#WomenInTech – Top Journalism Tactics for Content Marketing with Cassandra Jowett
As the Director of Content Marketing at LookBookHQ, Cassandra Jowett is focused on communicating complex ideas. Nudge chatted with Cassandra about her journalism background, what to think about when you’re developing a content marketing strategy, and how having more women in leadership positions is changing the workforce.
Menaka: You actually studied journalism – do you find you use the skills you developed in university in your role as a Content Marketer?
Cassandra: You have to be intellectually curious to be in tech, which is a skill I honed in journalism school at Ryerson University. You have to ask questions, like why does this work that way? How do all of these things work together? Do we really have to do it this way?
Journalism is also about taking complex information and big ideas, and breaking them down into easy to understand stories, which is what content marketing is all about, too. That’s important in tech, because often your company is building something that’s not easy for the average person to understand. The way the founders or the technical team talk about what they’re building may have to be reworked to make it more accessible to the general public. That’s a crucial skill that journalism school provided which I use every single day in my career as a content marketer.
Menaka: When developing a company’s content marketing strategy, what are some of the things you think about?
Cassandra: First, start by doing a very tactical content audit. See what materials already exist, and dig in to those to find out what’s performed well in the past, and what hasn’t. Then, the most important thing is listening: listen to the business needs in your organization, and listen to your customers. Sit in on sales and customer calls. Meet customers at events. You need to hear how they talk about what your company does. They will tell you what content needs to be created as they buy, sell, or use your product. Your job as a content marketer is to figure out how those things intersect, in order to create interesting content that will educate people enough to want to buy what your company is selling. It’s too easy to be salesy, so try to work really hard to create utility content that will actually help your customers in their day-to-day lives.
Menaka: In 2013, you wrote an article for The Globe and Mail about how Gen Y will change the workforce, and one of your main points was how there will be more women in leadership roles. How will that change a company?
Cassandra: I co-wrote that article with my very first boss, Lauren Friese, who was the founder and CEO of the career website TalentEgg.ca. Our generation is the first ever to have more women graduating with university degrees than men and, in many industries, that will mean more women in leadership roles than ever before as well. In my experience, having more women in leadership roles opens the door for more diverse and inclusive workplaces. That diversity can bring different perspectives to a company, allowing it to solve problems faster and create a more rewarding workplace for everyone.
In 2017, especially in a city like Toronto, the expectation is that you have people of different genders who come from all kinds of different backgrounds in every workplace. I don’t think our generation will be satisfied with just a bunch of white men sitting around a table making all the decisions. If any part of your company is becoming too homogenous, it’s critical to acknowledge it, ask yourself and your colleagues why that’s the case, and take the necessary steps to address any biases you may have in your hiring or retention processes.
I just joined LookBookHQ in April, and one of the things that attracted me was that the company has multiple women in senior leadership roles as well as a diverse workforce that comes from all over the world. I think that’s the best environment in which I can learn and grow.
Menaka: You’ve also been a mentor at Ladies Learning Code – what drew you to that organization?
Cassandra: I taught myself basic HTML and CSS skills when I was in high school so I could build my own websites, and those skills have been extremely helpful for my career in marketing – you can be so much more agile as a startup marketer if you can jump into WordPress, stylesheets, or HTML templates to make changes on your own. I signed up to be a mentor at Ladies Learning Code because I wanted to help other women acquire those digital skills in a very open, safe environment. I also wanted to show them that learning to code isn’t just for technical roles. And I hoped I might learn a thing or two from the other mentors along the way.
Along with the growing focus on STEM education for girls, these programs are going to be crucial in increasing the numbers of women working in tech. I recently heard that the Girl Scouts in the U.S. added a bunch of new STEM badges. So, in addition to starting a fire and learning to sew, there are now things like coding badges that girls can earn. I think that’s so great. As a former Girl Guide myself, I hope the Girl Guides in Canada do that, too.
Menaka: What was the last book you read?
Cassandra: The book I just finished was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s about two children in World War II – one French, one German – who are trying to survive the war through very difficult situations. I love the grey areas in life, things that aren’t so black and white, or good and evil. This story forces you to explore some of those grey areas and shows how people’s lives intersect often in ways that you least expect. I loved that book. I thought it was beautifully written. I just felt like there was a movie playing in my mind the whole time.