How efficient is your content re-use?

Today’s buzz word in the content management arena is “re-use.”  We must all re-use content to save time and money. We must repurpose what already exists to become more efficient and to re-publish that across multiple channels to ensure message consistency and effectiveness.

And yes, there are considerable advantages to re-using content in multiple locations on a website, on multiple sites, or even in different formats.

Content Re-use is Key

Content re-use is also one of the key benefits to be gained by implementing a Content Management System (CMS) and is, therefore, often the main driver of such a project. But, has anyone stopped to think how much content is re-used? Do they know if they can measure this re-use of content? And what is classed as re-use anyway, when we know in practice that sometimes only parts of the whole content are re-used?

In reality, very few organizations -- even with a CMS  -- are unable to realize this vision of content re-use in practice. I would certainly not recommend the relentless pursuit of the impossible.

However, there are some simple 5 things to think about when embracing content re-use.

Single Source Publishing to Multiple Formats

Given the multitude of formats that can be published today, this form of re-use is key to the success of any project and very cost effective. Content can be published to websites, intranets, PDAs, mobile phones, XML for RSS syndication, etc.

Publishing to Multiple Locations

This is, perhaps, the simplest, yet absolutely key, way to the efficiency of your business. A CMS with the ability to publish to multiple “channels” is central to this activity. The most obvious example for this type of content would be a news announcement, which may be published to the home page, the news page, syndicated for RSS feed and be made available for customer newsletter e-mails and on the employee intranet.

Linking to the Same Content From Multiple Locations

Another simple form of re-use would be one page on a website being linked to from many locations within a single site. As above, the classic example would be the news section of the website, which may be linked from the homepage, the product pages and a customer testimonial page. This is not true content re-use, since the page is still only being published once. It just has multiple links to it. However, it is an efficient way of pushing out content without re-publishing or re-writing.

Re-using Templates

An obvious choice but one to ensure you embrace, apart from a standard look and feel to your website, is to ensure that certain elements such as logos, headers, boilerplates and disclaimers are re-used, saving time and money in reloading in multiple pages and channels. One small change will be re-published immediately and is, certainly, key with regards to any legal information that may change on a regular basis.

Partial Content Re-use

This is when content re-use becomes more difficult to measure and also more difficult to manage from an authoring point of view. You may have a requirement to use only part of content already in existence. Your CMS should allow you to view what type of content already exists and easily allow re-use of those components. The obvious example would be product information or standard introductions to biographies or press releases.

Is This Useful for My Business?

Yes, re-use is nivana and whilst I would always suggest setting objectives and measurements before embarking on any project or strategy, struggling to measure re-use at the expense of other activities should not be pursued. Instead, using the above as guidance to your implementation of CMS and of content re-use should see your organization well on the way to best practice and efficient use of content. 

About the Author

Robert Bredlau serves as Director of International Business Development at e-Spirit.