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Quick chat with Sophie Knox

You made the transition from journalism to content a few years ago. What do you love about what you do?

To be honest, the line between journalism and content has blurred so much in the last 5-7 years. What I would have considered journalism 15 years ago, like creating a step-by-step recipe of how to make a pavlova with copy instructions and a visual image guide for a printed magazine, is now called content. So, I think I’ve been in the content game for much longer than some might think.

Whether that’s trying a new wine, visiting a new holiday destination, using a particular home building company or, in the case of my current role, empowering Australians to improve their health outcomes, I love that the content we’re creating at HCF is answering questions that Aussies, and women in particular, have been trying to get answers on for years. For example, we’re filling genuine gaps in the content world with authoritative endometriosis articles, heart health videos and menopause podcasts.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

Launching BBC Good Food magazine into the Australian market with Neale Whitaker in 2008 is a career highlight. Bringing a loved British brand to our foodies with a definitively Aussie flavour and Aussie chefs such as Kylie Kwong and Gary Mehigan was such an exciting experience. Gordon Ramsay came to Australia for the launch and we felt the full support of the old ACP powers-that-be to make this new magazine a roaring success. It did really well for the first few years but then the digital world of media started to dominate and cannibalise our magazines, and sadly Good Food went the way of so many other mags.

What has been the biggest change when moving from agency to client-side?

Getting to know how every facet of the business works. In my role it’s important to understand not just how the Brand and Content team functions but how can our team support the entire business to hit its strategic goals every year. Every day we have review requests coming in from the member communications team through to the Product people when they update or launch a new product; we have risk and compliance issues to handle, and all these amazing support programs run by our Health and Wellbeing team to promote. On top of our function as a resource department, we have our own remit to produce content that helps members navigate the tricky world of private health insurance and healthcare more broadly. So, it’s definitely a multifaceted role but I love that it’s one vision, one brand position, rather than juggling the needs of several brands in agency land, without ever feeling like you’re actually making a difference to the business and its clients/customers.

What skills do you think are the most important for freelancers to acquire?

Given so much work is coming directly from brands – whether that’s through an agency or directly from the client – it’s so important for freelancers to be able to adapt their writing style to meet the brand voice. I don’t think I realised how crucial this skill is until I landed client-side and saw the difference between writers that were really nailing the tone and the purpose of the content and those who needed a lot of support and guidance to get it right. It’s also important for freelancers to get to know the industry they’re writing for.

Why do you think the Summit is important for freelancers?

It gives freelancers the chance to boost so many aspects of their career – not just the foundational work of writing and creating excellent content but also aspects such as networking, pitching, financial management and acquiring new tech tools and skills to adapt to our ever-changing world.

The conference theme is all about futureproofing your career. What steps are you taking to futureproof your own?

I’m doing my best to stay on top of AI and how it can enhance our ways of working within the confines of a tightly regulated industry. I must admit, I find it hard to see the creative benefits of AI for content creation when I enjoy so much of the process myself – I don’t want to give up the best part of the process to some machine-learning tool. (I’d prefer to use AI for all the things I hate doing like housework.) But I know I need to look for the efficiencies. Another thing I’m doing is trying to understand how content can benefit a business from a commercial perspective. Obviously, a lot of what we’re doing at HCF is for brand awareness and member growth, but ideally we want to see how content can help the brand bring in prospects and drive conversion in the sales funnel.

Do you think the future is exciting for freelancers, and if so, why?

Yes. I think freelancers still have such a huge role to play in the content ecosystem. There’s so much work that is seasonal or campaign-based or driven by broader strategic needs and freelancers fill the gaps that smaller teams might not have the capacity to fulfill or that agencies can dial up or down as they need.

What are you most looking forward to at the Summit?

So looking forward to meeting my panel peers and seeing long-lost colleagues in the flesh – here’s looking at you, Lynne Testoni!

Sophie is a Day 1 panelist for Interviewing and the art of storytelling.

Find out more about Sophie on her profile page.

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