the like. We are lucky to have a person who manages the basic maintenance queue who can assist with these types of requests; though, my team does some of them as well. Rule of thumb: Requests that take 10 minutes or fewer.
  2. Content maintenance: This usually involves a request to add a content page on a site or add a significant content chunk somewhere. There can also be things we have to untangle as to who to contact to get an issue addressed. These are middle level maintenance tasks that take a little longer than 30 minutes to do but fewer than three hours.
  3. New webpage requests: These requests can come from departments that need a lab site set up or a folder structure done. Typically the client can add the content themselves, but it takes some time to set up the bones of the site and check that they have training. There can also be requests for page setups for new services, clinics, locations, or the like. These are hard to measure time-wise. I actually prefer a complexity level measure. The more stakeholders you have to work with at any given time, the more complex I consider the task. Sometimes they cannot be completed during a sprint, in which case I schedule them in an upcoming sprint.
  4. Feature requests or project requests. These are genuine I-need-a-site-rework, I-need-a-new-feature, I-need-a-content-module-created. These need to be broken down into our sprint time periods as they often involve meeting personally with the client or significant research or writing time and effort. For example, we have a new health center opening, which entailed a roughly 25-webpage build with about 35 stakeholders involved. Sometimes the client will want what I call a feature, which has to have a developer or UX (user experience) specialist work on. These types of tasks also have to be scheduled once we have gathered the basic client objectives and time constraints.
  5. Priority projects or department projects. There are priority services identified by our institution that our marketing department supports. These projects are usually driven by the fiscal year. Typically they involve a project plan (including an associated content strategy) and scheduling throughout each quarter. These involve lots of writing, editing, client time, SEO optimization, and support work.

Meetings may involve various clients or stakeholders. Often if I have to travel to campus to meet with a client (our office is located in an administrative area further from campus, which is, however, better for lunch dine-ins or drive-throughs!), I’ll usually have to schedule two to three weeks out as travel time adds 40 minutes on to the meeting time and requires planning.

There are also interdisciplinary team meetings for priority and department projects as well as phone meetings/check ins for ongoing client projects. Then there are administrative meetings, like sprint planning meetings or project check-ins where we may be working with the devs, UX, or UI.

Lunch Time! Or Mid-Day Networking (11:30 am–1 pm)

Lunch is usually on the fly. I have long given up on packing a lunch as I never remember it. So, sometimes I’ll order in (I claim credit here for identifying a particular sandwich delivery service-to-my-desk option that the entire building uses). If I go out, it will usually be for a networking lunch with colleagues.

If I have a less intensive week with projects or deadlines, I use lunch as an excuse to keep up with friends in the department or do genuine networking. This also helps me remember to take some time for a break as even if I’m dug in to a project; my productivity is better if I take a breather.

It’s the same after lunch, except I stop answering emails. Anything that arrives in the email inbox after two or three gets pushed into the to-do task list that I answer on the following day. This helps me finish a project that needs doing or remain focused on a task. Around three I usually hit a slump period, so I may walk around (in an ideal world) or stop to chat with co-workers.

I also may *not-ashamed-to-admit* have hit up the caffeine machine for some Dewy goodness. (I do have a balance though – more water than other beverages goes in throughout the day.)

Towards the end of the day I usually get a second wind, but I may not be as clear headed, so I might work on optimizing a piece, keyword research, editing, reporting, but generally projects that are less cognitively demanding.

The Dismount (5:30-6 pm)

When I’m ready to wrap up, I’ll check what’s on the calendar for the next day. I rarely, rarely check or answer emails at home, so unless someone texts me, I’m off for rest and relaxation (AKA: cat feeding, grooming, and entertaining…).

Bitmoji goodness: What a day! | Day in the Life of a Content Manager
Day’s end—that’s a wrap!

And that’s a wrap! I really value the physical separation of work and home life. It helps me keep burn out at bay. Obviously there is no way to completely keep the two separate, but some boundaries always help in the pursuit of happiness.

And, as they say in Zombieland**, I try to take time to enjoy the little things.

*We use sprints in this case to denote bi-monthly cadences rather than in the true Scrum sense. The reason for this is to give us reporting periods. As a content practitioner, I find Kanban to be a bit more our style, but there are particular periods, like when working with developers, that sprints fit a work load.

I also find the terminology and concept of sprints a great way to communicate deadlines and work load to clients. If I indicate to them that we have a workload queue and give them some sense of measure to it, they are far likelier to have balanced expectations on project delivery.

**Random, I know, but I recently saw the reboot, Zombieland: Double Tap, and nearly cried I laughed so hard. Little things…

The Value Proposition & Cats

Outcome vs. Output, Quality vs. Quantity, Hybrid vs. Central

I was recently reading an article in Wired magazine that postulated time traveling (not surprising) and used it to put forth a commentary on our contemporary society (not surprising). They posit that a social scientist plucked from the eons of time is brought forward to 2019. Would said personage be “as astounded by our world as we like to think?”* The article author thinks not. And why not?

“Anyone familiar with the ancient Egyptian fixation on felines (cat statues, cat pictographs) and the mid-century American obsession with TV would at least have some pretext to accept that one of the largest conglomerates on the planet is the owner of a massive video site with millions of cat clips.”

— Zeynep Tufekci*
Cats laughing emoji

Now that was surprising! I could hardly contain myself!!! It’s totally true!! Our lives (or those of my friends and I) revolve around the feeding, cleaning-up-after, and placating of cats. That aside, humanity, if I can be so bold as to comment collectively, really hasn’t changed—despite the evolution of our tool set.

We remain as selfishly stupid and as supremely susceptible to the seven sins as at any time in history before. So where, I must ask, is the value proposition in that? And are ALL those cat clips really necessary?

Which leads me to the next rail car on my thought train: Outcome vs. output and how it contributes to value.

Outcome vs. Output

As has been documented many times over, we are a world obsessed with output. And our clients demand it. What they don’t tend to think about in marketing and content strategy is that to be truly successfully, content output must be matched up to a content strategy and an outcome. Otherwise, where is the value add?

To be truly successfully, content output must be matched up to a content strategy and an outcome. Otherwise, where is the value add?

Confession: A highpoint in my life is viewing a stymied subject matter expert, generally an MD in my industry, as I debate with them pros and cons of content output vs. content outcome. Does the content truly help us meet our goals? I’m sure my glee is palpable…

For example, here is some of our top performing content of all time: interviews with subject matter experts published with transcripts to our website.

A list of our top performing site assets (specifically interviews with subject matter experts)
Fig 1. Our top performing interview transcripts of all time on; these 20 assets (out of 15,000) drive 20 percent of all our website traffic.

Out of all our content, approximately 30 assets (.002%) our of 15,000 drive almost a quarter of all our web traffic. (See Fig 1. Note that I added 10 of our top performing blogs to 20 of our interviews for the 30 assets, which I didn’t show in the figure—sneaky. Sorry about that. They do exist!!)

To me, this sparks multiple suppositions:

  • We should be actively promoting that content as part of our ongoing strategy.
  • This content clearly resonates with an audience and resonating with your audience is important.
  • We need to create more MORE!

In slowing down to consider more fully however, are these really should-do’s or are they rather could-do’s? Where is this traffic going after it arrives? And what outcome are we looking for? The further research I conduct into this question, the more I question our content machine.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe you must have that eternal balancing of the scales. A conglomeration of high performing cat clips was not established without much experimentation and mass quantities of cats. But I do believe we must create with an eye towards quality.

Don’t fret overly much about keeping the content scales balanced with both quantity and quality. A conglomeration of high performing cat clips was not established without much experimentation—and mass quantities of cats.

And I’m grateful to note that in my organization we are also becoming obsessed with outcome and quality of outcome.

Quality vs. Quantity

I find that sometimes our higher quality content is not necessarily our highest performing nor are we producing it in high quantities. Here I must pause and identify a value add for our organization.

For my team, we have determined that measurable outcomes consist of, essentially, lead generation. How many clicks on the “Schedule an appointment” button can we track? How many taps on the scheduling phone number? Can we get all this data lumped together onto a dashboard that reflects in a quantifiable number the difference our team is making?**

Alas, there are major gaps in our data collection. We cannot track if an appointment was actually requested once a lead has called the phone number. Nor can we track if a request form submission has led to an appointment scheduled. We also cannot connect whether a particular lead driven by video or written content has resulted in a higher value patient for the organization (namely resulting in a surgery—something our specialists find extreme value in—and not only for the revenue).

And for other teams creating content in our organization, quantification and value remains somewhat mystical. What is the value of that high performing content that drives so many site visits? Since it was technically created in the name of brand recognition, how can it hurt us to have such massively successful content?^

One also can’t negate the benefit of this content for our internal stakeholders. Is some volume necessary to keep the peace even if the long-term value is negligible? (Btws, I’d say yes. If you have to create something for a stakeholder to give them a twinge of joy or that, hopefully, leads to data collection on why it’s not a value add—BY ALL MEANS VINDICATE YOURSELF. And if you fail, it was in the spirit of experimentation. We must keep our sense of humor about us.)

But still I do pause to wonder, could quantity hurt us? When does quantity negate a value add? (More on that in an upcoming post as I have been watching some experimentation in our content ecosystem.)

When does quantity negate quality and therefore its value proposition?

Sidenote in the name of quantity: #DYK that the monuments of ancient Egyptian culture morphed from pyramids of massive size to smaller hidden tombs to temples that remain UNESCO heritage sites to this day? We all have heard of the Egyptian obsession with a life after death, but did you also know that they massively stockpiled provisions and small representations of servants (ushabtis) and the like to aid them in their next-life journeys?

Sometimes I can’t help but think that the ushabtis and cats mummified for this cause, while probably high in quantity and supportive of Egypt’s economy, probably did not return the value expected by their purchasers…

Enough already now though of the musings and questions and assumptions. Let them have solutions! Let us unsheathe the teeth and claws. Which of these propositions leads in a bid for value?

Hybrid vs. Centralized

I dare you to identify frameworks in your life that are hybrid partners vs. centralized in nature. A few come quickly to mind:

  • Pointillism: The foray of Georges Seraut into complete paintings made of dots that unify to create figures and forms (the forerunners of pixels).
  • The EU: A union of countries vs. Great Britain standing independent. #Brexit
  • Fashion: Mixed prints over matchy-matchy, both of which schools of thought vie for dominance.
  • The US of A: An experiment in democracy that resulted in independent states in tenuous balance with a unified (supposedly) federal government.
  • Google: Which business model focuses on global dominance but also opens numerous projects and businesses in the name of innovation and experimentation.
  • Alpha cat (me) vs. baby cats in my household.

Notice that in all of these situations, there are a variety of models, from rebel (Seraut’s points) to central (Google) to hybrid (the US of A). There is no clearly dominating model that seems to work better than any other.***

Dennis Shiao, for Content Marketing Institute writes that companies, much like those parallel examples above, organize around content in three different models (as illustrated in Fig 2):

  1. Rebel
  2. Hybrid
  3. Central

And here I make my stand and offer my solution for the pursuit of value: With the caveat of leadership influence, I make a bid for the hybrid model.

Fig 2. Visualizations of content organization models: 1) Rebel (or as I like to say—singular sensation), 2) Hybrid, and 3) Central (around our mummified cat of course)
Fig 2. Visualizations of content organization models: 1) Rebel (or as I like to say—singular sensation), 2) Hybrid, and 3) Central (around our mummified cat of course)

I proffer the proposition that true value lies in a balance between the content created by rebels and the overlord conjointly, for these reasons:

  • Agents of chaos can sometimes make amazing content.
  • Without centralized and singular guidance, mavericks can lack backing to move a project forward and harness the quality of their content for the most value.
  • Too strongly centralized methodology can establish a series of hoops so discouraging that it precludes any creativity or timeliness.
  • Conflict between methodologies can lead to sparks of genius that would otherwise never achieve combustion.

And therefore, my value proposition: Don’t dismay if you have content creators who aren’t following all the best practices or centralized standards. Some of the stuff they create is amazing and resonates with an audience.

Do strive to represent a unified brand and style guide to represent consistency and quality in your work. Do work towards data collection and quantification of output in the hopes of demonstrating good practices.

Hybridize and experiment.

My value proposition: Work towards a hybrid content model where you empower individuals but maintain a strong centralized brand and structure around desired content outcomes.

While I like to think that I am the alpha (and can site evidence towards this theory), I must acknowledge that I often bow to the vagaries of my felines. Without their hidden depths and uncanny ability to surprise me, however, I would not be such a delightfully centered eccentric.

We are, of course, each a singular sensation.

Sketch of mummified cats from the British Museum: A Guide to the Third and Fourth Egyptian Rooms, Natural History Museum, London
Sketch of mummified cats from the British Museum: A Guide to the Third and Fourth Egyptian Rooms, Natural History Museum, London (altered)

*”Free Riders” by Zeynep Tufekci. Wired Magazine Sep 2019

**Let me refer you here to an amazing podcast from Brain Traffic with Kristina Halverson and some content data analysts at Harvard who have been able to create such a magnificent dashboard. I am simultaneously immensely envious that they have an actual data scientist and extremely chuffed that my department is also dabbling in this. Democratizing Data at Harvard

^I want to assure you that I have plans around establishing and assigning a measurable value to this. If only I could find the time for the analysis!!

***I’m ignoring the fact here that Google basically owns all of us.