Leonie Gleeson Career Advice, Digital
Content Creator Vs Subject Matter Expert
Hire for Talent or Knowledge – that is the question!
When it comes to marketing, content is king! As marketing recruiters, we’ve witnessed the rise in demand for content creators and we hear this refrain all the time. Our clients are justifiably eager to recruit someone who can hit the ground running to deliver key messages, both to internal and external audiences.
However, understanding a company’s strategy and being able to work that into compelling content across online channels, sales tools and leadership materials takes a certain type of skills level. This begs the question, what comes first? Content writing skills or subject matter expertise? Not everyone is skilled in writing. It does take someone with excellent communication skills and a understanding of how to tailor content to a specific audience. Does it therefore make sense trying to persuade subject matter experts (either within your organisation or via external resources) to create content or do you hire content creators and try to convert them into subject matter experts? For most organisations, the latter strategy would be far more effective.
Building content creation expertise
There are 2 key ways of doing this:
If you decide to go down the route of hiring a content creator who doesn’t necessarily know the industry, there are plenty of possible “on the job” knowledge sharing opportunities. Hold formal (or informal) training sessions where you gather your subject matter experts on a weekly or monthly basis to discuss various topics with your content creator(s). These topics could include new product development, service offerings, functions and processes within the organisation as well as presenting challenges that have arisen. This will help them develop their knowledge as well as increasing their understanding of your target market and the challenges your industry/company face. This allows them to adjust the tone and messages of their content depending on their audience.
Depending on the size of your organisation, town halls are also incredibly useful sources of information for content creators. Town halls are a great way for the leadership team to share business results and company initiatives amongst other things and can open up new ideas for your content team to develop in an innovative manner.
Invest in training and in courses that may increase their knowledge without taking up too much time from your resident experts (who have their own day job). Get them to spend time with each function within the organisation so that they get a better idea of how all the pieces fit together and what would be of interest to a potential audience.
(2) Hire in contract talent
If you’re unsure about the value of bringing in a permanent hire, then perhaps consider initially hiring in on a contract or a freelance basis. There are plenty of writers who work with newspapers or content platforms who are open to freelance opportunities. These could be technical experts who are also aware of all the macro and micro elements that could affect your market, thereby changing the tone of your content. Once you get a head-start using their services, you can start to see what works and what doesn’t, enabling you to build a team that balances content creation with subject matter expertise.
Getting in external help on a contract basis will also prove helpful in discovering the level of skills that you want and how and when you need it. Then you can make that critical decision on whether to continue working with external resources or to hire on a permanent basis. That gives rise to the question if you can find that creator within your own organisation who knows enough about your products / services to slot into that role in the future. Lateral moves can prove very advantageous for both the employer and employee so alerting your leadership team of a possible opportunity to move to a content creation role could get you that person you need.
That said, if you decide to hire a content creator on a permanent basis, then you can specify skills such as a certain level of experience, robust research skills, experience with SEO, knowledge of Google Analytics and other reporting tools as well as those all important writing skills from the outset. Having someone with a knowledge of graphic design would also be helpful although you can always provide training and upskilling opportunities in this area.
When hiring, always remember the reason why you want a content creator on your team – good content gets results. Consistent content creation is one of the most effective ways of boosting SEO. A good content writer knows exactly how to zone in on your target audience and can help implement a strategy that will improve your SEO ranking as well as keeping your content fresh and valuable.
Leonie Gleeson is Associate Director with Alternatives and works with a range of companies on their marketing hiring requirements.