6 Types of Newsworthy Content (That Aren’t Survey-Based)

When working with data to create content for your brand, it can feel like every time you come across a relevant data set, it’s already been covered extensively. 

But when creating content for your site, your goal is to create something newsworthy, interesting, and original. 

Then, the thought hits you: “Why not just survey people?”

Surveys can be an appealing option to meet your content creation goals, but there are other successful types of content you can produce that will also meet your content goals and help you diversify the type of content you’re creating.

Dataset Analysis

Why it works:

  • It’s credible and newsworthy.
  • You do the hard work for the writers and your audience.

What to watch for:

  • Data mistakes.
  • Taking angles that are obvious or have already been covered extensively.

Let’s face it: A lot of journalists hate numbers, and they probably don’t have the time to sit down and analyze a massive detailed dataset from the CDC or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

But your team might have the time and the resources to get it done. There’s a story within that data waiting to be uncovered, and once you do the legwork and discover it, journalists will want to cover your findings. 

At Fractl, we found that on average, our dataset-based projects produce about 14 more media stories than our survey-based campaigns. So, while surveys are a great, customizable content option, dataset campaigns may actually help you achieve your link goals more effectively.

Let’s look at NerdWallet’s 2018 American Household Credit Card Debt Study as an example of this: 

This project was based on data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Experian and Equifax debt reporting; the U.S. Census; and the Federal Reserve’s Survey on Debt. The combination of multiple data sources revealed unique takeaways and made this content successful, earning more than 3,000 referring domains and more than 13,000 backlinks, according to Ahrefs.

Data-based projects also give your brand some credibility; you’re using trusted, relevant data to tell a story. Your claims can be confirmed and fact-checked, and getting it right builds trust with an audience. 

On the flip side, if you’re not diligent and miscommunicate or misrepresent the data, you risk your brand’s credibility and potentially a relationship with a writer or publication. Always make sure there’s a quality assurance check on your work.

Image Alteration

Why it works:

  • It visualizes a popular concept that can sometimes be intangible.
  • It adds a visual spin to mostly verbal conversations.

What to watch for:

  • Bias and a murky methodology (be as clear and objective as possible).
  • Being too niche or inaccessible.

Photoshopping images, morphing images to illustrate changes, and even combining images to find the common look of something is a unique way to make your content stand out.

This type of content supports already preconceived opinions about a topic, but it allows people to see proof. For example, in this campaign for Superdrug Online Doctor, we took the hot topic of body image and visualized what different physical traits different countries consider beautiful in women. The idea of countries having different standards of beauty isn’t a new concept, but to see it visualized so clearly blew people away.

If you decide to execute a project like this, make sure to choose the right topic. Select a subject that’s widely appealing so the images are accessible. Then, more people will relate and want to share.

Social Media Content Analysis

Why it works:

  • It visualizes trends and often has interesting high and low points that people wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
  • People can relate, as it’s the public generating the data set in the first place.

What to watch for:

  • The more populous states often dominate the data, so try to find a way to control for population size to normalize results.
  • Sweeping assumptions occur (you’re only getting access to a sampling of posts, not every single post).

As marketers, we know the importance of social media in understanding more about our audience and increasing awareness of our brands and services. 

But have you ever considered using social media platforms as the source of your content? 

Twitter has an API available for use to scrape user profiles, and while it’s limited, it offers a unique way to look at how people are talking about hot topics on the internet. For example, you can ask, who is using a specific hashtag the most? How did a trending topic explode on Twitter? What is the sentiment of certain topics on Twitter?

This type of content also offers insight into viral trends and helps visualize just how messages transform and amplify. Take this analysis of the #metoo movement on metoomomentum.com.

This analysis looked at the usage trends and associated the peaks with events in the media that correspond to it. This gives more context as to why there might be spikes as opposed to simply showing the spikes and leaving it at that. 

It’s easy to just talk about surface-level facts, like number of retweets or hearts. But that doesn’t give people context into what is being talked about and how the discussion is unraveling.

Interactive Content

Why it works:

  • It allows you to present more data than just a static image.
  • It increases the time users stay on your page.
  • Readers can customize the data and information to their personal interests or things they relate to. Everyone can have their own experience.

What to watch for:

  • Overly complicated interactives (too many options, buttons, information overload, etc.) can turn people away from the story.
  • Interesting takeaways can be missed if you don’t pair it with some static options and just allow people to explore on their own.
  • Publishers may have difficulties embedding or sharing content if it is too large.

Interactive content allows readers to truly engage with your data or story. This could be something along the lines of Buzzfeed quizzes, where answers are personalized to each user, or it could be content that allows readers to explore a story more in-depth.

National or global data is often a great base for developing interactive content. It allows users to find the data that relates exactly to them and draw them into the story. They’re able to explore and make their own conclusions and comparisons.

This interactive crime map we created for ADT allowed users to select their city and explore how crime in their city compared to national averages. It was clean and simple, and it allowed users to create a personal connection to the data no matter where they live. 

This campaign had over 170 media mentions, with many of them from local news outlets covering their area. By having the interactive map, publishers were able to easily find their local data and cover the story that was relevant to their audience. 

The interactive was also paired with static images for larger metropolitan areas that allowed for quick comparisons as people explored their local data in the interactive map. It added to the story by focusing on larger cities which are often associated with higher crime rates and show people exactly what areas were good and bad.

Video Content

Why it works:

  • It opens up different marketing channels, like YouTube.
  • It often communicates a personal feeling audiences find engaging.
  • It can allow you to explain complex subjects quickly.

What to watch for:

  • Making videos too long; customize the length of the video shared based on the platform you’re using.
  • A lack of purpose. Make sure the audience knows why they’re watching and what you want them to do next.

Video content is great for engaging audiences on social media and building your brand awareness. With more than 1.9 billion logged-in users visiting YouTube each month, getting content seen on YouTube can help get your name out there and drive traffic to your site, depending on your call-to-action within the video.

Videos can also build more trust and authority when they’re well-made and particularly when they feature real people (or better yet, real experts).

Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series is an excellent example of useful content packaged as videos. They’re revered in the marketing community not just because of the excellent tips provided but because of the personal touch—Rand Fishkin and others literally stand in front of the whiteboard and talk directly to you like you’re in the room. The videos feel professional but not intimidating by adding a human component you can’t always get in text.

Experimental Content

Why it works:

  • It’s often novel, giving it a competitive edge.
  • The novelty means people will likely want to share it with others.
  • You can still work in surveys as a small component of the piece.

What to watch for:

  • Overspending on the project if you discover it’s not feasible.
  • Setting too high of expectations for the content; decide it’s a calculated risk and accept if it doesn’t go according to plan.

The best way to describe other types of content: experimental. This is anything else you can imagine coming up with. 

Maybe you swab some surfaces and analyze germ counts? Or maybe you head to a hotel and blacklight rooms for different fluids. You can have people do a fitness challenge and collect their data and find out if they are effective, or maybe collect people’s smart watch data to find out how different activities affect them. (These are all methodologies we’ve tested out at Fractl.)

The options for this type of content are endless, and your team’s creativity is the limit. This is one of the more risky content types and can be very expensive, as you can’t predict the outcomes or the methodology will be seamless. However, with an idea that aims to make people feel a strong emotion, you have a higher chance of success.

Take this study that aimed to show how honest people are. The NPR coverage earned over 200 dofollow links.

The fear of leaving a purse or wallet behind is a feeling people everywhere can relate to, making this project highly relatable and interesting. If you can think outside the box and tap into universal emotions, you might just be on to something.


Surveys shouldn’t be completely ruled out from your content-creation strategy, but you should aim to diversify the types of content you are putting on your website. Each of the above examples are great ways to build out authoritative content and create a varied link portfolio (when paired with a digital PR component). Ultimately, aim to produce content that makes sense for your brand and achieves the goals you set out in your content strategy.

Angela Skane

Angela Skane

Angela Skane worked as a content producer for Fractl for two years before moving into a leadership role for the creative department. Now, she handles hiring, training, and managing the creative team. She spends her time getting lost on Reddit, especially the Data is Beautiful Subreddit.

Disclaimer: The author's views are entirely their own, and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of BuzzStream.
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Website: http://frac.tl

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