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What to Do With Pre-Planned Content That Feels Irrelevant Today

12 Min Read

Our team at Lemonlight recently conducted a survey asking about marketing needs in the midst of COVID-19. One insight we gleaned from the results was the fact that many marketers had pre-prepared content that now feels useless. In our survey, 37.1% of respondents shared that sentiment. 

To help combat the feeling that your content is now obsolete, we wanted to share some tips for how to update, pivot, and freshen up your content to maintain its relevance in this new landscape. Let’s get started!

Written Content

Make tweaks to adjust context

In many cases, making your content publishable is just a matter of making small adjustments to clarify the context. This might mean adding a few sentences to apply your concept to this new business environment, adding a new introduction paragraph, or removing advice that is no longer practical. 

This process may sound daunting, but it typically only involves giving your content a once-over and seeing how it reads in the context of COVID-19. When you hit a point that doesn’t feel right to you, stop and ask yourself why. Then, make changes accordingly.

Adjust the overall concept

On the other hand, you may find that the core message of your piece is no longer relevant. This could be true if any of your key points hinge on going to public places, interacting with other people, or spending money frivolously. This content is still salvageable, but the process is different. 

Rather than trying to find specific word changes here and there, think instead about the overall wisdom your content was aiming to impart. Then brainstorm. Is there another way to fill that same need? 

For example, if you were going to share about how to network at a conference, could you write instead about how to make new contacts on LinkedIn? You’re still fulfilling the same overall function for your audience, but the advice is more practical and actionable in today’s terms. 

We go deeper into this concept here if you want more examples of what this might look like. 

Change tone

For companies with a more casual, playful, even sarcastic brand voice, updates may involve shifting the tone to be slightly more informational and formal. You’ll want to go through the piece assessing the way you’re addressing your audience rather than updating the information itself. 

Be aware that your audience is currently facing any number of stressful life experiences: loved ones getting sick, working from home while homeschooling children, losing jobs or taking salary cuts, and so on. Your typical spunky language may come across as insensitive or tone-deaf to someone experiencing one of these scenarios. 

The silver lining here is that updating tone is often easier than you’d think. In many cases, the tone is actually a reflection of a few key phrases here and there. “Fun” brand voices often rely on brief inserts of humor and sarcasm, scattered throughout a piece, to relay an overall feeling of lightheartedness. Comb through your piece to look for those phrases, and remove or replace them whenever appropriate. 

Partner with other brands to merge content

After going through this review process, you may find that some of your pre-prepared pieces are not as in-depth or holistic as you had originally intended. If you had to cut a paragraph or two in the interest of maintaining relevance, the finished product might not feel the way you wanted it to. You can always add additional content at this point by writing a new section or two to supplement what you already had. But, if that approach isn’t ideal, a great option is to partner with other brands or content creators to fill in the gaps. 

If you have contacts in your industry, why not reach out to them to see how their content strategy is faring? You may be able to share content, whether that means they contribute a section to your currently-unfinished post or you merge two pieces as a collaborative effort. You could distribute these pieces as guest content or partnered content, but either way, you get to utilize your content scraps with little additional effort.

Note that this is also a great strategy if you want to put out content but don’t have the internal resources to support it. If you have an excellent idea for an eBook but don’t have the capacity to get it done, could you reach out to another brand that might have a unique perspective to add? 

If each company is responsible for half the chapters, you just cut your workload back significantly, and you still get to produce helpful content to stay top-of-mind with your audience. It’s a win for everyone involved. 

Update distribution strategy

Once you feel good about the status of the content itself, you may also have to rethink your distribution strategy. For example, if you were planning a billboard campaign, now is probably not the time to proceed with that approach. 

Distribution through digital channels is proving to be especially successful right now. Consumers are engaging with these online spaces, and if you can provide useful or entertaining content, you’re filling a need for a captive audience. When in doubt, shift toward a digital strategy and monitor the results until you understand where to reach your specific audience right now. 

Social Content

Social content follows the same premise as written content, with an added caveat that any imagery in each post should also be respectful and relevant. 

To recap the advice for written content that applies here, go through the following process:

  1. If the concept of the post itself won’t resonate because of COVID-19, think through the goal of the post and brainstorm whether there’s another similar piece of content you could share to serve the same purpose. 
  2. Make tweaks to the caption language to add context and remove any phrases that no longer make sense.
  3. Give your post a once-over to assess whether the tone is appropriate. If it’s not (most likely too informal/playful), remove the phrasing that contributes to the casual tone and replace it with more straightforward language. 
  4. Assess your distribution strategy. If your post was solely for a social platform, you should have no problems with distribution. However, if social platforms were supplementing another distribution channel, you may need to rethink the combination and whether it will still be effective. 

Video Content

Finally, you may also have video content that feels ineffective if distributed as-is. Thankfully, even with video content, you have options.

Re-edit

If you have a finished video that you were preparing to distribute, first of all, we applaud you. Video content is consistently proving to be more effective than written content for common brand goals, so just by having a finished piece, you’re one step closer to boosting your brand’s awareness, engagement, and conversions. 

However, like written content, you may find that you make points throughout the video that detract from its value in the midst of COVID-19. If so, consider whether it’s possible to re-edit the footage to update the overall message. This might mean removing impractical on-screen text, cutting a few seconds of the dialogue that no longer makes sense, or even re-ordering the clips entirely to tell a new story. 

Your new deliverable will capitalize on all the benefits of video content without sacrificing on relevance or timeliness. 

Update your website instead of pushing distribution

Rather than editing your video, you could also rethink your distribution strategy. Incorporating videos on website landing pages is a great way to add value to your site. Wyzowl reports that 84% of marketers say video has helped draw people to their websites, and 80% say video increases dwell time once users are on the site. 

The beauty of distributing video content on your website is that it serves as evergreen content—content that will maintain its relevance and value over time. Because this is the case, no one will wonder why you’re not addressing COVID-19 or why you’re promoting your brand more aggressively than might be socially acceptable right now. So, if you love the video content you have but don’t think it’s appropriate for most distribution channels, embedding it on your website may be the answer.

If All Else Fails

Finally, if none of these options seem to work for your content, you can always hold your finished product until a later date when sharing the original might be more appropriate. If your content was especially timely (i.e., it won’t ever be shareable again), you might have to accept defeat and scrap it.

But, if your content will still have value if you share it six months from now, hold onto it until then and reassess again when the time comes. You’ll probably be grateful down the line when you have some content ready to go! 

Looking for more information?

Check out this related post for a deep-dive into one of these repurposing options.

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