We all know the phrase, “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.” The metaphor is quick. It also illustrates the value of content strategy.
The metaphor is quick and powerful because it brings together three truths that we inherently know about life and the need to structuring processing like content strategy.
Lesson one: You can have too much information to consume: The big haystack.
Lesson two: When left unstructured, it creates a blinding and unproductive, non-manageable level of clutter.
Lesson three: This clutter and disorganization fights your desire to find valuable content: the needle.
Why do we allow the needle to get lost in the haystack in the first place?
This lesson, too is universal and timeless: laziness or lack of foresight.
Those of us who are not clairvoyant, I included, don’t know what content or when assets, like content, will be important to us in the future. As a result, we won’t manage it well.
Director David Lynch taught me a lesson about managing content and haystacks.
As a kid I had the vinyl soundtrack to the 1984 version of the movie Dune directed by David Lynch. As the movie aged and I cared for it less, I got lazy with where I kept the album. A decade later, a friend from London called and asked if I still had the soundtrack as what once cost me 11 dollars was now valued in the thousands.
As that content literally became valuable to me again at the moment. So I looked for it. And in my case, my haystack” was my parents’ house where I grew up. With the album a faint memory, I had no idea where that album could be in the house. And the fact that my parents’ house was cluttered from attic to garage to shed with decades-forgotten consumer items, made the album almost impossible to find.
Had I thought it was valuable back in 1984. I would have watched over it better and been more thoughtful about where I put it so it could be found.
When it comes to information that we are indifferent to, we treat it indifferently. As a result, we don’t bother to structure it or, like that catch-all drawer we have in the house, we just throw everything in it. Over time, cluttering info we don’t need piles on.
And when a situation arises when the content is needed, we can’t remember it exists, or can’t find it.
Speaking of haystacks. Companies and digital content.
Companies generate so much data and content. And when those pages that talk about last year’s product, or cover a topic that isn’t the bestseller list or not coming off the CEOs lips at conferences, it’s easy to ignore it, then ignore governance, and just keep generating content and pages for the newest, next big thing.
That’s when you get your haystack. And one day, you’ll need to find a needle.