Best ofs, Top Posts and Old Reliables Can Enjoy Second (and More) Lives

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CBS is bringing back Murphy Brown next season. ABC will prop Roseanne back up next month. Will and Grace already came back this year. In Hollywood, sequels rule—it looks like Shades of Grey could be freed, darker, 50 or 100 and still finish first at the box office. And, of course, Shaun White is an Olympic champion again.

Everything old is new again—well okay, White is just 31. But still, let's face it—we like what we like. So it's a little funny that as a writer, I find that rebooting and repurposing does not come naturally. We always want to be creative and fresh, praised for new ideas and phrasings. Maybe that's why the buzz from publishers lately is that editorial people should think a little more like product developers. If repurposing works, then go with it.

And it does work. Ed Coburn has spoken before about the importance of updating your blockbuster posts. These are evergreen posts that drive a disproportionate share of traffic. When Coburn worked at Mequoda, he said that their top 200 posts produced 94-plus% of their organic traffic. That was out of about 6,000 posts!

Here are some more tips on repurposing:

Use content from your online Q&A discussion or forum group—or your webinar Q&As. This has become one of The Washington Post's biggest repurposing strategies. They will have one of their travel or restaurant or relationships experts do an online chat and then you'll see some of that dialogue in the print newspaper. It actually makes for good, easy-to-read copy.

Look for evergreen content ideas. Spring Cleaning (Out Your Email). Summer Reading Lists. Things to Be Thankful for at Thanksgiving.  At the start of our conferences, I'll update and publish Making the Most of Attending Live Events and always hear from a grateful publisher who is sending someone new. Yesterday we renewed some of the best ways to capitalize on a holiday. Whenever I see a new podcast or quiz/game, I try to update one of those posts.

Offer fresh takes on old favorites. This morning I watched an incredible highlight package of past Winter Olympics moments. Similarly—though maybe not as grandly—there may be elements of past events that trigger your audience to say, "Hey, remember when you did this?" If so, you may be sitting on a pot of gold. Consider doing a "Best Of" track, where you repackage former favorites for today's attendees. You have the data on how many attendees each session or webinar drew. Launch again with new intros or speakers.

Update and share on social media. At Vox, they take articles that are months old, but still have plenty of juice in them. "In a five-day period, we ran 88 of these stories, and collectively they brought in over 500,000 readers," executive editor Matthew Yglesias said last year.

Take a quarterly look at what's been most successful. You have the analytics. Let your audience know what your most popular posts were. We've been doing this for the last year and have received good feedback. It makes sense. Everyone is in a time crunch these days and is likely to miss an article here or there. It also brings attention to the moments where the content really sparked interest and revenue-generating ideas.

Dig for historic value. Your institutional memory doesn't deserve to be forgotten. There's a good chance you have old publications with significant value, just sitting on shelves—print or digital—somewhere in a makeshift morgue. (I know I do. Who remembers Hotline?) It might be worth doing a little digitization work every once in a while to ensure that this info isn't getting lost?" Republish old ads and photos occasionally. "On this day 10 years ago..." We love nostalgia.

And I think that's where we started.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…