the sally sisson blog

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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June 12, 2010

Tiny Mind Gazette: Satire + a (serious) experiment in social media

Guest blog from EYMER Design:

In November of 2009, EYMER DESIGN Laboratories + Think Tank developed a Social Media Test Kitchen, the Tiny Mind Gazette ( The TMG is a TypePad blog that is interconnected to Facebook and Twitter.

The content is provided by various designers/writers as a creative outlet of free expression. Much of the content is provided by my fellow Cohasset (Massachusetts) resident, Sally Sisson. Sally is a creative content developer for mostly Business-to-Business and Educational Companies. Sally and I first met through Facebook and discussed the possibility of starting a blog, loosely based on our charming New England town of approximately 7000 residents. Picture in your mind, Lake Wobegon seen through the eyes of The Onion or Spy Magazine of the 1980-1990s.

Read more and see graphs of page view and click stats at:

Tiny Mind Gazette Initiative: a statistical snapshot



May 7, 2010

Social Media 101: “Walshgate” Tweet and How the Dems’ Fall Fumble with Twitter and Facebook Served as Wake-Up Call

I couldn’t help but get a kick out of the recent Scott Brown vs. Rachel Maddow mix-up (for lack of a better word). As a loyal Mass Democrat, I’m a big fan of state party chair John Walsh. But I had to laugh that the root of the controversy turned out to be a “goofed” tweet-gone-wrong.

Tweet Heard ‘Round the (Political) World

Apparently Walsh picked up on a Facebook rumor about Maddow aiming to challenge Brown for his senate seat in 2012. Intending to tweet a message to an individual, he instead sent it viral and spread it out to the masses. Thus fueling the fire.

Slick young media types jumped on this right away. posted this snarky remark:

“First of all, it appears that the Massachusetts Democratic Party needs to hire a social media consultant (or just someone under the age of 30?)”


Years ago we used to panic about accidentally hitting “reply all” on an email message. Now an errant tweet can spread across the country in seconds.

As someone who works in social media and also gets worked up over politics, I followed the Brown vs. Coakley campaign closely. But during the campaign I must admit I was mainly fixated on the influence of television.

Every sound bite and telegenic glimpse of Brown in his barn coat sent me back to Joe McGinniss’s classic The Selling of the President 1968.

sellingIt wasn’t until after the election when pundits started parsing the role of social media and harping on the Democrats for their feeble Facebook usage stats, that I realized the magnitude.

The young guns behind the Obama campaign had shown the rest of the country the power of grassroots marketing and the Internet. The Republicans spent the next couple years playing catchup,  jumped on the social media train, and surpassed the Democrats at their own game. Using iPhone apps, YouTube videos and Facebook, the Brown camp ran a heck of a campaign.

And now the Dems are the ones playing catchup. They’ve learned their lesson and are leveling the social-media playing field. It will be interesting to watch what happens next.

This time I’ll be checking Twitter, not

Twitter & Facebook controversy for Scott Brown and Rachel Maddow blog shows Walsh’s actual tweet and Brown’s email to donors:

How Scott Brown’s Social-Media Juggernaut Won Massachusetts,8599,1960378,00.html

Atwitter in Mass.: Brown’s Social Media Strategy Tops Coakley’s

After the fall 2009 elections, The Wall Street Journal cited a report on lawmaker’s use of Twitter:

“Republican lawmakers are taking advantage of the Twitterverse significantly more than their Democratic counterparts. In the House, GOP lawmakers send out 529% more tweets than Democrats.”

Not for long. Stay tuned…


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