The Content Strategist

Contently Case Story: How Smashbox Studios’ One-Person Marketing Team Built a First-Class Digital Mag

Contently Case Stories is a series highlighting some of Contently’s most successful clients, and telling the stories of how we worked together to produce great content and great business results.

As Los Angeles’ top photo and film studio, Smashbox Studios has been providing creatives with the resources to produce high-quality content since 1990. The 25,000-square-foot facility has given life to countless major ad campaigns, magazine covers, and film posters over the past couple decades.

Considering all of the beautiful content they’re in the business of creating for clients, integrating content into Smashbox’s marketing strategy was a no-brainer. But that didn’t mean it was going to be easy.

Jenny McClary, director of creative and marketing at Smashbox Studios, knew she wanted to launch The Hype, a sleek digital magazine of culture, art, and fashion. But, as Smashbox’s sole marketing team member, she needed reinforcements before she could start managing a full-blown publication.

“The strategy was to discover and share emerging artists, designers, thinkers, and makers across various platforms,” McClary says. “We want to reach an audience that is already very culturally aware… so being able to offer them content that was new to them was number one.”

In order to stay ahead of those trends and deliver engaging content to a growing audience of readers, she needed a team of writers she could rely on. That’s when she found Contently.

“I knew I needed an easy platform to work with and also to help identify world-class talent to be our writers,” McClary says. “We wanted original, not syndicated content.”

Through Contently, McClary was able to build a network of go-to writers, and start publishing two to three times per week on The Hype. McClary says she works regularly with three writers, but at peak production, that number could get up to 10 or 12. Using Contently software has allowed her to streamline the content creation process, and allowed Smashbox to execute their content strategy with minimum hassle.

Delivering on McClary’s strategy, these writers cover everything readers need to be in the know. For example, when the Assembly brand finally opened a West Coast location, The Hype was ready with an interview with Assembly founder Greg Armas. And with a finger on the pulse of LA’s culinary scene, the online magazine also profiles top eateries, such as Chef Louis Tikram’s new multi-ethnic Southeast Asian cuisine of E.P & L.P. And with a commitment to being a go-to resource for clients in fast-paced industries, The Hype doesn’t miss a beat in showcasing new photo technology like the Phase One XF Camera System.

McClary leverages the content in a variety of channels, including social media, email marketing, and her biggest asset: the studios themselves.

After a two-year hiatus, Smashbox Studios relaunched in February 2015 as part of a suite of companies under the Industrial Color Brands umbrella. Planted across NY and LA, these brands include Fast Ashleys Studios, Impact Digital, Industrial Color and globaledit, each of which provide different services to creative teams throughout the production process.

“Once the new partnership was formed, we underwent a total facility renovation. So that’s part of where this whole rebrand and push for new content came from,” McClary says. “We thought about how we could continue to engage our clients in the Smashbox Studios culture, whether they’re on-site here or off in their daily lives.”

Smashbox content is embedded throughout the studios. For example, when a client opens up one of the studios’ computers, the first thing they see is The Hype. The digital workstations are also equipped with Smashbox’s Virtual Concierge program, offering clients access to a password-protected website that includes their shoot information, exclusive event invitations, and relevant content from The Hype.

The integration of the content into the studio space doesn’t end there. McClary also curates the art gallery in the vast lobby of Smashbox Studios, and hosts cultural events that incorporate the digital publication’s coverage.

“If we feature someone on The Hype that we would love to bring in and give a presence to our clients, we’ll then explore options of displaying their work here,” she adds. “We always want to do as much as we can to take the content that we’re creating online and integrate it into the studio experience here.”

For example, the gallery has featured Amber Ibarreche‘s work and currently displays art from Jesse Draxler, both of whom have been interviewed on The Hype about their artistic processes.

Smashbox Studios isn’t alone in their commitment to content. Their sister company, Smashbox Cosmetics—the only beauty brand born from a photo studio—recently launched Made at Smashbox, a program that opens Smashbox Studios’ expertise and space to digital influencers.

Along with its fellow Industrial Color companies, Smashbox Studios will continue to help its clients create beautiful content, and tell their brand story with the same values in mind.

“It all goes back to content creation,” McClary says. “We create content so our network can come to us to learn more about the creative community as a whole.”