Patrick Hayslett

Evergreen Content: Making the Seasonal Relevant All Year

By: Patrick Hayslett | January 14, 2014 | 
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Evergreen Content: Make the Seasonal Relevant All YearBy Patrick Hayslett

“I want a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle!”

Groan.

Every Christmas, all day, you can be sure Ralphie’s quest for the ultimate BB gun will be playing on repeat.

You can also be sure that soon after, blogs and social media streams will be full of New Year’s posts like these fictional, tongue-in-cheek examples from yours truly:

  • PR is Dead. Long Live 2014’s Rising Stars: Seasonal Prognosticator and Hummingbird Watcher
  • New Year’s Content Resolution: Curate Posts I Didn’t Read
  • Mega Compilation: This Year’s 100 Greatest Lessons for Writing List Posts

All joking aside, it can be hard to stand out from everyone else.

Content Reuse? Try Evergreen Content.

With so much talk about content reuse, we forget the underlying themes of that content can also be reused.

One way to get a steady flow of content marketing ideas is to make seasonal content evergreen.

Think about it.

Seasonal content is built from emotions and sentiments relevant enough to show up year-after-year, even to the point of being cliché. Evergreen content never goes out of style.

If you hit on something powerful, why limit it?

The same appeal behind seasonal content can work just as well – or even more powerfully – when published out of season.

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, let’s look at this concept done successfully.

From the Big Screen to Forensic Sketches

Dove Soap is right there in the crowd of seasonal Valentine’s Day messaging. The appeal of taking a pause from the daily grind to reflect on the beautiful people around us and let them know they are appreciated is at the core of Valentine’s Day. In 2012, Dove stepped into the daily grind in more ways than one and helped people not only to remember, but to put this truth into action.

An interactive campaign at Victoria Station in London ran the entire week of Valentine’s Day. Busy commuters saw messages on the station’s large Transvision screen with questions inviting them to reflect on the beautiful women in their lives. Commuters were able to tweet or text their answers to each daily question on the screen such as “Who is the most beautiful woman in your life?” or “What makes you feel beautiful?”

The answers were then displayed on the screen for the 350,000 daily commuters to see. When the big day arrived, brand ambassadors handed out gifts related to the questions on-screen and tulips for commuters to give to someone special in their lives. The campaign was a success because it captured the seasonal message of Valentine’s Day, and brought it to people in meaningful ways through digital media and in-person representation.

It would be easy to celebrate the success and call it a wrap, but Dove realizes that “everyone has beauty and deserves a moment of appreciation” is also an evergreen content theme. A year after the successful London campaign, this evergreen theme was alive and well through creative out of season campaigns.

Enter “Real Beauty Sketches” which showed women they are more beautiful than they think.

The campaign used an FBI sketch artist to create portraits of women based on their self description; next, the artist created a second portrait from how other people described each woman.

The self-portraits were far less flattering, and the women had very emotional reactions when shown how they were really seen by others.

True love and beauty come from within, but sometimes people need their appearance validated, too.

Job well done, and fantastic use of personalized multimedia experiences.

How You Can Get Started with Evergreen Content

Go through the traditional U.S. media cycle and its key milestones: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Easter, March Madness – you name it.

Look at the common messages, and clichés, and write them down.

Next, brainstorm how the appealing theme behind each message can be put to use at other times in your content schedule.

This year, I wrote down the common headlines and ideas I saw for New Year’s related posts.

How could they be used at other times of the year with good effect?

Here are a few to get you started:

“Things you should know for…”

“What to look for…”

“What to expect…”

“What will shape…”

“How to reboot your…”

“Biggest influencers…”

I’d love to see your comments. What are some of your thoughts, ideas, doubts, and, yes, even criticisms?

About Patrick Hayslett


Patrick works with LinguaLinx, a global marketing company, to help corporations and government agencies create useful content for audiences at home and abroad. He is passionate about helping people from other cultures who speak different languages connect with each other in meaningful ways. His posts are also featured on Content Marketing Institute and B2Consumer.

  • Evergreen content is so important.  It can be prepared in advance and can be used when you are on vacation or out sick. It also really helps to develop out an editorial calendar and give your structure some bones.

    I know a lot of writers dislike evergreen content, but it really is an important part of an editorial plan.

  • ClayMorgan For sure. I think evergreen content can actually be fun to write and fun for others to read. You just have to frame it differently than most in a creative way so you’re not just another one of the crowd.

    With so many people who “tell,” those who “show” with examples and multimedia have a chance to breathe some life and interest into it. And what a great opportunity for a commentary piece!

  • Evergreen content actually is a lifesaver for many blogs. Not only does it get your readers out of the usual rut they expect to read from you but it’s also an opportunity to experiment with something new for your readers — a new style, a new topic, etc.

    If they end up loving the piece, then you know you can mimic that style and discourse for future posts.
    Personally, I love evergreen content. It’s mostly all that’s featured on my personal blog. I wish others utilized it more; however, I understand having a consistent and dependable editorial structure is also just as important. It’s the consistency that actually garners new followers and interests, not the evergreen material sadly.

  • JRHalloran Using an evergreen version of new content that breaks out of your main areas of consistency to test if there’s a fit? Smart!

    What about evergreen content that is central to and consistent with your main area(s) of coverage? Do you think it’s too boring or common to keep people around? 

    Any tips for how to package evergreen content in a way that makes it seem new, or from an angle that hasn’t been used? I found Dove to be a great example, but that’s just one.

    I’ve been thinking about how I would try to keep the paleo concept fresh if I was a food blogger for instance. It definitely stretches the creative ability!

  • PatrickHayslett ClayMorgan Aye, take a look at the editiorial calendar of just about *any* lifestyle magazine. There are certain topics that surface again and again: holiday giving guides, resolutions, summer drink and food recipes, destination getaways, etc. 

    When I was doing new business development for a local lifestyle magazine, my most effective pitch? We didn’t *really* have an editorial calendar that extended beyond two issues when most of the others had an editorial calendar planned out a year in advance. 

    Selling around an editorial calendar could be effective and frustrating — in nearly equal measure.

  • jasonkonopinski ClayMorgan  That’s a great point. What made that your most effective pitch?

    Do you think this issue is different for say, new authors and publications as opposed to established ones, or B2B vs. B2C, etc.?

  • necahae

    PatrickHayslett http://t.co/3HNRLM2rj1

  • AceConcierge

    PatrickHayslett Thank you for the RT Patrick

  • PatrickHayslett

    AceConcierge My pleasure!

  • PatrickHayslett  You could (and should) make evergreen content that is a little more consistent to style every time it appears, but remaining consistent to style cuts out your chance to experiment a new form. 
    For example, with the Brand.com Blog, I’m in the process of developing a feature article that’s a little off the beaten path from what we normally produce (Q&A-style interviews), but it’s still relevant to our topic (brand management) in a slightly new way.

    However, the only reason why it’s “new” is because there’s nothing else like it on the blog yet. If the piece receives a positive outcome, we’ll continue to produce similar pieces in the future, but then it will slowly become a “consistent” evergreen piece. 
    That make sense? I wish I had more examples, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

  • JRHalloran I think that makes sense. You’re considering not only topics to be evergreen, but also the formats in which those topics are presented? That’s a really useful mindset. Come to think of it, I learn as much or more from these comment threads than many articles out there 🙂 Thanks for adding value to the conversation!

  • PatrickHayslett Yes. Style and discourse matters just as much the content itself sometimes. 
     And I agree — the comments are really where you learn something new!

  • Very well thought article Patrick! Indeed evergreen content can be made to be relevant all year round.
    The ideas you have professed about creating  post titles for seasonal contents are fascinating!
    I have new insights from them and they are helpful. With the next season (Valentine) around the corner, I think it would be worthwhile to try one or more evergreen content from your idea! 🙂
    In kingged.com, the content syndication and social bookmarking website for Internet marketers, this post was shared, and I have left the above comment.
    Sunday – kingged.com contributor 

    http://kingged.com/evergreen-content-making-the-seasonal-relevant-all-year/

  • PatrickHayslett ClayMorgan Classic “what’s in it for me?”.  Magazines that had editorial calendars structured out that far in advance miss opportunities for new creative partnerships with their advertisers.  

    The magazine I worked for was a bit rebellious in everything that it did, and the publisher operated it entirely as a loss-leader for his mortgage business — but that’s a story for another day. 

    If I approached a new restaurant or brewery, for example, I could offer them a place in a key feature as a value-add for their ad contract.  Our page count fluctuated a bit issue to issue because we could experiment with new columns issue to issue. I wasn’t just selling ad inventory, I was also selling some strategic marketing bundled in.

  • Patrick, I think this blog post is a must-read for anyone in PR today. If you don’t mind, I’d like to include it in a larger piece I’m working on around brand journalism. I may ask you to add a few things, but I’ll email you about it later.

  • ginidietrich  Sure, happy to help in any way I can! I’m enjoying this community – just got started and already learning a lot from some smart comments and articles. 

    Like you say with the brand journalism, I think the difference between PR and content marketing is shrinking fast. I remember the John Deere magazine example from one of your webinars. 

    Another old school advertiser that was way ahead of his time with this stuff is Claude Hopkins. Wrote a great book called “My Life in Advertising.” In one cool example, he sold Schlitz beer when it had bottom level market share by using what I would consider to be brand journalism. Here’s the story:

    http://www.copyblogger.com/discover-your-hidden-remarkable-benefit/

    Cheers!

  • ginidietrich  Sure, happy to help in any way I can! I’m enjoying this community – just got started and already learning a lot from some smart comments and articles. 
    Like you say with the brand journalism, I think the difference between PR and content marketing is shrinking fast. I remember the John Deere magazine example from one of your webinars. 
    Another old school advertiser that was way ahead of his time with this stuff is Claude Hopkins. Wrote a great book called “My Life in Advertising.” In one cool example, he sold Schlitz beer when it had bottom level market share by using what I would consider to be brand journalism. Here’s the story:
    http://www.copyblogger.com/discover-your-hidden-remarkable-benefit/
    Cheers!

  • Love this! Why not hack the seasonal ideas and use them year round? Patrick, this is a great list to kick start the year.  I was talking to a local reporter recently about ideas for news stories and she mentioned the importance of evergreen content. She said things happen and advertisers cancel or other things to make space become available. She has a drawer of content ideas that she turns to during these times.  As a marketer, by having a good relationship with your media contacts, you can be the person supplying them with valuable content to fill-in when needed.

    Nice to connect with you!

  • jolynndeal Nice to connect with you too!
    I checked out your blog – the marketing plan and resource stand sections are great examples of content we need more of.
    Any tips or thoughts on what marketers and/or reporters can do to build and keep up those kinds of relationships? Having a “Plan B” is always good, and doing it ahead of time means you don’t have to schlep something vague out of necessity.

  • PatrickHayslett jolynndeal Thanks, Patrick. I’m peeking through your site too! 

    As for tips on building media relationships.  I look at media relations as any professional relationship. I learn as much about the reporter as I can before approaching. It’s important to have clear story ideas based on what you learn from reading their past stories.  Get the resources lined up and be ready to go, if they show an interest. Follow up and thank them for any coverage you receive. Connect and comment on other stories going forward.

    It’s most important to strive to build a genuine connection.  You just did that with me perfectly by taking the time to look at my blog and comment on it.  You are only the second person to do that in as many years, so it’s a stand out characteristic. For me it defines what “social” means in social media, but also in building relationships.

    But, now you’re stuck with me!

  • jolynndeal Hey I can deal with that – bring it 🙂 I like interacting with people that work hard to evolve along with their industry and be good at what they do.

  • jasonkonopinski ClayMorgan Did the magazines with editorial calendars structured so far in advance tend to be more established publications that were mostly interested in maintaining the position they have?
    I worked a short time for a Fortune 150 company that was the same way. I think they’ll always be around and never starving, but I also think that smaller competitors who are more agile can steal their lunch enough to also do well.

  • TopShelfCopy

    PatrickHayslett SpinSucks Not so much of a mess – but a mess it retains ill juju… Flag this and see WTH happens 😀

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  • I appreciated that Dove campaign – was truly shocking to see the difference in self-perception versus external perception.

    For our corporate blog, we are able to write evergreen content because it consists of How-Tos or best practices. For my personal blog, the topics may have evergreen application…but it can still be self-limiting since I like to write in sports analogies – usually based upon a recent sporting event. Umm, like the Broncos winning and going to the Super Bowl!!

  • dbvickery Your example of the recent sports analogies is a good one. It seems to me that in some cases the lines between evergreen content and trendy content are blurring. Maybe along the lines of evergreen theme told through the lens of a current hot topic. Are you coming across this in your experiences?

  • PatrickHayslett dbvickery Absolutely – so I am comfortable resharing much of the same content because the “sports situation” rarely goes away (turnovers in football, assists in basketball, etc). It is usually my own emotional response around a particular sporting event – like when the Broncos inexplicably lost to the Ravens in the playoffs last year due to their own Fear of Failure – that triggered the writing of the post.

    However, Fear of Failure is DEFINITELY an evergreen content topic.

  • dbvickery There’s another thing you picked up on…
    A little knowledge of Psychology goes a long way in parallel industries like ours. My wife is studying to be a clinical psych and what I’ve learned from her has had a big influence on my skills.
    I’ve read people are more motivated by loss of something than by potential gain for example, so you should use loss as your appeal. I don’t really like that, but I do try to use insight I consider to be more “white hat.”

  • PatrickHayslett dbvickery Chase after Gold Medals or Run Away from German Shepherds (saw that first in a book called “question based selling”, if I remember right).

    Of course, the best “loss lessons” are when you can learn from someone else’s loss. So if I right about the Broncos losing because of a Fear of Failure, then readers can take it to heart…so they do not experience the same predicament!

  • ginidietrich

    RonellSmith That’s my favorite guest post of the year so far! PatrickHayslett

  • RonellSmith

    ginidietrich PatrickHayslett Easy to see why. Very important points. I must read your site more often. Feel brighter when I do so.

  • PatrickHayslett

    RonellSmith ginidietrich Thanks! Honored that you found it useful. Since joining SpinSucks community I’ve learned a ton from other posts.

  • Pingback: 3 Valentine’s Day Ideas to Sweeten Your Content Marketing | SF Gazette()

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