Here’s a depressing statistic: A Poynter report showed that more than 13,000 newspaper employees were laid off between the span of 2008 and 2012. And even in 2014 – despite a somewhat improved job market for writers – The New York Times reportedly laid off more than 100 staffers just last month. But that doesn’t mean good writing is disappearing from the web.
Combating the dwindling market for writers and journalists is content marketing. Brafton has been at the forefront of hiring experienced writers since our launch in 2008 – onboarding upward of 100 full-time writers in our Boston and Chicago offices in the past year alone.Our writers play a critical role in our clients’ success, and making the right choice every time we build our team is essential.
Brafton’s Production Manager Jeremy Corb said there are several factors that go into hiring a content writer. We receive hundreds of applications a month, on average, and we rely on a combination of written tests, phone introductions and in-person interviews to determine who, in fact, will be a good fit for our customers. What makes our team exceptional is the admittedly nitpicky process.
So what makes a good content writer? Jeremy and our Human Resources Director Delia Sintos shared some of the top characteristics we take into consideration to ensure the Brafton bunch sets itself apart:
They have real-world writing experience
We want to make sure our writers are ready to experience the fast-pace of agency life – and while we’ve hired ambitious recent grads who were up to the challenge – we make a point to hire writers who have experienced a professional environment. Creating quality content and meeting client deadlines are top priorities – our writers need to be both precise and prompt.
“Being a Brafton writer takes a specific kind of self-discipline,” Editor Matt Rickart said.
“If someone has worked in a fast-paced environment, where they’ve had to write under pressure and adhere to deadlines and it gives us a sense of how that person manages multiple creative projects,” said Delia.
They are passionate
The best quality in our team of writers? They enjoy it. As Editor Chris Hassan has said, the best writers are inspired writers. While it’s the job of an entire stakeholder team to create inspired client campaigns, we trust that each onboarding writer is excited to put fingers to keyboards. In fact, several of our writers keep up with their own, very successful personal blogs.
“Everyone told me I wouldn’t find a career as an English major,” senior writer Liam Feldstein said. “But I never gave up and it’s cool to feel like I’m where I belong.”
In the interview process, we also evaluate writers for their curiosity. Is this someone who will be eager to learn about how our client’s system really works?
They can tell a story – and well
Content marketing is about building your brand’s personality and gaining an audience’s trust. But a lot of our customers admit they worry they’re in a “boring” industry. Not so with the right writer on board. We know upfront a successful writer must be able to tackle a complex topic in terms that a reader can both understand and enjoy.
Brafton writers know the best approach to developing a human connection is through storytelling and real-life scenarios. And we’ve seen how it can work – Content Writer Dave Snyder used Batman analogies to simplify a blog post about mobile technology. Game of Thrones references are included in several of Senior Writer Kate Tully’s lifestyle pieces.
When we’re hiring a writer, the story often can start with the resume. A writer undoubtedly has edited, tweaked and perfected it before clicking the “Send” button, but when Delia reviews it – grammar and experience aside – she wants the candidate to be able to walk her through past job titles while telling a compelling, coherent story.
“Finding good writers these days is hard – everyone and their dogs think they can write,” Heather Magee, public relations and communications specialist at Faronics said. “I really appreciate that Brafton provided a full editorial team devoted to us.”
They do their research
Research is the backbone to any piece of content – and it starts long before the first words are typed. When creating an analytical news piece or a blog, our writers will include at least two to three trusted sources. When hiring – we expect they’ve done homework before the initial interview, too.
How much writers know about the role they’d fulfill at Brafton is an insight into how much they’d proactively learn about our clients’ brands.
“A candidate’s knowledge of Brafton can gauge many things – their motivation, preparation for the discussion, interest in the role,” Delia said. “I expect they can give a high-level summary. I’m even more thrilled when people can tell us what they’ve read from our blog.”
They’re creative and collaborative
Delia said it perfectly: “Salty attitudes need not apply.”
At Brafton, our writers are part of a one-team approach. Every day they’re interacting with the team that makes up a strategy: a content marketing strategist, a video producer, a graphic designer, a social media strategist – and of course, their fellow writers and editors. It’s this collaborative approach that truly makes a strategy come together – unique insights from each facet of the production process is what separates a disjointed content strategy from success.
“I look for people who are professional, energized, and have good sense of themselves and others,” Delia said. “Are they a collaborative problem solver? Are they adaptable to and/or promote change and evolution, or do they dig their heels in the sand? I look for people that I think would add value to our clients’ strategies.”
And when our writers are getting feedback like this, we know they’re doing something right:
“Fantastic work! Thank you. This article: AMAZING!”
“I am madly in love with you guys. So fun! Love it.”
“You better keep this writer on my feed, OR ELSE.”
“My writers listened to my suggestions, heard me and put them into action. I could not be more thrilled with the result”
“It has been an absolute pleasure reading the content from Brafton. I love these guys!”