Wright Creative is shaking up content marketing through diverse storytelling
When Mark Wright and Heather Keets Wright relocated to Charlotte in 2007, they were working as journalists full-time. Now, the couple runs a multimillion-dollar agency for branded content and video production.
Wright Creative launched in 2015 as a platform for Keets Wright and Wright to work on their freelance writing. Gradually, the agency shifted to content marketing, and the couple officially dedicated themselves to the business when they left their full-time jobs in 2015 and 2017.
"Increasingly, as we advanced in our careers, we realized a lot of what we were doing for other people, we could do for ourselves," Keet Wright said.
Wright Creative has received national recognition for its work. On June 8, Wright Creative was recognized by the Global ACE Awards across four categories for its work in content production.
Many brands don't have skills in-house that Wright Creative provides, Keets Wright said. Their background as journalists gives them insight on how to tailor content for specific audiences, and the couple enjoys applying their skills in writing and editing to creative ideas.
"We're storytellers by nature, we're information gatherers by nature, and we understand what it means to create content that someone will consume," Keets Wright said.
Wright emphasized the skillset he and his wife bring to the table, especially compared to other people who market themselves as storytellers.
"It's not an unpopular thing that we're doing, you'll hear a lot of people talk about content marketing,” he said. “We welcome literally all of those people to step into the arena with us."
Like many Black-owned businesses, Wright Creative received an increase in attention following the murder of George Floyd. Prior to the summer of 2020, there was no concerted effort to represent marginalized people in marketing or involve diverse voices in content production, Keets Wright said.
"None of it was represented, or it was represented very little, or at certain times of the year, (and) not intentional, not thoughtful," she said.
Protests in the summer of 2020 spurred companies to think differently. An internal employee resource group for Black employees at Kellogg's North America urged the company to start a campaign centered on food insecurity, which disproportionately impacts low-income and Black communities.
Wright Creative was approached to create the content campaign. Through a series of articles, videos, and audio, the agency interviewed Black people involved in agriculture, Black farmers, and nonprofit organizations focused on food insecurity. The campaign, named "Black history. Every month." received an AMA global award in June for photography and illustration.
Keets Wright cites the agency's involvement in the Kellogg's campaign as an example of its commitment to diverse narratives and the shifting landscape in marketing. However, she emphasized that while working on projects like this is an important first step, companies shouldn't only give the agency "Black assignments."
"As Black people having to navigate a predominantly white world in a predominantly white space, we by default have to speak both languages, we have to code-switch," Keets Wright said. "So yes, I know how to create content for Black culture. But I also know how to create content for white culture, and that's what I've been doing for a good chunk of my career."
Creating stories about marginalized communities has always been a passion for Wright, but multiple times during his career, pitches on underserved communities have been turned down for not appealing to a large enough audience.
"I'll say that a very high number of those stories, the answer is no, right?" Wright said. "We don't have the room, we don't have the space for it, it's not big enough to appeal to a large enough audience."
Launching Wright Creative has given the couple the freedom to pursue the stories they want to work on, including an upcoming podcast series on historically Black colleges and universities.
The pandemic didn't cause a major shift in Wright Creative's operations; the couple was already used to working virtually, with Wright having run a magazine out of his home in the early 2000s. However, the pandemic did change how the couple thinks about productivity; during their downtime, the pair invested more of their energy in maintaining relationships with friends, colleagues and business associates, Wright said.
Wright has big aspirations for the future. He is currently working on a podcast series, which he hopes to evolve into a documentary or a scripted series.
No matter what project Wright Creative will work on next, the couple has no plans of retiring any time soon. Keets Wright gets a lot of joy from the process of storytelling and reaching audiences on an emotional level. She is also looking forward to capitalizing on their ability to choose the stories they pursue.
"I get really excited about the idea of being a successful Black-owned business in this space, because there are not many, there are a handful of us," Keets Wright said. "It's like, this is our time, right? And I'm not thinking about retiring during our time."