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How to use popular news items to inspire creative content ideas


DATE: 23 May, 2017

Are you a news junkie? Do you love current affairs? Or, is your favourite guilty pleasure indulging in the gossip section of a glossy magazine? (No judgement…) Wherever your interests lie — whether you’re a 20-something Instagram addict who remembers what One Direction wore at last year’s Grammys, or your idea of up-to-the-minute highlights is the latest interest rate rise, popular news items are a great source of content marketing inspiration.

Why? Because combining a hot topic, popular event, current affairs or current theme into your content is a fun (and often funny) way to drive discussions with customers that fall outside of your normal conversation sphere.

Of course, some obvious targets for jokes and parodies are celebrities and reality shows, but really, there is no limit to what you can use as inspiration. Anything and everything that demands our attention is a potent and potential source. This could be a story about health, entertainment, tech, travel, sport, business, property, dating, fashion, TV shows, movies, books or award ceremonies. Or, perhaps Pokémon GO trends, Tinder announcements, the Rio Olympics, the latest in selfies, upcoming Apple iPhone releases, or any news related to Donald Trump. Anything goes.

Whatever news makes people buzz can be used to create content to help your brand buzz online

Let’s have a look at two awesome pieces of content created around the #RoyalBaby celebrations. Prince William and Kate Middleton’s #RoyalBaby announcements are the perfect example of news items that provided brands with a great opportunity to join really positive online discussions that captured global attention.

To welcome Prince George into the world in 2013, Starbucks UK created this simple, sweet and effective TwitPic. I love it because it celebrated the huge ‘It’s a boy!’ announcement with class, humour and serious cute-factor.

And in 2015, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced ‘It’s a girl!’ British Airways created this eye-catching, funny and incredibly smart TwitPic to welcome Princess Charlotte into the family.

Ideas that arise from news items can directly influence a lot of content items you work across, including social media images, podcasts, how-to guides, newsletters, lists, blog topics, memes, videos, infographics and more.

So, next time you’re absorbing your daily updates, start looking at your news cycle with a different filter because you’ll find inspiration everywhere.

Steps to find your content inspiration

Step 1: Visit a news, current affairs or entertainment site, or look through your Facebook News Feed.

What are the big stories? What are people talking about? Find a story that grabs your attention.

Step 2: List the key characteristics that define this story.

A great place to start is with some of the 5 Ws: who, what, why, where, when.

Step 3: Make a list of the themes that relate to this event.

Step 4: Now, combine the lists you created in Step 2 and Step 3.

Step 5: Create connections between these items and your product/brand/service.

How are they connected? What links can you form? List as many connections as you can.

Step 6: For some extra fun, list some obscure (and non-obvious) ways in which your product/brand/service connects with these items.

Consider random associations or even word associations. (Sometimes the more obscure your choice, the better.)

Step 7: Now, look at your lists of ideas that relate to current affairs items and hot topics, and think about which ideas could lend themselves to online content.

Are there any great blog themes? Podcast topics? Funny memes you can create? Facebook posts you can publish with a ‘newsy’ twist? Think about your visuals, think about your voice and make it fun!