If you asked Kaitlyn Manighalam what her job is, she’d tell you she’s a senior writer at Brafton. What she probably won’t mention right away is that, every day, she’s responsible for producing content for some of the world’s top health care brands.
Kaitlyn’s interest in all things medical actually dates back further than her decision to become a writer. In high school and early college, Kaitlyn wanted to be an optometrist, and she took two years of pre-med classes in undergrad before deciding to pursue a career in writing.
So, it made sense that when she was working on her master’s in journalism and had to choose a concentration – public affairs, business, or health and science – she thought the latter would be a good fit.
“It allowed me to combine my interest in the health field with my passion for writing, which was definitely a win-win for me. It’s an incredibly important topic, but one that’s very easy to make mistakes in when it comes to writing, whether it’s the complicated name of a new arthritis drug or a statistic from a 12–page cancer study. So it keeps me on my toes and I really enjoy the challenge.”
Another obstacle to overcome as a health writer? Being regarded as someone with the same subject matter expertise as those who’ve gone through medical school.
“When I get a new health client, I have to invest a lot more time and research than I would for the average account. For example, one of my clients is a top international producer of radiology equipment. I spent weeks learning about radiology and this company’s specific products.”
The extra effort is definitely worth it, she said.
“I was interviewing a nurse educator for an article recently and she was clearly upset that an industry insider wasn’t writing the piece. She didn’t think I would have the knowledge to do the topic justice. So I started asking her about her thoughts on how the shift toward value-based care in the health field was encouraging nurses to play a more active role in ensuring patient safety and quality care. She was completely caught off guard that I actually knew what I was talking about and was much friendlier and more helpful after that!”
While Kaitlyn isn’t quite pursuing the news reporting career she set out for with her master’s in journalism, she’s still able to incorporate her favorite aspects of the field into her marketing career.
“In marketing, I still get to do many of my favorite elements of journalism – research, writing, interviews – but I get to perform them in a more structured environment,” she said. “As much as I love writing, I’d have to say that my favorite part of the workday is actually meeting with clients. I love having the opportunity to talk about what they want out of their content, and share my own thoughts and suggestions. When clients bring their industry expertise to the table and let me help them shape the content strategy using my own specialized knowledge as a writer, I think that’s where the best work comes from.”
Brafton Q&A with Kaitlyn:
Q: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was all over the place. At my 8th grade graduation I remember saying I wanted to be a writer… or a missionary… or a doctor. So pretty much everything. I’ve loved writing since I was in grade school, but I didn’t think I’d actually be able to make a career of it. Glad I was wrong!
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
I know this is cheesy, but I’d have to say my engagement ring. My husband saved up for months while he was still a student so that he could propose. I would be devastated if I lost it.
Q: If you were a type of web content, what would you be?
Probably an eBook. I can be succinct if I have to, but I love knowing as much as possible about the topics that I write about.
Q: What do you value most in a job? What’s your favorite aspect of Brafton?
I most value coworker relationships and professional growth opportunities, which are two areas that I think Brafton excels in. While working here I’ve been able to be involved in the creation of infographics, videos, social media strategies and other multimedia projects, on top of my role in written content. Everyone in the other departments is great and it’s really fun to learn more about different aspects of content marketing. I think it gives me a better idea of how to approach the written components when I can see how they fit into the larger whole.
Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t know if this would be my greatest achievement, but one that means the most to me is my master’s capstone. A colleague and I created a mini-documentary about a baseball team in Chicago. The twist is that the league is made up of only players who are 60 and over. These guys are in their 60s and 70s still playing hardball every week, running the full baselines in professional uniforms – it’s really amazing. The team accepted us as honorary members and we formed really close relationships while filming them every week. They even sent us both trophies with our names on them when they won the championship game. I’m proud of the work we did from a reporting standpoint, but the best part was having the men and many of their wives come to the premier to view the finished product. It meant the world to them to have someone tell their story. The emotion on their faces was worth every minute we put into the project and more.
Q: Have any “hidden talents”?
I play the oboe, does that count? It’s not really a hidden talent, but it’s pretty obscure…
Q: If Brafton were a TV show, which character – from any sitcom, drama or reality show (of any time period) – would represent you?
Oh I’m definitely Peggy Olson from Mad Men. Or that’s my goal anyway. As a copywriter, you can clock in and clock out each day and just do the work that’s required of you, or you can push the envelope and look for new opportunities to make yourself better than you were the day before. I aim for the latter, which is why I love Peggy’s character in that show. Plus she’s a great example a woman standing up for herself in the workplace, which I think is still important even though we don’t face the blatant gender discrimination today that women did 50 years ago.
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