The Drum's 'Unsung Heroes' series is a celebration of the people in the industry who slog hard behind the limelight for their companies, brands, and clients. As they are seldom in the spotlight for their contribution to the success of campaigns, this is their time to shine.
The most satisfying part of his job as a senior content strategist is the creative learning process, says Peter Schimke, who works at Mutant Communications, because he loves collaborating with the agency's editors, designers, the social media crew, as well as the PR team.
Why is your job important?
What’s important to me is the storytelling. Whether we read the news in the morning, scroll through our endless feeds or decide what book to read or movie to watch – we’re always looking for a great story and an interesting hook that we can relate to.
Creating a content strategy for a brand is not much different. Why is it that we choose a certain product? Usually, it’s because it speaks to us and we identify with it.
What is the hardest and stressful part of your job?
I think that bringing it all together and making it look easy and digestible is probably the hardest part. While crafting a solid content strategy is one thing, explaining it in a few words (or slides) is when it can get a little tricky.
Beyond creating texts and visuals for a variety of platforms, it’s crucial to understand which messages will perform well on what medium and can reach the right audience.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
To me, the most satisfying part is the creative learning process. Working out campaigns and content initiatives is a collaborative effort, which means I get to work with our editors, designers, the social media crew as well as the PR team.
With so much input from the team, I don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. I just have to ask the right questions.
First thing that comes to people’s minds when you tell them your job?
Let’s be honest - content strategy does not sound exciting at all and no one will go ‘oh wow, you are a content strategist’. In fact, I think it sounds quite technical and doesn’t do justice to what we do. If you were to ask any creative writer or artist, they will tell you that they hate the word ‘content’. It’s for that reason that I don’t usually tell people my title, but rather focus on explaining what I do.
How would you correct/explain to them what you do then?
In a nutshell, I say that I help businesses tell their stories in creative and innovative ways through digital channels and strong storytelling.
In my opinion, ‘content marketing’ is an overused buzzword that means different things to different people. While someone may think it’s churning out blogs with selected keywords, others will imagine email marketing campaigns. As I don’t like to confuse people with unnecessary industry terms, I stick to talking about how we tell stories.
Is there anything you want to change in your job?
Well, as I already mentioned, I would change my title to storyteller. When it comes to what I do, I am in a fortunate position to shape part of my role. As we are expanding the content team, my scope is continually ‘mutating', allowing me to take on new challenges as we evolve as a company.
However, as I need to stay on top of trends, I spend a lot of time in front of my laptop or listening to podcasts, and that’s the time I could spend skateboarding instead.
So, if technology could move a bit slower, that would be great.
Which was the campaign that you worked on, that you are most proud of?
We are currently working on upgrading a successful campaign that we created for one of our clients. What started out as a PR and brand awareness campaign has turned into a regional content-led lead generation initiative. It’s great to see how a project can evolve and grow.
Who is someone you want to emulate in your industry?
There are many great, creative minds in our industry. Lizi Hamer is one I admire. However, I have a lot of different interests that lead me to find inspiration elsewhere.
For example, skateboarding and art (in various forms) are a huge source of creative inspiration for me. Due to the lack of rules and restrictions, both are very liberating and artistically rich activities. While practising both I am free to experiment because no one tells me what to do. To me, it’s all about setting my own challenges.
If you weren’t a content strategist, what would you be?
No one grows up wanting to be a content strategist, but if I wasn’t doing what I do now, I am convinced I would tell stories in a different form.