When Mark Wright and Heather Keets Wright moved to Charlotte in 2007, they worked as full-time reporters. Now the couple run a multimillion-dollar agency for branded content and video production.
Wright Creative was launched in 2015 as a platform for Keets Wright and Wright to work on their freelance writing. Gradually, the agency moved into content marketing, and the couple officially went into the business when they quit their full-time jobs in 2015 and 2017.
“More and more, as we progressed in our careers, we realized that a lot of what we did for others, we could do for ourselves,” said Keet Wright.
Wright Creative has received national recognition for its work. On June 8, Wright Creative was honored with the Global ACE Awards in four categories for its work in content production.
Many brands lack the in-house skills provided by Wright Creative, Keets Wright said. Their experience as journalists gives them insight into how to tailor content to specific audiences, and the couple enjoy applying their writing and editing skills to creative ideas.
“We’re storytellers by nature, we’re news gatherers by nature, and we understand what it means to create content that someone will consume,” Keets Wright said.
Wright highlighted the skills he and his wife bring to the table, especially compared to other people who present themselves as storytellers.
“It’s not an unpopular thing that we do, you’ll hear a lot of people talking about content marketing,” he said. “We are literally inviting all of these people to enter the arena with us.”
Like many black-owned businesses, Wright Creative received increased attention after the murder of George Floyd. Prior to summer 2020, there were no concerted efforts to represent marginalized people in marketing or involve diverse voices in content production, Keets Wright said.
“None of that was represented, or it was very poorly represented, or at certain times of the year, (and) not intentionally, not thoughtfully,” she said.
The summer 2020 protests have prompted companies to think differently. An internal resource group for Kellogg’s North America black employees has urged the company to launch a campaign focused 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 nonprofits focused on food insecurity. The campaign, titled “Black History. Every Month.” received an AMA World Prize in June for Photography and Illustration.
Keets Wright cites the agency’s involvement in Kellogg’s campaign as an example of its commitment to diverse narratives and the changing marketing landscape. However, she stressed that while working on projects like this is an important first step, companies shouldn’t just give the agency “black assignments.”
“As black people having to navigate a predominantly white world in a predominantly white space, by default we have to speak both languages, we have to switch codes,” Keets Wright said. “So yeah, 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 part of my career.”
Creating stories about marginalized communities has always been a passion for Wright, but on several occasions throughout her career, presentations about underserved communities have been turned down for not attracting a large enough audience.
“I will say a very, very many of these stories, the answer is no, isn’t it?” says Wright. “We don’t have the hall, we don’t have the space for it, it’s not big enough to appeal to a large enough audience.”
The launch of Wright Creative has given the couple the freedom to pursue whatever stories they want to work on, including an upcoming series of podcasts about historically black colleges and universities.
The pandemic did not cause a major change in Wright Creative’s operations; the couple were already used to working virtually, with Wright having run a magazine from home in the early 2000s. However, the pandemic has changed the way the couple think about productivity; in their spare time, the couple invested more energy in maintaining relationships with friends, colleagues and associates, Wright said.
Wright has big aspirations for the future. He is currently working on a series of podcasts, which he hopes to evolve into a documentary or a scripted series.
Whatever project Wright Creative will work on next, the couple have no plans to retire any time soon. Keets Wright derives great joy from the process of storytelling and reaching the audience on an emotional level. She’s also looking forward to capitalizing on their ability to choose the stories they pursue.
“I’m really excited about being a successful black-owned business in this space because there aren’t many, we’re a handful,” Keets Wright said. “It’s like it’s our time, right? And I’m not thinking about retiring during our time.”