It's an exercise that I really enjoy undertaking with clients; getting them to list all the different types of content that they could produce if they really wanted to. The reason they don't go down these routes, limiting themselves to standard corporate content, is sometimes down to a lack of ambition but - more often than not - it's simply because they didn't really believe these things were in play. Well, of course they are. No wonder there's very little joy in corporate content if everything thinks they have to limit themselves to boring, anodyne content types. There's more to life than product descriptions, honest.

In the first two parts of this series, I covered eight asset types and how best to approach them, from opinion pieces and news releases through to research reports and listicles. Let's crack on with another four, including 'the hard-working all-rounder' and the one that I just don't get...

Round table

In a corporate environment, a piece of round table content typically conjures up images of suited execs pontificating over the issues of the day. Hidden in the corner is a writer, tasked with taking the Dictaphone tapes and producing some sort of reportage summary. I’m not a huge fan.

I prefer the lifestyle magazine version of the round table, where the journalist is front and centre of the process, firing up the debate. The content is then built around a sequence of answers, with the respondent identified by their initials, laid out to show how the group are having a proper conversation.

It’s the spark between the participants that I believe such a piece of content should capture. That said, they don’t even have to be in the room together. This exercise is just as easily played out over email, with individual responses to a set of questions spliced together by the writer as if the people were all in a room together. Admittedly, you miss out on any deviations in the conversation which may have occurred in a face-to-face environment but this ‘fake round table’ content can be every bit as engaging as the real deal.


Make sure you involve people who are likely to have contrasting views. Or people who have very different stories or experiences they can recount. Either way, do your research and assemble a varied cast of contributors.



Simply turn this into a verbatim account of who said what. Don’t be afraid to splice the content together in a way which makes the conversation more editorially appealing than it actually was. Use a bit of editorial licence. Remember – you’re not producing Hansard here.


Case study

There can be few pieces of content more popular in the typical corporate canon, except for perhaps the testimonial and the (it’s-not-really) news release. Understandably so – as this is the chance to show off a little bit; to highlight what a great job you’ve done. Produced properly, it’s a powerful piece of content.

Produced badly, it’s one of the most sanctimonious, self-serving pieces of corporate drivel you’ll ever read. The problem here lies in people not being able to report on these things objectively. What could have been an interesting dive into the rationale for a project, the bumps along the road, the set-backs and the achievements too often turns into a self-congratulatory list of who did what.

I think this is a content form where a little bit of vulnerability can go a long way. Show your workings, pick up on a few mistakes or poor decisions, highlight what you could have done differently – because you know it all turns out right in the end. Without that vulnerability or humility, a case study can be a very smug, self-satisfied piece of content which most readers find very hard to get into.

You know how you sometimes get into a conversation at a dinner party when a crashing bore gives you chapter and verse on how great their last holiday was? Think of that as a case study and you may never write one in the same way again.


Think of your case study as a piece of investigative writing, full of motives, intrigue, false starts, challenges, ingenuity, disappointments and elation. If a project is so linear that it progresses from A to B with no problem, achieving everything it set out to, it’s probably deadly dull. The interest lies in the imperfections and the stuff behind the scenes that we wouldn’t otherwise see.


Use this as the chance to name-check everyone who worked on a project and to give the full chronology of who did what and when. Don’t forget that those bullet points showing the objectives you had and the extent to which you exceeded them are primarily of interest to just you and your client.



I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one. I don’t get it. Company A goes on the record to say that Company B was great to work with. Does Company C suddenly say, “Wow, Company B – they’re the guys for me”? Of course they don’t. What an utter waste of (virtual) ink.

Naturally, third party validation is important, especially if it comes from a seriously heavyweight industry name. But roll it into a properly written case study (see above). Don’t settle for having these meaningless platitudes floating around your website. They don’t add anything in news releases and they do you no real favours here either. And do you know why? Because no-one would express the opposite sentiment.

Check this out: “Company A delivered high levels of customer service, were very professional throughout and a joy to work with.” This is only a worthwhile statement to publish if it in some way differentiates A from B. I have looked high and low but I’m yet to find the testimonial which states, “Company B delivered an average level of customer service, were somewhat slapdash in their approach and, quite frankly, we were glad once our work with them was over.” If you agree that you’d never see the latter in print on a corporate website, then doesn’t it rather devalue the former?


Secure client feedback but get something meaningful from them which can then be incorporated into an engaging case study.


Settle for meaningless platitudes which no-one pays any attention to.


The profile piece

We’ve all got a back-story. The profile piece is a handy way of eliciting that back-story and adding a bit of colour to a character that the audience might otherwise be unaware of.

In mainstream media, the person being profiled is typically already well known, famous or has an astounding story to tell. In our sphere of operations, we don’t always have these things, so we have to work a little harder for the story. That doesn’t make it any less valuable and, in fact, it’s a great leveller because the middle manager may have just as interesting or valuable a story to tell as the senior exec.

That’s because such pieces can be used to provide insight into the business as much as the person. Profile pieces on ‘average Joes’ such as you or I give the reader a peek behind the curtains of a business and can help to build a connection. Combine it with a diary-style approach and you’ve got a fascinating “Day in the Life of…” piece. Choose to profile a group of upcoming stars and you’ve got a crystal-ball gazing “Five to Keep your Eye On…” piece. Interview a team that’s working particularly well, or has won an award for example, and you’ve got the sort of conversational sparkiness you might otherwise only get in the Round Table debate pieces.

When you start to explore the possibilities, you realise how the profile piece has the scope for being the hard-working all-rounder in your content team.


Make maximum use of this format if you want to bring your business to life, showing off its diversity and breadth of talent. Use this as a powerful internal engagement tool, giving your people their fifteen minutes of fame.


Ever let this become prosaic or routine. There should be a genuinely interesting reason why someone is being profiled, not just because it’s their turn. Don’t let senior execs use it as a platform for spouting the corporate line; these are supposed to be human interest pieces.

Twelve pieces down, several more to go. See what else makes it onto the list in Part IV.