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 folks who have transitioned to new roles outside the magazine industry (oh, so many different roles!). And I talk to lots and lots of people who are trying to transition out of 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 starting a new series of posts: Chatting With People Who Hire Content People. I will attempt to bridge that gap, and answer questions that career pivotors might have about roles and organizations outside of traditional media. I will be talking to folks 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 first interview is with Taryn Mohrman, the editorial director for buybuy Baby who hires copywriters, both freelance and in-house, to write copy in her brand’s voice. Here is an edited transcript of our recent chat:
Talent Fairy: Can you explain your role within your organization for folks at home?
Taryn Mohrman: I’m the editorial Editorial Director for buybuy Baby. I’ve been here about a year, I started last August. I oversee editorial copy for all our marketing channels. That includes email, print pieces, the website, store signage, and eventually social.
TF: I should also add that you are a former magazine editor yourself! Tell everyone where you worked before buybuy Baby.
TM: I was the Editorial Director at Hearst Lifestyle group. I lead a team of home editors at Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, and Redbook.
TF: So many organizations now have content teams but everyone seems to give them different names. What is your team called at buybuy Baby?
TM: We are the creative marketing team. I work within the Design Brand Group, essentially an internal agency within the company. Until the creation of Design Brand Group which I was hired for, buybuy Baby and Bed Bath Beyond [its parent company] used a variety of external agencies for their creative messaging. But the brand voice was diluted because of it. The nature of this company is we sell third party products, so there was no brand identity for buybuy Baby itself. Bringing creative in house solves that. It was my job to bring that brand voice to life.
TF: How do you define your brand’s voice?
TM: There are three pillars which were established before I came on which I now execute: One, we are trusted experts. We are the place that does baby. Two, We want to break it down, cut through all the marketing jargon. We want to relate to the customer. Three, We want to be relatable, attainable, and make them smile.
That sounds an awful lot like talking to a magazine reader!
TM: Yes; it’s exactly the same.
TF: OK let’s talk about hiring people! What do you look for when you are hiring content creators on your team?
TM: What became apparent to me very quickly is I needed people who could write service copy. I needed service copywriters. Every time we write a piece of content we need to make sure that we show the consumer how it’s going to fit into their life. Our brand positioning is to help the customer understand all the different products out there, such as all the different strollers and which one is right for them. There is a different need for every family and budget. I’m constantly putting on my magazine editor hat to see how to help guide the customer to that purchasing decision.
TF: So how do you know if candidates can do that when you’re interviewing them?
TM: The first thing I ask them is, When you are tasked with writing copy, how do you decide what it is what you are going to say? Different backgrounds have different answers. Traditional copywriters will say they need to write the features of the product. Those who have an editorial background will say How is it going to benefit the customer? What we need is that someone is going to look at it in that way.
TF: Where do your candidates come from if not an editorial background?
TM: They come from lots of different backgrounds. They may start in editorial and then go to the brand side, for a retailer. The difference between someone who has worked at a retailer vs. a magazine editor is that for us we have to talk about all the different products, not just our product like a retailer would be. My magazine background served me well in understanding different companies and different companies’ priorities while still staying true to our brand voice as buybuy Baby. We have to talk about the product that satisfies the compannies’ marketing objectives, our marketing objective, and make sure we also serve the customer.
TF: Are there any deficits that people from an editorial background may have?
TM: Well, the benefit of people who have a marketing background is that they know how to work with briefs. Anyone who is looking to make the jump should know that term. A marketing brief is a form that is filled out by the marketing team with help from whatever department they need to supply the necessary information for the creative team to develop the asset, whether it’s an email, social, web copy, whatever. Then as the creative marketing team we make sure that we have everything we need from all the different departments to create the content. The thing with the briefs is that they should have everything organized, but it’s not always the case. You have to be able to ask the right questions to get all the details you need to create the asset, like What is the objective? We need someone who is comfortable asking the questions and that’s where the journalist background is helpful.
TF: What would be a smart question you could ask in an interview for a role like this?
TM: You could ask, Do you work with marketing briefs? Who writes them and how does that process work in your industry? It would show me that you are clued in. That is really good to hear. Showing you recognize the benefits of a brief, that you’re a good collaborator and you are willing to ask questions and work across departments within the company.
TF: Do you think your company’s need for content creators will grow in the next few years?
TM: Yes! The company is investing in more content creation. In fact, I’m looking to hire a copywriter with a focus on print. Our catalogs are magalogs. This person will help with other channels, too: it’s an omnichannel role. But it’d be amazing to hire someone with a print background; I’d be so open to hiring a magazine editor right now. And I’m hoping we will have more openings to share soon!
With the magalogs, I need someone who is going to be able to think about hierarchy of copy and packaging of ideas, for instance. Copywriters with a digital background don’t always see the same what’s on the page the same way that magazine editors do.
TF: Taryn, it was so great to catch up and your advice is so helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time out today.
TM: No problem! Happy to help.
Chandra Turner is founder and CEO of Ed2010. She offers personalized career coaching for media professionals at all stages of their career. This year she launched Talent Fairy to help brands recruit and develop high-quality creative talent.