When someone tells you they’ve read the entire Harry Potter series twice, you typically ask them to wash off the lightning-bolt scar they drew on their forehead and clarify that this is a professional setting.

Luckily, Brafton took a different track with Rachel Rodgers, writer turned editorial impresario turned project manager.

This wasn’t what actually happened, but still, don’t doubt Rachel’s HP dedication. #gryffindor4lyfe

Since 2015, when Rachel joined the ranks of Brafton new hires, she’s consistently set herself on a path of excellence, burning through health and education content and becoming the point person for a portfolio of some of our largest clients.

Most of us here at Brafton owe our sanity, nay our lives, to Rachel, who is the embodiment of the “let’s get to work” attitude.

Inspiring others since day 1

You’d have to go back to Rachel’s early childhood to trace her writing roots. Hailing from Lombard, Illinois (yes, THAT Lombard), she practiced her penmanship from a young age, pulling fictional tales of magic and dragons out of thin air. That’s right; when you were six, you were still learning how to swim – Rachel was writing short stories and Dark Age fantasy.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel’s parents encouraged her to put her writing skills to good use, getting her involved in a pen pal program through their church. Members of the church befriended senior citizens at a nearby retirement home and sent letters to let them know the community cared.

“I’m the only person in my family who writes, and I’ve been doing it all my life,” she said. “I had a pen pal in the second grade, and I would write him letter after letter, hoping to get a response.”

After weeks of silence, a return letter finally arrived, and Rachel knew she had made a connection.

“The nurses actually reached out to me afterward and said that they had never seen him so happy. His mood had turned around entirely just knowing that someone was taking an interest in his life,” Rachel said.

From that point on, she learned that writing could have an impact on all facets of life. Throughout grade school, Rachel continued her correspondence with her pen pal and even leaned on his real-world experience to help her out on book reports and classroom presentations.

“I was doing a project on Lyndon Johnson, but I only knew of him from books,” she said. “My pen pal was obviously older and knew firsthand what living during that time was like, so he offered insights that I could have never known. We worked together.”

In high school, Rachel took interest in slam poetry and already knew what her future life would hold. As an English major and Professional Writing minor in college, she honed her communications skills and set off to the big city of Chicago to break into the business world.

Taking on new challenges

People might be surprised to know that it’s not actually the creative side of things that Rachel enjoys most about her work. So what is the best part?

“I like the logical, technical components of writing, editing and project management,” she said. “I am structured, and I like outlines and concision – I like when things get done right the first time.”

That sort of approach to the content marketing world is quite effective, and it’s evident in the type of work that’s being produced in 2017.

“Everything has to be unique, engaging and informative; and above all, quality must shine through,” she noted.

But Rachel’s expertise is more than just the accumulation of words, graphics, videos and client emails that go out each day; it’s the personal touch she brings to every conversation, every strategy session and every interaction with co-workers.

When possible, she does away with email and online chat.

“You have to talk to people,” Rachel said. “You have to know them, understand them and allow them to strategize and help you. And you help them in return. There’s no quicker way to solving a problem than simply walking over to someone and asking for help.”

That’s what content marketing is – knowing how departments, assets, channels and tactics work together to solve problems and create solutions.

If you don’t believe us, just ask Rachel.

If she doesn’t have an immediate answer, pivot to Harry Potter small talk. It won’t be awkward, we swear.

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.