We believe in the power of multi-channel content to tell one really good brand story. That means all creative team members should be united in strategy and process. To more closely align content operations across our business, Brafton has appointed Francis Ma as our first-ever vice president of content.
“Our content departments were collaborative, but ran parallel to one another,” CEO Richard Pattison said. “To achieve truly integrated content for all of our clients, we needed to take an equally integrated approach to our management structure. The appointment of Francis Ma as our first VP of Content recognizes this fundamental shift in our evolution as a digital content business.”
As Vice President of Content, Francis assumes overall responsibility for the quality, integrity and delivery of the company’s output across all production in Boston and Chicago. Here’s a look at his journey from news reporter to Content VP, and some of the skills he’s mastered along the way:
From newspaper journalist to content extraordinaire
For more than ten years, Francis was a successful journalist creating award-winning content at newspapers in New York, Arizona and Massachusetts. He loved his work, but started to see the traditional news industry stagnate compared to the web.
During the height of the economic recession in 2008, traditional publishers were making cuts while Brafton, a newly established content marketing agency in the heart of Boston, was seeking news writers. Francis knew the need for compelling storytelling wasn’t dwindling alongside print journalism. He took the leap to digital.
It was a shift in the content landscape that proved successful. Flash forward two years and Francis had helped grow the editorial team to 100 full-time employees. In 2012, Brafton was first named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies (an achievement repeated in 2013). Francis’ responsibilities had expanded as well; not only was he managing the Boston writers, but he was also actively developing new content products to best serve our growing client base.
An arbiter of quality and leader of innovation
In his six-year tenure with Brafton, Francis has been crucial in paving the way for Brafton’s strategic content and multimedia platforms.
“Too many companies focus only on their products – and they try to organize their customers into product-centric buckets,” Francis said. “I can’t tell you how many times a client call has inspired a new format or pilot project. We continually look at what we’re doing and ask what’s missing.”
“Francis is always thinking a step ahead in terms of what could benefit our customers, and he’s thoughtful and confident embarking on new content territory,” Richard said. “He has been instrumental in the growth and development of our market-leading infographic product, and he’s exercised similar leadership across Brafton video. Recently, he assumed high-level responsibility for social media, which I know will strengthen the multi-channel approach of the content we deliver clients.”
Francis said much of his success is a result of listening to our customers’ needs.
“Too many companies focus only on their products – and they try to organize their customers into product-centric buckets,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times a client call has inspired a new format or pilot project. We continually look at what we’re doing and ask what’s missing.”
Champion of professional development standards
While content innovation is a huge part of Francis’ role, Richard said it best when he noted, “For Francis, it’s all about the team and the importance of the individual contribution to collective success.”
Francis took the lead in creating our professional development standards, known internally as the Skills Matrix, for all Brafton producers and content managers. He has overseen the growth and development of key content roles, including the Lead Editor and Senior Writer positions that are crucial to the smooth and successful running of the company’s editorial teams.
“Manager, mentor, leader and friend”
As Vice President of Content, Francis has immense responsibility to his teams and our clients. But in our editorial newsrooms, he’s known more simply as “Francis, a manager, mentor, leader and friend.”
“Francis’ experience and leadership enabled us to structure our teams and processes more effectively,” Director of Video Product Perry Leenhouts said.
Director of Video Product Perry Leenhouts said it has been Francis’ leadership that has helped shape our growing video team.
“The experience and leadership he brought to the table enabled us to structure our teams and processes more effectively,” Perry said. “He leads by example, but at the same time he keeps his eyes and ears open to the opinions and ideas of others.”
Likewise, Graphic Production Manager Rachel Seidman said it’s been Francis’ management advice that has helped pave her success path.
“Having a manager like Francis makes the idea of change much less daunting – in fact, it makes it exciting because you know you have support,” she said.
Interested in learning more of Francis’ thoughts on the changing content marketing industry? Check out our on-demand webinar; he and Marketing Director Katherine Griwert walk through multi-media content strategies that deliver engagement and business results.