Industry Profile: Storyation co-founder and commercial director Mimi Cullen

By AdNews | 18 September 2018

Our Industry Insights Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we speak with Storyation co-founder and commercial director Mimi Cullen.

Time in current role/time at the company

Almost five years

How would you describe what the company does?

We use storytelling to build brand. Our teams create original, multi-channel content that is designed to inspire, inform or entertain.

Define your job in one word:

Dynamic

I got into content marketing because:

Having spent most of my working life at large media outlets like the ABC, Associated Newspapers and Fairfax I’ve seen first-hand how a well-crafted narrative can make a huge difference.

A great investigative piece of journalism, a rousing profile or a surprising image can so easily change attitudes, shape beliefs and build behaviours.

Before I launched Storyation, with co-founder Lauren Quaintance, I was running commercial teams at Fairfax and I found that as audience numbers dropped clients were starting to prioritise growing traffic on their owned channels.

A logical next step seemed to be to help them to become publishers themselves.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Being agile and staying up to date with trends in a fast moving industry that is continually disrupted by new technologies.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?

In the rush to publish over the past few years many brands have launched content programs without any clearly defined content strategy in place.

As the content marketing industry matures there’s thankfully a greater focus on return on investment but still most brands don’t have a documented strategy (just 43% of Australian brands have a documented content marketing strategy). Without an organisation-wide strategic framework in place marketers struggle to measure the returns for their efforts.

It’s difficult to build an effective case for greater investment in content based on gut instinct. As a result we’ve seen a huge uplift in demand for support with content strategy over the past twelve months and we’ve strengthened our Strategy team to meet this need hiring Tourism Australia’s ex-Global Content Editor, Andrés Lopez-Varela, as Storyation’s new Head of Strategy.

Notable ads/campaigns you have worked on:

While the majority of content we deliver to clients like Energy Australia, Blackmores and Tourism Australia is tailored for digital channels we also create custom magazines.

Just over two years ago we relaunched the customer magazine for Australia and New Zealand’s biggest independent travel company, APT.

We assembled an exceptional team of magazine heavy-weights to differentiate the magazine from “brochureware” and produce a title that would compete for attention with consumer magazine publishers. We’re proud that the new Voyage magazine does just that.

The magazine has proven to be a critical tool in driving repeat patronage and over the past twelve months the title has attracted global recognition.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?

Be brave (launching a business isn’t for the fainted-hearted) and share the rewards of success early. We’ve worked hard to foster an enviable team culture and we’ve been rewarded by attracting a team of the very best of the best.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

Heading back to uni to study vet science. My mum might see it as a puzzling decision but I think the financial returns might help me overcome my aversion to blood (and guinea pigs).

My mantra / philosophy is:

I’m inspired by bold risk takers and a long time ago I borrowed Helen Keller’s mantra ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing’. To keep growing I try to do at least one thing every day that is well outside of my comfort zone. Nothing transformative comes of playing it safe.

My favourite advert is (and why):

I love the work that Emotive has done for Lynx ‘Find Your Aussie Magic’. It challenges masculine body stereotypes while still cheekily fanning the flames of Kiwi and Aussie rivalry. It’s content that has the capacity to run and run - beautifully executed and well-told by the huge talent,Julian Dennison. Storyation creates video content for Tourism New Zealand so I have a soft spot for the New Zealand vernacular.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?

I’m a podcast follower more than a TV watcher. I never miss an episode of This American Life and I’m now deep into their archive. The Destinationists (created by Storyation’s own Lauren Quaintance and Andres Lopez-Varela) and NPR’s How I Built This are two more favourites – so many innovators and idealists to learn from. And right now the dog is getting more early morning walks than usual so I can rip through more episodes of West Cork on Audible. I love to hate the villains, totally absorbing. 

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

While I aspire to be the enigmatic type I’m really an open book. For better or worse, I’m pretty confident there’s not much that people at work don’t know about me.

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