Time for the final instalment in my rundown of the different asset types available to any content generator. Well, for now at least.

In drawing up this list, I'm reminded that content generation should be fun. Why limit yourself to one form of writing when so many are available? It's important to maintain some sort of mix within your content generation programme. Modern day audiences are picky beasts, after all. Give them what they want; give them something to educate, inform and entertain; don't rely on the same old, same old. Variety is the spice of life, after all...


The infographic; what a truly brilliant creation. These visual representations of large amounts of data are a de rigeur staple of many content suites nowadays. I assume their recent popularity stems from several factors: access to vast amounts of structured and unstructured data which can be interrogated for insights and correlations; readily available software that allows us all to try our hand at creating them; and their suitability for being published on digital and social channels.

I first became really aware of the power of infographics and data visualisation when a friend gave me a copy of David McCandless’ Information is Beautiful. Here was information being distilled into a visual form to tell a story I otherwise would not have known.

Done properly, infographics are a thing of beauty. Done without appropriate thought, they can come across as “me too” content which didn’t really require visualising – as if someone took a perfectly good story and insisted on turning it into a comic strip. Sadly, every time I see such a piece, I think of the Two Ronnies’ “Hieroglyphics” sketch. If you’re under 40 years old, you may need to Google this reference.


Use infographics as a way of distilling vast amounts of information and making a point of insight jump off the page.



Use infographics just because you think your readers have the attention span of a gnat and can therefore only consume content in picture book form.

pages of content

From the archive

Once you’re a year or two into a proper content programme, you’re going to be sitting on a serious amount of content. It never ceases to amaze me quite how much of that content is consigned to the digital archive though, never to be seen again.

That’s a real shame – and is indicative of a ‘firework’ approach to content distribution; i.e. fire out your content, hope that no-one blinks and misses it, then forget about it and move on to the next one. This is why corporate websites can begin to resemble an ever-growing library with single-use pages left gathering dust on the (unvisited) shelves.

When you consider the effort that goes into content creation, why would you treat these assets like fireworks? Why wouldn’t you revisit them? If they contain great advice which remains relevant, remind people of this. If it’s simply a great story, give it a second airing. If it can support a newer piece of content (your own or somebody else’s), make sure you let your audience know. And even if it’s beginning to look a little dated, use it as a prompt for assessing how life has moved on, providing further insight and advice.


Return to your best, most engaging, most successful content and then repurpose or republish it. Add a bit of science to the mix as well; make sure you know which pieces of content are your most successful pieces and put them at the top of your “must re-use” list. Remember that there’s a reason why “Throwback Thursdays” work. People like a bit of nostalgia.


Get lazy and use this as an excuse for not generating more content. Your archive is an adjunct to new content, not its stand-in. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Poking some gentle fun at content that seemed sophisticated at the time but now looks a little dated (in either its presentation or in the views expressed) is a great opportunity to show a bit of humility; never a bad thing!


Curated content

I really, really wish that more companies I work with would go down the route of curating and repurposing other people’s content. Clearly, I’m not suggesting plagiarism here or misappropriating other people’s intellectual property. What I am suggesting is taking that content, giving it due credit and then passing comment on it.

We all know how hard it is to produce content of our own – so why don’t we simply use other people’s content as a starting point? It’s no different to writing a book review or an academic essay. We report on what we’ve seen or read, accredit our sources appropriately and then provide our own take on it.

If you think about it, review pieces have been a staple of newspaper and magazine publishing forever. Books, films, new products, fashion lines; they’re all fair game. But I don’t think they need to be limited solely to the consumer world. I feel there’s plenty of scope for using reviews in a business environment.

Working in professional services for so long, the closest we came to reviewing anything was the Chancellor’s budget every year. But what’s to stop any business reviewing recent political speeches, events, business books or thought leadership publications? In my mind, anything which provides an opportunity to pass comment or provide insight is fair game.

It’s an approach rarely seen in corporate land, presumably for fear of being seen to give credit to another company’s content. Do you know what though; it’s out there already. Your audience is already reading it. It may well be better than anything you can produce yourself. So, assuming you have something worth adding to the debate, hitch on to that bandwagon and enjoy the ride (this may even have the added benefit of really irritating any competitors you might be getting a free ride from!).


Find the content you really admire and then pass comment on it. Use it as a catalyst for your own thinking. By all means, curate this content on your own platform(s) but perhaps be braver still and go and comment on this content on its “home” site or on social media platforms such as LinkedIn where the debate may already be in full flow.


Draw attention to this curated content unless you really do have something value-adding to say, otherwise you really will be doing the other team’s marketing for them. And don’t be nervous – this is the internet-fuelled era of free-to-access information. Make the most of it.


The review or summary

There’s a large amount of cross-over here with what I wrote previously on ‘curated content’. The only difference here is that the topic for the review or summary is something that you’ve produced or hosted yourself.

Talk to any event organiser and they’ll tell you that the number of people who attend a typical event is quite a small percentage of the total invitees. With most of your invitees not at the event, why wouldn’t you provide a summary of what they missed?

But here’s where it gets challenging. If those people weren’t interested in the event, why would they be interested in the summary? That’s where the importance of making this so much more than a straight, factual summary becomes apparent. Just like the curated content, you’ve got to add value. Highlight the biggest talking points emerging from the day, grab some meaningful soundbites, get a senior leader to opine on what they found most interesting, perhaps even blend in a pre-prepared op-ed piece on the primary topic; any of these have the scope for turning a banal event summary into an engaging review.

Extend the same thinking to providing a summary of your latest piece of heavyweight research but avoid the temptation of making this a flat list of headline findings, badged as an ‘executive summary’. This is a separate piece of content in its own right, a second bite of the cherry in terms of attracting an audience. Make it stand out.


Think of this as providing a public service. You’re informing your audience about something valuable they may not have seen or attended themselves or had a chance to read yet. Make sure that your own intellect and insight shines through in terms of what you choose to highlight in the summary and the value you add.


Throw raw content at your audience and leave them to pick the bones out of it. Going with “If you’d like to relive yesterday’s conference in full, here’s the link to the footage”, is not going to endear you to your audience.


The diary

A large number of old-school blogs probably started life as a diary; an online journal recounting the author’s daily or weekly experiences. That doesn’t mean the vehicle is any less valid today than it was back then. In fact, it’s a great way of introducing a bit of personality into corporate content outputs on a serialised basis.

All that this content type needs to make it work is an interesting and self-contained project (an unusual client assignment or a training course, for example), someone whose work is so varied that every entry is an engaging read or someone who’s a natural communicator and/or just seems to be having the time of their life.

In most instances, the diary piece falls under the heading of “not particularly commercial” but as I’ve always said, I have no problem with that. There’s typically enough commercial material elsewhere in the content suite that it can afford to carry a few pieces which are included for sheer variety. With the right diarist, these can provide a fascinating insight into life behind the scenes while also giving a sense of the quality of person that the company employs; making this handy for recruitment purposes.


Get the right person as your diarist; someone who’s likely to add a bit of joie de vivre into their writing, rather than a corporate automaton. Let them express themselves by keeping the rules and regs about what they write on and how they write it to a minimum.


Let these things run indefinitely as they can quickly peter out, as anyone faced with a never-ending writing requirement will tell you. That’s why locking it into a pre-set timeframe around a specific event is a good idea. Even then, a limited timeframe can still seem like a lifetime if you’ve got a bad diarist (anyone for another “CEO diary update, live from Davos”…?)

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