For aspiring singer-songwriters, Nashville is one of the best places to get noticed.
The key is marketing and making sure people know what the artist is doing.
That's where Anne Deeter Gallaher comes in.
With a guitar-wielding son who has dreams of country music success living in the heart of Nashville's vibrant music scene, Gallaher is planning to take her own show on the road.
In 2000, she started Deeter Gallaher Group LLC, a Lower Allen Township-based public relations and marketing firm that prides itself on a creative ability to shine a bright light on its business clients.
"We're very good at public relations and message building, making connections and telling stories," said Gallaher, who is tapped into several industries, including finance, technology, commercial real estate, retail and mechanical engineering.
The music industry, which only recently joined that list, is expected to be a focal point as the 53-year-old plans to open a satellite office in Nashville this year.
"If it weren't for Ben, I probably never would have thought about it," she said, referring to her 20-year-old son who attends Belmont University.
When he's not studying the music business, Ben Gallaher is out on the town playing original and cover songs, hoping to follow in the footsteps of big-name country acts such as Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.
"If you don't understand the business, you won't survive long term. It becomes a hobby," said his mother, who has helped Ben with a marketing and public relations strategy they hope will lead to a professional recording contract.
Last year, Ben won a video submission contest, which led to him opening for country rocker Brantley Gilbert.
"From then on, it started ramping up," Anne Deeter Gallaher said.
Back home, the 2010 Cedar Cliff High School graduate took his musical act — which includes a cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" — into a few state prisons as part of a holiday tour.
With guidance from his mother, Ben engages with both his local and Nashville fan bases via social media. He has a YouTube channel and also a home website that is routinely updated with news about upcoming performances, videos or new songs.
He has 12 original songs to his credit.
"When your name is included on the music bill with Brantley Gilbert, that generates a lot of conversation and attention," the elder Gallaher said.
Gilbert has more than 1.3 million likes on Facebook.
Knowing ideal times to send out a tweet about an upcoming show and being strategic about what venues to play are important, she said. Building brand identity with key biographical information — Ben is an Eagle Scout, for example — also can help an audience or studio identify with the artist.
"There is a generous amount of hope that we carry. You have to supplement that with an even greater amount of hard work," said Gallaher, who is hoping to help other Nashville musicians with the business side of the equation. "I constantly remind him that businesses will find it a benefit to know he is an Eagle Scout. It demonstrates that at a young age he set a long-term goal and he accomplished it."
Many of Ben's peers have been inquiring about his strategy, she said.
"It would be an extension of what we do here," she said. Gallaher expects to hire two or three more staff members to help balance the workload between Central Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Gallaher said she would not limit the expansion to just country music or that industry. She will be targeting clients in other sectors, she said, having already joined the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
For example, the Vanderbilt medical complex opens opportunities in health care, she said.
"Our storytelling capability is the same in Nashville as it is in Harrisburg," she said. "There are just a lot more stories there."
Hopefully, the Nashville presence makes it easier for her to help her son and other potential clients reach a larger audience, she said.
"The artists need someone to come alongside and help put them on a bigger platform," Gallaher said. "Traditional businesses know the (return on investment). The artist struggles with leveraging ROI with their passion."
The move also should help bring a greater level of professionalism to her marketing business, she added.
"There is a lot of energy there. I think the opportunity is right and the economy is ticking back," Gallaher said. "I want to be ahead of that curve, not behind that curve and miss an opportunity. As we grow there or learn there, we'll leverage that here."
More about Anne Deeter Gallaher
Gallaher, a Lower Allen Township resident, serves on the board of directors of the Capital Region Economic Development Corp, also known as CREDC.
She also is the founder of the Harrisburg Social Media Club.