The Public Relations BlogDigital PRContent & InboundContent Themes PR Strategy: The Power of Quarters

Content Themes PR Strategy: The Power of Quarters

Structure your content for better results.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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What are con­tent themes?

In this art­icle, I will demon­strate the value of struc­tur­ing your con­tent into con­tent themes and explain why you should con­sider apply­ing this strategy for bet­ter results.

As a digit­al strategist, I’ve been design­ing con­tent mar­ket­ing strategies for numer­ous brands since 2005. Using con­tent themes is a PR strategy access­ible to almost any organisation.

Here we go:

Start With the Core Message

Core message in public relations.
The core mes­sage for pub­lic rela­tions professionals.
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Core Message vs Slogan

A core mes­sage is the found­a­tion­al concept for all mar­ket­ing and com­mu­nic­a­tion strategies. 

Unlike a slo­gan, which can be seen as a catchy, often super­fi­cial tagline, the core mes­sage is a deep­er, con­sist­ent nar­rat­ive that con­veys a brand’s fun­da­ment­al val­ues and promises.

Core mes­sage = the fun­da­ment­al idea or prom­ise that a brand con­sist­ently com­mu­nic­ates across all plat­forms, defin­ing its val­ues and what it stands for in every inter­ac­tion with its audi­ence.

Slogan = a catchy phrase or series of words used in mar­ket­ing and advert­ising to quickly cap­ture atten­tion and accur­ately encap­su­late a brand’s appeal or mission.

Together, the core mes­sage and the slo­gan ensure all com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing activ­it­ies are aligned, rein­for­cing the brand’s iden­tity and mis­sion across all platforms.

Please note: Seen as a prom­ise, the core mes­sage must reflect the organ­isa­tion’s main advant­age over com­pet­ing organ­isa­tions. All mar­ket­ing- and com­mu­nic­a­tion activ­it­ies must rein­force this sen­ti­ment more clearly than any efforts by their competitors.

Core Message vs Slogan Examples

These examples show­case how the core mes­sage com­mu­nic­ates a deep­er, ongo­ing mis­sion or cus­tom­er prom­ise. In con­trast, the slo­gan is a catchy, imme­di­ate hook that com­ple­ments and enhances the core message.

Red Bull

  • Core Message: Energizes and enhances per­form­ance in extreme sports and adven­tur­ous activities. 
  • Slogan:Red Bull gives you wings.”

Apple

  • Core Message: Innovating user-friendly tech­no­logy with soph­ist­ic­ated design to enhance every­day life. 
  • Slogan: “Think Different.”

McDonald’s

  • Core Message: Providing con­sist­ently good food quickly in a fam­ily-friendly environment. 
  • Slogan: “I’m lov­in’ it.”

Microsoft

  • Core Message: Creating tech­no­logy that empowers every per­son and every organ­isa­tion on the plan­et to achieve more. 
  • Slogan: “Be what’s next.”

Ikea

  • Core Message: Making styl­ish, func­tion­al, and afford­able Scandinavian fur­nish­ings avail­able in the spir­it of every­day simplicity. 
  • Slogan: “The Wonderful Everyday.”

Nike

  • Core Message: Inspiring ath­letes every­where to reach their poten­tial with innov­at­ive sports gear. 
  • Slogan: “Just Do It.”

IBM

  • Core Message: Developing tech­no­logy and con­sult­ing to lead busi­nesses towards innov­a­tion and efficiency. 
  • Slogan: “Let’s put smart to work.”

Spotify

  • Core Message: Personalise music stream­ing exper­i­ences to con­nect users with the right music for every moment. 
  • Slogan: “Music for every moment.”

Learn more: The Core Message

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Establish Content Themes

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Content Themes

Let’s use a fic­ti­tious example of an IT com­pany. First, they decide on a core mes­sage for their con­tent strategy:

Core mes­sage: We make IT easy to understand.

Then, the IT com­pany breaks their core mes­sage down into four busi­ness-crit­ic­al con­tent themes:

Q1 Content Theme: We make people under­stand the Internet of Things (IoT).

Q2 Content Theme: We make people under­stand busi­ness auto­ma­tion.

Q3 Content Theme: We make people under­stand cloud com­put­ing.

Q4 Content Theme: We make people under­stand man­aged services.

For easy plan­ning and boost­ing SEO with con­tent sky­scrapers, you can cre­ate con­tent pack­ages for each theme.

Using con­tent themes comes with sev­er­al upsides:

  • Planning. Using con­tent themes makes it easi­er to plan your mes­saging for the year.
  • Visibility. Search engines love it when you pro­duce and pub­lish related content.
  • Growth. You’re provid­ing valu­able and ever­green con­tent on a niche topic.

Learn more: The Content Themes PR Strategy

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Create Content Packages

Content packages.
Content pack­ages.
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Content Packages

When estab­lish­ing con­tent themes, it’s best prac­tice to pro­duce con­tent pack­ages for each theme (to build con­tent sky­scrapers).

You should strive to pro­duce vari­ous types of top­ic-spe­cif­ic con­tent that will:

  • Inspire
  • Convince
  • Inform
  • Support
  • Educate
  • Entertain

A pack­age could con­tain the fol­low­ing types of top­ic-spe­cif­ic content:

Learn more: Content Packages (And What To Include)

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Focus On Evergreen Content

Evergreen Content

What’s ever­green con­tent? For a piece of con­tent to be ever­green, it must sus­tain its value over time. This means the con­tent must be rel­ev­ant today, tomor­row, and the fore­see­able future.

While news con­tent might have a more sig­ni­fic­ant short-term impact, ever­green con­tent accu­mu­lates over time.

There are dif­fer­ent ways to lever­age ever­green con­tent. I recom­mend a few axioms for Evergreen Content:

  • Two years. To be con­sidered ever­green con­tent, con­tent must be rel­ev­ant and valu­able for at least two years. It’s an arbit­rary time frame, but if an organ­isa­tion can pro­duce con­tent last­ing two years, it will typ­ic­ally last much longer.
  • Actual interest. To be con­sidered ever­green con­tent, there must be an exist­ing volume of search engine users look­ing for the inform­a­tion. The con­tent will nev­er be ‘ever’ without ‘green’ search volumes.
  • Gentle garden­ing. Evergreen con­tent will only stay ever­green if you tend to it occa­sion­ally. To check if everything’s work­ing, add some­thing help­ful if needed, and per­haps clean out some unne­ces­sary stuff. It’s a bit like garden­ing, I find. 
  • Personal touch. It’s dif­fi­cult to pub­lish some­thing unique. However, adding your brand’s ton­al­ity and flair to the con­tent is always pos­sible. The object­ive is to estab­lish trust and author­ity, so a touch of per­son­al­ity matters.

Evergreen con­tent is an inbound approach to build­ing core mes­sages, con­tent themes, con­tent pack­ages, deep con­tent, and con­tent sky­scrapers.

Learn more: The Evergreen Content PR Strategy: Forever Is a Long Time

Structure Deep Content

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Deep Content

Above is an example of an online con­tent struc­ture that’s five levels deep. In the example above, five lay­ers of ever­green con­tent are stacked:

  • Level 1: Articles
  • Level 2: Content Upgrade
  • Level 3: Resource/​Lead Magnet
  • Level 4: Ebook
  • Level 5: Online Course

Deep con­tent is centred around provid­ing increas­ingly high­er qual­ity to engaged users. ideally, the user­’s engage­ment should determ­ine when the inform­a­tion need has been ful­filled, not the lim­it­a­tions of the web­site’s avail­able content.

  • The few who reach your content’s call to action (con­tent diver = click­ing ver­tic­ally) are more valu­able than those who only scan its first head­line (con­tent surfer = click­ing horizontally).

As for the import­ance of struc­ture and depth, the logic is the same as that of ice­berg pub­lish­ing and con­tent themes.

Learn more: The Deep Content PR Strategy: Win By Going Deeper

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The Blogger Outreach Focus

Many years ago, I first tested the concept of con­tent themes myself.

I only pub­lished blog posts about “blog­ger out­reach” for four months. I also gave sem­inars on the top­ic, cre­ated some visu­als, sent out a few emails, and ensured I nev­er pub­lished any­thing else dur­ing this period. 

I’ve described this in My Content Marketing Experiment (That Failed Miserably), and it worked so well that it got me into some trouble:

The prob­lem was that I became the “blog­ger out­reach guy.” I don’t mind doing blog­ger out­reach occa­sion­ally, but my focus has always been strategy. I should’ve picked the top­ic for my con­tent theme more wisely. 

The “One Thing Only” Challenge

I’ve helped cli­ents struc­ture their con­tent mar­ket­ing into themes, and I’m very proud of the results.

Many brands expect speak­ing about “only one thing” at a time to be challenging. 

Can an IT com­pany pro­duce a com­pre­hens­ive con­tent pack­age about busi­ness auto­ma­tion for a quarter? (Hint: Yes, they can!)

While post­ing a tweet is easy, you must stick to your mes­sage for an exten­ded peri­od. So, how do you talk about “one thing” for a longer period?

To come up with good ideas, it’s help­ful to brainstorm. 

Content Variations - Content Theme - Surround Strategy
Finding rel­ev­ant con­tent vari­ations on a single top­ic is not as dif­fi­cult as it may seem initially.

In my exper­i­ence, cre­at­ing con­tent vari­ations is much easi­er than most might think. After all, I’ve been blog­ging around a con­tent theme (i.e. pub­lic rela­tions is a power­ful busi­ness tool) for nearly two decades. 

Once you start work­ing as a team, the ideas will begin to flow, and you’ll soon have too many great ideas.

The actu­al “one thing only” chal­lenge is actu­ally of a dif­fer­ent kind:

Content themes’ chal­lenge is con­vin­cing your organ­isa­tion not to speak about non-related mat­ters. An organ­isa­tion “chat­ters” all the time and con­vinces all func­tions to talk as one — that’s the challenge.

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Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: Inbound vs Outbound

Jerry Silfwer speaking about inbound marketing
Jerry Silfwer (Doctor Spin) speaks about inbound marketing.
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Inbound vs Outbound

The inbound mind­set is a fun­da­ment­al shift in the PR- and mar­ket­ing industry.

Historically, many PR- and mar­ket­ing depart­ments have argued:

Why should we spend our PR- and mar­ket­ing budgets on ‘already acquired’ audi­ences?”

The truth is — it’s the oth­er way around.

Instead of “spam­ming” non-exist­ing audi­ences, pub­lic rela­tions and mar­ket­ing can do much more with exist­ing online pub­lics. 1Silfwer, J. (2015, June 11). The Publics in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/

Drawing a line between those who know you and those who don’t know you is noth­ing new:

  • Pull mar­ket­ing vs push mar­ket­ing
  • Hot leads vs cold leads
  • Permission mar­ket­ing vs tra­di­tion­al marketing
  • Internal com­mu­nic­a­tions vs extern­al communications

This inbound shift is the online equi­val­ent of draw­ing the line between those who know you and those who don’t know you:

  • Inbound com­mu­nic­a­tions vs out­bound communications

If your Inbound Shift PR Strategy is good, you might not need to pri­or­it­ise out­bound PR strategies — because your inbound audi­ence will attract out­bound publics.

Learn more: The Inbound Shift PR Strategy: Beauty From Within

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PR Resource: More PR Strategies

ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Silfwer, J. (2015, June 11). The Publics in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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