How to Cook an Egg — 60 Million Ways to Repurpose Content

Brands and agencies commonly tout the idea of repurposing as a quick-win, when in reality the process can be long-winded and fraught with expectation issues.

To illustrate: if you asked a friend what they would like for dinner and they responded by asking for a “cooked egg”, what would you give them?

Boiled, scrambled, poached, half-cooked or fried? Or perhaps something along the lines of a Scotch egg? A quick Google search finds almost 60 million results for “Cook an egg”. And there’s probably as many ways to repurpose content.

As brands continue to ramp up the volume and scale of their content repositories, repurposing is increasingly seen as an easy-win to create additional content, which, in theory, can be used to meet the needs of different audience segments. But here’s the challenge: everybody has their own view on repurposing, and nobody is right or wrong. 

Rotten Eggs

Two years ago, John Brown Novus was commissioned by a global bank to “repurpose” content from a research report. Seven months into the project the client still hadn’t published any of this material because among a team of six people there were as many different opinions on what repurposing is.

Creators see their work as gold dust, yet marketers view content as something that can be dabbled with, as and when.

Much of this misalignment stems from differences of opinion between creators and marketers. Creators see their work as gold dust, yet marketers view content as something that can be dabbled with, as and when. Writers and creatives see their work like a Michelin-star chef views their own version of eggs Benedict — a beautifully crafted dish that is rich in flavour and highly appealing to the eyes and appetite. Any alteration or interference once plated is sacrilege. Marketers, however, often see such food as literally that — food, albeit very tasty and well presented, but nothing more than an egg with fancy sauce, per se.

An added challenge is when non-content people get involved in the “repurposing” debate. Here, all types of nonsensical ideas are often brought to the table, further confusing and irritating all parties. Incidentally, the bank project was (unsurprisingly) never published.

Side Dishes

The solution is to avoid repurposing content and create original work that complements and supports existing material. Ghostwriting an opinion piece on the topics addressed in a research report, for instance, is one way to avoid ambiguity and not upset the document’s authors. It is also a way to speed up the approval process — particularly if the author is senior management.

The solution is to avoid repurposing content and create original work that complements and supports existing material.

Other types of content that better replace “repurposed” materials include use of infographics, animated visualisations, and perhaps a blog post debating the issues addressed in the report. The list is endless.

Think of this approach as merely adding a muffin, banana or whatever takes your fancy to the eggs Benedict: two creations sitting side by side. Just like the research report and a blog.