Rose sits down for a chat with Brightspot's Alistair Wearmouth. Before joining in 2020, Alistair was a user of the Brightspot CMS at CoStar, plus has enjoyed a mix of editorial and product management roles that included managing homegrown and other CMS solutions for companies like National Geographic, USA Today and Orbitz.
How long have you worked at Brightspot? What brought you here?
I started working for Brightspot in July 2020 on a freelance contract, assisting Meredith Rodkey’s team with some content work. After a couple of months, a full-time opportunity to join as a content manager became available, which was an exciting transition from freelancing (especially in the midst of all the COVID-19 uncertainty). Before that, I had been a Brightspot customer at CoStar, where I helped to set up their CMS instance for LoopNet.com. Having experienced the power of the CMS as a customer, it has been a fun opportunity to hop over to the other side of the fence! I was also fortunate and very grateful for the opportunity, especially as I had got to know the team and enjoyed working with them as well as experiencing all the great things about the Brightspot company culture and approach.
Can you tell me more about your role as a Content Director? What is a typical day like for you?
I spend most of my week collaborating with Brightspot's marketing team to create various content marketing materials that help increase Brightspot's brand awareness and visibility. This includes content about the company, our CMS platform and case studies that showcase our amazing customer success stories. Another significant area of focus is building out SEO-friendly content, so I help define the strategy, find freelancers to contribute pieces and then edit and produce the content on Brightspot.com. Around 20% of my time is also dedicated to supporting customers with their content strategy and publishing/production needs. Working closely with Rob Irvine and Laine Davison on the content team to support different customer projects provides a nice variety to my week. It's rewarding to work alongside our customers to create solutions and solve various problems while helping them make the most of their CMS instance.
Tell me more about your career journey. What led to your interest working in content strategy?
I started as an editor for a publication in Washington, D.C., after moving to the U.S. from the UK. I then worked for an adventure travel startup for about 10 years, moving from an editorial to a product management role after the company was acquired by Orbitz. My hybrid background in both editorial and product management positions gives me a good perspective on the plumbing, so to speak, that goes into delivering great content and digital experiences. It's been an interesting journey to Brightspot, where I can understand firsthand how our product helps content producers create their digital experiences. Other companies I have worked at include National Geographic and USA Today, and I can safely say Brightspot is the best CMS platform I've used. It's powerful and exciting to see how it compares to other systems.
What traits or characteristics make someone successful working in the world of content strategy?
That’s a big question! Both verbal and written communication skills are key. I love to write and getting the story down on a page is core to what I really enjoy. The verbal part of what we do is also very important because you’re either having to present a strategic plan to an audience or you’re having to communicate why certain decisions are being made or what certain objectives are, so obviously verbal communication skills are very important. Understanding data and analytics is also crucial for making informed decisions and demonstrating the value of content. This is an aspect of the job that I've really had to grow into, as over the years, more and more data has become available and needs to be factored into how we interpret and use to make decisions about our content as well as product approaches.
You’ve worked in the digital content space for almost 20 years. How have you seen the content landscape evolve over that time?
I don't want to date myself too much, but in a way I've lived the evolution that has brought us to amazing products like Brightspot! Initially, we used a website and a homegrown CMS system, but updates required developers deploying updates to HTML pages and the like. Then, the tools became more user-friendly and editors could work independently. Technology advancements, particularly smartphones, led to different device experiences. Other content trends, I feel, can be quite cyclical with shifts from curated experiences to user-generated content and back again. AI like ChatGPT is now the new trend shaking up the content space, but I still believe you need your content folks to direct and build the most impactful experiences. It is exciting, though, that AI can help free us up to do more of that by automating many of the more mechanical tasks.
What's the best piece of career or life advice that you've ever received?
In my experience, being a good listener and asking the right questions are crucial. It's important to not shy away from delving deep with your questions and to be confident in expressing your own thoughts, even if they may not always be in line with prevailing lines of thinking. Our team consists of so many thoughtful, clever and experienced individuals, all of whom have valuable insights to offer. It's important to listen to and understand different perspectives, while also contributing your own opinions. This advice has served me well and I believe that being a good listener and being able to express your viewpoint go hand in hand.
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
One of my favorite things about working at Brightspot is the opportunity to use the same product that our customers use every day. It's exciting to see the diverse range of customers using the Brightspot CMS to do incredible things across various industries and use cases. Knowing that the product I'm working on is helping these brands run their businesses all around the world is truly inspiring. It's a great feeling to be part of something that has such a far-reaching impact.
In addition to the product, I also really appreciate the culture of teamwork and support that exists here at Brightspot. From my experience as a freelancer, I could see how the company valued collaboration and how everyone was always willing to help and support each other. That ethos has continued even as the company has grown, and it makes for a great work environment where everyone feels valued and supported.
Finally, I appreciate that Brightspot values work-life balance. While everyone here is incredibly committed to what they do, the company recognizes that people have families, lives and interests outside of work. That's something that's really important to me, and it's great to know that the company supports and encourages employees to have a good work-life balance. All of these things combined make Brightspot a great place to work, and I'm grateful to be a part of this team.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
Traveling has always been a big part of my life. Growing up in different countries around the world, it's been a personal passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Additionally, my wider family is over in Scotland, so I try to make trips back home as much as possible. Hiking and biking are two other activities I enjoy. My wife is a volunteer with a search and rescue group in Shenandoah, and I often accompany her on trips to the park to explore on my own. Last year, we enjoyed ticking off a bucket-list trip with a hike down into the Grand Canyon. That was an incredible place to explore for a few days.
What was the last movie you saw? Would you recommend it?
This is a hard one! I don’t think I’ve been to a movie theater since before COVID so all the movies I watch are on Netflix. They’re either something my kids might want to watch or something I randomly discover. A good one we saw recently was We Have a Ghost. It was definitely one of those random Saturday evening movies that just popped up in the Netflix recommendations.
If you could plan your perfect three-course meal, what would it be?
My family and I are trying to cook recipes from every country around the world. We started before COVID and have done about 110 countries, but we still have about 80 countries to go before we finish "eating the world". Once we finish, maybe we'll choose a favorite appetizer, entree and dessert from the recipes we've made to celebrate. Having spent two years working in Japan after college, I could also happily plan a three-course meal around my favorite Japanese recipes.