“You can be an expert in a field without knowing how to communicate your knowledge to the public. But when you’re a company, the public is made up of potential customers who could be interested in a solution you’re developing but who, by definition, don’t have the same knowledge as you. I see myself as a bridge between the experts and the public, or more precisely, their target.” – Renée Zachariou, Copywriter, Content Expert and freelancer on Malt.
Many technology-driven organizations today still struggle to explain and communicate technical concepts in a clear and concise way. It’s a real skill.
Renée Zachariou is a freelancer working through Malt, and she knows a thing or two about working with technical experts to make their organizations expertise digestible and understandable for prospective clients. Having spent an earlier part of her career at Google, Renée loves to dive into the complexity and help companies showcase the technology that sets them apart.
Q. Can you tell us a few words about yourself and your career?
My name is Renée Zachariou and I’m a freelance writer specialized in tech. I started as a freelancer a year and a half ago and I’ve already worked with about twenty clients, from startups to large corporations, including media companies and even individual entrepreneurs or students. At this point I’ve totally lost count of the number of words and sentences I’ve written!
Before my freelancer career, my last “classic” job was at Google, in a team called Google Arts and Culture. I was in charge of projects in France, from editorial strategy to digital production. Before that, I was an administrator for a visual artist and a Communications Manager for an innovation festival called ‘Futur en Seine’.
Q. How do you help your clients showcase their expertise to sell their products?
You can be an expert in a field without knowing how to communicate your knowledge to the public. But when you’re a company, the public is made up of potential customers who could be interested in a solution you’re developing but who, by definition, don’t have the same knowledge as you.
I see myself as a bridge between the experts and the public, or more precisely their target. It’s a bridge that I imagine made of words because what I propose are content strategies based on text that’s both rich and understandable.
I work on all types of written content. I love the article format, so I do a lot of blog posts and articles, static content for websites, press releases, podcasts, tutorials, etc. As long as there is writing involved, I can help.
I mainly work with marketing teams. They’re the ones who need to produce a lot of content. They’re also often the ones who are not the most resourced in tech companies, so it can save them a lot of time. There’s a practical side to delegating some of the content production to a freelancer expert writer who, in addition to saving time, can provide an outsider’s perspective.
One of the things I didn’t expect is that, while the vast majority of my clients are French-speaking, I write in English a lot. I think there is a real demand from French companies and startups that work and communicate internally in French, but that have a communication strategy in English. I think it reassures them to work with a bilingual expert who can communicate in both languages.
I don’t limit myself to content production, even though it’s something I really enjoy doing. I think there’s always a strategy side to consider. Even when you create something, it’s not just execution. There’s always creativity involved. But I also like to get involved upstream and do editorial strategy. It’s really on a case-by-case basis for each client. I start by defining what the message is and for what target – what words to use, what vocabulary, what tone of voice? And then, it becomes more and more practical – what medium, what frequency of publication, etc.?
Q. Is long-form written content still relevant in the age of video and social media?
Written content has not said its last word. First of all, because even on social networks and videos in general, things are written beforehand. It’s rarely improvisation, despite what people would like us to think. I think the written format is particularly interesting because it has a longer shelf-life.
With social networks, everything goes very fast. I focus mainly on rather long texts that can then be developed for social networks by adding a catchphrase, etc., but that leave time to develop ideas, arguments and show expertise.
Written content, whether on the web or in print, is what we call cold content. It’s content that stays. It’s not meant to disappear, unlike social network content, which is hot content that rotates all the time. Written content is therefore content on which we can capitalize. That doesn’t mean that we can’t adapt it to current events or react quickly. But it’s content that stays and can be useful for marketing teams, if you have an SEO blog strategy, and even for sales teams, since an article or a white paper can be a starting point for a conversation.
Q. How do you support clients in areas you are less familiar with?
Even though I have experience in tech, because I’ve worked with startups and Google, and it’s a sector I’ve been following for a while, it’s not one I limit myself to. Plus the tech world is very broad, since it encompasses everything from cryptocurrency to SaaS, and many other things.
So my approach is not to present myself as an expert in a subject, but as an expert in methodology, narration and storytelling. I have a fairly simple methodology that works well according to the feedback from my clients. It’s to start by talking to the client, to get as much information as possible that can be more or less shaped. I can work just as well with meeting minutes as with slides-decks. We have a kick-off meeting to set expectations, to create a brief and to reach an agreement, because it’s important to frame deliverables. Then, according to that, I produce a V1, we exchange again, and then I make a V2.
For me, it’s important to have this V1 – V2 side because the idea is to speak in the client’s voice and really blend in with their world and therefore propose something that resembles them.
The feedback I got from a client who I found very positive and enthusiastic, is that what I was writing for her resembled her. “When I read your work, it sounds like me.” To me, that’s the best feedback I can get.
The idea is also to make suggestions. For example, if I’m offered a plan and I think there’s a narrative thread that would be better, obviously I have a point of view and I’m also there to share it.
One of the things I also try to push with my clients is not to be afraid to use a slightly offbeat or original tone. Even if we’re in a tech industry, even if we’re in a serious environment, like product teams, I believe it can be a real comparative advantage to have a tone with a little bit of humor or with surprising angles or well-chosen words.
Q. What would be your dream project for a Malt client?
My dream project would be either to accompany a young startup in the creation of their editorial strategy before the marketing team is assembled, or to collaborate with a team in a more established company, in order to help them make their business more attractive.
Renée and other copywriters and content experts are available for hire through Malt. Discover Renée’s full Malt profile and start your freelancer search on Malt today.