This post originally appeared in the April 16, 2020 issue with the email subject line "Clean Pajamas."
My top priority today is not this newsletter. It’s laundry. Every ten days or so I lug my laundry down to the basement, and I ask myself why? I have so many clean clothes in my closet. All my pretty dresses and skirts, my blouses, highlights from a year of Stitch Fix orders, colors aplenty. I could probably go a month without doing laundry. Instead I’m washing the same marketing tshirts and sweatpants, jeans and cotton, running leggings and deacade-old racerbacks.
Why laundry? Why the neverending chore of dirtying and filling and cleaning and emptying?
Clean pajamas are better than dirty pajamas. That’s the mantra. And let’s be realistic: it’s all iterations of pajamas these days. A band tshirt and jeans, athleisure, actual jammie jams, repeat ad nauseam.
Yesterday I put on a fresh white blouse for a video client meeting. It felt glorious and alien, like looking back at my vacation photos from seven weeks ago. When my ten minutes of speaking were up and I logged off, I hung the blouse back in the closet. Changed back.
Those of us lucky enough to be safely quarantined are not only reckoning with the state of our world, but also the reality of our person. Our daily activities feel both meaningfully stripped down and hella grungy. We work in our pajamas, we leisure in our pajamas, we exercise in our pajamas, and then we sleep. Piles of pajamas overflow from our hampers. Our pajamas, our selves.
Pajamas are opt-in, what we choose, our organic. I’m skeptical of any non-organic or sales content now; to me, it feels like profiteering in a massive public health crisis. I’m even skeptical of the ads for pajamas!
Regardless of what your ad agency tells you, yeah, maybe you should chill on the paid media for the next little while. Brands seem to be reading the room well and pulling back; the programmatic ads I’m served are either really terrible or illegally hawking gouged PPE. Even those of us maintaining our incomes (as I am lucky enough to be able to do for the time being) are apprehensive about buying anything at all.
But spend the time and effort considering organic activities, the information-seeking ones, the ones that get lost in the flurry of production: even if your audience is not ready for your brand or activity now, prep your content to be ready for them when they feel better. While we can’t predict future digital behavior, we can reexamine and clean up how we’re positioned.
Organic content is always a long play, since it takes search engines several weeks to process new content. Creating organic content forces you to examine who you are as a brand, as a storyteller. Your organic content should your essential band tshirt self, even if plan to put on a blouse later in the day.
So here are some content laundry tasks that might make you feel a little better, if you’re in the place to create communications and stare at info right now:
- Content performance audit for web, email and social
- Revising and considering content creation pillars
- Understanding the intent of how, why and when people are searching for your content
- Reevaluating a start-to-finish customer journey, especially in your current empathetic mindset
- Taking time to understand the unknowns in your process: the measurements you don’t get or processes that have always baffled you.
- Cleaning up your databases, your automations, your metadata (seriously, how many tags do you have on your blog, how did they get there, and is anyone using them?)
- Creating a style guide or pattern library if you don’t already have one
- Fix all your broken links and lingering 301s
- Figuring out how to pay and protect essential workers fairly and equitably instead of just thanking them or throwing temporary donations at them (had to throw this in there)
Not every activity right now needs to be meaningful, but if you are wondering how you can make it through the next month, remember: clean pajamas are better than dirty pajamas. And you’re still gonna wear pajamas once this is all over.