NisonCo is excited to continue a series of interviews with the incredible employees here at the agency. This month, we talked to Managing Editor and content creation team leader Marissa Smith. Marissa discusses finding and embracing your passions, creating your own role at a company, and getting your hands dirty in the garden, too.
NisonCo: Could you tell us about your background and role at a top cannabis marketing agency?
Marissa Smith: I’m the managing editor! I mostly work out of western Massachusetts, though I’ve actually done this job remotely all over the country and internationally a little bit too.
I grew up in southern New Hampshire. I was always really, really into the English language and reading. At the age of 12, I decided I wanted to be an editor or publisher because I figured it would be a way to read books all day for a living. I didn’t quite get that right, but many things did line up over time, including going to school at Ithaca College.
I got my major in English and also did two minors. One was in marketing, and the other was in classical studies, AKA Latin (because I’m a nerd). Ultimately, after finishing school, I had a mentor who gave me excellent advice upon leaving college. He said that to be a good editor or publisher, you must be well-written, well-spoken, and well-organized in a specific subject. I was like, “Oh no — what do I like? What is my ‘subject?’ Do I like anything at all?” He encouraged me to go out into the world, figure out what I enjoyed, and become well-written, spoken, and organized in that subject.
For years, I worked in food management. I managed operations for specialty coffee shops and a small woman-owned local orchard and farm store. While transitioning from one job to another, I picked up a position at NisonCo as a researcher for ten hours a week and eventually, throughout the next two and a half years, evolved into the managing editor I am today.
As the first person in the managing editor role for the cannabis content writing team, what pain point were you solving?
Marissa: Something I’ve tried to own — no matter what role I step into — is putting out there the things that are enjoyable to me that I know are painful for other people because I know that’s where you find your niche in an organization.
I didn’t start right away in management — I got into management because I had proficiency in making lists and organizing things. Ultimately — just literally owning one pain point like that — there’s a job title associated with that skill.
Generally, I think there’s something to be said that if you have one of those skills where you know it’s something that annoys other people, offer it up. It will open doors for you. Showing that you can own it day in and day out is huge.
At NisonCo, the writing team first started as a support team. So it was pretty much just individual members of the PR team who were also proficient writers picked up taking care of our blog and most of the content we were creating for clients. Over time it became clear that we needed a dedicated writing team. I initially came from the research team, and added on an extra five hours a week to dedicate to the writing team. During that time, I was still working as an operations manager for a local farm store for 20 hours a week, so I was trying to build up the writing team slowly and surely.
It became clear over time we needed new individual writers just to keep up with the services we were offering. SEO-optimized blogs especially are a huge source of our writing effort each month.
Every time we bring on more hires at NisonCo, there needs to be a proof of concept — Basically, “this additional support means we can bring on x more clients.” This way, we ensure the books balance at the end of the day. The writing team is a story of three years of slow-stepping into defining precisely what client needs we want to meet and how we meet them. Now we offer all sorts of services, from OpEds, to press releases and blogs. I help teach different skillset sessions nearly every week to the writing team.
Outside of your work at our cannabis PR firm, are there any hobbies or causes about which you’re particularly passionate?
Marissa: I read a ton and spend as much time as possible outdoors. I do lots of hiking, foraging, and gardening. I was constantly dirty as a child and strive to maintain a certain level of grime as an adult.
Funny enough, I have been attempting to find my cause while working for NisonCo — there’s a fantastic culture of advocacy here. It’s been a big eye-opener because I wasn’t necessarily super active in advocacy work before this point in my life. I have been opening the door to potentially sitting in on town meetings and am getting involved in my first local river cleanup efforts for the water system that winds behind my house. I’ve always been kind of a microscopic person in terms of the way I can solve a problem and feel good about solving it. As I open the door more to being a part of this community, I just want to focus on my literal backyard and the policies affecting my neighbors and me.
Thank you so much for your time, Marissa!
Great people make great companies. Marissa is invaluable to the team here at NisonCo — you wouldn’t be reading this blog without her coordination efforts! Read blogs Marissa’s written here, and connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Check back next month for the next installment of our employee Q&A blog series, where we’ll meet with our founder and president, Evan Nison.
Looking for help from our experienced psychedelics, cannabis, CBD and crypto/blockchain PR, SEO and marketing team? Let us know if you need help researching trends and topics, crafting communications, or securing news spots by contacting NisonCo here.