One of the most valuable opportunities we have as content creators in the addiction treatment and recovery space is the opportunity to create and nurture a sense of connectedness among our readers around topics of mutual relatability. Without a doubt, our blog network is an essential tool in that effort. By facilitating the sharing of stories and experiences that ultimately serve as the foundation for ongoing networks of support, our site visitors know they can rely on our blogs not only as resources for information, but as sources of emotional gravity. And no one understands the impact potential of our blogs and the personal stories shared across them better than Senior Content Marketing Editor, Nikki Seay.
Katie: Why are blogs such powerful tools to reach targeted audiences in need of information and/or support?
Nikki: Blogs have a way of humanizing content that can otherwise be a bit overwhelming–especially in the addiction recovery world. I look at it like this: When most patients go to a doctor and he or she starts spitting out medical jargon left and right, they tend to shut down; they feel so overwhelmed that they’re afraid to ask questions. They nod their heads and say they understand, then leave the doctor’s office feeling even more confused and scared than they were when they got there! Blogs have the ability to change that by “speaking” to readers in a way that’s more relaxed and conversational, but still just as informative. We can educate readers without intimidating them and when we’re able to present scenarios that make them think, “That’s exactly what happened to me!”– they know they’re not alone.
Katie: How would you describe your role at Recovery Brands and how it fits into the “Bigger Picture” of what we do as an organization?
Nikki: I manage eight of our website blogs, as well as our professional editorial platforms, Pro Talk and Pro Corner. Each week, I assign a bulk of content assignments to my bloggers and as they submit work, I edit, style, and publish each piece to its respective home. If there’s breaking news or something really big going on in the world of addiction recovery and we need a quick turnaround blog post, I’ll write those pieces myself.
With Pro Talk and Pro Corner, I manage 43 expert writers who range from doctors to eating disorder specialists. They pitch ideas each month and from there, I come up with an ever-evolving editorial calendar. As they submit work to me, I copy edit each piece — correcting grammar issues or cosmetic mistakes — then style and publish each long-form article to its proper platform.
My role in the RB “Big Picture” is to create compelling content-driven initiatives, influence the acquisition of new readers, engage all of our consumers, and align and elevate overall brand awareness.
Katie: Who contributes to our blogs and what do you think compels them to do so?
Nikki: I have a great group of bloggers who have all been touched by addiction in some way, so they’re super passionate about what they do. A great example would be Natalie Baker, a former lawyer. After developing a serious addiction to alcohol, she got drunk after work one night, then crashed her car into a parked vehicle with four innocent people inside. No one was seriously injured, thankfully, but it cost Natalie four years of her life (in prison) and a legal career. Now five years sober, she openly uses her past experiences to write great content for our blogs and to encourage others NOT to follow in her footsteps. It’s that kind of personal experience — that raw emotion — that allows my bloggers to create content that speaks to our readers’ hearts.
Katie: In your opinion, what sets Recovery Brands apart from other industry resource providers when it comes to online content?
Nikki: I think what sets us apart is that we aren’t pushing some secret agenda. For example, we’re not trying to push our readers to hate or love AA/NA programs or convince them that long-term inpatient rehab is the only way they’ll ever get clean. We’re not telling them we’ve discovered the one and only “secret” to recovery. Instead, we’re presenting both sides of these important conversations and letting our readers decide for themselves. We respect them enough to know they can do that!
Katie: How have our blogs and site content evolved since you joined the team two years ago?
Nikki: Oh wow….well, when I first came on as a freelance blogger, there were only two of us writing all the content for the blogs. When I took over as Editor, I was able to hire more writers and start producing a lot more content. Our scope of content has also been fine-tuned: we know exactly who our target audience is, and I’ve worked very hard to make sure each blog successfully develops its own unique voice.
I’m so proud of the blog team I have today and the content they consistently produce — we’ve been able to create digital spaces where readers feel supported and know they’re not being judged. I also think we’ve built a trust with our readers over the years; they know our content is emotionally honest and factual.
Katie: How do teams at RB leverage resources cross-departmentally to optimize our content efforts?
Nikki: I learned from day one how important it is to collaborate with other departments on projects. Working remotely, collaboration was just something that felt natural and necessary, you know? The first collaborative project I worked on was in 2014 with a writing intern in the NYC office; she was going to Bonnaroo and we coordinated a piece on safety and sobriety at music festivals, which turned out great.
While I was still living in Tennessee, I made it a point to reach out to our social media gurus several times a week so I could get input on topic ideas and learn how people were responding to certain pieces of content on Facebook and Twitter. I also worked with the content department to create some great infographics that complemented blogs and features we were publishing at the time. And last month, for our third Recovery Month blog feature, I conducted four interviews and wrote a blog post about staying clean post-treatment — the graphs and statistical information in that blog post were created using valuable data gathered by our research team in the NYC office. I could not have done it without their help! And that’s the thing — people in other departments have their fingers on the pulse of projects and expertise that I don’t have, and vice-versa, right? We’re all rockstars in our own rights and leveraging each other’s knowledge only makes the end product that much better. Personally, I love learning from and working with other departments.
Katie: Speaking of our teams, what inspired you to work for Recovery Brands?
Nikki: After I got clean years ago, I desperately wanted to give back and help others who might be going through the same thing. Writing was the best way I knew how to do that, so when I saw an ad that RB was looking for writers, I jumped on it. I knew the job was meant for me!
Katie: What’s been the most rewarding thing about your experience at Recovery Brands so far?
Nikki: On a personal level, I’ve made some great friends here and have always appreciated the support I felt from day one. One thing that will always stick out in my mind is when my dog, Barley, passed away earlier this year. I was lost without my little man and I got so many messages and phone calls from [coworkers], just checking on me to see how I was doing. That meant the world to me in a time when I needed it most. Professionally, the best thing is knowing that the work we do makes a positive difference in an area that desperately needs it. What an amazing feeling to know that we’re helping people find the courage to reach out and seek treatment.
Katie: Is there a blog feature or piece of content that you’re particularly proud of that you’d like to share, and why is this meaningful to you?
Nikki: Anyone who knows me knows I am a complete sucker for dogs. When I had the chance to interview Lindsey Stanek, co-founder of Paws and Stripes and star of the A&E show Dogs of War, I was certainly a happy camper. Helping shelter dogs and our addicted military vets? Are you kidding me? What could be better?
Katie: What’s in the pipeline for Recovery Brands’ blog content that you’re excited about?
Nikki: I’m working toward launching our very first guest blogger programs! I’ll be establishing connections with some of the most popular contributors in niches like mommy and daddy bloggers, financial advice bloggers, nutritional bloggers, employment bloggers, etc., and asking them to write guest blog posts for our sites–essentially introducing these vast new audiences to one another and expanding our consumer reach by leaps and bounds.
Katie: So, then…one word to describe RB Blogs and Content Marketing efforts in 2017. Go!