April 7, 2020

Professional Writer at Work: Interview with Katherine McCabe, Head of Content and Digital Marketing, beqom

Katherine McCabe, an experienced professional writer, has worked in marketing for nearly two decades, assuming progressively more senior leadership roles. McCabe is currently the head of content and digital marketing at beqom, a global provider of compensation management software delivered via cloud computing. Her role involves extensive strategic and management responsibilities, but she still carves out the time to take on writing projects.

Q:   Describe your current role and your daily professional tasks and responsibilities.

A:   In my 17+ years of marketing, I've stepped into many roles, some widely different from where I set out. Along the way I've gotten to do everything from technical writing to writing content for social media, recruitment, events, content strategy, and digital marketing transformation. Whatever I'm focused on in the world of marketing, I've never abandoned my writing roots, so you'll still find me churning out everything from ad headlines to in-depth industry reports.

Today I am the head of content & digital marketing at beqom, a B2B software company headquartered in Switzerland, with a US base in Connecticut. Along with my team, I create and have overall responsibility for the breadth of content used by marketing and sales, including theme development, editorial calendar, collateral, videos, press, social media, webcasts, emailing, ad copy, and web copy. On the digital marketing side, I oversee the company’s global digital marketing strategy and efforts, including web development, SEM/SEO, paid social media campaigns, and third-party lead generation. To round things out, I also manage our PR agency relationships, our department’s global budget, and our reporting, analytics, and dashboards.

Q:   What made you realize that writing was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

A:   It’s been so long since I knew I wanted to be some kind of writer, I can hardly remember. By sixth or seventh grade, I was leaning heavily into writing as my favorite activity, which mostly took the form of student journalism. That continued all through high school, during which I eventually became editor of our school newspaper, and I first entered college as a communications major, intending to pursue print journalism. After a semester, my mother suggested that English majors could be journalists, but journalism majors may not have as many options, so I switched to English. 

By the time I graduated in 2001, the prospects of print journalism did not seem so bright. I had always enjoyed fact-based writing more than fiction, and from working as a writing tutor at the campus Writing Center for a few years I had discovered the field of technical writing. That’s when I decided to pursue the Master’s in Professional Writing.

Q:   Talk about a mentor, book, or experience that helped shape who you are as a writing professional.

A:   Far and away the most significant experience in my career was earning my master’s program. It’s been 18 years (yikes!) and I still use the principles of those classes daily. One of my professors was Dr. Erwin Steinberg, who helped found and pioneer the field of technical writing in the late 1950s. I find myself repeating his lessons to every new writer I onboard. 

Q:   In your role and industry, how important is collaboration? With whom do you collaborate?

A:   I’ve led teams of writers for 10 years, and in anything we create, at least one other writer is called in to be an editor or proofreader. The adage about a second set of eyes exists for a reason. 

This morning I worked on creating a new page for our website, which was only about 400-words long and minor in our scope of work. This simple page involved a team writer to work with an SME to create the draft, me as the editor, our creative lead to design the graphic elements, our SEO specialist to optimize the page, an outside translation agency, and two colleagues in Europe to validate the translations of text.

I also collaborate with our PR agencies, our website development agency, my boss and CMO, company executives, sales and pre-sales, other marketing departments, advertising vendors and partners . . . more groups that I can probably remember. Collaboration is all day, every day.

Q:   What do you look for in assessing potential new hires?

A:   My outlook has always been to look for writer talent first. Finding new hires who can see the spark of a story in a technical product release, turn it into something compelling, then write cleanly and to our style guide is the most important piece. After that, I look for people who have experience with reporting and technology.

Q:   Is there anything else you would like to share?

A:   I often review resumes for both interns and full-time hires, including resumes from recent graduates. When I’m assessing these candidates, I appreciate that they may not have had direct experience with, say, marketing for a B2B software company. Here’s what I look for when determining whether to progress:

  • Relevant degrees, coursework and  major projects
  • Leadership experience, whether it’s as part of a sports team, student organization, or volunteer group
  • A strong work ethic, as evidenced by consistent employment, extracurriculars, and/or GPA
  • Technical certifications, such as HubSpot or Google AdWords. These courses are free, and when I see one on a resume I know the candidate has initiative and the capacity to pick up our technology and systems.

A: Connect with me! https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherinemccabe/


Thank you to Katherine McCabe for sharing her professional writing journey with us. 

To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing program at NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu/mspw


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