By Katy Atkinson
We spoke with Rachel Send about the role of research in creating inspiring non-profit brands. Rachel is currently working at Scott Allen Creative as a copywriter and project manager. On top of her other roles Rachel also conducts face to-face interviews that help her uncover meaningful brand insights for her clients. For Rachel Scott Allen Creative is truly a perfect fit, combining her passions for both advertising and non-profits administration.
- What career experiences led you to Scott Allen Creative?
It’s an interesting story actually! I had graduated from GVSU with a major in Advertising and PR and a minor in Nonprofit Administration. I always envisioned myself working for a nonprofit organization. So when I had an opportunity to assist with a research project for Scott Allen Advertising (not yet Scott Allen Creative), I wasn’t interested…until I found out it was for a nonprofit client. What started as an 8-week research project has turned into a 10-year career that allows me to work with many nonprofit organizations.
- What are your roles at SAC?
I am the wordsmith (copywriter) and deadline delegator (project manager) at Scott Allen Creative. But another unofficial job title is The Reins since I do my best to keep things in check.
- What are the main responsibilities for your position?
As a wordsmith, I write compelling content that inspires donors to give. I create a conversational voice that engages readers. Sometimes I write from scratch based on interviews and research, but it’s much more common that a client writes an initial draft and I edit it. This usually entails cutting it down, matching their corporate voice, ensuring crucial story details are not overlooked, and editing for grammar.
On the project management side, I work with clients to set deadlines that ensure projects are completed on schedule. I act as the liaison between my team and the client to make sure the project details are clear, I share project proofs and feedback, and make sure everyone is on the same page so projects are completed on time and on budget.
My other responsibility is the perfect blend of writing and project management – proofing. Before I send a project proof to a client, I always review it in detail. I’m looking it over to ensure our team didn’t miss any of the requests made by our client. I’m looking for any design or copy errors. It requires a keen eye to detail.
- What kind of skills do you need for your position?
Time management: This is the hardest for me since I’m constantly getting pulled in different directions with numerous projects and clients.
Prioritization: In a week, our agency is easily working on 50+ projects. New projects are always coming in, resulting in a constant shift in project priorities.
Attention to detail: Clients want to know we’re on the same page as them and they want to receive quality work, so it all comes down to this.
- How do you conduct meaningful research at Scott Allen Creative?
By far the most meaningful research I conduct are face-to-face interviews. I have a series of questions targeted to different audiences: staff, board members, donors, volunteers, and those the organization helps. Even if I don’t conduct the interview myself, I’ll read the transcription and I find myself inspired by these interviews every time.
- In what ways in the information you discover through research necessary for your other roles at the agency? In other words, how does research impact your creative process?
Each interviewee is passionate about the mission and impact that the nonprofit has in the community and it’s truly inspiring. It ignites a passion in me to help create a brand that inspires more people to get involved. These interviews give unique insights on what makes that organization distinct and this guides their key messages, voice, and identity.
- What is one thing you love about your career in advertising?
I love how my work fulfills me. Every day I use my gifts and talents to advance the causes of nonprofit organizations I care about deeply. It’s one way I can make a positive difference in the word.
- How do you find inspiration?
See what leaders in the industry are doing: there’s always something to learn
Get out of the office: sometimes the distractions with the office walls can suck the creativity right out of you
Take a vacation: new experiences inspire new ideas
- Advice for current advertising students.
Take as many internships as possible. It’s a great way to gain real-world experience and “test out” what may (or may not be) the best career for you.
- Advice for graduating advertising students.
Perhaps you already have your sights set on the type of job you want to do. Just get your foot in the door – even if it’s not your dream job. Even if you’re at the bottom, you can get to know more people in the industry. This will give you the opportunity to show your worth, build relationships, and gain experience. Keep doing that, and you’ll work your way up in no time.
My other piece of advice – ask questions. I’d rather someone asked me a few insightful questions rather than assume they know they answer and do their best to figure it out later. The person who asks the right questions up front will be so much more efficient in their work as opposed to someone who misses crucial details that creates frustration and delays the end project.