The Talent Fairy Chats With People Who Hire Content People
The best part of my role as Talent Fairy is that I get to talk to people constantly. I talk to folks who still work in print magazines and love it and want to ride it out. I talk to people who have transitioned to new roles outside traditional media (oh, so many different roles!). And I talk to lots and lots of people who are trying to transition from editorial into branded, nonprofit, or content marketing and communications. But what I’ve found is that those groups don’t necessarily all talk to each other. There is a knowledge gap between those who are looking for content jobs — and those who are hiring for them. So I’m writing this series of posts: Chatting With People Who Hire Content People. I will attempt to bridge that gap, and answer questions that career pivoters might have about roles and organizations outside of traditional media. I will be talking to executives and team leaders who have content backgrounds and “get it” and those who don’t, but they will all have one thing in common: They hire content people, people like you.
My latest interview is with Ashley North, Senior Marketing Manager, Paid & Owned Media, at the skincare company, Perricone MD. I met Ashley through Molly Nover-Baker who I worked with at CosmoGirl — she was the beauty director and I was the executive editor. Molly left her last role as beauty director at Women’s Health a few years ago to launch her own agency, The Edit Collective. She and her team of former beauty editors work with marketing and content leads, including Ashley at Perricone MD, to create content that is aligned with their brand. Ashley and I talk about what her role is exactly at Perricone MD, how she runs their paid and owned media (including the difference between the two), and why she loves working with former beauty editors. Here is an edited transcript of our recent chat:
Talent Fairy: Let’s start with your role at Perricone MD. What is your title and who makes up your team?
Ashley North: I wear a lot of hats! We have a pretty small marketing team of around five or six people, so we are very nimble and most people work on several different things. I am essentially in charge of all paid media and owned media.
When it comes to paid media, I develop marketing strategies for our paid media channels, such as Google Ad Words or Facebook or Instagram ads. And I help manage the relationship with publisher partners — we actually did an interesting partnership with Goop recently. We always want to make sure that we are on-brand and on-voice, so part of that is working with our internal team to create what is sent to these partners. And of course another part of that is meeting with the finance team to make sure that we are spending our ad dollars wisely.
With owned media, I am in charge of all the content that we publish. One example is creating the imagery that is on social media. I’m the one writing a creative brief for the photographer and providing details like: Is this is the look and feel what we need? Do we need a standalone image or a texture shot? I’m making sure that we have enough imagery to support all of our new product launches. That is the part that I enjoy the most: I like to give the creative direction and take our brand guidelines and turn them into an Instagram post that resonates with our audience.
Part of our owned media is our blog where we are constantly creating content that supports new product launches or any seasonal offers. For instance, right now going into Labor Day [this interview was done in mid-August], we may have a lot of moisturizers with SPF on sale, so we’ll need to create more content about sunscreen. Or we know that people are traveling during the summer, so we will develop posts that are good for travel, for instance, these are the best products to take with you on a trip because they protect your from the sun, and they are TSA-approved so you can take them on the plane.
I am also in the process of taking on more of our PR efforts and working closely with influencers and sending out mailings and managing outreach to beauty editors for our product launches. I work on many different aspects of digital marketing.
TF: I noticed that you said that your favorite part of your job is the creative aspects. I’m curious what is your personal background? Where were you before you came to work at Perricone MD? AH: I come from an agency background. It’s a lot different working on the brand side. What I did before was helping to pitch clients, looking at a brand and telling them what I think they should be doing. I was selling strategies to clients.
TF: So now you actual get to put all your ideas into action and are more a part of the execution?
AH: Exactly. Now rather than giving suggestions and coming up with a plan I get to be more hands on. And it’s really nice to just work with one client and dive deep and be focused on all things pertaining to one business. While at an agency I might be working with 10 different clients at one time. And they weren’t all clients that I was interested in. I had an automotive client, for instance. Let’s just say I definitely wasn’t as interested in that as I am in skincare and beauty.
TF: Did you have experience in beauty before you came to Perricone MD?
AN: Not a lot. When I was running my own freelance business, I had one client who was a small startup, a mom and pop beauty business. I helped her define what her brand was. So I had some experience in beauty, but not much. Since I’ve been here [at Perricone MD], I have learned so much about the beauty industry. And I love it. I don’t have a day that I don’t want to go to work. I enjoy what do.
TF: So clearly they were looking for someone with marketing strategy experience over expertise in the beauty space.
AN: Well, when you see beauty brand job listings on LinkedIn, it does usually say that experience in beauty is preferred. But I think it’s more about coming in and being knowledgeable about products. You can tell when someone has an interest in the industry. I mean I don’t want to sound vain, but I take pride in my appearance. Like, I’m the kind of person who does a face mask a couple times a week! I follow beauty trends and beauty news. I’m familiar with what is happening in the space. It’s definitely a plus if someone can speak about the industry and they know what is going on.
TF: Can we talk a bit more about your team. You said a small team?
AN: Yes. We have an associate marketing manager that works alongside me to help support all of our day to day efforts. And we have two brand managers. They work with the product development team and to develop copy for packaging. They look at the dates of the new launches, when a product is going live in Sephora and Ulta. They are looking at the brand side of things: What should it say on the container? On the packaging? What is the name of the product?
We also have a creative team, that reports to our creative director, with several copywriters who write the product messaging that will go on our website. They work closely with the education and product development teams. We have a Chief Scientist who gives insight into why we’ve selected a particular ingredient and how it works. We are a very science-driven company.
TF: Are the copywriters writing any of the content for the blog or is that where the Edit Collective comes in?
AN: The Edit Collective writes all of our blogs content. I have a content calendar and a list of products and promotions that need to be supported. I will go to our digital agency and say we want to write about x, y, z and they’ll do the keyword research pertaining to the things we want to write about, so that we know we are creating content that people are actually searching for. They will come up with the key search terms, so if we want to do an anti-aging story, they’ll see that “retinol” is a hot ingredient right now with really high monthly search volume. So we’ll come up with ideas that are all about retinol: the who what where when why of the ingredient. We want to break down the basics and educate people. After we have the title and topic, I will write a brief. The brief gives talking points for the Edit Collective and provides the search terms we want featured throughout the article. Then they write the article which I review to make sure it hit all of the points we want to touch on and that it meets brand guidelines and follows our voice.
TF: What is it that you like about working with the Edit Collective? What do you look for when you hire content creators in general?
AN: I love it that the Edit Collective is all former beauty editors. They understand how to write for this audience already. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you aren’t writing about the same types of things or for the same audience, it won’t come across in the right way. Someone who is creating content for us needs to know what the voice is and how to talk to women, and particularly how to talk to women who are 40+. Beauty editors are on the pulse and know what is going on in the industry. We provide our writers with research materials and they have access our director of education and chief scientist, so that they’re able to ask questions in order to make sure the content is catered to the Perricone MD brand. But it’s key to have someone who doesn’t have to research every little thing in the beauty world, and is already familiar with the industry.
TF: How do you make sure that the voice is consistent across all your channels?
AN: We have a brand guide that helps us define our brand and define who our core consumer is. We call her our Perriconista —she is “interested” and “interesting.” She’s a woman who is passionate about culture and art and her own interests. She is ambitious and cares about science. She’s well educated and values knowledge. We are a strong brand and a confident brand.
TF: How much does content play a role in the overall business strategy for Perricone MD? Will it play more in the future?
AN: We will definitely be doing more content. The future of content is to be educating the consumer. You want to give away as much knowledge as you can for free. That is how you are going to sell your product. Consumers don’t want to just read a bunch of marketing copy, they want to be educated. People care even more so now about ingredients and how they work and why they work. People care about what is going on their skin. Ultimately we want to create as much content as possible to provide a benefit to our audience. And that is how we are going to create a customer out of them. It’s all about finding a way to take this educational material and tell a story with it. If we are talking about a specific ingredient. Where does it come from? Is it derived from an olive plant? Making things interesting and providing real-life application. Through our blog and our monthly newsletters, we are giving so much useful information to our audience. Information that they can actually use. There is real value behind the content we provide as a brand and that makes people want to become a part of it.
TF: Fascinating how powerful content is to connect with your consumer. I think we will end on that uplifting point! It’s been a joy talking to you. I learned a lot.
AN: Thanks so much!
Chandra Turner is founder and CEO of Ed2010 and Talent Fairy. She is a talent recruiter specializing in the content and media space. She also offers personalized career coaching for media professionals at all stages of their career.