Best Practices for Content Syndication

Best Practices for Content Syndication

by Communiqué PR (US) 29 September, 2016

As more and more businesses are creating unique content to reach key audiences, we thought it would be helpful to outline some best practices around syndication agreements. Content syndication is the act of giving other organizations the right to copy or republish your work – in the form of print material, video, music or digital content – in exchange for money or attribution.

It is a common practice at many news organizations and television franchises to syndicate their content as a way to extend its lifecycle, reach additional people or to secure incremental revenue from it. Consider Law & Order, the successful legal drama TV series created by Dick Wolf and his franchise.

Law & Order originally aired on NBC, but later the franchise syndicated the series on other cable networks. According to Wikipedia, “Repeats of Law & Order were first broadcast weekdays on A&E beginning in the mid-1990s and are credited with drawing a new audience to the current weekly NBC episodes. As of January 1, 2014, the series is being telecast on SundanceTV, TNT, WE tv, and WGN America.”

Companies producing compelling original content can emulate Dick Wolf and his team. First, they can publish their content on their own website; then, they can offer it to others who might benefit from republishing it. INRIX does this with its real-time traffic data. They provide alerts to their customers and also make this same data available to local broadcast journalists. Zillow too publishes information on celebrity homes and provides some of this same content to news partners.

While some might be skeptical, content syndication is truly not has hard as you think. Consider Alaska Airlines’ blog. A few years ago Halley Knigge, who runs it, produced a story “Flying with Luly: How to pack a wedding dress.” This story featured videos and step-by-step instructions for packing different styles of wedding dresses. This niche content is interesting to a special group of people, brides who are traveling to destination weddings.

The existence of this content spells opportunity for Alaska Airlines. They could offer Brides Magazine an opportunity to syndicate all or part of this story for publication on its website. In exchange for the content, Alaska Airlines would ask for a link back to its website. Alternatively, Alaska Airlines could offer to develop a series of articles providing tips for planning the destination wedding.

As you think about leveraging the content you create, there are a few rules and best practices to keep in mind.

  • Be clear on your objectives for syndicating content. Why do you want to syndicate your work? Do you think syndication will help you reach different audiences? Will it help you expand your reach to more people? Will it allow you to build your brand or generate revenue? Will it help with SEO? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you be strategic in your partnerships.
  • Identify unique content that only your organization is collecting. For instance, companies such as INRIX and Zillow have compelling and relatively scarce data. Does your company have data that is exclusive and scarce enough that news outlets might be interested in syndicating it?
  • Think about the value of this content as it pertains to your potential syndication partner. Who are your partner’s audiences? How would this content help them? It is important to answer these questions before you reach out to potential partners or begin packaging up your original work. Clarity on your partner’s needs will increase your chance of reaching out to the right potential partner as well as your ability to offer them valuable content, which is the first step in forging a successful syndication agreement.
  • Identify the decision maker. To successful place your content, you need to find a manger with the power to place it. This person’s title will vary depending on the organization and the content you have to offer. For instance, in broadcast TV, you might want to reach out to a producer. If you are trying to place content with Brides Magazine, you should start with an online editorial director. Don’t be discouraged if you get bounced from one person to another. Sometimes you have to reach out to multiple managers to find the decision maker.
  • Consider the frequency in which you might be able to provide content to your partners. You may want to develop and provide content to your partner once a week, month, quarter or year. Your partner may have formal requirements or they might accept content as you have it. Finally, make sure you have the staff and resources to sustain your program. The last thing you want to do is set up an agreement with a partner only to learn you cannot deliver.
  • Put an agreement in place. You want to ensure there are shared expectations on the content you will deliver and when you will deliver it. You also need to know what you will receive in return for providing your partner with the content. Your attorney may want to outline the terms in an explicit letter of agreement or contract.
  • Support your partners. When your partner shares your content, it’s good etiquette to amplify their activities by posting links to their site from your social media accounts.
  • Know how you will measure the success of your program. According to Dominick Miserandino, CEO of Dysleximedia LLC, “Measuring ROI around content syndication is often something that people overlook. They get overly focused on placement of content without analyzing success.” It is a good idea to have evaluation criteria outlined from the get-go. This might include a number of referrals from a publishing partner’s website, incremental revenue generated from syndicated content or an increase in overall brand awareness.
  • Confirm ownership of content. Finally, remember you cannot grant syndication rights for content that you do not own. You must own the copyright before you syndicate content – otherwise, you open yourself up to significant and often thorny legal issues.

With these best practices in mind, content syndication can prove to be a powerful method of boosting your company’s presence and advancing its goals. At Communiqué, we regularly syndicate our blog posts – you can read more about our syndication experiences here. You can also find more tips on how to repurpose original content here. If you have any additional thoughts or tips, feel free to leave a comment below.

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