Catherine Conlan is the newest member of the Reputation Capital team. She is joining us today as a writer and editor. Catherine brings more than 20 years of experience in writing and editing at daily and weekly newspapers, monthly magazines, news websites and, most recently, for a wide variety of private clients as a freelancer. Before shifting to freelancing, she worked as a city editor at the Duluth News Tribune, where she oversaw business, health and education reporting. Find out more about Catherine in this interview.
What will your role at Reputation Capital include?
I’ll be pitching in on projects by writing articles, blog posts and white papers for a variety of clients. My newspaper background gave me a lot of experience in writing clearly, quickly and concisely, and that skill is an important one to have in content marketing.
What have you learned about writing through your work as a freelancer?
There is a huge market right now for strong writing that is useful and informative. Clients are searching for ways to get their messages across in useful ways that their customers find interesting. A writer who can take a study or a product description and distill it into a blog post quickly and without fuss is in high demand.
It’s a lot of fun to work with companies that are excited about their products or services or information that they want to share. They’re sitting on this gold mine and they can’t wait to tell people about it. But they get so excited, or they’re so close to the information, or they get a little wrapped up in industry jargon, and they find it difficult to present it. A good writer works with them to find out what’s most important, what the core message is, and who needs to hear it. Good writing helps companies sell more effectively.
How is writing for B2B marketing a different experience than writing for news outlets?
On the surface, marketing writing and news writing seem very different. But really, when you look at it, you find that in both cases the audience is looking for information that you need to present quickly and clearly. A lot of newspapers have slogans along the lines of “news you can use,” and taking that approach to content marketing helps clarify it for the client. Both B2B writing and news writing feature the same pressure of getting a good job done quickly — but I thrive on that, and look forward to it.
Do you have any tips for freelance writers who want to get started in content marketing?
Don’t be afraid to try. Pick up whatever work you can without lowering your standards or your rates. Be upfront about what you can do for a client in terms of how much work you can take and when you can get it done. I do think the freelance market has been picking up over the past couple of years, and there are some excellent opportunities for people who have the skills.
What is a marketing trend that you see happening this year?
After the first rush of companies discovering social media, it seems to me that they are discovering that doing it right takes resources. It’s not enough to just fling out a tweet once every few days — customers are interested in a personal experience through social media. They want contests, they want conversation, they want to answer questions, they want to tell you what they think — and have you respond. That takes people and a plan. It’s easy to tell the ones who do it right.
What are your favorite websites for news and good reads?
I check a wide variety of newspaper websites in the morning to get a handle on what’s going on that day: Minneapolis Star Tribune, New York Times, and newspapers I’ve worked at, to see what’s going on in my old hometowns. I read the New York Review of Books; I love their writing about art and politics. For local news, culture, and offbeat humor, you can’t beat Perfect Duluth Day — it’s a great example of what a user-generated blog can do for a community. You never know what’s next: a post about a rediscovered nugget of local history, a notice about a lost dog, a pitch for an upcoming play or a review of the city’s new restaurants.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My husband, Matt, is a locomotive engineer and so has a difficult work schedule. When we find ourselves with free time on the same day, we spend it with our two kids enjoying what life on the North Shore of Lake Superior has to offer: hiking, snowshoeing, camping, youth hockey, craft beer and the special challenge of growing tomatoes from seed in a three-month growing season.
Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.