Telum recently caught up with Kylie Lee to hear more about the British Council's comms functions, opportunities around communicating its upcoming online festival as well as her experience and tips in copywriting and freelancing.
With a small team based in Hong Kong, can you tell us more about the British Council’s comms function and your duty at the organisation?
Our mission at the British Council is to build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other places through arts and culture, education and the English language. Our small comms team works strategically across the whole organisation to deliver this mission through internal and external platforms. My role is specifically to implement the marketing and comms strategy for the SPARK festival of creativity
, which this year is online and celebrates connections and inclusion in our communities and offers a platform for cultural exchange between Hong Kong and the UK.
The British Council will soon be hosting the online festival SPARK, what difficulties and opportunities did you come across communicating around the virtual event?
It is both very exciting and challenging indeed! Virtual events are still very new, be it for us or for the marketing and comms scene in general. Hosting our first virtual SPARK means there will be many "firsts" where we will try new technologies, such as AR filters (be sure to check out our SPARK AR filters on Instagram - they are rolling out soon!) and immersive interactive showcases with few comms precedents to follow. A lot of digital aspects have to be taken into account - mapping out a user journey, offering a good but also accessible and inclusive user experience, choosing your platforms and communication channels to reach the right audiences, etc.
Having been in the creative scene and the corporate world, what inspired you to pursue your current career?
I would say I have been quite spontaneous when career opportunities arise - I just take them with few concrete plans laid, and thankfully things have worked out! Creativity is definitely something I explore in every job opportunity, and it is true that in corporate settings there are more constraints. But in the end it is all up to oneself to make things happen, even within certain frameworks. I think creativity can come in many different forms, even if it means just to make correlations between ideas, putting the right people in touch, or A/B testing an email subject line. By doing something differently, it keeps me going and growing, and I think that applies wherever I go!
From your experience in copywriting, how do you maintain a creative mind when you produce content for clients?
When it comes to identifying a problem or an angle, I find it crucial to keep your mind open. Always trust your gut instinct when you look at the brief or explore the brand - what you see with fresh eyes is very indicative. Then when it comes to drafting the copy, think of it as Hemingway's "write drunk, edit sober" writing style, but instead try "brainstorm hard, write simple". You can come up with wild ideas and options in the brainstorming phase, but when it comes down to penning the copy, trust your gut feeling, stick to the option that stands out the most, and write in the simple language to deliver the idea.
You also worked as an Editor and in sales and marketing before, did you bring any leanings from those roles into your current post?
I think really I just can't get away from words! It is always about words, but sales and marketing gave me a broader perspective of the fuller picture, and led me to copywriting, where you write with a clear objective to market, communicate and convert.
You have been in the freelancing world for quite a bit, what is your advice for young people who are interested in trying out the same path?
By all means, go for it! I think finding and honing your craft can be very empowering. That said, it is not easy to start freelancing full-time in the beginning - it takes time to build your connections and refine your skills. Freelance is also about running a business, except the business is you yourself, so you do have to put yourself out there and market yourself. Learning on the job and transitioning into freelancing is also a great option. It all starts with believing in yourself and dedication, so good luck!