A mother, a Tennessee native, a Vandy grad, a lifelong volunteer, a content strategy consultant and a what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, Laura Creekmore seemingly does it all. Always bettering herself through reading and education, Laura tries to learn something new every day. The knowledge she has acquired allows her to cast a wide net of friends, but it is her authenticity and reliability that cause people to gravitate to her. Known for offering leadership and advice, Laura is someone you want in your corner. Through her company, Creek Content, Laura offers content strategy and management for technology, healthcare and financial organizations. During her 20+ years in the industry, Laura has received recognition from the Custom Publishing Council, the Web Marketing Association, the Webby Awards, the Association for Publication Excellence Awards and the Publications Management Magnum Opus Awards. Today, we recognize Laura Creekmore as a FACE of Nashville!
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in the little town of Bolivar in West Tennessee, and I came to Nashville to go to Vanderbilt. After that, I just stuck around. I’m so grateful to have had that small-town experience growing up, and it still colors the way I think about community, politics and what’s important in the world. I worry a lot that my children don’t have that experience, even though living in a city provides them with many opportunities that weren’t available to people in my hometown. There’s a real benefit to both places.
What led you to open Creek Content in 2008?
I got laid off. Seriously, I had a wonderful job in the custom publishing industry, doing work similar to what I do now. We lost a client during the recession and my immediate first — and only — reaction was to say, “Awesome, now I work for myself.” I loved my job and the people I worked with, so even though I’d grown up in a small business family and had always wanted to work for myself, I don’t know that I would have jumped if I hadn’t gotten that push. I remain grateful.
What services do you offer at Creek Content?
I provide content strategy and information architecture services to organizations with complex communications needs. If you’re not in the tech industry or marketing, you might just say I provide communications strategy. That’s true, but my expertise is pretty deep and niche in helping people understand their audience, designing strategy to reach that audience and then putting together the team and the technology to fulfill the strategy.
Tell us about a few of the clients you work with.
Almost every bit of my work is under NDA! That’s the way a lot of corporate contracts work these days, and with my work in particular, it makes sense because my work usually gets right to the heart of a business’ strategy.
I can tell you in general about the work I do, though: I have designed content management systems (the software that powers a website) for healthcare companies, and designed content models (the way content is set up in the database) for multinational corporations. I usually work with multidisciplinary teams — I’m often the translator who sits between the business team and the tech team. I also spend a lot of time helping clients figure out a framework for making decisions about content. A lot of organizations realize they need content for marketing or their product (in general, that’s right), but they rarely spend enough time thinking through the governance of that before they’ve created thousands of documents, and then things are a big mess to manage and frustrating for their customers. No one wants that! I help end that content chaos and help my clients create real business assets out of their content.
Is there one thing all of your clients have in common?
Complexity. That’s why they call me.
You speak nationwide. What are your favorite topics to cover?
I’ve taught several workshops this year on content models — the way you organize your content on the back end to take advantage of the many things that today’s software can do with it. I like to speak on anything related to content strategy — how we can make better decisions; how we can design the information environment to make the right choice the easy choice; and why you should even care about your content. I’ve also done some speaking on nonprofit governance and management, and I really enjoy that, too.
What does a day in the life of Laura Creekmore look like?
There’s no one day. The beauty of the work that I do is that I can do it from anywhere with an internet connection. I could be traveling to speak and answering emails in the airport, or stopping between appointments in town to grab 30 minutes of computer time in my car. I had an office for several years, but now I’m working from home again. I love my standing desk and big monitor at home, but laptop-in-my-lap (in the car or at an airport) is probably where I spend just as much time. I will say that all good insights come in front of a whiteboard. We just moved and my only real question is where I’m going to install the whiteboard in my new apartment.
Where can we find you when you aren’t working?
Volunteering. I’m a lifelong volunteer, and these days, I spend a lot of time on nonprofit boards. I’m currently on the board of the Association of Junior Leagues International (and past president of the Nashville chapter’s board), chair of the board of Cable and a board member for the Oasis Center and the Tennessee Justice Center. I’m 100% positive I should be doing some board work right now.
What is the best piece of advice you have received, and from whom?
I’m pretty bad at following advice. I’m very independent, to the point where when someone tells me to do something, my gut instinct is to do the opposite, even if I can rationally see their advice is right. I’m better, I think, at following an example, and so I think a lot about the examples set for me in particular by my parents: work hard and always do your best; and my grandmothers: making people feel welcome; and by many, many women in the Junior League. They have shown me how important it is to believe in what we can accomplish together and that you have to make yourself better if you want to make the world better.
What books can be found on your bedside table?
Nary a one — despite the thousands of books lining nearly every wall in our house. My Kindle is what I read every day. We are definitely readers in our family, and although all of us have a Kindle, my kids and husband still seem to enjoy physical books more. I have read a lot of the classics, and I pick up new literature from time to time, but mostly I do a split between crime or romance, and then I spend about 1/3 of my reading time on books for work. For those, I do buy physical books. There’s something about the embodied cognition of reading a book and being able to write a note in the margin, for instance, that makes it stick better. But now almost all my pleasure reading is on my Kindle. I’ve been going through crime novels recently. I’ll find an author I like and read everything they’ve written. I’m nearly done with Michael Connelly right now. I do read very fast … I read well more than a book a week. Earlier this summer I was reading a book a day, but that’s faster than normal.
What are three things you can’t live without excluding faith, family and friends?
Easiest question you asked: Diet Coke, sunglasses and my Kindle.
Thank you to Laura Creekmore for answering all of our questions. A special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s gorgeous photos of Laura!
Some may consider Dr. Sheila McMorrow a superwoman. One of her jobs is a mom of three little ones, and the other is working as the Pediatric ER Medical Director at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial. Get to know our newest FACE of TriStar — click here!