Creative Cause

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Creative Halloween Swap

One of the biggest Halloween thrills for kids (and some adults) is seeing how much candy they can collect. I’m getting a sugar high just thinking about it. This year, some Orange County families are actually willing to part with the likes of Butterfinger, Reese’s, Whoppers and my personal favorite, Sour Straws in support of Operation Gratitude, an organization providing care packages for our military.

The Offices of Eric Johnson, DDS – in conjunction with Baby Boot Camp, Safety in Motion, OC Tykes and Tan-talizing – is working with Operation Gratitude to create individual holiday packages and ship them overseas to our troops. “This is one small way we can show our appreciation for the men and women overseas,” said Angie Menendez, franchise owner of Baby Boot Camp, Dana Point and San Clemente.

Children will be awarded $1 per pound of unopened candy – max of five pounds – they donate. They will also have any opportunity to win prizes and write cards to our troops. Candy will be collected on November 1st from 5pm-7pm at Dr. Eric Johnson’s office located at 647 Camino De Los Mares, Suite 209 in San Clemente. For more information, please call Dr. Johnson’s office at 949-493-9311.

This is a fun and creative way to give back and let’s face it…do our kids need as much sugar as they’ll be collecting Wednesday night?

Creative PR Takes Wooing

It feels good, doesn’t it? Your name in print, broadcast or online. There’s something about the instantaneous pleasure that a positive PR story brings. The reality of it is that the immediate gratification you’re feeling took someone – a publicist, agency, you – time and effort to get that hurt so good moment.

When developing a PR campaign or even a pitch, it is important to see things from the media’s point of view and take time to create and care for these relationships.

Here are six key tips on how to court the media.

  1. Be monogamous: One misconception is the more, the better. Not so when it comes to pitching a story. Sending the same email to the masses is like hanging out in a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but you won’t get very far. Instead, target your story to the perfect reporter.
  2. Woo (or wow) them: Media professionals do their fair share of research before developing a story and so should you. Do your homework. See what your ideal contact is already writing and/or talking about and woo him or her with a tie to their existing editorial platform.
  3. Flirt: Follow your contacts on Twitter. This is an opportunity to see what they are up to; what fires them up; and to interact in a meaningful way. #ocmetrorocks
  4. Build desire: Align yourself with recognizable partners, such as celebrities or experts. This is one way to get quick attention, plus you can also leverage the resources of your partners. Even when celebrities are involved, you still need to tell a unique story to gain and keep the respect of your contact.
  5. Seduce: Craft sexy messaging that will immediately attract your contact, beginning with the subject line. Media professionals receive an onslaught of communication and your emails need to make it past all of the other appealing messaging.
  6. Create mutual commitment: Once you’ve developed a relationship, continue to follow up with timely and relevant stories. Media professionals like having an arsenal of experts they can continually count on. These relationships can be mutually beneficial for years to come.


Like any good relationship, it takes work. Whether you have an internal PR team, have hired a publicist or are navigating the waters alone, be mindful that a lot more goes into gaining exposure than simply having a steamy story.

Creative Accountability

There is power and creativity in numbers. Especially when those numbers are people who support, encourage and inspire you. In the past, I’ve benefited from having a “buddy” to work out with or to brainstorm marketing and PR ideas.  It’s a great way to hold yourself and your friends accountable.

More recently, my husband and I began traveling with two other couples. Before each trip, we commit our goals in writing to the other five team members. Should we achieve our goals at the start of our next trip, we get to be “Queen” or “King” for the day. The goals vary from weight loss to writing weekly blogs to calling family members on a regular basis.

When I first heard about this concept, I thought, “I just can’t wait to be queen!” Sadly I didn’t make my goal on our first trip together. Thank goodness because it gave me an opportunity to see what type of things the kings (yes, kings since the ladies did not pull our weight literally and figuratively) requested. I now know that my list of demands would probably not make for a fun vacation.

Owning my own business, I need creative, fun ways to challenge and inspire myself both personally and professionally. Many of us have goals. The key to achieving those goals is to write them down and partner with those who encourage us to do our very best. And if all else fails, bribe yourself with being the queen or king for the day.

When Creativity Fades, Get Over It

First things first, I apologize for not posting the last few weeks. I promise lots of fun and creative things in the weeks ahead. If there is an OC creative business or person you’d like to learn more about, let me know!

As the Creativity blogger for OC Metro and the owner of a marketing and PR agency, I’m supposed to be creative at all times, right? While I wish this were true, there are times when creativity diminishes. Sometimes it’s because I get buried in the day to day. Other times, I may let a lack of wins weigh me down. There are options when creativity fades: Have a pity party or get over it!

Choose: It may sound simple, but the reality is that the choice is yours. Flip the switch in your mind and choose. Choose to make it a great day. Choose to be successful. Choose to be unstoppable. Choose to be creative.

Influence: Growing up, my mother insisted in meeting all of my friends. She wanted to be sure I surrounded myself with a group that influenced my actions in a positive way. Today, I have a strong network of bright and bold individuals who help foster unique ideas, brainstorm and believe in me. Who’s part of your inner circle? Do your colleagues and friends stimulate creativity and challenge you to be your very best?

Take Action: Depending on your goals, action can look different to different people. In my industry, it often times means putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and writing, be it concepts, the beginning of an article or even a simple email. It may not look pretty at first, but it gets the mind thinking and moving in a productive way.

Miss California is Doing It. Are You?

Last fall, I was facilitating a Dale Carnegie training. Before the eight-week course began, I learned that the reigning Miss California would be a participant. If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic. (Shame on me for judging someone, I know.) To my pleasant surprise, Noelle Freeman was genuine, funny, savvy and CREATIVE!

As the current Miss California, Noelle uses social media to build her platform on autism and to increase awareness of the Miss America Organization. “As Miss California 2011, my biggest struggle has been showing the public that this Organization is still relevant in today’s fast paced and ever-changing society,” said Noelle.

While it may be a struggle, Noelle successfully turned it into a opportunity to showcase and capture the essence of the Miss America Organization through social media by developing a video blog channel where she directs, films, edits and posts a quick video of appearances online. “I use video blogging as my creative outlet to not only relieve stress, but also keep the public engaged in my role in society as Miss California.” said Noelle. “It is so important that no two videos are the same, so people never know what to expect!”

What should we expect from Noelle next? While a new Miss California will be crowned this weekend, Noelle has exciting things ahead and she will continue to keep up the social media buzz and engage her fans through Twitter, Facebook and blogging.

What are you doing to keep your business relevant and stay connected?

50 Shades of Creative Color

I know what you’re thinking: “Creative Cause is going to share tips on how we can incorporate this year’s hottest read, 50 Shades of Grey, into our everyday lives.” Not exactly, but while we are at it, feel free to message me thoughts on this and maybe it will make a future Creative Cause blog!

While I’m sure 50 Shades of Grey is titillating, sometimes we need something to calm us. One of the most creative items I’ve come across this summer is Color Your Way to Calm, a coloring book for grownups for finding peace in the middle of their present. Let’s face it…we all can use a little more calm in our lives. A “colorcation” – coloring vacation – is a simple, soothing and inexpensive escape.

One of 25 illustrations.

Tami Newcomb – an OC resident – is the creator of Color Your Way to Calm. She’s hoping to bring about a coloring renaissance to help quiet the craziness and offer a respite from this over-buzzed-booked-and-burdened world. “It’s a self expressive art experience without the pressure of having to create,” said Tami. “I created Color Your Way books in order to bring coloring for grownups out of the closet and into the cool, mainstream waters.”

Now go color…you know you want to!

Creativity Lessons from Weird Al & My Dad

Growing up, my parents were always big supporters of creativity. While most children were playing with toys, I was in my room recording original songs. Yes, I was a bit of an awkward 9 year old. Looking back, some of my best creativity lessons came from Weird Al Yankovic and my father.

My father always had fun ways to foster my creativity. My favorite was writing songs because I loved music and wanted to be like my dad who also wrote songs. I can’t give him all of the credit though; Weird Al had a role as well.

This is what I learned so many years ago and still use in business today.

  1. Don’t recreate the wheel: When I was first learning to write songs, I needed a starting point, so my father suggested I use what’s already working – the music – and simply change the words. I looked to Weird Al’s “Eat It” for inspiration. Today, I research what is working well for other PR and marketing agencies – and what is not working well – so Holler Ink can better assist the needs of its clients.

    The start of creativity lessons learned from Weird Al and my dad.

  2. Find your passion: Writing can be a tedious task, so I was encouraged to write about my passions, which basically broke down to food, music and family. Not much has changed over the years. I still remember my first parody… “Cereal World”, written to the tune of Madonna’s “Material World”. Find your passion and the creativity will follow!
  3. No idea is too silly: I recently came across my old notebook with all of my songs, including Cereal World. The songs are completely ridiculous and hilarious. I thought they were fantastic at the time because Weird Al also released some silly songs and my father never discounted my lack of talent. Rather, he encouraged me to continue writing. It was that support that gave me the confidence to take risks in all areas of creativity.


Thank you dad and Weird Al, and Happy Father’s Day!

What Happens in Barstow Stays in Barstow

I drove out to Las Vegas this past holiday weekend. It’s a trek I’ve made many times since I was 19. Ooops, I mean 21. Without fail, I always end up stopping in Barstow…you know, the midway point between the OC and Vegas. It’s essentially the perfect rest stop to fill up, run to the restroom and eat at In-N-Out.

On my way back from Vegas, I noticed a large billboard with the words, “Barstow…Crossroads of Opportunity”. WHAT??? My husband and I looked at each other quizzically and immediately came up with a dozen other taglines that were more relevant and frankly funnier.

Perception is reality and the reality is that Barstow is a rest stop on the way to and from Vegas, not necessarily a crossroads of opportunity. I’m sure the team that developed this tagline had very good intentions…all of which made perfect sense. When creating taglines, it’s important that they make sense and resonate with your target audience as well.

Perhaps one of the most infamous taglines is for the city of Las Vegas: “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”. The city is aware that people go to Vegas to let lose, be carefree and…well, I can’t tell you because then it wouldn’t stay in Vegas. The catchy phrase extends far beyond Vegas and into comedy clubs, television shows and dining rooms nationwide. As it stands, “Crossroads of Opportunity” may be one tagline that happened in Barstow and will stay in Barstow.

What does your tagline say about you?

What’s in a Name?

When I was in elementary school, I wished I had a cool, normal name like Katie, Cathy or Michelle. But no, instead I had a first name that teachers struggled to pronounce and a last name that was ripe for kids teasing…Saretta Holler always hollers.

Rather than introduce myself to others, I kept my head down and didn’t talk much…shocking to those who know me now, I know. Eventually I learned to embrace the unique name my parents deemed appropriate for their fifth child. As an insecure adolescent, I had no idea my name would later provide me with creativity lessons in business, especially as it relates to names.

When developing a company, product identity or even a presentation, set the tone with a powerful and creative name that engages clients immediately. Keep these three techniques in mind when developing your name.

Create Chatter. It’s true that not everyone has the pronunciation of my name down, but they talk about it and it’s the source of conversation. What does it mean? How did you get that name? I’ve never heard that before. Select a name that initiates positive dialogue and will extend your brand.

Build a Story Around the Meaning. I was a surprise (or “Hell no, I’m not pregnant”), as I was born 10-15 years after my brothers and sisters. My mother felt too old to have a baby, like Sarah in the bible, only Sarah was 90. It was important for my parents to have a meaning behind my name, which is Little Sarah. Don’t name for the sake of naming. Adapt a story and build your brand around it. For example, a friend of mine owns an advertising agency in Los Angeles called Omelet. It’s a fun name – just like the brand – and the founders and employees all engage in cool stories of how the name came about.

Own It. Once I learned to embrace my name, I actually grew quite fond of it. So much so that I named my PR and marketing company Holler Ink. Creating the perfect name is important. Equally as crucial is being passionate and proud of the name you’ve established.