the sally sisson blog

May 17, 2013

Creativity as Commodity: The value of cutting through clutter

photo blogging, creativity, content marketing

“OK, GLASS, FIND DOG FOOD!” by Thomas Hawk

Picture, caption, period. End of story.

Sometimes that’s all you need for a blog post. If it’s really, really good, and you’re very talented and clever.

The picture and caption above are all that comprise today’s post on Thomas Hawk’s photoblog. Sometimes the photographer writes several paragraphs to accompany his photos, sometimes barely a sentence.

I stumbled upon this image while reading The Battleground of Creativity, a post by Geoff Livingston on, among other things, perfectionism, fear of failure, and the agony of the creative process.

As a content writer and editor, I work with clients to whittle down text and push out content at a steady pace. But when it comes to writing my own blog posts, I often struggle. I keep long lists of ideas, thinking I’ll spin them into brilliant essays on something or other that everyone will want to read. Or not. I overthink and underproduce. It’s hard to be prolific when you’re a perfectionist who has a hard time pressing the “publish” button—and then walking away.

My three thoughts of the day:

Sometimes less is more. (Note to self.)

Enough said. Don’t write three paragraphs if you can say it in one. Don’t overcomplicate a blog post; break it into a 3-part series. Leave some white space. Breathe. Let a picture tell a story. Add a compelling caption and be done with it.

You get what you pay for.

This minimalist approach only works if the content you post — written or visual — is strong enough to stand on its own. Want an arresting image that breaks through the clutter in inboxes, news feeds, and social media channels? Spend money on a really good professional photographer. Want a logo that’s clever, iconic and and stands the test of time? Forget crowdsourcing and Fiverr (another rant for another day). Instead, find the most talented designer you can afford. Want a landing page that lures in visitors and ups your click-through rates? Hire a good copywriter. Don’t try it yourself. If you want creative work that makes you stand out in a crowd, invest in creative talent.

Lose the LOL cats. 

In an age where everyone’s churning out and repurposing content, it’s hard to find ideas that aren’t derivative. So when we stumble across something original, a small gem like a black Lab wearing Google Glass, it makes us stop and think. Or bookmark and buy. Or smile and share and re-post on our own blogs, inspired to be a bit more creative and original ourselves the next time around.



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February 3, 2013

PR and Social Media Marketing for Musicians: A local and organic approach with international reach

social media marketingThe good thing about being a communications generalist is that you rarely get stuck in a rut. Every now and then I take on projects outside my usual niche just because I feel like it…because I like the client or the cause or the content.

For the last couple of years I’ve done PR for Jon Durant, a local studio musician who’s made it pretty big as a composer and guitarist. We both played in our high school jazz/rock band way back when and now have kids doing the same at our hometown high school.

In 2011 I wrote a press release and bio for Jon for the release of his 7th album, Dance of the Shadow Planets. Last November I was hired again to help with his latest album: Burnt Belief, a progressive instrumental collaboration with legendary bassist Colin Edwin, best known for his role with the English band Porcupine Tree.

Going local: The benefits of local talent

With a record release date of 12-21-12, timed to coincide with the “end of days,” we had to do things in a hurry. So we divvied up the tasks and quickly formed a team. I contacted a local writer, Dave Bolton, who I’d met in our local pub and then later ran into at a farm stand buying pumpkins. He was wearing a PiL T-shirt (amongst a sea of suburban dads wearing crisp polos) and I had a hunch he’d be a good fit. Turns out he’d done work for a a couple metal bands back in England, amongst other things, and liked Porcupine Tree.

We met with Jon and talked music and brainstormed over coffee. Although the three of us have somewhat divergent tastes, we all share a disdain for Phil Collins — which seemed as good a reason as any to work together. Plus, Jon liked the idea of being able to meet face-t0-face with a local team in between trips to the West Coast and the UK.

The right press release for the right press

So we had Dave take on the writing of the main press release, which involved phone/Skype interviews with Colin (during which he was able to prove his cred, saying that he had stood in the pouring rain for hours at the Download festival in Leicestershire in 2010, listening to “wrist-slashingly cheerful music” while patiently waiting for him to take the stage with Porcupine Tree).

[Read Dave Bolton’s interview on Colin Edwin’s blog here.]

Meanwhile I wrote a second press release, specifically for audio and recording industry blogs and publications, focusing on the unique transatlantic recording process and other “gearhead” details.

Organic social media marketing

Simultaneously, I set up the social media marketing end of things. I created a Facebook page for Burnt Belief and a Facebook fan page for Jon Durant, set up Twitter accounts for both, and then synched the social networks for each. For the next two weeks I posted content and strategically followed artists, bands, labels, producers, publications, journalists and bloggers. I monitored all channels and watched the steady gains and impressive spikes in followers, plus degrees of reach and engagement. Then I trained Jon on how to manage the pages and feeds and keep up the momentum on his own.

Small-town to big-time publicity

With Porcupine Tree’s well-connected publicist in NYC handling press and media placement, the 12-21-12 release made a big splash. Prog Rock Magazine published an exclusive online premiere (see below), and other major publications followed that week. Meanwhile, Jon’s West Coast contact worked the college radio and ambient/post-rock radio circuits, so the album got serious air play. On Echoes Radio, it just reached #5 on the charts for January.

On the local front, our small-town newspaper ran a cover story, which created a lot of buzz:

Making Music in Cohasset MA: Jon Durant records in home studio

The only problem now is that supply can’t keep up with demand. Burning Shed, the UK distributor, has been sold out of the CD for weeks, as has Good thing the musicians stockpiled some CDs along with those cases of Spam in their doomsday bunkers. For now the best way to get your hands on one is to go direct: through the online store at

With plans underway for a European tour this summer, the duo should see more steady growth in their social media stats and online presence — all of which should drive up CD sales (if they can keep them in stock).

Burnt Belief: In the news

PROG Magazine: Exclusive Album Premiere: Colin Edwin and Jon Durant’s Burnt Belief

The Echoes Blog: Colin Edwin and Jon Durant’s Post-Apocalyptic Burnt Beliefs Burnt Belief Review

“It is of little surprise to anyone that when you put two musical virtuosos in a studio they cannot escape from that they will, inevitably, conjure up a masterpiece….But if you put Colin Edwin and Jon Durant in the room – you can expect something incredible.”

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January 31, 2013

The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Media Networks [Infographic]

Timing: A key element of social media marketing strategy

When it comes to social media, timing is everything. Opportunities to capture attention and engagement are fleeting, so you’ve got to strike when the traffic is right to maximize your reach.

Think of the Five Ws of journalism — Who? What? When? Where? Why? — when crafting a post and keep the WHEN top of mind. WHAT you post is of utmost importance, but you also need to plan WHEN to post it WHERE in order to reach the WHO you’d like to hook. When is your target community most likely to be tuned in and responsive? What’s the prime time to spark a conversation?

The folks at Social Caffeine created this infographic to illustrate the best and worst times to post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.

Best times to post on Facebook and Twitter

The Best (And Worst) Times to Post on Social Media [Infographic] by @Socialcaffeine

Disclaimer: Content may settle during transit…

Naturally, the times above may vary by industry, target audience and other factors. But use this infographic as reference alongside your analytics, or combine your own intuition and hard data.

So what’s the method to your social media marketing madness?

Do you connect with early birds over coffee on LinkedIn? Party (engage) with night owls on Pinterest? Do the prime time frames above for Facebook and Twitter ring true to you? Do you ever just wing it? Please share your findings below. Thanks!