Call it what you will: recycle, repurpose, or reuse. It’s an effective way to feed your content hub.
By Gregory Pings
As publishing goes, MAD Magazine lost sight of a central tenet of the Publisher’s M.O™: Know your audience.
Case in point: When Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was mockingly compared to MAD mascot Alfred E. Neuman, the candidate said he had to Google the reference before he understood it was intended an insult. That was a bad day for MAD’s usual gang of idiots, their own self-deprecating tendencies notwithstanding. The only thing that went right for MAD is that Google knew the definition of Alfred E Neuman.
Plenty else went wrong with MAD’s business model, and the analysts are lining up to share their insights. MAD’s charter audience grew up and graduated to The Onion and SNL. MAD didn’t keep up with new publishing technology and distribution models. The list goes on.
But I’ll tell you the one thing MAD’s publishers got right: They’re reusing their best content. I don’t know if the intent is to buy enough time while they revamp their business model, but if that’s what happening in the MAD world, then I think they have an honest shot at a turnaround.
You don’t have to be a financial genius to know that fresh content costs money — it’s your biggest expense. So what’s wrong with squeezing more bang out of your buck?
The MAD Road to Moldy Oldies?
Qoheleth got it right when, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, he concluded “there is nothing new under the sun.” In my career, some of the most reliable sources for “fresh” content came from marketers and communicators in other departments where they produced content for their own audiences. From this gang of idiots, I stole – ummm, culled — perfectly good content. To name a few:
- Internal presentations.
- Transcripts from employee webcasts and external media interviews.
- Speeches and presentations from customer-facing events.
- Sales materials.
- Website pages.
- Press releases.
I am not suggesting that your content hub becomes a dumping ground for your company’s historic archive. You’re a publisher, not a copy-paste paste bot. But you find good material where you find it. You must put in the work to develop your internal network and earn the trust that enables folks from the other departments understand which topics you’re able to amplify. “Win-win” might be a worn-out cliché, but this is an instance where it truly applies. You get good content that’s relevant to your audience, your internal network gains exposure as well as the opportunity be presented as thought leaders. All of a sudden, you have more thought leaders contributing to your content hub. Your audience grows.
Moldy oldies? Not by a long shot.
In mid-2018, I sat through a team meeting while a vice president from the R&D department talked about the company’s five year plan. He discussed some of the ways new technology would change how we do business, as well as how we should think about our business.
The 40-minute presentation was internally focused, and I was fascinated. “Wouldn’t this make a fine article for our external-facing corporate blog,” I thought. Of course, an article that talked to how the company would change had limited appeal. I edited the executive’s comments and externalized his insights. A few email exchanges later, I published a long-form article that showed my readers six ways to growth by thinking differently about their businesses.
This article performed well in terms of pageviews, time on page, and a lower bounce rate. Even better, the social media team saw good engagement when they shared the article with their audiences. They wanted more like this.
You will find content in all corners of your company. It will need work, but not nearly as much as it would take to create content from scratch. Take the time to build your internal relationships, and help other departments grasp your content hub’s value. We live in a mad world, but we need not go the way of MAD.
Gregory Pings retired from Xerox in 2018. He held a variety of internal and external communications roles for nearly 25 years.
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