Turning Yesterday's Content Into Today's Gold

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One of my favorite SIPA member features continues to be MedLearn Media's Compliance Question of the Week. There are weekly questions in six categories: Cardiology, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Radiology, Respiratory and General. So this does take some upkeep. There's also a search function—"Looking for an answer?"—a Compliance Question Archive, and a simple SIGN UP button.

This week's question for Radiology is: "For reporting MRA procedures, is it required to have 3-D post-processing stated in the report?" Hit READ THE ANSWER, and you get a succinct solution, with this sales addendum: "This question was answered in our Breast & Bone Density Procedure Coding Guide. For more hot topics relating to radiology services, please visit our store or call us at 1.800.252.1578, ext. 2."

This is need-to-know content AND it builds up a comprehensive Compliance Question Archive. Their archives go back much longer than the patience I have to keep hitting "Older Posts."

Archives can provide a useful resource for you and your audience. Here are other ideas that make use of archives.

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. We love nostalgia. "On this date: 1/15/1892," Axios wrote, "James Naismith published the original rules of 'Basket Ball' in Triangle Magazine, a monthly journal published by Springfield College, where Naismith was a graduate student and instructor." And if you've been doing this a while, 5 Years Ago on This Day or May 9 in SIPA History can make for a fun look back. (Hmmm, I should do that more.)

Use for gamification. We all like the occasional quiz—look at the ratings-bonanza Jeopardy Greatest of All Time that just took place—and your archives can be a great source of information for the questions for those quizzes. Education Week and Kiplinger both do a great job with their quizzes, and again the information piles up the more you keep doing them.

Look for evergreen content ideas. Spring Cleaning (of 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. Last year, a member told me about a post they had first used in 2013 offering reminders or ideas to try. "While it's still highly relevant, it's not exactly earth-shaking advice," she wrote me. Yet the article received 144 likes and 45 comments from people sharing some of the advice. Five of those comments came in well after the post, so it was still resonating.

Use content from your online 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.

Take a quarterly look at what has resonated most. You have the analytics. Be transparent—let your audience know what your most popular posts were. We've been doing this for the last couple years and have received good feedback. 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. "People forget about 90% of what they read after 12 weeks," said Luis Hernandez, editor in chief for InvestorPlace Media. "Check your analytics and repeat your most popular posts every quarter."

Make access to your archives a valued commodity. In 2012 Harvard Business Publishing made the decision to open archive access to subscribers on hbr.org and haven't looked back. "We heard people recognized [back] issues by covers, so we started posting images of covers [to help them find key content]," said Emily Neville-O'Neill, director of product at HBR. "We saw a 20% increase in subscription revenue right away."

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…