Misadventures in Content Production: Copying & Pasting is Not Reuse

Overcoming the Never-Ending Maintenance Menace

The term “reuse” gets thrown around a lot in regard to content management and maintenance, particularly when dealing with content at scale.
But did you know that most content authoring and management tools that tout reuse are essentially just copying and pasting? 
Let’s be clear: copying and pasting is NOT reuse. 

However, many organizations have bought into this inaccurate and, let’s be honest, inefficient copy-and-paste approach because, on the surface, it seems fast and easy. Need to reuse that section of content? Just copy and paste it into the new deliverable — easy as that! It’s no wonder CTRL V / CTRL C has arguably become one of of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts for content authors, especially when projects need to get out the door in a hurry.

But what happens to all those copy-and-paste iterations when an update comes along? 

Determining all the locations that need to be updated becomes a gargantuan task when dealing with content at scale — let alone tracking down all of those editable files. 


Copying and pasting may be suitable for a one-and-done piece of content, but let’s be honest, when is content truly ever “one-and-done?” 

What happens when demand grows, and that “one and done” deliverable needs to be implemented in different formats to meet the needs of multiple audiences, roles, education levels or languages?  

Create Once & Reuse Anywhere

Both content needs and the content itself are almost inevitably going to change or evolve at some point. A great piece of content can be used in a wide range of modalities and output types, from traditional digital and print content delivery channels to emerging platforms like chat bots and other AI-driven technology. 

As organizations continue to drive greater personalization and strive to serve more diverse audiences with greater granularity, all the different versions and iterations of each piece of content can quickly and exponentially result in a significant maintenance burden.

Is your organizations striving to reuse content effectively and sustainably? Copying and pasting simply won’t cut it.

The Key to Reuse is Linking — Not Copying & Pasting

Whether a small piece of on-demand micro-content, a quick chat thread, a comprehensive training course, or a printed brochure, true content reuse is the ability to use the same core pieces of content in an endless variety of compilations and configurations, and to deliver them in a multitude of format types to any number of channels and locations — all while maintaining a single source of truth. 

When content is linked instead of copied and pasted, edits and updates can be made once, to the source content, and automatically pushed to every location that content is used, regardless of context, format, or deliverable type, so that — event at a global scale — content personalization and localization don’t create a maintenance burden.

As referenced in our previous article, Misadventures in Content Production: Separating Content from Presentation to Save the Day, (or, Why “Rapid” Tools Aren’t Really Rapid,) our research has consistently shown that content authors spend about 60% of their time on layout and formatting & only 40% of their time on actual content development. 

This includes the time required to create multiple versions of the same content for different deliverable types and channels. Where’s the efficiency in that?


Why Reuse? Limitless Customizable Deliverables

As organizations seek to organize and manage their content at scale, implementing a reuse strategy becomes critical to the ability to personalize content to the level that audiences expect, regardless of whether they are internal or external. Reuse allows organizations to utilize existing content in a variety of deliverables and output types (HTML5, Word, PowerPoint, SCORM packages, chat bots, etc.,) and to customize the contextual content needed for a each unique audience — without starting from scratch each time.

Reusing content across a variety of outputs and formats allows organizations to:

  • Target and personalize content for individual audiences based on their unique needs and journeys
  • Reach new audiences and expand to global markets by re-purposing existing content for diverse user groups (based on region, language, role, etc.)
  • Update and redeploy content quickly and seamlessly regardless of deliverable type
  • Repackage and re-purpose core content at multiple levels of granularity to fit any channel or platform (chat bot, AR/VR, HTML5, SCORM, etc.)
  • Improve consistency across all communications and extend content longevity
  • Reduce content development and maintenance time

Creating unique content takes a great deal of time and effort — the ability to reuse core content and easily re-package it in endless combinations and output types allows organizations to efficiently personalize their content, no matter how many audiences they serve.

True reuse is not only possible, it’s sustainable — but not without the right technology tools and content strategy in place.  

As organizations implement more and more automation, from chat bots to AR, and grow to serve larger and more diverse audiences, it is essential that they also put a flexible and centralized content management strategy and ecosystem in place to support it.

Adopting a reuse-driven content strategy based on intelligent linking (not copying and pasting!) and single source of truth allows organizations to more efficiently personalize content at scale to serve increasingly diverse audiences, quickly update content at the source when needed and seamlessly push updates to every location and deliverable the content is used, and position their organizations for success in an ever-changing and expanding content management and delivery landscape.

Got Content Problems?

At Xyleme, we specialize in partnering with our customers to solve the complex content problems other solutions don't have the depth or breadth to tackle.
If your content management challenges feel
overwhelming, we can help.

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