What’s in a Name? How to Differentiate Between Types of Content

It happens all too often – a client says they want a blog, but when a blog is delivered, they ask why it’s so short, or why the tone is so casual. Or, they say they want an op-ed that can be pitched to a top-tier industry publication, and then don’t understand why their company’s newest product isn’t specifically mentioned or detailed in the piece.

While it’s wonderful that this client knows content will help them boost their brand and generate leads, if they don’t understand the difference between types of content, things will be frustrating for both the content team and the client. Because, unlike a rose, an op-ed by any other name is an entirely different piece of content.

When communicating with the content team you’re working with, it’s vital that you are on the same page when it comes to the types of content they are producing for you – otherwise lots of time, energy and effort will be wasted. This is because different types of content are geared for different audiences and are meant to reach different goals.

For example, if you’re hoping to increase your CEO’s profile, a social media campaign is likely not the answer – thought leadership articles are. Likewise, if you’re launching a new report and want to extend the coverage of all that data you analysed, you’ll need more than press releases – you’ll want op-eds, blog posts and maybe an infographic or two.

If all of this has your head spinning, don’t worry – we’re here to help dispel the confusion surrounding different types of content. So let’s dive in, shall we?

Social Media Copy, Explained


Oh look, a Facebook post.

Pithy, punchy and to-the-point, social media calls for short-form copy (Sometimes, extremely short-form. A tweet, for example, is a maximum of 280 characters that is attention-grabbing, informative and creative (yes, emoji are completely acceptable and hashtags are a must – they help with discovery). It should be written in your brand’s voice and have a personality that resonates with your audience. 

Though there are several different types of social media platforms today, the platforms most often used for business are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. While similar messaging can be pushed out via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, LinkedIn is a professional network that is better suited. for business goals such as brand or product awareness and communicating employer brand messaging,

Getting the tone right for each platform is an important part of crafting social media copy, so understanding how different platforms operate and which platforms your audience prefers or frequents is crucial. After all, if your target demographic spends most of their time scrolling Instagram and you’re only on Facebook, you’re missing a huge opportunity to speak directly to and engage directly with them.

Thought Leadership Posts and Articles, Explained

When it comes to thought leadership, LinkedIn is the platform you want. Your company’s executives likely all already have LinkedIn profiles in order to network and keep up with industry news. And since the platform caters to professionals, it’s the perfect place to share thoughts on the state of the industry, general business news and the thought process behind your company’s latest developments.

There are a couple different ways to publish thought leadership on LinkedIn: the first is through a post. This is short-form content – anywhere from a line or two to a paragraph – where a professional shares a quick thought about a relevant business topic or a news article they link. Though quick and efficient, these posts do provide insider insights and help to build a personal brand.

The second option is to write and share an original article on LinkedIn. This option allows more freedom and space for an executive to really delve into a topic through a longer-form piece – usually around 400–700 words – providing followers, connections and other professionals a look into their thoughts about a particular event, industry trend or piece of global news. 

In addition to positioning executives as experienced, authoritative, thoughtful leaders with a unique perspective, these pieces could also lead to greater networking opportunities, speaking engagements or even business partnerships.

Blogs, Explained

Behold, a blog post.

The goal of blogs is to communicate your company’s messaging, be it reiterating your vision, launching a new product or report, providing updates to your customers, or releasing a statement in times of crisis. These pieces are where you can not just promote your company and your products, but explain them in-depth and provide behind-the-scenes information or looks at innovation.

Often, blogs and social media work hand-in-hand: you can use your social media pages to promote new blog posts by giving readers a quick taste of what’s to come in the blog and enticing them to click the link and go to your website. 

Op-Eds, Explained

When it comes to pitching articles to the media, it’s generally an op-ed – short for ”opposite the editorial page” (if you want to invite us to be on your pub quiz team, we understand) – that you want to pitch. These should be thought of as thought leadership pieces because an op-ed will include a company spokesperson or executive’s name as the author and will be written in their voice, from their perspective.

But unlike writing for a company blog or for LinkedIn, an op-ed that is pitched to a publication should be long-form – usually 600–1,000 words, depending on their guidelines – and should communicate your company’s vision or leader’s thoughts without specifically selling the company or its products/services. 

This is an important distinction to make, and one that is easy to misunderstand. The reason why the company’s vision or product cannot be specifically detailed or mentioned is that if it is, the publication will consider the piece as an advertorial,  which is, at the end of the day, an ad. And you have to pay for ads.

Op-eds, however, do not cost your company anything if they are accepted to publication and they can not only boost brand reputation and brand awareness, but will establish your business and leaders as a trusted voice in your sector.

Infographics, Explained

A combination of copy and design, infographics help to tell a story or explain events or systems visually. These can be very effective when communicating complicated ideas that are often difficult or confusing to explain with only copy, and are great to share online on any platform.

If you’re unsure about what type of designed content it is that you want, that is completely fine – feel free to provide examples of designed content you like and the content team can help you figure out what will work best for you.

Hopefully this content primer helped shed some light on how different pieces of content operate. However, if the event you head into your next meeting with your content team and you can’t remember the difference between a blog and an op-ed, don’t tell your agency you want five blogs and five articles, hoping they’ll figure out exactly what articles mean to you. Instead, explain your business goals – your content team should be able to help you narrow down what will work best for you. 

Unsure what type of content works best for your brand? The Mutant content team is here for you. Send us an email to [email protected]

Using data to get media attention isn’t as hard as you think

Your company is not special. Your product is probably not “revolutionary”. Very few people care that your best-selling system has a new feature – and I guarantee no one cares that you hired a new CFO.  

Sorry (not sorry) for the hard truths, but the simple fact is that most companies still don’t understand what makes a good story. What you think makes a great story is probably not the same as what a journalist considers to be a great story – this is mainly because journalists know their readers won’t care about what you have to say. To make things harder, shrinking newsrooms translate to journalists being more stretched than ever, so your press release will often go unread and that interview you pitched will likely never happen.

Now that’s all out of the way, it’s time for the good news: the best stories you possess have actually been at your disposal this whole time. Okay, there might be some digging around to find the right spreadsheets, but the point is you’re probably already sitting on a goldmine and you don’t even know it. 

Because the way to get a journalist’s attention is with – say it with me now – DATA! 

Even if you don’t have anything interesting to say, you can create news with data. When handled the right way and moulded into a usable story, data can deliver the media attention you have always wanted, but have never been able to achieve – even with paid content. 

But first, a quick PR lesson

Before we can talk about why data is essential to your PR strategy, we need to touch on why public relations might not currently be working for you. If you’ve been burned before by agencies that promise the world, but only hand over a ‘strategy’ that relies on press releases, then this is especially relevant for you: 

Despite what you may think, you are not important. A story is never going to be about how awesome your company or product is – that is not news. News is a story that’s broader than an announcement of something new (unless that new thing is incredibly timely). News is something that has impact and affects people’s lives or businesses. It’s timeliness, something close to  what we value, and something that carries a human interest angle or solves a conflict. News is unique and it carries consequences. News is not hyperbole and exaggerated claims of being “the best”, “the newest” or “the most revolutionary”. 

Your goal to get the media’s attention is to provide a reason for them to write about you. This means selling them a story, not a product, and avoiding your usual press releases chock-full of corporate jargon that says a lot about, well, nothing. If your press releases and pitches haven’t been picked up, it likely because you or your agency haven’t figured out how to tell your story in a compelling way. You need to speak the journalists’ language and give them information that can be turned into news – this is why they love data. 

Create the news for journalists using your own data 

If you think the only way to share news is via press releases, then how are you going to get anything written about you in between each pitch? When there’s no news to share, data is a vehicle that can be used to create news and provide new avenues and angles for journalists to explore, based on real, unique statistics that tell a story. There are a couple of ways you can do this: 

  1. Use a research agency to run a survey: This is the most expensive option, but a streamlined way to gather new data on a particular topic or issue across a broad sample. A good PR agency will get involved at the early stage of survey creation, ensuring the right questions are being asked to get the headlines you want at the other end.
  2. Run your own survey: You might not have the money for a research agency, but perhaps you have a big database of clients and customers? There are an abundance of online tools that allow you to send out surveys and questions to your existing and potential customers. Some agencies (*cough cough, hello!*) can help you manage this entire process from end-to-end to ensure you get the best and most accurate data.
  3. Delve into your own existing data: Chances are you’re sitting on a mountain of data that can actually be used to tell a story – you just need someone to identify what that story may be. This is why it’s often good to connect your communications team or agency to other parts of the business (such as the sales team) to better understand what data you have, and then to provide guidance on how it can be used in PR.
  4. Use third party research paired with your own thought leadership: If you don’t have any of the above, it doesn’t matter. There is so much research out there you can draw from to create interesting whitepapers and tip sheets on a topic. Add in some high-level commentary and thought leadership from your company’s key spokespeople, and you’ve got yourself a pretty compelling piece of content to share. 

Reverse engineer your approach 

When constructing your survey and data-led approach, you need to consider your end goals and work backwards from the headlines you want to achieve. This is why it’s so important to work with an agency partner that has a strong editorial team and understanding of how news editors operate. If you can provide a media outlet with exactly the right kind of headline and angle, you’re more likely to get the epic coverage you’re craving. 

For example, let’s say a recruitment company is looking to increase its contract roles in light of the growing gig economy, and needs to attract more employers to enlist their services in filling these roles. Ideally, they’re hoping to gain awareness via a PR push that gets their company name and expertise in front of their target demographic across trade and business publications.

The agency, understanding these goals, suggests a survey of both employees and employers in their target market and industries to find out what the biggest needs, challenges, and misconceptions are about gig economy workers, their salary expectations, key attraction factors and ultimate career goals. The survey questions are constructed to gather the most relevant information that can be used individually and comparatively, to result in potential compelling headlines such as: 

“One in three companies in Singapore are expanding workplace benefits to cover ‘gig’ talent” 

Or 

“Growth in Singapore’s gig economy workers set to grow by 30% in 2020” 

By understanding the types of headlines a client wants to achieve (specific to each target publication, of course) the agency can construct a better, more effective survey that asks the right questions. The end result? A compelling story that can be told in a newspaper, via a live broadcast interview, or written into a professionally designed report to share with both media and client customers. 

We won’t lie: a lot of work is required to turn this from ideation to execution, but the outcomes are well worth the effort. In fact, for one of our clients, a SG$15,000 investment in data-led insights resulted in a 3,000% ROI via the creation of a report and a push via PR and lead generation campaign.  

The content you can create with the right data is a story that never stops being told. Your data belongs to you, and you can use it across social media, to write blogs or to create entire advertising campaigns. You can continue to refer to your unique statistics and data-led insights for years to come, building crucial credibility and educating your customers not only on what you do, but why they should give a crap.

Need help talking to journalists? Drop us a line at [email protected]