How to Find Original Story Angles for Popular Topics

It’s one of biggest struggles for content marketers: how to have a “fresh take” on a commonly covered topic. Now, angles are beautiful things, not just in art but also in writing. New angles are like the fountain of youth for content. They bring old stories alive and infuse your content with relevance, which also makes a story stand out from the rest of the noise. But, angles aren’t easy to find. So, let’s take a closer look at how we can find new angles.

Angles are like people.

Our likes and dislikes define our individual interests. As an example, let’s say two friends go to a concert together. Their experience, although shared, might be different. Perhaps one might really like the band’s fashion sense and talk about stage design when asked, “how was it?” But if the other is asked the very same question he might be more interested in the lead guitarist’s chord strumming technique and make that the focus of his observations. They are both potentially interesting angles to examine the concert through; choosing which perspective to cover really depends on the audience.

Fresh angles have the ability to change people’s perception.

Being interesting is just as important as being fresh. If you’ve ever sat through an eight-hour journey with no iPod or entertainment, you’ll have quickly discovered that there is nothing worse than sitting next to someone who isn’t interesting. Now, if you discover your fellow traveler is passionate about something, such as the strategy game, Go, you will quickly forgive his bulbous-ness, which is slowly pouring itself over the armrest and into your personal space. As you listen to your new acquaintance discuss how geometrics and the affine transformation of parallel lines can help you to identify the best move, you become fascinated. Suddenly, you form a new perception of the game and how it applies to life in general.

Passion is infectious. Use it.

Interesting people are passionate, and angles are no different. By using the things that you are passionate about as a springboard to find associations between your article topic and how it relates to your wider audience, you will find unique ways to renew outdated information.

Don’t be afraid to explore outlandish things.

We’re all guilty of proposing angles that could force even the most enthusiastic reader into a boredom induced coma. So, when looking for an angle, don’t dismiss any of the crazy ideas that pop into your head; explore them instead.

A great example of this would be around the current political elections. Healthcare institutions have their ears to the ground as the presidential candidacy could have an enormous impact on several aspects of their business. But healthcare blogs can’t talk about politics, right? Right, but they can use it as a catalyst to promote better healthcare. For example, they could explore how the hype of elections impacts the populations’ emotional well-being.

Make comparisons between the obvious and the not-so-obvious.

Comparisons are a natural part of how we understand the world around us. For example, we know that night is dark only because daytime light exists. Angles are very much the same. By comparing and contrasting opposing views, we can discover fresh content.

For example, there is currently a lot of buzz around the link between carbohydrates and lung cancer. Articles with titles such as, “Could cancer be the new tobacco?” suggest there is, in fact, a direct correlation. But what if we compared carbohydrates to cars and lung cancer to pollution? Suddenly, we’ve got two very seemingly disparate things that when observed closely reveal a correlation; pollution and cancer are both modern day concerns that have developed as a result of a change in lifestyle and the advancement of technology.

Stay up to date with current events.

Everyone knows that the best way for your content to get read is to hitchhike on currently trending topics. Staying current is a vital part of connecting with your existing audience and growing brand awareness. For example, I might use the recent success of Google’s Deep Mind, to defeat the number two Go world champion as a springboard to explore how the autistic children learn. Research has shown that some children with autism have an affinity for solving complex mathematical problems, using decomposition strategies. An approach that is also used by Go players to learn various combinations of moves.

Use social listening.

It is one of the best ways to not only find new angles but explore the minds of your audience and inevitably, develop stronger relationships with them. Try scrolling through the comments on popular articles to see what’s being send about a particular story. It will not only stimulate some great ideas but will also give you direct access to your intended audience.

Back in 2015, the New York Times ran a story on the questionable workplace practices of Amazon that prompted a deluge of more than 7,000 comments. But, one comment, in particular, stood out to me like gold. A guy from Maine said, “All this just to sell books and toilet paper more efficiently?” This comment got me thinking, exactly how much toilet paper does Amazon sell? It also got me wondering how the quality of toilet paper could affect happiness in the workplace. I could easily tie either of these ideas back to the original article and still stay true to my angle but also be relevant.

Write everything down.

Have you ever tried to solve a very complex math problem in your head and found it impossible? But then you wrote it down on paper and started to break it down piece by piece, eventually finding the correct answer? That’s because human beings are visual creatures. Writing things down not only helps us to organize information better but also enables us to recognize connections and patterns that would have otherwise got lost amongst all the other stuff in our heads. Once you’ve identified the topic, start by writing down old angles and any thoughts or words that pop into your mind, organizing them into groups to identify any potential connections that you may have missed. Don’t dismiss any ideas that seem silly. You might find that these are the very ones that provide you with your angle.

Invite an ‘outsider’ to join in.

The most interesting story slants come from the people you least expect. As a content marketer, you’re slammed every day with the same challenges, although they may be wearing different disguises. This sameness sometimes makes it hard to see the angle that is staring you straight in the eyes. People who aren’t typically a part of the creative process, for example, a Programmer, don’t have this problem. Ask them to join in the process. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the value that a new set of eyes can bring to the conversation.