Producing content that serves readers and the business objectives of the publisher — in this case, your law practice — is the No. 1 goal of a content strategy. Building an effective body of content requires consistent outreach. If you’ve been at it for a while, you know the work that’s involved. So what happens when there’s a glitch in the publication machine?
For the unprepared, it’s a crisis. Your article is due for a newsletter or a blog, and you’ve got zilch. Nada. A dry well. Panic leeches any remaining creativity from your brain, and suddenly you wonder why you got on this crazy content train in the first place.
This time will come; it’s inevitable. The solution is preparing for that eventuality. Think of it as having the ingredients on hand for simple dinners that you can throw together almost without thinking: the wisdom of minimalist food writer Mark Bittman meets legal publishing 2.0. Where to go for ideas? Your existing content, previously produced by that very smart person who feels inadequate at the moment.
Five Ideas to Get You Through a Deadline Crisis
So buck up. Here are some easy evergreen and repurposing solutions to get you over the hump.
Q&As. Take a post that your content analytics shows did well and retool it as a Q&A. Some readers will have missed your first post, others will need a reminder, and a few lucky readers will be able to take the message to heart and finally act on it when the content is presented in a new way. Use this chance to ask yourself what a reader wants to know, rather than what you think they need to know.
Updates. Take a post from 12 to 24 months ago and give it an update. Has the law changed? Have practices changed? Do we now have the benefit of experience to reflect on? How has your thinking evolved on the topic since the original post? You do readers a great service when you reassure them that you are on a topic and staying current. This shows them they can rely on you for updates, even when there may not be a natural news hook.
Top 3s. We are busy, busy people. There’s not much more that can fit into some of our brains. If readers are also tapped out, they are on “need-to-know” maintenance. Don’t overwhelm them. Take existing content and simplify it. Revive an older post and break it down into the “Top Three Things You Need to Know About X Today.” It’s the kind of content that gives a reader confidence they are still in the loop.
How-tos. This is a classic and a beloved cousin of the “top three.” It can be geared toward novices and generalists, or to specialists and those with decades of experience in the field. Look through your previous posts, find a topic that your readers need to be aware of now, and create a simple road map for mastery.
The roundup. Don’t re-create the wheel — borrow one. It’s perfectly fine to send out a newsletter or blog post that’s a compilation of attributed posts other smart people and news outlets have written. Done in moderation (unless this is your standard publishing model), providing top-quality curated content is just as valuable as creating your own, especially when you add a sentence or two of context and commentary.
Content Strategy Confession Time
This post was written because I faced a deadline and found myself avoiding writing. I needed my own advice. Very few of us are content machines that can sustain constant productivity. We hit ruts, have times when we need to devote more attention to clients, and even (gasp!) want to take a vacation. Plan ahead and add some of this writing to your pipeline. Or, keep this list handy so you can more easily craft a post when time is in short supply or creative juices are at ebb tide.