It’s hard to find an expert who knows as much as Hilary Marsh does about content, from planning and creation to implementation.
For more than 15 years, Hilary has been a content strategy specialist. Through a multitude of senior strategist, communications roles and even running her own consultancy, she has become a highly influential voice in content strategy.
Starting in content before the Internet was a thing, Hilary entered the workforce as an editorial assistant at Condé Nast’s Glamour Magazine, in 1980. Here she had her grounding in researching and writing articles for print audiences.
But it was copywriting for multinational beauty product company Avon where she began to excel in commercial oriented content, five years later. At the time, Avon was reliant on its door to door sales reps, known as, ‘Avon Ladies’ being successful. Among her responsibilities was writing advice articles for these often inexperienced Avon Ladies to help them sell more.
After 10 years at Avon she became a senior communications specialist at R.R. Donnelley, a Fortune 500 company, where she managed a complete overhaul of the company’s website with an aggressive six week deadline, winning the praise of senior management in the process.
Always the pioneer, Hilary scored the rare job title of Senior Content Strategist at a large marketing and consulting company, Sapient. Here she implemented the first content strategy practice for the company’s Chicago office and built a team of seven content strategists, managers and editors working across the US.
In 2001, content was still an afterthought for most web projects, but when she heard content strategy being defined as ‘applying a publishing mentality to a website’, it was music to her ears. As an established content strategist with remarkable pedigree, Hilary was able to start her own consultancy, Content Company, as organisations became attuned to the importance of content.
In 2005, Hilary put her consultancy on the back burner for a several years, to take on her biggest challenge yet, an opportunity to direct the digital team at the National Association of Realtors, the US’s largest membership or trade association.
She excelled and moved up through the company before deciding to reignite the Content Company, where as President and Chief Strategist she now helps associations, nonprofits and corporations create, manage and promote their content.
The role of Content Strategist is not as common as Hilary believes it should be, but she’s now teaching the next generation of UX designers about content strategy in Kent State University’s UX masters program, with the hope more industry professionals will come to recognise the value of the role.
Hilary has become an influential speaker and regularly speaks at content and communications forums, including Confab Content Strategy Conference, ASAE Annual Meeting and Content Strategy Forum where she has become known for sharing her own experiences to illustrate her points in a conversational style. She’s always hoping to inspire conference attendees to use content strategy to make a difference in their organisations.
This drive to educate others on the importance of content strategy has also led her to co-organise Chicago Content Strategy Meetup, which brings together 1200 members to talk content. Her efforts don’t stop there; she also runs the international Content Strategy Group on LinkedIn, which has attracted almost 28,000 members.