Molly Buccini

Writers who join Brafton’s team are in the driver’s seat of their career – choosing the path that best suits their strengths and skills. For Matt Kaplan, that path has been climbing the ranks to editing in Chicago. Hollie Conroy found she loved dissecting a diverse range of topics and joined our editorial research team. Some have moved into account strategy positions, others have become script writers in our video marketing department.

But of course, we also have writers who simply love writing. That’s where unique opportunities like Castleford, our sister agency in Australia and New Zealand, come into play.

Castleford is spearheading growth of the content marketing industry down under, and it provides an exciting avenue for us to keep a pulse on the international market. Plus, Castleford is a perfect outlet for tenured Braftonians looking to develop their professional experience while exploring a new country.

When Brafton Writer Kristina Conroy was offered the chance to hone her writing skills abroad, she seized the chance.

Six months into her journey, she’s switched Zs for Ss, cruised the remarkable Milford Sound and developed her ability to write to a new audience. We caught up with Kristina to learn about her experiences as a content writer in a new marketing landscape:

Q: What have been some of the biggest challenges as a writer adapting to a different country?

New Zealand Castleford Kristina Conroy 1Well, there’s the language, first of all. I’m starting to write organisation, capitalise, favourite and neighbour like second nature. It’s also an added challenge for client calls and interviews. On day one here in Auckland, I interviewed an Australian farmer for a case study and barely understood a word until I went back and listened to the recording three times. We have colleagues from Britain, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and the US, and we interview people all over the Asia Pacific, so you really have to get used to a huge range of accents.

It’s also taken some time to learn go-to sources. I knew where to find the information I wanted back home, but much of that doesn’t apply here.

Q: How have your job duties changed in your move from Boston to New Zealand?

​​In general, no two months are the same. Marketers here tend to more quickly embrace varied content marketing strategies. In addition to blog posts, I’m writing case studies, white papers and other special projects. I’ve also had the opportunity to be more directly involved with my clients, setting up regular interviews and coordinating projects.

The biggest change, however, has been our new “hybrid” team. Since January, when the lovely Shannon Maloney came to Auckland, we created a team with 3-4 writers and a CMS. We all sit together, which has made it easier to collaborate more closely on client strategies. It’s a great team, and we’re starting to focus on more experimental, creative ideas.

Q: Last year, we spoke with Castleford’s Sales Director Rob Cleeve and he mentioned that content marketing was a new concept in Australia and New Zealand. Does this still ring true?
Rob Cleeve, Castleford's Sales Director
Rob Cleeve, Castleford’s Sales Director

It varies. Much of it depends on the size of the company and whether we’re working with business owners or marketers. I find smaller companies (and even some of the bigger ones) aren’t as familiar with the ins and outs of content marketing as my US clients. And many of my clients are more concerned about creating documents to use internally or for sales pitches than for SEO. On the one hand, it adds to the challenge. On the other, some clients just trust us to do what we think is best since we know the industry. It’s nice to be given that leeway.

Q: What would you say has been the biggest difference between content marketing in United States and content marketing abroad?

We have a heavier focus on industries like mining and agricultural insurance, which are the two biggest sectors in Australia. We have more writers who are subject matter experts in these areas. In the US, our teams had cultivated different specializations to match our customers’ focus areas.

Q: What kinds of industries are you writing for?

Initially, I transitioned from the Business & Technology desk at Brafton to the equivalent at Castleford, BizTek. Even then, my client case was pretty different.  Instead of writing about the mystery and magic of cloud computing, I had a diverse selection of recruitment and HR, events management and project management clients.

On the hybrid team, I’ve also had the chance to use my status as an American in New Zealand to get my feet wet with some more lifestyle-type writing. I write for a scenic railway and get to cover the amazing sites to visit in New Zealand. 

New Zealand Castleford Kristina Conroy 4Q: I’m sure it’s different for every client, but overall what kind of tone are clients looking for? How has feedback differed?

The ideal style and tone varies quite significantly from client to client. As a whole, maybe my New Zealand customers want something a bit more casual than some of my Brafton accounts. For a lot of my clients, I take very technical information from their own documents or interviews and then make it more accessible to a broader audience. So it’s about finding that balance – making sure you have the right data and are fully accurate, while also achieving the right tone and style for end-readers who aren’t as immersed in the field.

Q: What’s some of the best advice you’ve received in regard to content writing that’s applicable both in the states and abroad?

Go to your client’s website (and social media channels). To get both the details and the voice right, you really have to know your client’s image, industry and offerings.

Q: What have been some of your favorite outside-the-office experiences while down under?

Everything. I love New Zealand. It’s so beautiful – even when it rained all the time after I first arrived, I was stunned by how gorgeous it is.

New Zealand Castleford Kristina Conroy 2Highlights? I went on a two-week adventure​​ backpacking around the South Island. I climbed up a summit, saw some kiwi in a sanctuary, cruised around the remarkable Milford Sound, felt like a hobbit in Middle Earth and met a whole bunch of really inspiring fellow travellers.

Like Brafton, Castleford offers some fantastic friendships, and we’ve gone on trips to great beaches and impressive glowworm caves. The night sky is amazing once you get outside of the city, too. Love it.