Content: Absolutely Essential, and Totally Insufficient

Content: Absolutely Essential, and Totally Insufficient

By Adam Hillier

There is a clear and growing market demand for candidates with social media understanding and expertise. Knowing how to target customers with relevant and valuable content that helps shape and change behaviours is crucial for businesses searching for ways to gain competitive advantage and appeal to today’s increasingly discerning customers. According to Richard Williams, former Head of Media, UK & Ireland at Yahoo! the best providers establish editorial credibility and ensure content is editorially owned. It is also important to identify the boundaries between marketing and content – consumers must be able to clearly recognise a commercial arrangement versus pure journalistic comment.

One of the features of the social media environment is that much of the content cannot be premeditated and pre-approved. Many of the checks and balances in place in more traditional media are therefore absent. Or at least they need to be, if the content is to be fresh and edgy.

For recruiting organisations, this means that the skills required are more rounded than simply thinking-up something clever to say – the ability to write in a compelling way, good vocabulary and grammar, and an understanding of the prevailing zeitgeist are all valuable. In short, good journalistic skills add considerable value.

Juliette Otterburn-Hall, Global Chief Content Officer at Beamly, suggests that clients too often lack clarity regarding the job specification. This may be because of difficulties imagining a role that doesn’t widely exist currently, and doesn’t naturally fit into a distinct discipline. Most traditional marketing teams are separated from those creating content, whilst editorial teams tend not to be commercial enough for content marketeers. And yet companies demand measurable results. Convergence therefore is not just happening in technology, but in the very disciplines required to deploy it effectively! Content, channels, analytics, return on investment – organisations now expect these skills need to be integrated. A marketing professional who can cover all these bases will be in great demand.

So what does this mean for organisations wishing to recruit these rare skills?

  • Take the time to think through exactly what outputs you want from the role
  • Ensure clear line-of-sight between role deliverables, and expectations concerning enhanced customer interaction, engagement and ultimately revenues
  • Be clear how the role fits into the marketing strategy, and the overall business strategy
  • Once you’ve created the role specification, share it with a few internal stakeholders to check understanding
  • Retain a Search partner (such as Wickland Westcott) who clearly understands the contemporary social media and marketing landscapes
  • Deploy a selection process that probes candidates on relevant expertise and experiences. Ask for lots of examples – work in this domain is likely to be publicly viewable
  • As well as the requisite technical skills, ensure the candidate will fit the culture of your team and business. Personality questionnaires such as Credo can be very useful here
  • Give the new recruit plenty of on-boarding support – set them up for success

The Executive Search industry is increasingly alive to the value of offering coaching, assessment and development services alongside their traditional talent-finding capabilities. Wickland Westcott has been providing a fully integrated leadership service for nearly 40 years. In-house occupational psychologists work alongside market-focussed Search professionals to deliver exceptional client service and satisfaction. With extensive experience at ‘C Suite’ level, and half of our top 20 client list featuring in the FTSE 250/NYSE, Wickland Westcott has a clear picture of what makes for leadership success.

For more information, or a confidential discussion on the points raised, please contact Adam Hillier our Lead for the Marketing & Digital Practice at Wickland Westcott on 0203 940 6446 or email at

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