Figaro Digital spoke to Anna Whitehouse, founder of Mother Pukka, ahead of her appearance at our November Digital Marketing Conference, about how brands can utilise the talents of writers when crafting their own content, and creating a voice to reach out to their consumers.
Your background is journalism – why do we often see journalists making the transition into digital?
AW: I think one of the transferable skills is about presenting information in the ‘now’ and being up to date with your content. Whether that’s a national scoop on sexism, or presenting your own personal experience of the gender pay gap, it’s ultimately about communication with your audience and keeping on top of current events.
How can content marketers learn from born and bred writers?
AW: It’s important for marketers to understand that communication isn’t about forcing your message across to an audience, and that’s something a lot of marketers can get wrong. Conversely, a trained writer will know how to engage people in audiences and communicate that message in a much more organic way. When it comes to making the point you want to get across, quite often less is more. Ultimately it comes down to favouring a more human connection.
How can you create engaging content about relatively simple products?
AW: There’s a story to everything, and I think revealing that story comes down to bravery. Yorkshire Tea recently did a video that depicted a young boy rapping about the perfect cuppa. The average customer might not be into rap, but what that did was open up tea bags to a younger audience. From a personal standpoint, it’s the first brand video I’ve ever shared on my own social media pages. The online sphere likes brands that pick a lane and go all out, and this did just that.
Do you often see marketers making mistakes? How can an outside perspective remedy this?
AW: I’ve worked in-house for a number of global brands, and I have noticed that often a brilliant idea gets watered down until it is something much safer. Of course I realise that there are often restrictions holding an idea back in large companies – but sometimes, listening to the 24-yearold social media manager is the key to being heard. Don’t allow ten other people to talk over that idea simply because they have more experience.
What’s more important for your brand, acquisition or retention?
AW: Both are equally as important. As a brand you need to stay true to who you are. It’s true that some of your team will inevitably scarper, and others will join – but ultimately, if you remain consistent in your tone, you’ll retain and acquire – whether it be visitors, followers or overall revenue.
Do you think marketers are becoming more comfortable with blurring the line between brand personality and bottom line ROI?
AW: Marketers are definitely becoming more comfortable with injecting their personality into their brand. Who doesn’t want to see a young kid wearing a woollen V-neck his mum knitted rapping about cups of tea in an advert that shows someone boiling a kettle. Tea can be cool, too!
How important is strategy when it comes to content?
AW: Having a content strategy is essential. But also, that strategy needs to allow for a natural flow of events. You can’t predict what’s going to happen a week down the line, so to be so tied down to a very strict content strategy/plan can be restricting. The key is having one person owning your social media channels, so there’s one voice that cares, is recognisable, and is responsible for responding. It doesn’t work having numerous people ‘taking turns’. Like anything, consistency of tone of voice and message is key.
Would you advise marketing teams to prioritise staff who can create in-house original content?
AW: Absolutely. Forget about selling your brand, begin with engaging the customer. To do that you need to ignore the sell and think about what they want. Babycentre.com is a case in point. Johnson’s Baby has created a leading hub for parents. There’s hardly any of their branding on the site – instead, the brand wins by helping people at their most vulnerable with tips and guidance for new mums and dads. Johnson’s Baby naturally sits alongside that message, without the need for a foghorn.
Mother Pukka is a portal for news, events, reviews and honest comment for people who happen to be parents. A journalist, editor and mother in search of pukka things for her kid, founder Anna Whitehouse previously worked as the Vice Editor at Time Out Amsterdam before writing about shoes and handbags for fashion labels SuperTrash and Tommy Hilfiger. Looking for a change of pace, she recently returned to London and now works as a writer at Shortlist Media.