The PR BlogDigital PRContent & InboundThe Content Themes PR Strategy: Focused Birds Gets Worms

The Content Themes PR Strategy: Focused Birds Gets Worms

Structure your content for better results.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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.

Let’s go:

How To Create Content Themes

Content Themes

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

Promise fil­ter: 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 each quarterly con­tent theme, they pro­duce con­tent pack­ages. Each con­tent pack­age could con­tain the following:

  • Infographics
  • Blog Articles
  • Whitepapers
  • Social Media Updates
  • Landing Pages
  • Lead Magnets
  • Swipe Files
  • Template Files
  • Content Upgrades
  • Online Courses
  • Podcast Episodes
  • Livestreams
  • Email Send-Outs
  • Events
  • Case Studies
  • Webinars
  • Video Tutorials
  • Interactive Quizzes
  • Press Releases
  • E‑Books
  • Testimonials
  • Influencer Collaborations
  • Mobile Apps
  • Slide Presentations

Learn more: The Content Themes PR Strategy

Start With a Core Message

First, let’s not pre­tend that a con­tent theme is any­thing ordin­ary. It’s just vari­ous pieces of con­tent around the same topic.

Simply put, a con­tent theme is a con­tent pack­age.

But there is some soph­ist­ic­a­tion to con­tent themes still. The key is first to estab­lish a core message.

If you’ve been read­ing this blog for a while, the chances are that you might have noticed that I talk about cent­ring your PR activ­it­ies around a core message. 

For instance, Red Bull’s core mes­sage focuses on action sports where people are sent fly­ing through the air. That’s their core mes­sage — they are cent­ring all their com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing activ­it­ies around it.

Content Themes will struc­ture your mes­saging one level beneath your core mes­sage. You divide your core mes­sage into sev­er­al con­tent themes. This will allow you to cycle to vari­ous sub-top­ics related to your busi­ness — without los­ing focus.

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. Meaning: The con­tent must be rel­ev­ant today, tomor­row, and the fore­see­able future.

While news con­tent might have a more sig­ni­fic­ant impact short-term, ever­green con­tent instead 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, I think the 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 for two years, it will typ­ic­ally last for much longer.
  • Actual interest. To be con­sidered ever­green con­tent, there must be an exist­ing volume of search engine users look­ing for the inform­a­tion. Without search volumes, the con­tent will likely be ‘ever’ without the ‘green’.
  • 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.

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

How To Structure Your Content Themes

For each con­tent theme, you pro­duce con­tent around that spe­cif­ic theme. It could be lots of con­tent, or it could be less. It all depends on your over­all con­tent strategy.

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 con­tent divers since they’re more valu­able than sur­face browsers.

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

Learn more: The Deep Content PR Strategy

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. 

Benefits of Content Themes

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.

The “One Thing Only” Challenge

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

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

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

While post­ing a tweet is easy, you must stick to your mes­sage for exten­ded peri­ods. So, how do you talk about “one thing” for a more exten­ded 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 as a team, the ideas will begin to flow, and you’ll soon find your­self in a situ­ation where you 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.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Inbound vs Outbound

Inbound vs Outbound

The inbound mind­set is a fun­da­ment­al shift in pub­lic relations.

Instead of focus­ing on try­ing to spawn non-exist­ing audi­ences, PR can do so much more with exist­ing online pub­lics. 1See also The Publics in Public Relations (Doctor Spin).

If your inbound PR strategy is good enough, you might not even need an out­bound PR strategy.

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

Read also: The Inbound First PR Strategy: Beauty From Within

PR Resource: More PR Strategies

Doctor Spin’s PR Strategies

Make sure to explore a wide vari­ety of PR strategies for every dif­fer­ent type of situ­ation and challenge:

Learn more: How to Create a PR Strategy That Actually Works

1 See also The Publics in Public Relations (Doctor Spin).
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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