Jaclyn Martin is a content strategist, writer and artist. I was fortunate to meet her early this year when one of my long-time colleagues in HR connected us. After you speak with Jaclyn, you'll quickly learn that she is passionate about listening, learning, and how to create a bold combination of words and images to tell a story.
She is wonderfully curious and, in her quest to understand others and what they want to achieve, she helps them find the truth of their ideas to write a unique story. We have been fortunate to have Jaclyn as part of our team, participating in interviews with our new clients, writing, and creating web content to showcase their truth about new job opportunities. I always learn something when speaking with Jaclyn, so it is my pleasure to introduce you to her as well.
Sherry Benjamins: Tell me about your experience in the talent business?
Jaclyn Martin: I first started in the talent business in 2001 as a proposal writer for an international staffing company. I learned quickly that there was deep internal expertise about their services, yet there was less known about how the customer or user perceived their service. I decided to spend some time speaking with HR professionals and my sister, who led an HR function, to better understand the external user perspective.
It was fascinating to work in an industry with diverse points of view and learn the challenge of selling a service rather than a product. I believe it is all about potential – the potential of the people and the customer, as well as the potential of building a relationship that results in quality services and trusted partnering. The different perspectives translated into addressing very different needs.
My work in this business ranged from writing proposals, helping sales people create compelling presentations, to managing internal communications. My team conducted research, collected data, interviewed internal and external clients, and identified themes and trends. It was great to see how the data informed a new strategy, service, or decision about business investments. I learned a lot about a wide range of businesses and industries, and found it was fun to help leaders craft a compelling story to engage workers or communicate more effectively with their clients.
SB: How do you incorporate story telling in your work?
JM: Everything we experience in life is a story – in order to engage others, we have to engage on that level. I found I got the best results when engaging people in their own story. It helps them clarify their desires, goals, and what matters most to them. I could see that process moves them forward and hits emotional buttons to create connection.
SB: What interests you in this work?
JM: People interest me – I want to know what motivates or drives them. I enjoy the process of helping figure out how to get the reaction they want. There’s a difference between spinning a great story and misleading – I am about finding the compelling, honest story. Helping people figure out how to take complex elements of their work and translate it into something other people can understand is very satisfying.
One of the challenges we all face in communicating is, the more we know about our industry or work, the harder it is to explain to someone else. While we’re speaking with insider colleagues we use a shorthand, efficient communication because we both know what we’re talking about. That can backfire when your goal is to engage a broader group. Some people are aware of this difficulty and some not, but it’s always a challenge for creating a simple, engaging, and effective message.
SB: What do you attribute to your success in taking stories to reality?
JM: Getting my writing degree was an important part of my foundation and allowed me to be humble as a writer. I believe staying humble about what we know is a key to success. Listening is important too. I pay attention to clients and their challenges, but I also pay attention to the concerns and challenges of their clients or target audience because the content we’re creating needs to speak to both. Creating a strategy from that information is more critical than the actual task of writing. That may not sound logical given my role of writer, yet, listening genuinely to the client and learning what they want to accomplish provides the understanding and context required to craft an authentic, compelling story.
SB: As an artist as well as writer, how does being an artist inform your work?
JM: Because I work with both visuals and words, I’m more focused on producing less text. Instead, I pair the right words with compelling visuals to create content that’s truly engaging – giving the client more impact from their narrative.
I get to do this when helping SBCo with their unique micro-sites for high-end talent sourcing. We create one-page microsites to tell a unique story about a career or new job opportunity. The unique combination of a compelling position description and engaging visuals in a web site tailored to the position and employer is a truly differentiated way of communicating about a job opportunity and grabs attention. Our goal is for them to “see themselves in this job,” and elicit the desired response, “tell me more.” I really enjoy creating a unique message platform that speaks to potential talent.
SB: What is your advice to companies that are starting the “story telling” journey?
JM: First decide who or what you want to be – it should be based on your values and the authentic way you approach whatever it is you do. Then, check with your clients and employees to see if their experience matches the story you want to tell. Finally, create the simplest version of that story – if you can’t explain it in just a few minutes, it’s too complex and not as compelling as it should be.