Q&A with Vanessa Clark

By Yellow Door Collective

Posted on 14th October 2019

Reading time: 3 minutes

We get to collaborate with talented freelancers on projects from time to time, and Vanessa has been part of this collective from the very beginning. She’s an incredible wordsmith, storyteller and always up for a new challenge. She also joined us for an episode of Life Behind the Yellow Door, take a listen and let us know what you think.

What role do you play as part of the extended Yellow Door team?

I get called in to assist the team with brand and messaging strategy sessions, especially where there is a strong leaning towards technology or a content-driven outcome.

Which of the Yellow Door values do you resonate most with and why?

Authenticity. I’m lucky enough to know a lot of the team socially as well as professionally, and this is something that has always stood out for me. This resonates for me because it means I can bring my authentic self to any client workshop or piece of work, which always results in my best work.

Tell us a bit more about your area of expertise, and why you are passionate about it?

I am a technology journalist, and today that means I ghost write thought leadership pieces for tech leaders, as well as write editorial technology trends pieces. Alongside that, because it makes my job as a writer easier, I help companies figure out their sustainable competitive advantage, and then put this into words to create the golden thread that ties their story together.

Digital technology is an absolutely fascinating space to be in today. We’re busy building our future world right now, so the decisions we make and paths we choose are critical. If I can help that process by demystifying technology, and exploring the space where technology and people intersect, I’ll be happy about my career.

What do you find most challenging about this area of marketing?

It’s so busy, with a lot of hype, scare-mongering and undifferentiated jargon being thrown about the place. In amongst all the noise, you have to find a clear message, articulate that in a compelling way, and then be consistent, persistent and relatable in getting this message out to your audience.

What trends are you looking forward to learning more about/ implementing as part of your approach?

I’ve just spent some time with an incredible group of Agile practitioners and am fascinated with how this approach can uncover knowledge, insights and connections in a group. There is no doubt that this maps closely on to the future of work, where a group gathers together for a specific project and ideas come from anywhere. The top-down way of decision-making and idea generation is just not relevant anymore. Plus, Agile principles and approaches feel far more compassionate and inclusive than traditional ways of working (and having meetings).

Agile is typically associated with software engineering projects, but there is no reason not to (and very good reasons to) apply them elsewhere in organisations. I’m looking forward to experimenting with Agile techniques during branding and messaging sessions.

What are your top three projects or brands that you’ve had the opportunity to work on?

  • I ran Twitter’s local PR campaign when it launched Twitter for Business in South Africa.
  • An article I wrote that I am hugely proud of is a piece on immigration and innovation in South Africa for Brainstorm in print publication earlier this year.
  • Recently I worked with fintech JUMO on its updated brand narrative and new website.

What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration?

This sounds very mundane, but often doing the dishes helps! Or going for a walk. My process is to give my brain all the information it needs and then to let it percolate away, trusting it to do the work and deliver the goods. I’m also a big fan of cross-pollinating ideas from unlikely places, so reading something totally unrelated is also usually helpful.

What do you do when you’re not working?

At the moment, working on my Master’s in media theory and practice. And reading, walking, doing Pilates, Instagramming my cats, and getting better at riding my scooter, which I got earlier this year. (Top tip: scooting is super fun!)

If you could be any superhero, who would you be?

Doctor Who (13th incarnation, obviously). Because who wouldn’t want to be an eccentric, centuries-old, rogue Time Lord with two hearts, travelling through space and time, solving problems and having adventures with their human friends?

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