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Content reuse: Five key questions to consider

In the print-only days, once content was published it was rarely considered for reuse. Sure, there were the occasional “greatest hits” or “all-in-one” products, but for the most part the original content was published and forgotten about.

In the digital era it’s a lot easier to redeploy content and drive more visibility and revenue with it. Every piece of content doesn’t lend itself to reuse, of course, and there are several factors to consider before launching a reuse campaign. Here are five questions that can help you formulate a content reuse strategy:

How much reuse value does your content represent?

You need to start with an honest assessment. Don’t just assume you can remix and suddenly create a significant new revenue stream. If your content is time-sensitive it probably has a shelf life that doesn’t lend itself to redeploying today’s content tomorrow. On the other hand, evergreen content is ripe for redeployment and probably an under-leveraged asset in your organization.

What are the products and channels for your redeployed content?

Related to the first question, you also need to think about the specific products and channels you can target for your redeployed content. Focus primarily on new channels these products might enable you to enter. After all, if you’re just pushing a remix into existing channels you’re likely to cannibalize your current products.

Was your content written with reuse in mind?

This is a question most publishers overlook. Since the original product wasn’t developed for potential reuse, publishers are forced to retrofit that content for redeployment. That requires more resources (and expense) than a model where the content was originally written with reuse in mind. Think about how granular and modular your content is, how easily it can be pulled apart and reassembled, like Lego blocks. Btw, if your current editorial model wasn’t built for reuse, how can you modify it to better prep today’s incoming content for reuse tomorrow?

How “reuse-accessible” is your content?

It doesn’t matter how much your content could be reused if it’s not managed in a way that easily enables reuse. Even granular content is sometimes preserved in a manner that doesn’t let a curator go back in and easily extract just the pieces they want. So the tools you have access to as well as the format the content is saved in will have a significant impact on how easily you’ll be able to redeploy it.

Is your goal to reach new customers or simply drive more revenue from your existing customers?

A lot of publishers try to fool themselves on the answer to this one. They think they’ll magically reach new customers with a reuse model when all they end up doing is trying to sell a slightly different version of the same product to existing customers. This is probably the #1 reason for content reuse failure. As noted earlier, the more a reuse campaign can open doors to new channels, potentially reaching new customers, the greater the likelihood of success.

We’ve been thinking a lot about content reuse at Olive Software. In fact, we’re about to release a reuse tool that enables our publishers to do some very cool things with their content. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks…


Nancy Cunningham

No one can predict the exact reuse of content in the future. That is why at Scribe all content is held in well-formed documents as soon as the structure has been applied to the content and copyediting has taken place in MS Word. With well-formed documents with content held in XML, the content stands at the ready to be repurposed at any time in the future without having to reinvent the wheel which incurs unnecessary expense for the content holder. If XML gives way to a new standard, the content held in well-formed documents will easily port to whatever new technological standard develops. In addition, content holders need never worry that their content will become obsolete. This is the optimum way to preserve and proliferate content while being able to take advantage of multipurpose publishing opportunities both today and in the future.

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