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Q&A with Kerry McCarthy: the storytelling maestro

Meet Kerry, one of Australia’s best journos. She talks about leading native content at The Huffington Post, the greatest currency a brand has to offer and the power of ideas.

Kerry McCarthy is a natural and experienced storytellerKerry is the go-to journalist and editor for a lot of our clients. Part of the reason is that she’s a bloody amazing writer.

But more importantly, she has an innate ability to work with diverse internal and external stakeholders, put talent at ease, and always elicit the best yarn.

She’s one of Australia’s most accomplished journos, having had stints editing and writing for titles including The Sunday Telegraph, Marie Claire and Woman’s Day over her 20-year career.

However, it’s her experience as the inaugural head of The Huffington Post Australia’s Partner Studio that truly differentiates her.

Before native content become de rigueur, Kerry ideated hundreds of pieces of content for HuffPost clients, and wrote sponsored articles that delivered corporate marketing objectives while upholding quality journalism – much like she does now!

This was exemplified by her recent work with HCF and Netball Australia, for which she was able to dovetail two sets of corporate objectives, ‘that’ virus, and mental health advice into a cohesive suite of content.

 

She’s at her best when she’s writing for brands across health, hospitality, finance, FMCG, food and beverage, tourism, gaming and entertainment.

What do you do?

I help brands create deeper relationships with their audience via compelling content.

I honestly believe that content is the greatest currency a brand has to offer when attracting a new audience or connecting to their current consumers in a real way.

No matter the business, we’re all sales people at heart, even if we’re simply selling an idea or ethos. Well-crafted content enables you to create a different relationship with your audience, and to engage and nurture them with greater depth and effectiveness.

I spend a lot of time talking to clients about their business and product offering, so I understand what they want to be known and remembered for – and how it maps back to what they’re selling.

Once I’m clear on their positioning and objectives, it’s easy to create compelling content that their existing and potential customers can relate to, find useful and attach to their everyday lives.

What mantra are you living by this year?

This year? I’m not sure I’m allowed to say it out loud! Seriously, though, maybe ‘Be patient, be kind and just keep going’.

 

So many industries have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and we still don’t know what our businesses will look like on the other side.

 

Instead of wasting time and energy trying to predict the unpredictable, I’m concentrating on controlling what I can and living in the present. And staying positive, always.

What’s the most important thing that marketers can do to drive commercial outcomes?

Listen to your customers, clients and the world at large. As a former magazine journalist, I’ve learnt over the past decade that none of us can know what’s ahead.
It’s never been more important to listen to new ideas, approaches and technologies that might feel futuristic but could soon be an everyday part of our business.

Stay on top of the new trends and think about how they could be integrated into your processes.

What’s a cracking book you’d recommend or podcast you swear by?

It’s not very highbrow, but I’m really enjoying the Armchair Expert podcast with Dax Shepherd. Among all the actors and singers, there are some great episodes with psychologists and business leaders.

 

I’m currently listening to the episode with Chris Voss, who’s an academic and former FBI hostage negotiator. I have kids, so it’s handy!

Who are your go-to thought leaders, and why?

Honestly, my kids. When I talk to them about things like COVID-19, loss, health, feelings etc, they always say the most incredible and insightful things. I think adults overcomplicate things when, really, it’s just simple common sense.

I’ll never forget a friend of mine discussing homosexuality with her young son and explaining how it’s referred to as ‘gay’ when a man loves a man, and ‘lesbian’ when a woman loves a woman. And he asked “Why isn’t it just called love?” See… common sense.

Our favourite qu: What’s your top beer or wine recommendation?

Thomas Wines in the Hunter. As well as being pretty much the most down-to-earth bloke you could ever meet, Andrew Thomas produces wines that easily rival the more expensive offerings, at a much lower price point.

 

The Kiss Shiraz is his premium and unmissable wine (if you can get hold of it), but I’d honestly recommend anything with his name on it.

The Kiss Shiraz by Thomas Wines