Archives can be used in many ways. They can feed quizzes, populate features and anniversaries, and be a source of valuable evergreen content. It can also work the other way. Education Week and MedLearn Media have had quizzes for years now, and the answers turn into their own impressive archive and search platform.
Education Week’s latest quiz is How Much Do You Know About Literacy? It’s sponsored by Lexia Learning, but “Education Week has full editorial control of content.” I got 3 out of 7 right—“Looks like you didn’t quite pass. See answers and learn more below.” Lexia gets a “Find a Solution” button, and, more importantly, all of this information becomes part of a vast archive.
One of my favorite publisher 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. While this does take some upkeep, all that information adds up to a hefty Compliance Question Archive that can be searched with the probe, “Looking for an answer?”
Quizzes are just one way to use and populate an archive. Here are other ideas that can provide value to your audience.
Dig for historic value. Your institutional memory matters. You have old publications with significant value, just sitting on shelves—print or digital—somewhere in a makeshift morgue. Do 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. And if you’ve been doing this a while, This Day in Our History or 10 Years Ago This Month… can make for a fun look back. Maybe there’s an old pay phone in a picture—I just saw one in perfect shape at the National Building Museum (but it was real, not part of an exhibit).
Look for evergreen content ideas. Fall for the Books, Spring Cleaning Ideas (for Your Organization). Things to Be Thankful for at Thanksgiving. At the start of our in-person events, I update the blog post 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—especially in their travel, relationship and restaurant columns. Some of the relationship discussions go as far back as 20 years ago! I guess some of those situations and the advice for them does not change much. I’ve always thought that the Q&A parts of webinars can be more valuable than the presentations, but they often get lost being at the end. Publish those Q&As as a special column.
Take a quarterly look at what has resonated most. Be transparent—let your audience know what your most popular posts were. “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.” 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.
Make access to your archives a valued commodity. As part of its landmark campaign for its 75th anniversary celebrations, the Association for Computing Machinery is opening up a large portion of its archives, reports Associations Now. ACM will make the first 50 years of its published records—more than 117,500 documents dating from 1951 to 2000—accessible to the public without a login. “It’s nice to link it to the 75th celebration year in general, but the emphasis was really coming from what it takes to get the Digital Library fully open,” said CEO Vicki L. Hanson. “All those seminal articles from years ago can be made available to everyone.”
In 2012, Harvard Business Publishing made the decision to open archive access to subscribers on hbr.org and haven’t looked back. They saw a 20% increase in subscription revenue right away.