Every morning I comb the internet for the latest news on Marketing and my go to resource has always been Marketing Magazine. I really enjoy their content and appreciate all the work their writers do in getting the latest and greatest happening in our industry. One of my favourite writers for the magazine is Kristin Laird, a Senior Staff Writer. I thought it would be interesting to interview her to get a perspective on someone who is responsible for examining different campaigns, teaching us about the latest trends and delivering the latest news. I have the highest respect for writers so turning the tables on her was a real treat for me.
Q. What got you into writing? How did you know that is what you wanted to do as a career?
A. I always enjoyed English and creative writing classes in school, but there was one particular assignment in grade seven that I’ll never forget. We were given a page that had three or four sentences on it and enough space between each one for us to add a line or two of our own writing. I turned one of the sentences into a two-page short story. I couldn’t help myself. My teacher wasn’t impressed that I had ignored her instructions, but I really didn’t care. I was proud of my story and I felt the point of the assignment was to exercise the creative muscle. I was disappointed she didn’t recognize that. But I never let it deter me… obviously!
Q. What is your favourite piece that you have written for Marketing Magazine and why?
A. I wrote a piece titled “The Very Necessary Twitter Guide” a few years ago when the social networking site was still quite new. It covered a lot of territory and I felt it was very practical, digestible and easy-to-follow content that hopefully a lot of marketers found useful. It can be quite difficult to stay on top and ahead of trends when everything moves and changes so quickly. I felt this piece was different from other Twitter focused-features that were out there at the time, which in large part, was thanks to my editors and our great art department.
I’m also quite fond of “Everybody Loves Target” (appeared online as “Target Marks Its Territory”) – a feature I wrote prior to the retailer opening its doors in Canada. A lot of publications were focusing on how the launch would shape the Canadian retail landscape, which is an important story, but I was adamant we also look more closely at the Target model and why it works. From merchandising to customer service, Target has a winning formula that many retailers have tried to emulate. What makes Target so cool? That was the question I wanted to answer. The story earned a gold Kenneth R. Wilson Award in the Best Merchandising/Marketing article category.
Q. As a writer for marketing and advertising news, how do you constantly keep up to date with the latest in the industry with so much rapid change and so much happening?
A. Great question. Read. Read. Read. I’m also in a great position to have conversations with some of the brightest minds in the industry.
Q. What excites you most about what is happening in the industry?
A. I’m always excited to see brands experiment and move a little outside their comfort zones. McDonald’s “Our Food. Your Questions.” is a fantastic example of this. The quick service restaurant took quite a risk opening its social channels to the public in an effort to be more transparent and put to rest some of the myths surrounding its food preparation, packaging and product launches. And it paid off. McDonald’s was able to put a few rumours to rest, but it also learned more about its customers’ wants and needs. The chain even introduced menu items based on some of the feedback it received from the campaign.
Q. What brands are doing social media well and why?
A. McDonald’s, for the reasons listed above. I also think Maple Leaf Foods does a fantastic job across its brand portfolio. I often see easy-to-follow recipes and meal ideas that of course include products from Maple Leaf Foods and its brands. It’s an easy way to interact with consumers that stays true to the brand. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many brands still get it wrong. HINT: Don’t randomly tweet a picture of a cat unless you’re a pet care/food brand. It’s not cute. It’s not engaging. It’s not cool. Please don’t do it.