Repurposing owned content: A real-life example (Now with a handy flowchart!)

Repurposing owned content: A real-life example (Now with a handy flowchart!)

How to maximize your opportunity for repurposing when planning your content.

Content has been king for at least a decade. Despite recent efforts by AI and SEO enthusiasts to wrest that crown from our grubby little fingers, news from Google suggests that human-made stories continue to be the answer to all our online woes, even going so far as to say that “using automation or AI strictly to manipulate rankings in search results is considered a violation of Google's spam policies”.

So, content creation is still where it’s at.

The issue? Turns out churning out a helpful, genuine, and dare I say interesting business novella takes a whole lotta time. And so, much like my 19-year-old self phoning my parents just five weeks into my first term at university, you really want to milk it for every penny.

That’s what repurposing owned content is all about. It’s the very manifestation of “publish once, share everywhere”.

How to repurpose content step 0: Make a plan

But hold your horses! Before you set off on the nonstop joyride that is online content creation, it’s worth doing a bit of legwork.

  1. Decide on a topic that aligns with your audience and your organization
  2. Choose what your keystone content piece will be
  3. Plan out follow-up and related content, including any collaborators and multimedia

These choices lay the groundwork for all your content recycling – more details on each below.

A flowchart for repurposing owned content

Not all of the below repurposing types make sense for every topic and flavor of content, so use your best judgment to apply the suggestions in this diagram to your own use case. Then read on for our IRL example of how you can put this picture into practice when looking to recycle content.

Your keystone content

This is the big story you’ve decided to tell. It aligns with your organization (and, probably, product) and your audience, and actively offers something valuable to the reader. It can take the form of pretty much anything you want, though conventionally brands publish things like how-to guides or original research to get the conversation flowing. Its intention is ultimately to convert the person visiting the page to the next phase of your marketing funnel, for example, to a newsletter subscriber, trial user, or even a client.

Is it the same as cornerstone content? It absolutely can be, but for the purposes of this article we’re looking at the key piece of content in the center of the repurposing flow, which is a somewhat broader definition, so let’s stick to keystone for now.

Whatever topic you choose, your keystone will inform everything else in the above diagram, so make it worth talking about.

Secondary content

These are spin-offs based on your keystone content, but which are pieces of standalone content in their own right. Their aim is often to make the most out of the research you put into creating your keystone content, to reach new audiences (for example, by using a different medium to tell the same story), to increase shares/subscriber conversions, to boost SEO, and to drive traffic to the keystone content.

Secondary content can include:

  • A blog post on a related topic (published on your organization’s blog or that of an affiliated party, e.g. your CEO’s blog)
  • An expert interview livestream on the same topic
  • A podcast episode on the same topic

You get the idea.

From there, you can begin the whole content recycling journey again by repurposing blog content, or using the livestream to repurpose recordings and extract highlights for use elsewhere. More on that in the case study below.

Multimedia dim sum

Think of these as bite-sized pieces of content that are based on your keystone content. They make your epic easier to digest and, frankly, pay attention to by presenting the most interesting parts of your content in different, inherently sharable ways. That makes them perfect for reusing content on social media, press releases or guest pitches, and embedding in your other owned content.

This content tapas includes things like:

  • Bullets summarizing the main points of your keystone content
  • Images or infographics
  • Video or sound bites
  • Quotes

Earned and shared media

If you create valuable content and manage to get it in front of the right people, it’s likely that it will result in a bit of earned or shared media for your story. Both can help improve SEO for your content by linking to it, and generally increase the reach of your story.

These include:

  • Reposts of your social content
  • Posts on third-party blogs mentioning (and linking back to) your content

Whenever you see these pop up, you need to react by sharing the heck out of them.

An example of repurposed content

Ok, so let’s make the above content repurposing strategy outline a little less wooly by taking you through a real-life content repurposing example. The below takes you through how we approached the entire exercise, so you can follow along and hopefully get an idea of some of the ways you too can repurpose pretty much any content you come up with.

Choosing the topic

This is the first step along the path to creating content that works double duty. If you’re planning to bleed this topic for all it’s worth (and for the purposes of this article, you very much are), then you’d better be sure it’s a subject worth talking about.

Ask yourself (and your team, and your SEO contact):

  • Does this topic align with our brand/product/organization?
  • Is it something our target audience cares about?
  • Is it something we can speak on with authority or offer a new perspective on?
  • What conversations already exist around this topic, and who’s having them?
  • Do we know anyone who would be interested in speaking about that topic to their audience?

In our case, that topic was contact management and how much of a chronic pain it is for pretty much everybody in PR. It was perfect for all the right reasons:

  • Our CRM product actively addressed that pain, so the business alignment was there
  • We had access to CRM usage data from our own tool, which meant originality
  • People talked about the topic all the time, but there was little quantitative data
  • We had PR friends and clients who could offer their own insights into the subject
  • And the industry at large all thought contact management was a massive nightmare, so the topic was relevant to them

Check, check, check.

Deciding on what our keystone content was going to be

Once we’d chosen a topic, we had to think about form.

A guide to contact management? Helpful to clients and good for SEO, but would ultimately sound too self-serving coming from a brand that builds software specifically to help PR people manage contacts. This felt a little tacky.

An interview with clients and colleagues on their experience of contact management, and their tips for doing it better (or at any rate, faster)? Along the right lines, but not unique enough among the torrent of similar “isn’t contact management terrible, why are we still using spreadsheets” articles already floating around the internet.

What would distinguish our content from what is already out there?

Answer: data.

We were going to invest not just the petty resource of creative types to string together a bunch of words and metaphors, but also the far more valuable resource of cold hard cash to run a global survey with the then newly-minted iPhone 11 Pro as a prize for one lucky winner.

Why surveys are great for creating repurposed content:

  • They give you original data to reference
  • They provide data that others in your field will likely want to reference
  • They involve other parties from the start, adding expertise and distribution opportunities
  • They give you an opportunity to build up a distribution list during the research/survey phase
  • Results can be formatted many ways – charts, quotes, infographics etc

While a big survey can be pricey, it’s absolutely possible to do it on the cheap if you have access to a receptive audience that wants to share their experience – it all depends on who you want to survey and how much time they have, whether they already want to talk about the thing you want them to talk about, and what you can give them in return. That’s why running a “Cutest cat in existence" poll on Instagram will give you millions of results with zero finance, while a ten-page survey into user satisfaction will cost thousands for a few hundred participants.

We carefully developed the survey in-house and ran it through Typeform, with any distribution handled through our own email campaign tool and the results parsed in Google Sheets.

Doing the write-up

The next step was to create the actual content. At the very least you want to have a few people involved, so plan this in advance to stay conscious of just how much you’re investing in this exercise and whether or not it’ll all be worth it in the end.

In our case, the bulk of the work was done by a caffeinated in-house designer and a passable writer (me), with some feedback on the direction of the project given by the CEO. It came to several thousand words and included quotes, charts, and analysis of survey results. You can find it here:

Results of the Global PR Survey 2020https://www.prezly.com/contact-management-report-2020

Including quotes and testimonials

As I mentioned before, we were lucky in that by running a survey, we already gained access to the opinions of hundreds of relevant people. If you don’t have a quotable audience to hand, use a platform like HARO or a trendy alternative to get expert quotes to include in your story. It often doesn’t take a huge amount of effort and it benefits you in two very useful ways:

  • Adds other points of view to your story
  • Helps grow your reach as those mentioned will likely share content that mentions them

Remember also that quotes can come from in-house – take advantage of coworkers who can give you a unique perspective on your topic, or who were involved in creating the thing you’re talking about.

For our keystone content, we were able to use anonymous quotes sourced via the survey itself, as well as some commentary from experts in the field, which we embedded in the results write-up and later repurposed for social media.

We asked PR guru and real-life sweetheart to comment on our findings and included this quote in our write-up
We asked PR guru and real-life sweetheart to comment on our findings and included this quote in our write-up

Creating multimedia assets

Is your content text-only? Find a part of it to turn into a slide deck or infographic.

Is your content a livestream? Create video snippets to share on social media and embed in articles after the show.

For our keystone cluster, we ended up with a good spread of multimedia posts and so had something to suit any channel – video clips for LinkedIn, shareable quotes for Twitter, data viz for Instagram.

Just some of the visual assets we created off the back of the contact management survey
Just some of the visual assets we created off the back of the contact management survey

Sharing the results via a newsletter

If you have a company newsletter, use it. Include the meatiest, juiciest morsels of your keystone right in the body of the email – if your subscribers are already clients, don’t make them work to get to your results.

We ended up sending out the news in several waves: one through our customer newsletter, one to our content subscribers, and one to survey participants or those who requested to get the results only.

Announcing the outcomes

Global PR Survey 2020: Results announcedhttps://www.prezly.com/news/global-pr-survey-2020-results-announced

Because the content we were publishing involved research and, yes, charts, we felt this was enough justification for a press release summarising the results for anyone lacking the time or inclination to read the entire write-up.

We paired that with a gentle email campaign where we got in touch with a handful of industry acquaintances who run blogs around public relations, to see if anyone would be interested in the results when they came out. And a few were…

Sharing insights with key influencers

While we were waiting for the survey results to roll in, we spent some time researching any blogs and social media groups that could be interested in whatever our survey found. Then we (I) dropped each person a quick email to say what we were up to, and would they like to have the results when they came out. We even offered a few exclusives to sweeten the deal.

The most important thing was that we looked enough to know that the news would be relevant to their audience, not just ours. The response we got was very positive, and in the end we were mentioned in multiple blogs, newsletters, and social posts when our results came out.

[browser]Crosby Noricks of PR Couture was one of the industry influencers that was interested in sharing some of our results
Crosby Noricks of PR Couture was one of the industry influencers that was interested in sharing some of our results

Basically, once you have an authoritative piece on a topic, use it to pitch a targeted version of the story to different outlets. These can be sites or blogs that feel like a good fit in terms of audience, or they can be outlets run by the people you involved in creating the piece of content in the first place – for example, a guest speaker, or a source you referenced.

Make it easy for others to use your insights by providing all the useful info you would with a regular press release – bullets of your key findings and what this might mean to a key audience, sources, visual assets like charts and photographs.

See also, how to format a press release that delivers, and how to set up an online press kit.

Secondary content: The livestream

For our biggest piece of secondary content, we went with a livestream episode of our PR Roundtable series focused on the topic of contact management. This was a clear choice for us since we already had the series and subscriber list set up, as well as access to speakers that we knew were experts on this topic.

How to keep your media lists current | Watch PR Roundtable nowhttps://www.prezly.com/pr-roundtable/keeping-your-contacts-up-to-date

Creating video content, particularly video content that involves other people, can have serious perks that stack atop any benefits from your initial content creation:

  • It’s streamable/shareable on video-specific platforms
  • Involves people outside your organization, boosting your reach
  • Gives you embeddable supporting content

Basically, you can repurpose video content for all the platforms that you’ve already repurposed your text and images for, and then some.

We ran the livestream embedded on our site as well as on YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts simultaneously, as well as to the LinkedIn and Twitter profiles of those being interviewed. That’s already six outlets for the price of one! It’s something you can do easily with a platform like Restream.io, which lets you synchronize streams across channels and share streaming access to related parties, so that your livestream can reach a wider audience.

Publishing the recording

Of course, a livestream is something that keeps on giving since you can record and embed it on your website, as well as places like your YouTube channel. We hosted ours on Wistia and embedded it on the livestream page for that episode:

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Where you choose to host your video will inform what you can do with it – YouTube will expose you to more organic traffic through their platform, while Wistia gives you more control over your content, which extends to things like changing the color of the playbar or adding that annoying sign-up form to the pause screen.

Using the show notes

A transcript of the interview and the show notes give people an easy way to navigate to the part of your recording that they’re interested in, while at the same time boosting your page SEO score, meaning that more people will be likely to find it in the future. It also gives you a rough outline for a follow-up article on the same topic. While we didn’t create a full article on the back of this livestream, we did use quotes and snippets from the show to bolster some of our existing content.

You can use an automated AI transcription tool like Otter.ai to create a record of the full conversation, though it’s also helpful to create a few manual notes that timestamp key parts of the video and act more like a table of contents.

Turning the video into a podcast

Once you have a video interview, it’s only a bit of extra effort to reformat that content into a podcast episode – some video hosting services, like Wistia, make the process even simpler by letting you convert your video into audio and sync it to your host of choice with a few clicks.

We no longer have the podcast episode published, but another episode of the same livestream series is still available wherever you get your podcasts.

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Secondary content: A follow-up post on owned blogs

There’s no reason why follow-up posts need to come from outside the company. It’s very likely that the public face of your organization – usually the CEO – has their own platforms for sharing thoughts and hot takes. Use them.

In this example, our CEO followed up on the survey results by publishing his own take on the conversation, which of course aligns with that of the company he runs. This again boosts your content by adding distribution channels (the CEO’s socials and subscribers) and creating backlinks to your content (great for SEO).

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Even after a decade of running a PR tech company, this is still a common question we get from people interested in Prezly. Do you offer...
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Repurposing content for social media

Now that you’ve invested time into creating original assets to go with your content, it’s time to use them any way you can.

Think about what forms your recycled content can take. In our case, this included:

  • Key findings from the survey (text and infographics)
  • Quotes from respondents (visuals)
  • Clips from the roundtable (video)
  • Links to related content and coverage (links)
  • Shares of social mentions (social posts)

Here are a few examples of what that repurposed content looked like on social media.

Adding references within existing content

Chances are that if you’ve invested in creating a big piece of content, you believe that it aligns with your audience and with the ethos of everything else you publish. Assuming that’s the case, you should have no problem referencing that content throughout your site.

References can be as simple as in-text citations or links to something that your content piece talks about, or as dynamic as an embedded video clip, infographic, or social post.

In our case, the contact management survey results and clips from the following livestream were disseminated across a massive chunk of our website, since contact management is one of the big things we regularly harp on about.

Whatever form your reference takes, make sure you link back to the canonical link for that content to give yourself an SEO boost and make it more likely that others find your content.

Wrapping up: Content marketing & PR

Repurposing owned content is one of the few free – or at least, heavily discounted – lunches in content marketing, and there’s no reason why PR can’t get a slice of that action. After all, PR is no longer just about media relations. Your role touches everything that influences a brand’s reputation, and these days, that’s any and all owned content.

Hopefully the above flowchart and case study help you think of some simple ways you can wring more value out of anything you create.

 

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