Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Zoey Cooper, content and brand director at Wordbank:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi, everyone, I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix. And I’m excited to be here today with Zoey Cooper, who is content and brand director at Wordbank, and has over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome, Zoey, and thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix.

Zoey Cooper 0:31
Thank you, hi. And it’s lovely to be here.

Carlota Pico 0:33
It’s lovely to have you. So to get this interview started off, I’d like to learn a little bit about your background, a bit about Wordbank and how you got into your current role.

Zoey Cooper 0:44
Okay, so, how long do we have? So I didn’t start out in marketing. I actually started my career at the BBC, BBC Worldwide, where I was an English language editor. So I spent nearly five years in Japan after I graduated, where I was teaching English, putting together courses for people to learn English. I started working for magazines, I did a little bit of journalism. I came back to the UK because my Japanese wasn’t so great. And I thought I would get into English language learning publishing. So I did a course and I got my first job at BBC English. And then there was an opportunity to join BBC languages. And because I really enjoyed living in Japan, I did a lot of traveling when I was in Asia. I’m really curious about people, language and culture. So I thought, well, that sounded like quite a good move. So I joined BBC languages. I was there for another five or six years, putting together courses for learning different languages. Took some time out to have some children. And then when I came back into the workplace, I saw this job with a content marketing agency called Story which looked very interesting. It was kind of blending my language and people skills with my content creation skills, but for marketing, and if I’m honest, I didn’t know a huge amount about marketing at the time, but I got the job. Land on my feet and crossed over from, I suppose, educational publishing to the sort of dark arts of marketing and advertising, which was really fun. And then I guess the rest is history. I kind of stayed at Story for a while, actually started my own business for a couple of years. And then I saw the job at Wordbank, which seems to again, blend all of the skills that I have been acquiring. And so yes, and now I’m content and brand director at Wordbank.

Carlota Pico 2:44
Okay. Very exciting experience. I started off as an intern at CBS Evening News, kind of the same field.

Zoey Cooper 2:55

Carlota Pico 2:56
Yeah. And then moved into PR and then eventually into marketing and now hosting The Content Mix. I want to ask you about the skills. So what skills do you need to be effective in your role?

Zoey Cooper 3:09
Okay, so my role, content and brand director at Worldbank – because Wordbank in itself is, I guess it’s quite unusual. It’s quite a unique agency. So would it be okay if I just explained what Wordbank does and then maybe I could explain my role? So Wordbank was historically a translation agency 32 plus years ago. In the last 10 years, 15 years, it’s morphed into an international marketing agency. So drawing on the knowledge that we have of different languages and cultures, we’re using that knowledge to support brands that want to be global. So supporting brands with their content, marketing strategies. So I came into Wordbank just after this sort of transition have taken place. So I came in to bring this kind of content marketing specialty, if you like, but with one foot very clearly in this world of localization and language learning and internationalization. So my role there is to help brands make sure that the content that they’re making is going to hit their international targets. So it’s not just about coming up with a really cool campaign for the UK. In fact, it’s rarely about a campaign for the UK. It’s usually about we’re doing really well in the UK, but we’re thinking about going into Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Shall we just use this content? And quite often it’s like, well, maybe but, you know, let’s look into it. It’s not that straightforward. So what I do is think about the content, but also brand so maybe they’ve got the best content, but maybe their brand profile needs adapting, refining. There are elements of it that needs dialing up, elements that need dialing down so that they are really speaking to that audience. Because as you know, it’s quite a different audience in different markets.

Carlota Pico 5:05
So in terms of skills that you use in your role, and in your every day job, what skills would would that be? So I’m guessing a lot of cultural understanding and cultural appreciation?

Zoey Cooper 5:18
Yeah, I think so. I think it’s a curiosity about what makes people in different markets tick. So it’s a fascination with how to say something in one language versus another, which then for me extends. So it’s that curiosity, its that wanting to engage, it’s wanting to have a meaningful conversation. So it’s understanding who you’re talking to, finding out ways to really get under their skin, and then having the content skills to know – so what is that content going to be and what channels we’re going to put that content on. So you need to understand content marketing and you need to understand branding, but most importantly, you really have to want to understand the audience and the market. So be really interested in the markets that you’re going into, do some research, you know, look at the landscape, look at trends, look at, you know, what the competitors are doing, and then come up with a really winning strategy.

Carlota Pico 6:18
Yeah, no, I completely agree with that as well, as I was mentioning, while we were off the record that I used to run PR campaigns for markets for government who wanted to attract international investment to their different sectors, right. And for me, it was really about understanding the why. So why are we doing this? What’s the purpose and not what’s the purpose for the client? But what’s the purpose for the people consuming the content? Why are they going to want to read this content? Because time is money. And unfortunately, we don’t have all the time in the world. So that’s why those five minutes that go into reading a blog article or digesting a video, whatever one’s doing is five minutes less that they have to do something else.

Zoey Cooper 6:59
Yeah, thanks. Exactly, and what is going to make them want to choose your content over someone else’s, to the extent that maybe they even start to seek out your content, and maybe they even recommend it to somebody else. And this is what I think has been an interesting challenge for Wordbank. So as a translation agency, you’re very reactive, you get given a piece of content, and you get told to translate it to a certain deadline for a certain budget. So it’s very reactive and transactional. So to move into that position, where we’re now saying, yeah, we can translate your website, but why are you translating it? What do you want it for? What do you want to achieve? And most importantly, who you’re talking to? Because perhaps this isn’t the right channel. I mean, it probably is. And have you thought about exactly what you’re going to say. And those are difficult questions for clients who have come to us for a piece of translation. They’re just like, oh, okay, well, actually can you just translate the website? Dont ask me the why, just do the website.

Carlota Pico 8:07
Okay, this does lead me into my next question which we’ve already actually spoken about a bit. I was on your company LinkedIn page and would like to read this claim to our audience. Okay. Quote, last year, we successfully executed strategic marketing and communication programs in over 140 languages across 75 countries. That’s a lot of content and a lot of projects. What are the golden rules for creating and managing compelling content from multiple markets?

Zoey Cooper 8:41
Different rules for those two different things, I think really, isn’t it? So for creating it that really comes back to what we were just saying. What’s it for? What impact do you want this content to make? And then how do you measure, how do you track and measure the effectiveness of that content? So I think that’s one Golden Rule. Always ask why? Obviously, you know how because you wouldn’t be in the business if you didn’t know how, but then how are you going to track and measure it is also important. So it’s no good asking what you want to achieve, and then not being able to tell if you’ve actually managed to achieve it. So I think get that set up, find out what your clients KPIs are. And if they don’t know, make some suggestions for what they might be, create it, and then track it. And then I think, for me, I’m always keen to make sure the content is working. I’m also keen to duplicate and reuse assets as much as possible. So I like the idea of creating core content that I know is going to resonate globally. Because I’ve spoken with those different markets. I know what they’re after, because we’ve had a conversation. So I know that the core content that we create for those, I don’t know, five markets, for argument’s sake, is going to resonate because I know that they’re happy with that global content, if you like. But what I also know is that what some of them might like in addition to that core content, so I’m all for creating a centralized content hub, if you like. So we produce the core content. We push that out into as many languages as it needs to go into. But we supplement that with local specific, relevant content that we create from scratch for that market that may want something a little bit different, on a different channel, might want different social, might want a blog, or the markets might not. So I guess it’s that balance, reusing assets, so they work really hard, but then tailoring for the specific market needs as well. So sort of 70/30 split is usually quite a good ratio to work to, I think,

Carlota Pico 10:48
Okay, do you also work with local agencies in terms of like having their feet on the ground and like cultural nuances are even more than cultural nuances? I mean, I’m from Spain and what works in Madrid. may not necessarily work in Barcelona. So it’s also good to have local city agencies or local people on the ground in that particular city in order to know how that city vibrates.

Zoey Cooper 11:12
Absolutely. I mean, you can go more and more and more micro with your localization, can’t you and your targeting? Absolutely. So the way it works at Wordbank is we have a network of nearly 4000 people across the globe. So within a country, we’ll have cultural consultants, we’ll have content experts, obviously translators, editors and proofreaders. We’ll have social media experts, community managers. So if we don’t have people in the cities that we would like to have them, we can find them very quickly because we will have somebody in a neighboring city. So we’re doing, for example, a social campaign for one of our automotive clients. And we’re going to be focusing on Munich, and we’ve got a cultural consultant in Munich so she can take us on a tour of the city so we can plan our campaign so it’s great. Yeah, but you’re absolutely right. The difference is immense. And we need to understand that because otherwise you’re right, you know, need to get that nuance from region to region and city to city.

Carlota Pico 12:14
Okay, let’s move into organization because yeah, thousands of feet on the ground. I mean, from a logistics point of view, from an organizational point of view, that must be a challenge on its own. So what systems do you use to organize your content and also manage your talent across locations and departments?

Zoey Cooper 12:34
Yeah, so the way that works is we’re obviously split up into departments that work so I would be responsible for freelancers that were coming in to me so they would be like designers, copywriters, photographers, videographers, and so on. So I would be looking after them. On the digital team, our head of digital would look after anyone on his team, however, in terms of recruiting and onboarding, testing, we have a dedicated department for that called Resource Network Management. So we have dedicated people in our London and Denver offices who are always looking for new Wordbankers. All our Wordbankers, freelancers too. So they get recruited, they get tested, they get retested, they get on boarded, if they’re in the UK or wherever, they come and see us. If a client’s in they meet our clients. We talked to them on the phone. So we’re really close with our network. We have a magazine that goes out to them every season. We’ve got lots of contact with our network, so it’s nice, yeah, they’re like an extended family.

Carlota Pico 13:40
So from a content perspective, how do you manage your content across so many different locations and different departments as well? Because I’ve worked with many multinational brands that have one central voicr, but then need to adapt their content to different local markets as well.

Zoey Cooper 13:59
Yeah. So we have a number of different ways of doing that. And I think that the main thing is we’ll create what we call a brand toolkit. So within the brand toolkit will be the guidelines that we would like both ourselves and our freelancers, and then any other agencies working for our clients for that particular brand to follow. So what we would recommend our clients to create is a brand book and within that brand book, leave us a tone of voice guide. Tone of voice guides, usually in my experience of kind of relegated to one page of the brand book that says something like, you will sound friendly but professional, you know, chirpy, but not over casual, I mean, they’re not helpful generally. So what we tend to do then is develop the tone of voice so that it’s actually useful. So we will develop it so there are three or four tone of voice principles. We’ll do that with our client, we’ll have workshops, we’ll invite stakeholders from other parts of the business, other markets if they’re available, we’ll have a consensus on what the tone of voice is, what the tone of voice is on the different channels. And then we’ll actually put in practical guidelines. So if your tone of voice is, I’m trying to think of a tone of voice, say you want to be quirky, for argument’s sake, that’s not a very good one. What we would say is what quirky looks like is this and we will do a sentence in quirky. And then it’s not this and there’ll be a sentence in not quirky. And then we’ll take existing content, and we’ll rewrite it and we’ll explain how and why we’ve rewritten it. So it’s really step by step, lots of advice in a tone of voice guide and then we’ll go into the client and we’ll train that so we’ll bring people in, we’ll run workshops, we’ll embed the tone of voice and then for the other markets, we’ll do the same. So we’ll give it to one of our consultants and we’ll say okay, this is the tone of voice in English for this brand. What do you think? In your language, how’s that gonna work? And quite often, it’s too casual. And there’s a question around the formality and the address and plural or not plural. There’s all sorts of things to consider from a language point of view. But then cultural too. So we did a tone of voice for an Italian brand. And they loved our English tone of voice, it was spot on. And then when we localized it to Italian, they said, oh, no, no, we need we need more. We need longer sentences. We need more description. This is too concise. And we were saying no, but your principal is concise. And they said no, no, we need more here, the sentence cannot be that short. You’ve got to say something twice for anyone to believe you. So you know, it’s things like that, where you know, we need to expand on the tone of voice. So that’s one part of the toolkit, a tone of voice guide in many languages and for many markets, and then that will be supplemented by a style guide. So your house style, how you display numbers, punctuation, dates, get that locked in because that kind of disruption is just annoying. You don’t need that for an engaging experience. And then we’ll create a glossary of terms. So lock in the terms that you want to use for your brand, almost like a dictionary, I guess of language that you want to use, and that will go into multiple languages. And this toolkit then lives in our content hub. So this toolkit will be looked after by myself and the brand team. So we’ll be the guardians of the brand, of the voice, of the language. So anything that comes in and out of the content hub goes through this brand check to make sure that the reference material has been used, and it’s been used properly. So even if it’s not us, working directly with the client on a particular channel, it’s nice to have some of the content from that other channel pass to the content hub so we can spot check to make sure that the tone of voice is being used. We do a lot of tone of voice for call center scripts actually rewriting the scripts but then checking in with the call centers, finding out how they’re working, you know, you’re getting good feedback, you’re getting more conversions because of our revised tone of voice, that kind of thing.

Carlota Pico 18:12
That must feel extremely good, when your clients come back to you and they’re like, you know what, thanks to you, we were able to make more money this quarter.

Zoey Cooper 18:23
I mean, amazing. I mean, isn’t that great? You know, we’ve done tone of voices for kind of a customer experience CRM. And it’s really nice when you hear that, actually, with the way we’re talking to our customers, it’s been really well received. They like the new language that we’re using, we’re getting more positive feedback, because it’s quite fluffy and difficult to measure a lot of this brand stuff, isn’t it? But, you know, positive feedback is good, more call center conversions. That’s good.

Carlota Pico 18:54
Well, I do want to zoom into a comment that Steve Olensky from the CMO network published in an article on Forbes in 2017, about content and its significance, he said that good content attracts people rather than interrupts them. And that it’s important to center content around your audience rather than around the company, which is easier said than done, Zoey. So do you have any tips or advice or insights for marketers who are struggling to create engaging and valuable content?

Zoey Cooper 19:28
I think the content has to be benefit-led. So I think if at the very least you say after every paragraph, sentence, so what, then that’s quite a good lesson. I think you can do the mum test as well. Would my mom actually understand what I’ve just said? Because that’s usually quite a good practical common sense. Is it full of jargon? Is it full of company jargon? Because if it is, that’s rubbish. Nobody wants to read that. But I think it comes back to what we were saying before, if you’ve created audience personas, and you know your customer really well, then I think it’s much easier to talk to that person directly, to use the language that is going to make them want to read and engage with you. No one wants to hear about your company, really all they care about is what’s in it for them. What are they going to get out of this experience? Are they going to feel happy, relaxed? Is there a special offer that they can go for? Is it conversational currency that they can take away and share with their friends? If you think that what you’ve written or content that you’ve served up is going to – it’s like a gift, are you giving them something? And if you’re not and it’s just about you, it’s rubbish. It’s a waste of time. I believe.

Carlota Pico 20:54
These are really, really good tips. I’m gonna have to integrate some of those tips into my own creative process as well. I want to zoom into a practical example. So let’s put some of this talk into the walk. And as someone who leads and lives content marketing campaigns every day, which campaigns have you admired lately? And why? And obviously, feel free to zoom into any of your own campaigns as well, if it’s not discrete.

Zoey Cooper 21:23
Well, I’ll start with one campaign that we made that I’m really proud of. It’s a campaign, we enter the competition, the UN competition that went out to creatives across the world, to create campaign content to a certain theme, and the themes were about kindness, being kind. There was another theme on I think, washing your hands, there were a number of different kinds of messages. And so we decided as a global team, that what felt most comfortable to us was the “be kind” message. Be kind to others. So we decided to go for it with our creative and copy teams. And we didn’t have very much time, I saw the the request to pitch quite late. So we had about five days, I think to pull this together. And what we decided to do is to keep it simple and we created three messages. What was it? It was stay connected. Stay strong. Stay home. That’s right. So this the early coronavirus, stay home, stay strong, stay connected. And then we thought okay, so what do we do? What’s our thing? Our thing is that we can create one message that’s going to work across the globe. So we created a hero that we adapted slightly for different markets, and we put our hero in slightly different settings, different backdrops and then we created the gifs. So you just circled through this hero, staying strong, staying home and staying connected. I think we’ve covered 13 different markets with this hero. So he’s staying connected. He’s on his laptop, and he’s talking to somebody else. And he’s staying home. And I think he’s doing some meditation on a map. And he’s staying strong by doing some exercise by staying physically and emotionally strong. And we were really proud because we got selected by the UN to be part of their international campaign. So we’re very proud of that. They were beautiful pieces of artwork, and they really kind of showed off our strengths, I think simple messaging, but that really, really works. So yes, that was quite good.

Carlota Pico 23:47
Congratulations on that, Zoey.

Zoey Cooper 23:48
Thank you. It’s really cute. We’ve got that story on our website, in our blog on behind the scenes, how we how we pulled it off and what it looks like so, so check it out, and you’ve got a minute.

Carlota Pico 23:59
No, definitely I think what we can do is link that to the article that we’ll be publishing on The Content Mix as well so that our audience is able to really check it out.

Zoey Cooper 24:09
Yeah, yeah. No, take a look. It’s really cool. We love the little superhero character. So I thought that was pretty cool from Wordbank. I’ve had mixed feelings about a lot of campaigns. I got sick to death of seeing adverts of people using video conferencing badly or people on zoom chats. And I don’t know I got a bit fed up with that. I thought that the apple ad was really lovely about being creative. I thought that really worked and that was really, that was really emotional. I like the IKEA ad for staying at home. You know, your home is your friend. I thought that was also really clever. And I liked what people have been doing locally. I mean, my local garden center for instance, a pretty, you know, old school. lovely garden center, really nice people, but they pivoted beautifully. They went from no deliveries, no websites, you know nothing, transformed now delivering e commerce, website looks great. But the garden center they’ve also kept in really good condition, they looked after the plants, they did really well out of not well out of coronavirus, that’s not the right expression – but they they survived and they have flourished since I think.

Carlota Pico 25:33
They turned a challenge into an opportunity.

Zoey Cooper 25:36
They did and I think have gained customers but they haven’t lost – they’re still a really friendly, you know, lovely place to visit. And they looked after their plants. So they had people in every day to look after the plants that they had whereas I know other local garden centers have just left them. When I went back into one it’s like no one had been there for about four weeks. Everything was looking very brown and tired. So I thought that was impressive. I like what some of the big brands like Burberry did. They just went ahead and they made gowns and masks, they didn’t shout about it. They just did it. You know, I thought that was cool. I feel like you know, they got a phone call one day in there. Right? Stop that, stop that, just do it. That was amazing. And I think Brewdog as well have come out of this really well. And I feel like with Brewdog they’ve not only changed their model, I mean that ecommerce is flying at the moment, but I think they’ve seen the impacts of coronavirus, the environmental impact, and I think it looks as though they’ve really turned around on their environmental policies and their sustainability is now going from strength to strength. So I feel like they’ve come out of this with they’ve learned a lot and now they’re making some really good improvements from the sustainability point of view as well.

Carlota Pico 27:05
Beautiful, beautiful. Thank you for zooming into those different examples of great campaigns. I myself, I really enjoyed this campaign, it doesn’t have to do with cornavirus. But Skype actually launched this incredible campaign of an immigrant from Uganda who had to leave the EU or had to leave to the US. And the way that he was able to watch his son grow up was actually through Skype. So for me, that was an extremely emotional message. And I was really able to not resonate with it because I haven’t had to go through that challenge, but it was inspirational. It was definitely inspirational.

Zoey Cooper 27:45
Yes. Often these campaigns that evoke a strong emotion are the ones that you remember, aren’t they? I think they’re the ones that stay with you. I mean, certainly that Apple ad and the Ikea ad both struck a chord with me. And that stayed with me, whereas I think a lot of the Coronavirus campaigns have sort of been washed over me.

Carlota Pico 28:09
I think it comes down to what we were talking about at the beginning, that human element because regardless of what we’re promoting, or what we’re talking about, what we’re writing about, we’re always writing and talking to people. And so I think we always have to keep in mind the human to human interaction and that we want to get a human to engage with the content and to react to that content. It’s not a computer. We’re not at the era robots yet. So until we get to robots, we have to really find the person on the other side of the screen.

Zoey Cooper 28:41
Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think that also, I think sometimes brands are, what’s the word? I think they sort of misjudge their audience. I think they think that if they tell them that they are now sustainable, or more sustainable, then the audience will just believe them and will think wow, okay, cool, I really love this brand now. I think they need to, you know, walk the walk, they need to do it and I think that they forget that we’re not stupid as customers and the audience. We will see through these attempts to pretend to be more. So yeah, I think they need to, like you say, consider that audience.

Carlota Pico 29:22
Well, you can definitely see that right now through the Black Lives Matter movement as well. Lots of companies have to take action, not only talk but actually take action. But that’s a whole different conversation. So let’s get to our rapid fire questions. To get this section started off, I’d like to ask you about your source of inspiration? So an influencer professional role model that you admire?

Zoey Cooper 29:48
I do love Mark Ritson. I think he is fantastic. He’s like, no bullshit, says it how it is and I agree with a lot of what he says about Content Marketing and the brands he talks about so I’m a big fan of his. And another person that’s influenced me is a copywriter and tone of voice expert called Nick Parker. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. But Nick is a fantastic writer. He used to write for biz back in the day and he is my inspiration for tone of voice. I mean, I’ve also done various copywriting courses with him. So he is a source of inspiration. And he has a newsletter, I don’t know if it’s monthly, or it’s more frequent, but that is the only newsletter that I look forward to. And I save to read it and then I read every single bit and all of the people that he references and the sites and the content is phenomenal. So he’s quite fantastic.

Carlota Pico 30:46
Excellent. Okay, what about a book, a publication or group that you would like to recommend?

Zoey Cooper 30:53
Oh, gosh. No, I was thinking about this. And I think I don’t necessarily want to recommend anything. I think to be good at content, you have to consume all content, you have to read everything, whether it’s, you know, a flyer for someone to come and do your windows, or it’s a local ad, or it’s big ads, or it’s a novel, or it’s nonfiction. I just think you just need to read everything, keep a little diary or journal, whatever it is, go to galleries, go on walks, go to exhibitions, I think that you just need a lot of content. And you need inspiration from everywhere. And there are fabulous groups and great books to read and all sorts of useful content marketing, you know, websites, but I just think, don’t be too prescriptive. Just read everything. And if someone recommends something, read it. And also, if you don’t like it, don’t read it to the end because life’s too short. Drop it and start something else. That’s fabulous. That’s my advice.

Carlota Pico 32:05
Great advice. Really. Okay, the last question of today’s interview will be your favorite app at the moment.

Zoey Cooper 32:12
Well, this is a bit embarrassing. At the moment, as I was saying, actually, before the conversation started, I have got the the luxury of sitting here and looking out onto my garden. So I have been trying to identify the birds that are coming into my garden. And so I’ve decided to go one step further and not just identify them by sight, but identify them by sound. So I’ve actually got this app called chirpometer. So I can literally record the bird song, and then it will tell me what bird is. So that at the moment is my favorite.

Carlota Pico 32:53
That is so clever.

Zoey Cooper 32:55
Don’t know how accurate it is because I could do the sound several times and it goes, this could be a robin, this could be a seagull, so I’m not sure how accurate it is. But it is fun to use.

Carlota Pico 33:09
Okay, well Zoey, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix, it was fabulous to meet you and also to learn about your experience. I mean, you brought a lot of value to the today’s podcast, and I really liked your insights and tips. And thank you again.

Zoey Cooper 33:24
Thank you ever so much for having me. It’s been really fun. Thank you.

Carlota Pico 33:27
The pleasure has been ours, and to everyone listening in today. Thank you for joining us on The Content Mix. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out The Content Mix. We’ll be releasing interviews just like this one every week. So keep on tuning in. Thanks again. Have a fabulous day and see you next time. Bye

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