Ask the journalists

Coming up with ideas to write about is often referred to as being one of the biggest challenges for companies when it comes to their content marketing.

Sure, there are probably heaps of things going on internally that you want to tell the world about – like awards you’ve won and new products you’re launching – but, well, the majority of the world probably isn’t interested in that.

So, if you need to look beyond the walls of your own brand, where should you turn for inspiration? In this week’s ‘Ask The Journalists‘, we ask them just that!

LauraLaura Varley

In journalism, pieces have to be topical, so usually the best thing to do is to look at the news. Maybe there’s an interesting topic that could be discussed or a different point of view to be shared on a subject. That’s what I usually do when writing for my own blog, but I always pick subjects I’m particularly passionate about. If you don’t really care about something, there’s no point writing about it.

It’s sometimes also worth considering if any big events are coming up, as you could always do a piece related to it. Even if it’s just a list piece, such as ‘The top five Father’s Day gifts’, it’s sure to gain traction as people will be searching for these sorts of things in the run up to the event.

GraemeGraeme Parton

I think it’s important to find a balance between relevance and originality. A quick look at what’s going on in the world certainly helps but it’s pointless to just repeat what others have already said. Find a different angle to take on a topic that means something to your audience – offer them something new to think about.

Michael McFadyenMichael McFadyen

Keep your ear to the ground. The best way to come up with new ideas for things to write about is to make sure you’re up to date with trends and topics that are currently relevant to your industry, or will be in the near future at least. By doing this, you’ll be sure to produce content that is original and highly applicable to your target audience.

Pablo Smithson

Pablo Smithson

Start with the audience. Once you have some idea what sort of people you are seeking to target, you can think about the questions they would ask and the associated areas with which they would engage. Your website analytics and broader online trends are great for sourcing ideas, but sometimes you can’t beat thinking about it in more human terms.


Elizabeth Smythe

If I was coming up with content ideas (say for an infographic) I would try and bear in mind what sorts of themes might elicit emotion and be shareable, as you really want to get that message spread as widely as possible. Identifying trending topics on Twitter is a good first step, to see what people are talking about. I would then try to make some sort of connection between the client and the topics. We recently did that with a postal client, trying to work out what was both relevant and something that readers would want to share. We hit on a Valentine’s Day theme which worked really well as it was something that was on everyone’s mind at the time, whether they were for or against it. It also tied in neatly with the client’s offering.

Sarah Howard

Sarah Howard

Firstly I would get to know my audience and find out what they’re interested in. Looking at forums, social channels, competitors’ sites and the like should give me an indication of the type of subjects they’re interested in. I’d also look at my site and find out what content is already working and resonating with them. I can then build on those topics and move away from ones that haven’t worked.

Multiple heads are better than one, so it’s a great idea to make content planning a company-wide project, asking other teams what type of content they’d like to see on the site. Who knows, you might be able to rope them into the writing part too!

LaurenLauren Sutton

I will look at what’s happening in the news and see if there is something that can be built out of that. A lot of blog posts can be created simply by focusing on what’s topical. For example, when the new series of Game of Thrones started, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to write some travel pieces about the destinations the show uses for filming. People are talking about it, so it could bring in readers. It’s essentially news-jacking but for more than just news articles or listicle types of content.

I also try to put myself in the position of the reader – what do I want to read about? Once you have a clear idea of who your audience is, you can start to devise ideas of what topics will be of interest to them and it goes from there.