Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Today's Blog features Tom Powell, Suffolk, who has helped many businesses with their social media marketing. 

Tom Powell, is the Founder and Creative Director of The Addison Group, a full service advertising and marketing firm in Suffolk VA that focuses on discovering who clients REALLY are in order to gain market share.  Tom has helped hundreds of small companies and organizations develop a creative brands and strategies to “tell their story” to the people who need to hear their story using traditional, non-traditional and social mediums
      Websites.  Smart phone apps.  Social Media … the list goes on and on.  I’m asked all the time what is the best way to reach my audience with my message on the ever-changing digital platforms.   

      To answer that questions, I must pose a questions of my own.  Do you know who your audience is?  First things first.  Your website is the most important tool to your marketing toolbag.  It is your storefront to the world and the best way to “Tell Your Story” to your audience.  Design and layout is important, but so is a clean and neat presence that is simple to navigate. Most consumers will scout or shop you out before every calling you or crossing the threshold your shop.  

     Once your website is launched, with mobile friendly responsiveness, of course, then you’re ready to take on social media presence.  Social media provides free platforms, but free doesn't always mean best.  For instance, if your demographic is 35-45 women in the retail market, then you better have a relevant and strong Pinterest presence to compliment your website. Facebook has made is easy to boost content to an exact demographic using very little financial commitment. 

     Once you have determined the age and gender, you are on the way to determine the best way to tell your story in the digital market.


Friday, March 4, 2016

JOAN'S BLOG features Susan Branch-Smith  from Williamsburg, VA.  Susan is owner of Basecamp Productions, a digital media company with clients nationwide and based in Williamsburg.  Her web work since 1996 includes writing, user-focused design, and search engine optimization.  This is a summary of what she presented at the CYBER workshop presented by the Alliance in February, 2016.  You can contact her at susan@basecamppro.com.

Content has always been king

 Lately you hear the phrase "content is king." Like it’s something new. Content has always been king.
Content, of course, is anything that contributes real value to your web site: words, illustrations, photographs, videos, and, increasingly, design. A web site needs to look good and BE good.
Content was king when the cave dwellers told the first fireside story. And good content sells film, books, magazines, and other media.
In fact, the term "content is king" actually goes back to 1974. The phrase was used in a book called Magazine Editing and Production by J.W. Click and Russell N. Baird. (I actually own this book.) The phrase has also been attributed to the title of a 1996 Bill Gates essay (http://www.craigbailey.net/content-is-king-by-bill-gates/).

“Content is king” these days talks specifically about web sites. It’s just taken a while to become household buzz.  To those of you in the arts community, good content is clearly about your topic: what you blog, what you write on your individual pages, and the images you select.

Some often overlooked areas that are quite valuable to Google’s perception of your content include:
·        External links. When you refer to the even in passing, link to Alvin Ailey’s web page (http://www.alvinailey.org). Part of your job in the arts is to help educate, and Google will look kindly on your efforts.
·        Internal links. As you write more content, be sure to link to it when writing new content. For instance, if you’re writing about this year’s art show and how it’s different from last year’s, be sure to link to last year’s write-up. Again, Google perceives that you’re educating your audience. 

Most of all, be sure to keep writing. You don’t have to call your blog a blog per se. Call it “arts notes” or “dance diary” or anything that you think will resonate with your audience.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are You a Part of a Cyber Cultural Community?

The Cultural Alliance held a workshop last month on "Building High Tech and Cyber Cultural Communities."  Todays changing cultural environment presents challenges and important opportunities for the arts to contribute to the livelihood  of local communities.  We value the traditional audiences but we need to be looking beyond them to embrace their needs, interests, and spending habits. Shannon Bowman discussed the WHRO THE SCENE in Hampton Roads--truly a cyber community in the Hampton Roads area.  Tom Powell, founder and Creative Director of the Addison Group, Suffolk, covered basic points to increase our audiences and how to establish and support our company's brand.  Susan Branch Smith, Basecamp Productions, Williamsburg,  discussed the development of the web-page--for without an effective webpage, our cyber community will not grow!

I encourage you to check out their upcoming blogs.  They will give you some of the pointers that they gave us at that workshop. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Joan's Blog.....
How Diversity can help an arts organization grow!
I just came back from speaking at a music education workshop and of course, it was slighty intimidating, since I was the only one in the room that did not have any degrees in music?  As one person said to me, it’s a great thing they did not ask you to sing!  I was, however, talking about fund raising and grant making— a topic relevant to any group—not matter what the artistic ability of the group is.   There were many themes that came out of the conference but the greater theme was the constant repetition of speakers of the need to embrace all of the newer types of music (specifically rap and hip hop).   This group felt that in order to grow and continue to be around for many more years they would need to be open minded, work more closely with youth and youth organizations and openly accept all types of people in this organization and all types of music.

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity!  Only when groups realize that a change is needed;  that they must embrace what is new in their fields;  that they must pay attention to what their audiences are looking for;  that they might need to look at programming in new ways to accommodate different groups, ethnicities, ages (the millennials)  and interests—will they grow and  continue to  progress and sustain themselves. 

The arts are constantly challenged!  We must be constantly aware of what is going on in our field – which is one real value of the Americans for the Arts who constantly bring into our light what is going on nationally and internationally in the arts.  If you are not a member, you should join immediately.  
The theme this year for the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads is “Diversity”—plan now to join the Alliance and participate in the several programs, workshops and leadership forums that will assist the arts community with dealing with a variety of diversity issues.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Joan's Blog. . . .

Building the literary skills of our children

When asked what they read, many college graduates indicate that they don’t read anything outside of classwork?  Or they may occasionally glance at the news on the Internet; certainly no time to read a novel.  Yet, in our country we want our children to be able to compete on an international  playing field— and many are without the basic literary reading and writing skills needed to compete.   
We, in the arts, believe that students should read specific plays, poems, and stories that have been read down through the ages and that present a historical account of  how our country has evolved.  This is good!  What is also good is that children read—I mean read whatever we can get them to read. 
I’ve read about many stars that say reading and acting in a play opened up a new world for them and/or provided an escape from a not so happy home life.  I’ve also ran into children that love poetry—poetry that they write, that they recite, that they add the hip hop beat to. This is a challenge because they have to write it, read it and carry the beat as they read!  
 What inspires children who write journals, poems, even plays.  We can assume that their lives are often told through this media.  We can also assume that as they pass by neighborhoods, visit art galleries and museums they get ideas; as they drive around or even travel, they see new worlds and writing can help them hold on to those new worlds and keep the dream of one day being in that new world alive.  
 Join the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads as we offer young people a chance to visit the newly renovated Chrysler Museum and create poetry as they view the exhibits in the Museum.  As the book, The Cat in the Hat says, "oh the  places we will go"!  Oh the countries they will learn about as they visit and tour the galleries at the Chrysler Museum. Bring your child to the Museum on Saturday, June 7 during the hours of 10:15a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (free admission) to participate in the Poetry Explosion sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads.  We would love to help spark that creative writing gene in your child.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Arts Districts in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Joan's Blog....
Arts Districts -- How they can improve our neighborhoods and grow our cities!

Over the years many downtown areas have been in a state of demise!  They have turned into boarded buildings and unsafe neighborhoods.  City planners and elected officials have had to struggle to bring these areas back to life again!  One major vehicle that has worked in many cities is the formation of “arts districts”. 
Cities in the Commonwealth of  Virginia, such as Richmond, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Isle of Wright (Smithfield) have been successful at accomplishing this mission.  Some are still in the formation stage (Norfolk and Isle of Wright) but Richmond and Williamsburg are “models” of how a thriving arts district can enliven a city and offer many arts and cultural opportunities for its residents, their families and friends.

The Cultural Alliance has recognized these developments and the workshop on Arts Districts, presented in March, 2014 in Williamsburg, offered its participants a great wealth of knowledge and ideas on how to establish these districts in their areas. 
The speakers at this workshop-- Michele DeWitt, Williamsburg; Careyann Weinberg, Norfolk; and Nicholas Feucht, Richmond;--can be contacted and consulted if you are interested in learning how they were able to create and maintain their arts district and to discuss the many, many benefits of such districts (tax revenues, income and employment opportunities for businesses and artists, establishment of new businesses, and the list continues).

Let’s give a hand to arts districts and how much they can impact the arts and our communities!!!


Monday, February 24, 2014

A conference for Artists

 Joan's Blog

A conference for artists – The Business of Art. 
Yes, you have the talent to draw, sing, dance, act and to create.  But what will you do with your creative talents?  How will you get the world to see you and support your talents.  How will you get paid for your work?  Who will come to your performance or your show.
Yes, we can all have talents but to actually make a career in the arts, you have to have a business acumen.  You have to do bookings, book shows, concerts, get parts in plays; then you have to sign and create contracts and receive an income equitable to your level of talent.  
Art is a business—and if you are to be successful in your chosen field, you have to learn The Business of Art.  This conference that was sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads featured professionals in the arts field and emerging artists.  The networking, the information  and the give and take from all parties was tremendous. 
The conference was an eye opening experience for many who have a lot of talent, but were fully unaware of the knowledge and information needed to be forge a career in the arts.

Hampton Roads has a lot of talent and many of the 16 speakers shared their stories and the “paths  they had followed to arrive at where they are today!  BRAVO to them—their journeys and advice to the upcoming artists was very helpful to them.  The conference evaluations told the story—Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! As one attendee stated.  This was the best ever!
 CAGHR will hold webinars on some of the topics covered at the conference. Visit the Cultural Alliance's webpage for information about the webinars.