Who are you? What is your background?
I’m Grace Clarke, Head of Content at Derris and a Midwestern introvert absolutely in love with New York the great love story of my life. I moved here from Missouri the day after I graduated college for an internship at ELLE (while paying my bills pouring vodka Red Bulls in SoHo). I knew I wanted to a) work “on the internet” b) take the things I’m decent at to help companies communicate in better, cooler ways c) connect, feel, experience. Missouri wasn’t going to offer what I needed, so, I left! A few random facts that show, better than tell, my background:
- I’ve only ever held roles that were new at the time I started. Meaning, none of my jobs even internships existed before I got there. It’s a blessing and something I will also never ever do again.
- I’ve lived on the same block for 9 years. I thrive with routine. Process anticipates the mess.
- I’m the co-chair of the WNYC Community Board, currently leading the organization through a restructuring after interviewing 10 other boards from NPR affiliates across the country. I am a terrific researcher, and I would run into oncoming traffic for public radio.
How would you describe your agency?
Derris is a company that builds other companies. Started as straightforward comms, then we got a brand experience/content division when I joined to start it in 2017. Later that year, the founder announced a fund called Amity Supply. In 2018, or maybe 2019, acquired a London agency, so now we have a European office. And last December, announced an incubator.
What does your agency do especially well? What is your speciality?
I lead the content/brand experience team. Our big goal is to help clients do cooler, less boring stuff on their own channels that actually helps customers rather than just shout about their messaging. That comes out in things like loyalty programs, organic content strategies and execution (IG, email, ecomm, editorial), creating private customer input/feedback groups, and in some cases events.
I led content at Madewell for years and started before the brand had an Instagram, so I moved to Derris so I could do it for brands other than fashion companies, and because I think content and comms strategy are really just the same thing, so I wanted it to come from the same place as a PR plan. if that makes sense.
I recently started this informal monthly round table series with high school and college kids. I don’t work on any gen z brands right now, but those kids will be my clients consumers one day, so its become basically emotional trend forecasting helping clients know what people that age care about and value.
How would you describe your workplace/office culture?
Young, hungry, optimistically contrarian, structured, open to making mistakes because they are learning opportunities. Complacency’s a dirty word.
Any digital trends that are captivating your attention at the moment?
How people younger and much older than me think and use digital tools. I got obsessed with TikTok in early 2019, and presented about it to our company (part of my job is to educate people here on what we need to be learning from, even if it’s not 100% part of current client work). That led to an introduction to a PR client, Minted, and suddenly I was leading a presentation about “gen z” (I hate that term, and they do, too) in Vegas.
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