An Interview with 2021’s Content Marketing Rising Star, Abbie Schofield

By Natasha Glazebrook, The CMA on

Last year’s International Content Marketing Awards were hugely popular for the content industry and were the biggest awards that The CMA (Content Marketing Association) had ever seen. With more entries submitted than ever before, it was the most competitive season to date, so winning an award in 2021 is a huge accolade.

There were 35 gold winners in 2021, focusing on all areas of content marketing, including a spotlight on the various content tools, as well as specific content marketing roles. One award of note is the Rising Star award. This award is for anyone under 30 working in a content marketing function in an agency or at a brand that demonstrates an outstanding contribution to content marketing, as well as their own progress.

Abbie Schofield, the Social Content Editor at SevenC3 was voted as the gold winner by an independent judging panel, naming her the Content Marketing Rising Star of 2021.

The judges said that she is “clearly a much-valued member of her team, bringing not only creativity and innovation to her work but a can-do attitude that is really impressive.”

Natasha Glazebrook, who leads the International Content Marketing Awards for the CMA chatted with Abbie to get an understanding of what she thinks has led to her success, to inspire others looking to make impact in the content industry. 

Congratulations on winning Content Marketing Rising Star of the Year in the 2021 International Content Marketing Awards, Abbie. What a great achievement! What does it mean to you to win this award?

Thank you! I am thrilled to have won, particularly as all the nominees in my category were so strong. The award was a great end-of-year boost that has motivated me to keep improving my skills and content for clients in 2022. 

We saw a lovely video posted to social media on the night of the awards, of your team cheering as your name came on the screen at the virtual ceremony. How did you celebrate? 

SevenC3 were nominated in a few different categories, so we arranged for a group of us to watch the awards in the office. We also won Silver for Best Use of Social Media and Best Monetised Content, so of course a few drinks were on the agenda!

Can you tell us what has led you to get here – how long have you been at SevenC3 and how did you first get involved?

I’ve been working in the world of digital content since I was at university, where I was an editor for an online student magazine. Since then, I’ve worked for an influencer media company and a lifestyle magazine, as well as running my own blog. All this experience helped me to figure out what I enjoy the most about digital publishing, which led me to my current job focusing on social content. I joined SevenC3 in April 2021, and my role was brand new for the agency, who wanted to expand its digital team.

Can you talk us through what it is you do as the Social Content Editor at SevenC3? What does a typical day look like for you?

I am responsible for all social media for the agency’s flagship client, Sainsbury’s magazine – planning, creating, and promoting content across the brand’s three key social channels: Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

It’s a bit of a cliché, but honestly, no two days are the same! One day I might be at my desk creating Pinterest assets on InDesign, and the next I’m at a shoot with the Sainsbury’s magazine food team, filming recipe videos for Instagram.

I generate a social-specific revenue stream for the client and agency by working with our commercial team to create sponsored recipes, Idea Pins and Instagram Reels. 

I also work across SevenC3’s other clients, including Bosch, and new business – creative copywriting, brainstorming ideas, showcasing new opportunities to the wider agency and helping with in-house social media support.

So, you have clearly made an outstanding contribution to content with all your work as you describe. But half of the judgement criteria for this award requires individuals to demonstrate personal development. Please talk us through which skills you have worked on that helped you to secure this award and support your organisation?

I’m always keen to develop my technical skills, and I completed video editing training for Adobe After Effects so that I could improve our Instagram Reels and Pinterest Idea Pins. 

Additionally, Sainsbury’s magazine recently underwent a brand redesign, and I was tasked with bringing the new formats and designs to social media. This involved learning how to use more complex design templates and adapting our strategy to complement the brand’s new focus on conscious cooking – seasonal eating, no-waste cooking and ‘living well’. 

In your entry you shared how you have more than doubled Sainsbury’s Magazine monthly Instagram content, increasing account reach by 97% and increased followers by 5%. Plus, Sainsbury’s magazine posts were saved more than 3,000 times. How do you come up with your ideas and keep up this high output of content?

When the team plans content for Sainsbury’s magazine, we take a ‘360 approach’. This means that we think of the idea first, and then about how that idea might work on the brand’s different platforms. So, a lot of the digital content complements what’s in the magazine that month. However, we also create plenty of social-first content, which tends to be more trend-led and reactive. 

When it comes to keeping up with the high output of content, organisation is crucial. I have an in-depth content planner that covers each platform and format, which helps me keep on top of my workload.

On Pinterest your Idea Pins regularly exceed 100K impressions. A particularly successful Idea Pin you planned and executed was a recipe video for trending Biscoff cake, which generated over 200,000 impressions in a week. How do you ensure you keep on top of trends and move quickly to capitalise on them?

We have seen fantastic results with Pinterest. I find keeping on top of food trends quite easy as I love cooking (and eating!), so research is not a chore – I’m not going to admit how much time I spend on TikTok! But this means that ideas come to me quite organically, and I can spot when something is growing in popularity. Keyword and social listening tools also help provide insight and new content ideas. 

I also think it’s important to be a trendsetter and lean on what makes you different, rather than copying every trend. For us, that’s our super-talented, professional food team, so we try to emphasise their expertise as much as we can. We actually have tripods and lighting at our test kitchen, so if we have an idea for a recipe video, we just go for it! 

What do you think was a key factor that has led to your success?

A new emphasis on video content. Video has become increasingly important over the last five years, so it was vital to embrace this as a key part of the Sainsbury’s magazine social strategy.

What is it that you think makes great content?

I read a post by @vixmeldrew saying that your content won’t engage your ideal audience unless it solves a problem or fulfils a desire. Even luxury products like a fancy candle solve a problem, and ‘boring’ services like tax accounting fulfil a desire. That has stuck with me – to always have your audience in mind.

2021 was obviously a momentous year for you, so now what are your plans for the year ahead?

2021 involved a lot of change with joining a new team and learning the ropes. I’d like to continue growing Sainsbury’s magazine’s online presence and go further with everything we achieved last year.

We’ve also worked on a new video strategy for 2022 to put our food team front and centre across the brand’s social channels, so look out for them on the @sainsburysmag Instagram account!

How do you think that winning a CMA award will support those plans?

Reading the judge’s supportive comments felt brilliant, especially as I was relatively new to SevenC3 when writing the entry. Knowing my work was well received by experts in the field will give me a bit of a confidence boost for 2022.

Do you have any advice for budding editors?

If you’re struggling to find work experience or an internship (we’ve all been there!), take initiative and upskill yourself with free courses to improve your CV and help you stand out.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering a solo award, such as Rising Star, Content Person, Editor, or Designer of the year?

Have lots of evidence to back up your entry, whether that’s testimonials from colleagues, statistics, or examples of your work.

Finally, where have you placed your trophy?

It is currently in the SevenC3 office, and I haven’t seen it in person yet! But when I collect it, it will take pride of place on my desk.

We are excited to see what other creative campaigns you have in store, Abbie! We will keep an eye on Sainsbury’s Magazine social media accounts for more great examples of innovative content marketing… and cooking inspo of course! Thanks for chatting with me.

Inspired by Abbie’s success? Entries for the 2022 International Content Marketing Awards are opening soon, including for the Rising Star category. To secure the best ever price on entering, purchase early bird award entries before 4th March at the button above.

SevenC3 are members of The Content Marketing Association. Find out more about what they do by visiting their member page.

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