Creating New Content Going Forward
While a content reuse strategy can help you get your current content in the best shape for reuse, it's also important to have a plan for how you are going to create content going forward to ensure that it will be easier to use multiple times in multiple places.
Shorter is better. Avoid being wordy and using long paragraphs, advises Rockley. "You need to think much more modular," she says. "You have to think about things as smaller units of content and then those units of content can be assembled into larger products."
It's important to have structured writing guidelines for people on your team-and in various departments-to know how to write that content for possible reuse across many channels and devices. While smaller pieces are more easily reused, a great deal of attention needs to be paid to the content itself. It needs to be information that will remain relevant over time or content that could serve as a foundation for a newer, additional piece of content.
Take Small Steps
Experts agree that building a content reuse strategy and getting the necessary processes in place can take time. Rockley suggests that companies "think big, act small" when creating their new strategy. "They should look at the full breadth of their goals and objectives and what they're trying to do, but maybe just apply it to a particular product suite, family or set of information, or a particular goal so you test out your ideas, you test out your concepts, you do pilots, then you expand it for the rest of your content set," says Rockley.
Rockley cautions against striving for "100 percent perfection" right away with this new content strategy, and she suggests avoiding using a company's "mission critical product" as a starting point. "If you can pick something that has a lot of value to the organization, but gives you sufficient time to stand back, think about it and develop that strategy and go through all those stages with it, you're more likely to be successful than if you try to do it all at once."
Heise agrees that the process can take some time and that it's best to tackle it in pieces. "You can do it in phases," he says. "Say you're going to get your current content under control today and then tackle the archives in a staged fashion."
So, who in your organization should manage the implementation and management of a content reuse strategy? A content strategist, either one you hire as an outside consultant or a current member of the staff. But regardless of who is driving the initiative, it's crucial to focus on making your content as reusable as possible, establishing it as a continuous project that will evolve as new technological solutions (i.e., delivery channels) are launched-and embraced-by content consumers.
Scott Abel/Content Wrangler
The Rockley Group