Mapping public relations content formats

Frederik Vincx and I worked together on #PRstack. He’s got a new project and needs your help.

By Frederik Vincx

The time has come to rethink content formats. Although Stephen rightly named it as one a trend for 2017 rethinking content formats and distribution tactics is something we’ve seen practitioners working on for a while now.

The good news is that I have an idea for a tool that might help. And I’m sharing this post here with you to ask for candid feedback and advice.

Step 1: step away from the press release and be inspired

Stepping away from the press release as core distribution format seems to remain a challenge for many public relations people though, both on the agency as on the company side.

It’s often the overwhelming amount of possibilities, and at the same time knowing your client’s audience well enough to choose the matching content format, that is at the core of that challenge.

I ran into the exact same problem when I wanted to spread the word about one of my projects.

While preparing a brainstorm about it, I thought about how I could make sure we kept inspiration nearby, wouldn’t miss out on an obvious content or distribution format and visualise the public relations process, all at the same time.

I ended up by making a set of cards, divided into the four media categories: paid, earned, shared and owned media.

Each category consists of 10 to 15 content and distribution possibilities. You can buy a set for your own for $20.

The advantage, to me, is that next to having a sort of checklist for your communication campaigns, this simple deck of cards makes it easy to organise your ideas and visualise the interaction between all the public relations tools you’ve chosen.

Gaps or ‘overkill’ in one of the categories are quickly discovered. And it literally makes everyone see the bigger picture.


Step 2: contribute to our list of formats

Although I first created it for my own, personal use, I wanted to take it a step further. People run into challenges similar to mine every day. So why not share my concept?

But the work isn’t over yet.

With our 46 cards, I think we’re only showing the tip of the iceberg. Which content possibilities are we missing? Which ones aren’t clear enough? Do you have ideas for elements we could add to the cards?

Like metrics, maybe? And if that’s a good idea, how should we explain which metrics to use?

Have a look at our list of content and distribution formats and let me know if you’ve any additions. We’re throwing in five free card decks for the best feedback. Please leave a comment or contact me by email.

About Frederik Vincx

Frederik is a designer and entrepreneur from Brussels. He’s a former ad man, publisher of the PRstack project, and founder of storyselling software Prezly.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.


  1. Great post….ironically, I found it difficult to share via email. I copied and pasted the URL in the end…

  2. I think we should slowly start thinking about where bots fit into all of this. Can be social, owned or earned to have conversations with various publics (e.g. let’s say a journalists needs some stats, here we give those to them automatically asap, no waiting). AI is the next big frontier so what will PR do to jump on it?

  3. Entering business, industry or sector awards, being announced as a finalist and maybe winning – adds great credit and reputation and great PR story.

    Also activating CSR projects via staff members and telling the story via PR both contribute to the community, shows the brand in good light, earns goodwill to the business and has a team building benefit in HR.

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