How do I know reviewing already-published content is your least favorite activity? Because you never do it.
I know that because I found the page on your website promoting the 2014 pricing. And the registration link for the event you held 3 months ago. And the page that announces “this year’s” ad campaign that was 4 campaigns ago.
I’m not trying to play gotcha, so I won’t be sharing screen shots of these kinds of issues. We’ve all got them, so I’m pretty confident it’s a war of mutually assured destruction, anyway.
But I want to share this gentle reminder that many of these issues are preventable with minor planning on the front end, and a formal content review from time to time.
Content Review Strategies
- You can certainly set pages or links to expire in many content management systems. However, many events or campaigns that end need to remain archived on your site in some fashion. I see many conferences doing a super job with this nowadays: When the event is over, they leave up the agenda, linking to slides from presenters or video captured at the event. If you’re considering registering for next year’s event before the full agenda is announced, you can see what to expect by looking at last year’s agenda. Speakers can see whether they should pitch this conference or not. Sponsors can tell at a glance whether this is the kind of event they want to be part of the next time around.
- When you post something that is updated from time to time, put a note on your calendar for the day that this information goes out of date (or a little bit ahead of time if you need to plan its replacement). Think university tuition rates. Pricing information for any other product or service. And more subtle, but important: Content tied to time-limited advertising campaigns. If I show up on the Starbucks site now, it’s going to feel weird if I stumble across peppermint info, when I should be seeing pumpkin spice promotions—unless Starbucks decides to put up a peppermint tribute page. (I’d argue this is actually a great idea for customer-favorite, seasonal products: Just 70 more days til Peppermint Hot Chocolate returns! I made that date up, in case you’re actually counting down.)
- You can predict when some changes will be required, seasonally, or triggered by another event, perhaps. For these, it’s invaluable to have either an inventory of your content that identifies issues you want to pay attention to, or the ability to tag facets of your content as you create it.
- The tougher cases are the things that might change in the future, but that we can’t predict in advance. Since we do a lot of work in healthcare, we see this from time to time. Occasionally, the government or a national standards organization changes what’s called the “standard of care” in medicine. That means that the recommended treatment plan for a condition is revised. Think about when they started giving aspirin to people who were suspected of having had a heart attack, for instance. Or when the recommendations for prescribing statins changed recently. What content do you have that needs to be updated in that kind of situation? We could think of analogous situations in many industries.
- If your content lives in some searchable form, you may be able to find most of it by doing a text-based search for particular terms or numbers. (Or, this may be when you discover that your content administration tools are inadequate. You won’t be the first person to discover that you can’t actually do a full-text search of your content. Or that your full-text search is so comprehensive you need advanced search capabilities you don’t have in order to find what you’re looking for.)
- Finally, you may need to formally set aside time for content review. Look at your app, your website, and other publications—once a quarter, once a year, whatever cadence your industry requires. A formal content review can help you catch those little details that you’ve missed, and freshen them up as necessary to keep your information looking professional and polished.