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July 17, 2019  //       //  Opinion

What to do when your content fails

By: Jide Adesesan 


As PR professionals, we are great content creators who know what good content looks like. However, every so often, even the best can sometimes produce a dud. So, what do you do when your content fails? 

First, don’t be hard on yourself – it’s difficult to create and develop great content. A lot of time, strategy and effort go into creating a quality research paperblog or video, so we despair when things don’t go our way. Instead, if the content doesn’t meet expectations – i.e. low viewing numbers, click-throughs or download rates – follow one of these steps below to turn it around and get that campaign back on track. 

What did you miss? 

For your content to work, it must be relevant and timely. The sweet spot is where your audience’s interests and challenges overlap with you and the client’s business objectives. 

Reflect on what you might have missed the first time around. Consider if you have taken the audiences into account: did you misjudge what they want or find important?  

The most common problem when it comes to failing content is misunderstanding the audience and what it takes to coax them into action. 

What’s your content tilt? 

So, you’ve found your sweet spot and understand what your audience wantto read about. Now what?  

It’s time to find out why the original content failed your expectations. Ideally, you want to create a piece of content that can compete with the hundreds of thousands of links on the internet that promise the same thing you are selling.  

Be sure to scan what your competitors say about the topic and find the gap – the tilt – that separates your content and gives it a fighting a chance. For instance, if your content is around the keys to a successful digital transformation, then I’ve got bad news for you, pal! 

Also, think about your headline – you only have one chance to make a good first impression. 

Raise visibility 

Help your customers find you by investing in content distribution. There are a number of cost-effective channels available, such as social media paid campaigns and email marketing.  

It’s also worth putting in the time to make sure your work is optimised to improve your online visibility. Check out these free SEO tools. Better yet, speak to one of our All Told colleagues to support your effort.  

Manage expectations 

This is the most difficult aspect of correcting failing contentand it’s also the most critical. What are you trying to achieve with this piece of content? Are you trying to drive sales or raise awareness? And, can your content really help achieve all these objectives? How do we measure success? 

If you haven’t already, this is when you need to have an honest conversation with your team to discuss what’s gone wrong and how you propose to fix it. But you also need to be forthright about expectations and what the content is likely to deliver. 

What do you do with bad, unengaging content?  

The question of whether to purge any particular piece of work depends on a number of factors – is this content useful to anyone? If I removed it from the website or archive, would anyone miss it? Does it damage the brand?  

We are not perfect and sometimes get it wrong. But the important thing to remember is all is not lost and almost any piece of work is salvageable. Start again with the basics and give your content time to do well.  


Jide Adesesan is a senior account executive in Allison+Partners’ London office. 

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