Get to know the people behind our business a little better and meet our Content Director, Ruth Hartnoll. Ruth is responsible for planning, creating, promoting and analysing audience-grabbing content for our clients and J&R. Below, she details some of her content marketing predictions for 2018, why she started J&R and how she came to be a Co-Founder and #GirlBoss.
1. What led you to start J&R?
I’ve wanted to be my own boss for as long as I can remember. Ever since my Mum and Dad got me a Barbie Cafe Set so that I could ‘run my own business’ from my bedroom, I’ve imagined leading others and creating something from the ground up. My Dad is a self-made man and his example made me hungry to start my own thing.
Another driving force behind my decision is there aren’t enough female founders. Without women starting companies, hiring other brilliant women and paying them to produce their best work, our industry will be too slow to change.
2. What are three lessons you’ve learnt from starting your own business, so far?
We’re only in our infancy, but I’ve already learnt so much. I’d say my three biggest lessons so far are:
- Work with people who complement your skill set. Partner with someone who is good at things you are not. Your differences will be the difference.
- Get a good designer. In my last role, I worked with two brilliant designers and their attention to detail and approach to work has been hugely influential on the role design plays in the work I create.
- Have an exit plan from your old job. If it’s possible, give yourself breathing room to fully plan how to leave your current role before starting your own thing. There’s a lot to organise in the beginning, so give yourself time to get yourself together.
3. How did you get into marketing?
I trained as a writer at Liverpool John Moores University on their Creative Writing Degree. I ended up getting my first job about four years after graduating. I didn’t even know Copywriting or Content Marketing was a thing until I saw an advert for a role online. I now regularly lecture at my old University to implore Creative Writing students to intern at agencies and consider Copywriting and Content Marketing as a career. It’s such a good way to transfer your skills of editing, creative thinking, brainstorming and giving constructive feedback. Really, it’s quite a vocational subject.
4. What do you think will have the biggest impact on content marketing in 2018?
I think there’s so much dialogue going on around AI and VR and people still haven’t really caught up with voice search yet. Thanks to Amazon’s Alexa and Echo Dot coming out, people are finding the idea of speaking to objects novel again. I think content marketers can have a lot of fun playing around with the idea of voice search and how differently people ask for things when they can hear their own voice.
5. How has content marketing changed since you started four years ago?
I entered the industry at an interesting time and I think the truest fundamentals of great content marketing have stayed the same. Write for people, not engines. Create content your audience would want to share. Help, don’t sell. However, I think what is expected of content marketers has changed quite a bit. You need to understand every part of content; from planning to analysing. Customer’s expectations have gotten higher the savvier they’ve got, so now you need to write, make video and be a social media whizz. The skills you need to have in your canon now are huge compared to where I first started.
6. Where do you go for inspiration when you’re stuck for something to make?
I’ve found myself leaning on design sites more and more recently to get my creative juices flowing. My top three recommendations are:
7. Who are your content marketing heroes?
The people I return to again and again for content marketing inspiration are Rand Fishkin (best of luck with your new venture Rand – SparkToro will be great with you at the helm), Ann Handley and Jay Baer. The Americans kick our ass when it comes to thought leadership.
8. Which content marketing campaign caught your eye recently?
Analfolk’s: Morning Moods for PG Tips – I loved that this campaign used a medium we all love – GIFs – and turned into something so relevant for the brand.
9. What’s your go-to favourite item of stationary?
Whilst so much of my work is digital, you just can’t beat good stationary. I’m sure my other Copywriters will agree with me on this one. My biggest weakness has to be notebooks and pens. I’ve just bought a fresh box of blue Biros and I’m itching to get them open. Oh, an I’m in love with my new notebook from Paperchase. The cover reads; Females are the Future.
10. Outside of work, what keeps you happy?
My dogs and cat, drumming lessons and family.
Follow Ruth Hartnoll on Twitter
Ruth Hartnoll – @ruthhartnoll
J&R – @jnragency
Want to see how content marketing can help your business?
Take a look at our Content Marketing services and our Persuasive Copywriting class – we can’t wait to help. Or, you can download our Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing, totally free of charge.