Green Element weekly podcast Interview with Joseph Kennedy from Content Pathway

 

 We are thrilled to be intervieing Joseph Kennedy from Content Pathway, The UK’s #1 Environmental Copywriter & Interviewer. The environment can’t speak for itself, that’s why we have to produce regular and engaging content that sparks discussion, encourages action, and inspires people to make decisions on its behalf. That’s where I come in. With a background in recycling, waste management, sustainability and journalism, and with a client base ranging from electric supercar manufacturers to local house clearance companies, I have the versatility, creativity and industry knowledge to communicate for your business. Since 2016 I have been a creative support and content innovator for the environmental industry, and have now built a loyal team around me to help drive this mission forward.

 Resources mentioned

 

 

 Will: So, Joseph, thank you very much for joining the Green Element Podcast. I’m really interested to hear more about a what it is that you do because it’s quite a unique field that you’re in and to understand more on what has driven you towards where you are. I think our listener will be, maybe jealous, maybe a bit of jealousy, a bit of wanting to have what you have and how to live the way that you live. Because you hear about people like yourself that are able to live anywhere and to run a business from basically across the world. So, welcome to the show and thank you. 

 

 Joseph: Thank you very much for having me, Will, it’s really a pleasure to be here. So, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I’m the founder of Content pathway, which is the UK’s first and only dedicated environmental content marketing agency. We’re doing strategy consultation and implementation for a wide range of environmental businesses. Think of things like International scrap dealers, renewable energy companies, we’ve got waste management companies, we’ve got electric car companies, it’s that sort of thing. It’s the whole environmental industry needs communication reform. 

 

 Will: Can you give us examples of what it is that you do on that?

 

 Joseph: Okay. So, a company will come to us and they’ll say, “we’re not really getting much traffic, we don’t know how to talk to our audience.” The business side is going well but communication is not. The main problem, the common denominator that all of my clients say is that we work with a general marketing agency who don’t understand what we do so I’m trying to bridge that gap. I understand what they do and can communicate it. That’s the end goal, to create a bridge and open a discussion and dialogue between environmental companies and both environmentally conscious people and people who could become environmentally conscious and make decisions based on that.

 

 Will: Okay. So, I’m just trying to bring into context. Does that help with the SEO, does that help with the conversion as well? Because I know that that’s something that we’re looking at with Green Elements. We have an awful lot of people coming to our websites and it’s the converting from people coming to the website and out, so are you making the content more attractive to the reader?

 

Joseph: SEO is obviously a huge part of it, you have to hit the right keywords because you need your traffic from search engines. I like to think that blog such as five reasons why and seven steps to doing this, they’re great actionable content. But a lot of people they want to be spoken to directly and be given an idea that they can then nurture and think about. I think there’s a lot of content in the industry that doesn’t help with that. So, in a sense that’s like leadership, thought leadership, and Authority building and its positioning your business as a spokesperson for the environment. That’s a great way to keep a loyal audience because they want to come back and learn what else can I think about the environment, what else is there to discuss?

 

 Will: Of course, SEO is huge, it’s the foundation of it all. You start with your keywords and then you build relevant interesting, informative and thought-provoking content around those terms. 

 

 Joseph: I think that’s it, isn’t it? It’s exactly what you just said. I’m not a techie, I’m not someone that understands the way the Google works but the one thing I’ve learned from listening to people is, every single iteration that seems the Google does, it’s actually in the best interest of the person that’s reading or going on the website from my point of view. I get that the people get annoyed, “oh, look, change this, change that” and it does seem that actually, you don’t need to have to pay loads of money. They’re not expecting you to pay lots of money, so you can do that route, but if you’re doing what you’re doing and writing the right stuff that people want to read, then you’re going to be doing it anyway.

 

Well, I’m a firm believer that organic always wins in the end. It may take a bit longer and it needs a bit more creativity and collaboration, but in the end, you look at the most successful media platforms out there, they were built on organic principles. think what’s going on right now in terms of content with Google is they really want high-quality content and on any one topic there could be a thousand articles on the same thing from a thousand different websites. They’re looking for the ones that are the most creative, most unique, most relevant, answer the most questions, provide the most ideas and facts and statistics. Puts the reader in a position that when they finish that article, they have a well-rounded comprehensive understanding of the topic. 

 

 Will: Yeah. Brilliant. What got you into this, have you always been a journalist, have you always been a writer, what? 

 

 Joseph: Well, I started in journalism, I interned at the BBC, and during that time the phone-hacking scandal news of the world happened. It was a bad start, a rocky start because immediately I was plunged into a position where journalists were public enemy number one. It was people around me saying, “oh, so what are you doing nowadays”? “I’m a journalist”, was uncomfortable. Then about a year later that you have the Jimmy Savile BBC Scandal and it just got worse and I didn’t want to become cynical and jaded as a result of it all. I knew I wasn’t particularly passionate about what I was writing about, local news, politics, it wasn’t that interesting to me. I felt like I was just covering the bad stuff and it wasn’t very enjoyable and I wanted to be on the bright side of history in a sense. I wanted to talk about progress, innovation, technology, the good that people are doing, the businesses who set up to benefit people, the planet, this kind of stuff. I knew I had to make a shift, it took time but eventually, I found a job working in marketing for an environmental company and that was really the start of things. That was 2014 and it was a remote job and I’ve been remote ever since. 

 

 Will: Yeah, I’ll get into that a bit later, but have you always been interested in the environmental side then? I mean, has that been a common thread or is it something that, was there a tipping point for you? You know what, this is actually quite interesting, I kind of understand this. 

 

 Joseph: It was an interest before and I think they hired me because of that, I had some experience. My family, My mom, she’s really eco-friendly, recycling, compassionate about animals. My sister, she’s vegan for years, vegetarian almost her whole life. My dad’s got solar panels, he used to have an electric car. I’m from a little village where people have mini wind turbines or solar panels everywhere, it’s a pretty eco-friendly place. I spent my childhood working at The Country Park, so I’ve always been around nature. There’s a reservoir next to where I grew up, I spent a lot of time outdoors really appreciating clean nature. 

 

When I moved to the city at 18, it was a shock, I did wonder like wow, these concrete jungles they are not looking so healthy, this was something that really was a shock to me. So yeah, I maintained an interest, I’ve always thought that people can fix the damage we’ve done, we just really got to invest ourselves like time, energy, finances. So yeah, I follow the news when it comes to things like Elon Musk doing crazy stuff and the government building offshore wind farms. I’ve always thought it’s fantastic. 

 

 Will: To do what you’re doing you must end up actually learning about, since you’re already interested in the subject, actually getting paid to learn more. It’s kind of like a dream job for many people isn’t it? 

 

 Joseph: I tell people this all the time, it’s like the thing in my life that I love the most is this and the fact that I get paid to literally sit at my laptop reading about it, writing about it, researching it, working with some of the industry’s finest entrepreneurs and experts and researchers, it’s really amazing and having the remote freedom as well is a dream come true. 

 

Will: So, where are you at the moment? 

 

 Joseph: I’m in Brno in the Czech Republic, I’m here for one more week then a short break in the UK and then I’m heading on a one-month backpacking trip around the Balkans. 

 

 Will: Will you be able to work while you’re backpacking around?

 

 Joseph: Yeah completely. I’ve been working four and a half years remotely and I think I’ve never really been in a place where I absolutely can’t work. The way my work is set up with writing is if I know I’m going to be without internet access for a couple of days, I can set up all my offline document so that I can do a lot of work offline and I can use my mobile phone as a personal hotspot if I need to. There have been times in certain countries where Wi-Fi is really bad but mobile data is good, so I buy a SIM card and then use my phone as my internet source.

 

Will: Right, brilliant. Do you find that that sometimes hinders you or do you think it makes no difference where I am it really is just business as usual, whatever? 

 

 Joseph: Time zones make a difference. When I was in Asia, I was six hours ahead of the UK and all my customers, which meant I was working in the evenings when I didn’t really want to be working in the. Well, other than that, it is pretty much business as usual. Internet is the one big factor, if the speeds are slow it slows me down, if the speeds are fast speeds me up, but if there’s no internet, it is a tricky one. I think location wise, I never meet my clients face-to-face. There isn’t much of a need because of Skype and Zoom and WhatsApp, there hasn’t been a need. 

 

 Will: Yeah, I can understand that. That’s brilliant. I wish we could get to a place where we come and work in a way, but we’re visiting sites anyway, so we’re never going to be getting to a complete stop. But I do sometimes wonder if we could have our initial meetings like this, rather than traveling around the country meeting people. But then I guess I’m kind of sneaking out loud because we’re all face-to-face anyway, so therefore it makes much more sense, but I love that remote working idea. 

 

 Joseph: I’m a real advocate for the future of remote work, I’ve encouraged quite a few friends and colleagues to try it. I’ve got friends now, like when I started this lifestyle, I was the only guy in my group who even conceived it, the other guys didn’t really understand. Now, I think there’re four or five guys from my group of friends who are doing the same. They were in Bali and Malaysia and people are looking for their space in the digital world. There’re some people who are trying to convince their boss to let them go remotely but I think a lot of people go in, “well, I can do graphic design, I can build websites”. I’ll nurture that skill, I’ll get clients, and it will give me the freedom I desire. 

 

Will: So, going back to your clients, are there any companies you think we could learn from? I know you’ve talked about Daniel O’Connor and Wolpert and Enviro Waste, is there anything that you can think of, from those guys or any other that would be interesting to hear about? 

 

Joseph: Yeah, okay. Well, I’d like to talk about Daniel from Warp It, he is a real reuse champion, I mean, he’s incredible. He’s built the Warp It software which has loads of the UK’s universities, councils, it’s got businesses, hospitals, it’s thousands of users, hundreds of organizations. The work that they are doing, saving millions of pounds worth of assets from going into skips and landfills every year. He built a platform, something like eBay, but for organizations to reuse items internally and with partners. 

 

When I started writing for him, the content marketing was in its infancy and he had just some fantastic ideas. He wanted a big output and he wanted case studies, he wanted interviews, he wanted to create guides on all the features, he wanted to create tools around this software. He really had such a comprehensive idea and I think there’s something we can learn from that is that in one side he put himself in the shoes of the user. He pretty much went through and found every question, every problem that may arise and we’ve worked for nearly two years to try and answer all of that. 

 

On the other side, he’s really data-intensive and he analyzes the traffic and conversions and one thing he noticed was how many people were leaving the software. So, he worked incredibly hard the last couple of years on customer retention and his technique are really incredible, work with the customers you have who need the most help and really guide them in the right direction. We’re on about 300 pieces of content in nearly two years, so output is huge, and we’ve done 20,000 words reports for customers. We’ve done massive downloadable content packs, resources of all kinds, you name it, in the reuse world. I don’t see anyone better and the circular economy, it’s huge. 

 

Will: Yeah, I bet. You mentioned Enviro Waste in East London as well.

 

Joseph: Yeah, I’ve been working with Enviro Waste for almost a year now, really wonderful family business in East London, I think they are around Leyton area. It’s a young owner, James Reuben, lovely chap, early 30s. Enviro Waste is environmental services, commercial, construction, domestic, it’s data shredding, house clearances, [18:05 unintelligible] that sort of stuff. When I started working with them, the content marketing they had done in the past just hadn’t worked, just simply haven’t worked. So, I looked at the history of content and I saw straight away why hadn’t worked, it was irrelevant. One of their key words would be plastic waste, so the previous writer had been writing articles about ocean plastic waste, trying to touch the plastic waste keyword, I mean, that’s not going to work. 

 

So, we went in and we said, what are the pain points of your customers, what are they talking about? That was the first thing, what are your customers talking about? What are they asking you about? When they call your account managers, what are their questions? We based the initial content around that, and it was spheres around GDPR, it was about incineration, it was about the China plastic ban. That’s probably been the biggest thing in the plastic recycling waste management industry this year, is that China is not taking so much plastic, almost none, I think it’s 98%. Of course, as this call goes on the waste management municipal truck comes to take my bottles away. 

 

Will: This is real life. Funny enough, I can hear that. You were talking about the Enviro Waste.

 

Joseph: They wanted thought leadership, that was the goal. It was, let’s position ourselves as the voice of the industry, as a real opinionated authority, but with the right opinions and it worked. The traffic, the growth of traffic we’re talking a couple of thousand percent growth since January.

 

Will: Basically, everything you said as an environmental company or as a company, in fact, this refers to any company really, let’s face it, it just so happens we’re talking in sustainability, the two of us. You have a clear message on how to help your future and current clients and users of your website and make sure that it’s pertinent to what it is that they want. 

 

Joseph: Yeah. The overriding factor of writing environmental content is it’s appealing to heads and hearts. If you’re trying to sell an iron for ironing clothes, it’s needs to sell to the head, it heats up quickly, it stores water, it irons your clothes better than any other iron. There’s not really an emotional side to it, but when it comes to environmental content, it really does have to have that emotional effect. You have to say to people, if we don’t do this, things are going to get worse, but if we do this, things are going to get better. So, you have to kind of open them up with the dangers, the fears, the anxieties, not in a harsh way and never pointing the finger. I would never write a piece of content that says you drive a car, you are the problem, your daily pollution levels are awful, you should feel guilty about it, I would never do that, and I don’t feel that way. That’s just life, we have to pollute normally, you can almost not avoid it. So, it’s appealing to their better nature and appealing to their logical systems and creating actionable content that’s based on data, on research, on the facts, the hard evidence.

 

Will: It’s clearly not just you that works on and in your organization, where else do people work? I mean, are you all as remote as each other? 

 

Joseph: Yeah. I’ve got a really great team, we’re all remote and I have a business partner he’s called Charlie. Essentially, Charlie used to be a client of mine, he was head of marketing for a customer, this is when I was living in Morocco. He said, “how do you even begin to run a business while living in Morocco”? So, I told him and planted this seed in his mind, six months later he left that job and started his own agency and he had a firm idea of what he wanted to do. I think the reason he had procured me in the first place is that he was lacking my skills and then I’ve always not been so strong on his side, like email campaigns, pay-per-click adverts, social media, I don’t touch those so much. So, we made a natural synergy and now we can offer the full package, which works really well. 

 

Charlie is from the Isle of Wight, but he’s based in Barcelona. I’ve got a content writer who I outsourced to sometimes, she’s British-Kiwi but she’s now based in Bali. My programmer, we were friends at University, we traveled Asia together, now he’s based in London. I’ve got a web designer, also from University who’s been traveling around the UK in the north, he moves around. The team works really well, we all get along well and it’s very nice because everyone’s a freelancer, no one’s employed, and this system is so favorable to this remote work lifestyle. I’m not responsible for giving them a full-time income and full workload. I’m just responsible for bringing them on to projects when they’re needed, for being a good guide and mentor and ensuring that the work gets done well. I think it works well for them because they also have the freedom to build something tangible for themselves to build their own reputations and portfolios without being dependent on me. They can see that I’m independent and hungry for this and they can learn from that and I’m completely willing to share anything I pick up, any knowledge and progress.

 

Will: You’re talking about trust here and you’re talking about helping people understand that it’s not all about trying to get as much out of them as possible. You’re actually verging on the whole, I don’t want to say B Corp, but I would say true sustainability within an organization. I mean, there’s not much point in asking you about environmental management because you’re not even traveling to organizations, everything you’re doing is completely remote. I mean, I would struggle to work out how to be more environmental, maybe looking at IT hardware and the way you’re running your website, that could be a way. There’s Tom Greenwood from whole grain digital, they have a free software, you should probably look at their software. It’s analyzes your website and tells you how green your website is, it’s a free software that’s on their website. 

 

Joseph: Awesome. Yeah, I thought about changing to a hosting company that uses renewable energy, but I’m tied into a contract at the moment. 

 

Will: There’s always Leap down in Cornwall, their servers are all fellow B Corp. Okay. 

 

Joseph: Oh, yeah, that would be good. Well, you were saying about encouraging others to try this lifestyle. Actually, as well as Charlie both Danny and Will were employed when I started doing this and I put the seed of doubt into their minds that they could also do it and help them at any stage to make it a reality, so it’s quite nice. Also, Abby, my content writer, she was a lawyer and her husband he has a remote business and so she came to me and she said look I really want to have a remote work too, so that when we travel together, I’m not bored. So, I helped her find her passion, her space and she’s an ethical content writer now and she’s doing well, fantastic, vegan beauty care, cruelty free products, fair trade, this kind of stuff. I helped her find her space and nurture that skill, that hunger and teach her about how remote work functions. So, I’ve done that for the whole team and it’s very rewarding and I’m happy with all of their work, their work is incredible, but I’m happy that they’re happy.

 

Will: Well, we may have to have conversations about turning you into a B Corp. 

 

Joseph: I need to read more about it. 

 

Will: That was more tongue and cheek but I’m just listening to you and the language you are using. 

 

Joseph: I think when the marketing agency or when Content Pathway grows bigger, it’s certainly something I need to look into, these accreditations and these kind of Corp like B Corp and other screen certificates and groups and memberships, definitely. Actually, tying into that, I’m leaving Brno, I’ve been here for a year, I’m moving to Spain in January, to Valencia. Charlie is going to move too and we’re going to put ourselves in the same place for the first time and actually, really try and grow this into something much bigger.

 

Will: Great. Well, good luck with that. 

 

Joseph: Thank you. 

 

Will: Is there a place that we can find out more information about who you are and where you are? 

 

Joseph: Yeah. My website is www.cpath.co.uk, that’s the letter C P A T H. I’m very active on LinkedIn, I may have seen recently, I’m doing a series of interviews which I hope to be a long-term series with people around the environmental circular economy sustainability space. I also have a Facebook page, it’s facebook.com/JosephKennedyCP. 

 

Will: We will be putting all of this on the show notes as well so that people can actually click on them and make sure that they’ve got the right links. On that note, I think I’ve got a few people in mind that we could potentially get you to interview if [30:34 inaudible] as well, so I will definitely be telling you about them. But thank you very much, thanks for your time today. 

 

Joseph: Thank you very much, Will. 

 

Will: Cool, cheers Joseph. 

 

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