Doctor SpinDigital FirstContent & InboundHow Content Themes Works — And Why You Should Use Them

How Content Themes Works — And Why You Should Use Them

Structure your content for better results.

What are Content Themes?

In this article, I will demonstrate the value of structuring your content into Content Themes and more importantly — discuss 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:

Table of Contents

    Start With a Core Message

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

    Simply put, a content theme is a content package.

    But there is some sophistication to Content Themes still. The key is to first 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—and they are centring all their communications and marketing activities around it.

    Content Themes will structure your messaging one level beneath your Core Message. You simply divide your Core Message into a number of content themes. This will allow you to cycle to various sub-topics related to your business—without losing focus.

    So, start with a Core Message and develop sub-topics, i.e. Content Themes.

    Content themes for content marketing

    A Content Theme Example

    What would an example of a content theme look like? A Content Theme could be pretty much anything as long as it’s coherent with the Core Message.

    Here’s a fictitious example of a B2B IT company:

    Core Message: We make complex matters easy to understand.

    Q1 Content Theme: We make people understand the impact of the Internet of Things.

    Q2 Content Theme: We make people understand the impact of automation.

    Q3 Content Theme: We make people understand the impact of cloud computing.

    Q4 Content Theme: We make people understand the impact of managed services.

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

    • Infographics.
    • Blog posts.
    • Whitepapers.
    • Social media updates.
    • Landing pages.
    • Lead magnets.
    • Content upgrades.
    • Online courses.
    • Podcast episodes.
    • Livestreams.

    And so on.

    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 or so. I also gave a few seminars on the topic, created some visuals, sent out a few emails, and made sure I never published anything else during this period.

    I’ve described this in My Content Marketing DIY Experiment, and it worked so well it actually got me into some trouble:

    The problem was that I became the “blogger outreach guy.” It’s not that I mind doing some blogger outreach every now and then, 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 come 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 an array of valuable and evergreen content on a niche topic.

    The “One Thing Only” Challenge

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

    Getting started, many brands expect it to be challenging to speak about “only one thing” at a time. Can a medium-sized IT company talk about IT automation for a whole quarter? (They can.)

    While posting a tweet is easy, you need to stick to your messaging for longer periods of time. 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 at first.

    In my experience, coming up with content variations is a lot easier than most might think. After all, I’ve been blogging around a Content Theme (i.e. public relations is a powerful business tool) myself for nearly two decades.

    Once you get started as a team, the ideas will start to flow, and you’ll soon find yourself in a situation where you have too many great ideas instead.

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

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

    Surround Strategy - Surround Workshop
    To learn more about the power of sticking to one message for a more extended period, see the Surround Strategy.

    Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer, aka 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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