My 2011: A Photgraphic Retrospective

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I attended several professional development events in 2011 and an underlying theme in each was how the ability to tell stories using images is slowly becoming a crucial skill required of professional communicators.

With that in mind, here we are at the end of another incredible year.  Instead of providing a sentimental retrospective like last year, I instead chose to sum up 2011 with a collection of photos.  As always, this is not all-inclusive, but it is a pretty definitive – a collection of the people, moments and places that made 2011 special for me. Thank you all.

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Life on the Cloud: Google Docs for Small Business

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Can a cloud improve your work day? Save time and resources, encourage productivity and cut overhead? What if it cost virtually nothing? Well, look no further – it’s likely time consider Google Docs.

A cloud-based office suite with data storage capabilities, Google Docs provides free word processing, spreadsheet and slideshow services equipped with menus, shortcuts and dialog boxes similar to Microsoft Office. Google Docs can store any type of file – even those not in Google Doc formats. It also provides 1 -GB of storage per user and allows real-time, collaborative editing capabilities. Perhaps most important, Google Docs allows users to access their files from any computer (or mobile device) – all that is required is an internet connection.

And of course, this is in addition to all the other great resources Google has to offer. Gmail provides easy-to-read threads that are a great for keeping track of conversations and important information. Its calendar capabilities practically mirror those of Microsoft Outlook and G-chat allows instant communication much like AIM. And let’s not forget about the Holy Grail – the company’s outstanding search capabilities.

No more self-emailing documents, wasting time exchanging edits and stalling progress on important projects. Google Docs is an extremely simple way for small business to limit costs and increase efficiency. Don’t be a Juggalo. Get onboard.

This article originally appeared on IAmTheTrend.com.

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True Till Death: How Metal and Hardcore Punk Shaped my Career in Public Relations

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The hardcore/metal scene is one formed upon community, friendship and progressive ideas. Yes, it has evolved over time, but for the most part, its ideals have remained the same: choosing to focus on integrity, morality and finding light within the dark.

NicholasGPorter.com_AmericanHardcore

The belief system referenced above also exist in public relations.  Sure, the structure, tools and players have also changed with time, but the message and goals have also remained the same.

Share stories with a positive message.  Value your relationships.  Respect your audience’s trust. Shine a light where needed.

It’s not exactly rocket science. The similarities exist because both communities have important stories to tell. I guess that is why I am a member of both.

Below, is a short documentary on Enjoy The Massacre – a Chicago-based metal/hardcore band whose talent is only surpassed by their passion for life and music. The documentary puts the finishing touches on my above-described ideas rather nicely.

An added bonus – fast-forward to 3:42 to hear about the time my band, The Auburn System, played a crack house in Detroit, Michigan while on tour with ETM in early 2008.

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ATTN Gen-Y: This is NOT How You Get a Job (But Here is How You Do)

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I recently agreed to sit down for a professional discussion with the daughter of an acquaintance. A recent graduate seeking a job in professional communications, like many these days, she was having a hard time in a difficult job market. I was more than happy to help. I took a look at my calendar for the next few weeks and passed along my email address explaining I’d be happy to answer any questions she might have. The next day, I received the following email:

“Hello Nicholas,

NAME WITHHELD informed me I should contact you if I had any questions, in which I do. Just one major important one, are you able to find me a job? Haha.”

Take note, Gen-Y. This is not how you network.

I walked off my Alma mater’s commencement stage during the peak of The Great Recession – so, I know a thing or two about patience and determination as it relates to the job hunt.  It took me years to build my network, but it eventually paid off. Finding your dream position – or even a position at all – requires hard work, hours of research, and most important, respect.

The exchange  described above brought back a flood of memories revolving around the dozens of informational interviews I went on during my job-hunting days.

What’s an informational interview you ask?

An informational interview is a meeting between a job-seeker and a professional employed in your field of interest. The normal rules of a job interview apply – etiquette, proper dress and preparation are absolutely required. However, the purpose of the meeting is not to request employment, but to gather critical information that will help you better market yourself. Consider the meeting a fact-finding mission.

At a certain point, I narrowed down the questions that were most important to ask and provided the most perspective. I’ve included them below:

  • What kind of education, skills and background are necessary for a career in this field?
  • How did you start in the industry? What advice would you offer someone who is seeking employment in today’s market?
  • How do you suggest I build upon my existing resume? What entry-level jobs should I be seeking?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the industry today?
  • Are there any professional associations you recommend I join?
  • Would you be so kind as to recommend someone else who will sit down and answer some similar questions? If so, can I use your name when contacting them?

Along with a little professional courtesy (thank-you notes, etc.) the informational interview can help open doors you never knew existed.  Learn to master them and not only will your employment prospects improve, you can avoid embarrassing faux pas like the one described above.

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Advice from the Pros: Four Key Tips for Pitching Bloggers

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I love networking events. As a PR pro, why wouldn’t I? : )

Last night I attended The Publicity Club of New England’sBlogger Relations for PR Pros” panel at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. It was a blast.

The panel was made up of a diverse group of individuals with varied backgrounds.   Some valuable advice was shared. Below are a few of my favorite nuggets from the night. Enjoy!

  • Only use embargoes as a Trojan to get coverage – then tell your client you’re brilliant” – Jason Keith, SMB blogger, Boston.com

 

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Salem State University: Accomplished Alumni

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Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my alma mater. Salem State University gave more to me than I can ever describe and for that reason, I try to give back every way possible.

From regularly consulting with formers professors on curriculum coursework to offering my time as a mentor to students and graduates alike – no contribution is too small.

Recently, I penned an article for SSU’s alumni magazine, The Salem Statement.  The 500-word feature focuses on higher education professional, Michael Vella – a shining example of a student turned professional who thrived by embracing SSU’s small classroom, student-focused approach.

Read on. Enjoy. Share your comments below.

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2010: The Best Year of My Life

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I don’t know jack. Chances are, neither do you. The truth is that the moment you think you have Life figured out is usually around the exact moment you begin reeling from the latest hook the bastard just threw you. However, something I do know?  This past year has been the best of my life.

2010 was the year when the right people came into my life — and when the right ones left. It was the year that the scales of my personal and professional life balanced. It was the year I found my place in the universe.  All the negatives were positives in disguise. It was the year that will forever make me — well, me.

I am not playing favorites by any means, but I need to say thank you to some. This is by no means an all-inclusive list — after all, there are friends and family who have been there since day-one and know their importance to me.

That said — David, Tara, Ryan, Steve, Chris, Regan and Aunt Dorothy — thank you for making 2010 possible for me. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, you’ll be the ones I try to teach to read instead of shooting in the back of the head.

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What is a Mentor?

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What’s going on, friends? Long time, no see. Don’t worry. It’s not as if I’ve just been slacking these last few months. I’ve been hard at work – and loving every minute of it.

I recently contributed a piece to Matter Communications’ blog and wanted to share it with all of you. Have any feedback? I’d love to hear it.

Enjoy!

Matter Chatter Blog: What is a mentor?

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Regan Smith Clarke: Remeber His Name, You’ll be Wearing it Later

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Watch out everyone. Regan Smith Clarke is poised to take over the world.

The Boston-based t-shirt aficionado has been threatening us with the launch of his self-titled clothing line for almost two years. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.  

His vintage art influenced designs have been a huge hit with urbanistas and layman alike. But what else would you expect from a dude who has already been dubbed the next Johnny Cupcakes?

Clarke stopped busting his ass for five minutes to talk about RSC, the latest tunes on his playlist, and what he has planned for the future.

Give me a quick run-down of all things Regan S. Clarke. What sets your line apart from the others?

RSC is a vintage art inspired clothing brand that I’ve been working on for the past year or so. After many late nights and lots of hard work, I released my first line on March 1st. The line includes 4 different t-shirt designs, several posters and a button pack. You can see them all in my online shop here: http://shop.regansmithclarke.com

What sets my line apart is the attention to detail and the message behind each design. There is definitely a level of emotional attachment that comes with owning a clothing line, but I don’t think this is often conveyed well enough to customers. People can’t read your mind, which is why it’s important to be clear about your intentions and what your brand stands for. If they can relate to it on a more personal level, you will be likely to make a connection with them.

To be honest ‘though I’m not actually trying to re-invent the wheel like so many other people seem to think they’re doing. I’m just doing what I love and gathering inspiration from what moves me. I look at it like having a band.  Everybody is in one these days, and they always think they’re the most rad, unique thing to hit the scene. Chances are you’re only foolin’ yourself; it’s all been done before. Just do what you want and focus on the finer details rather than pretending you’re the second-coming of Johnny Cupcakes!

RSC has been in the works for awhile. Your name and plans for a clothing line have been floating around the web, the local music scene and the Emptees.com community for quite sometime. Why the wait?

Yeah I actually started with the name “Real Supreme,” and in retrospect it wasn’t a great idea.  I foolishly thought it would be ok because it’s just two fairly common words put together, but what I found was that the potential legal issues and brand confusion with other established companies was too much. I had to go back to the drawing board. After a lengthy search, I decided I couldn’t find anything more personal and meaningful than my own name.

Beyond coming up with the right brand name, there’s a fairly large amount of research and prep work that needs to be done to get something like this off the ground. I would even say one of my biggest mistakes was taking on too much myself. I was fortunate enough to work with Danny Jones aka YASLY on the t-shirt designs, but aside from that I did pretty much everything else myself.

Your line is completely inspired by Vintage Art. Why the obsession?

I guess I kind of look at it the same way someone who likes classic movies would. There is a romantic quality to the art, which has a theme or message that still resonates today. Although things have changed tremendously in the world, ultimately the messages being conveyed are the same. I find that fascinating. Besides, anytime you work on a creative project like this, it’s good to focus on what inspires you the most. If you’re going to spend all your free time and money working on something, it better be fun and interesting to you.

How has Boston, MA influenced your art?

Boston is and will always be my true home. I grew up in the shadow of the city, and that deep connection I feel with it will last forever. I believe your environment has a strong influence on who you are as a person. Many of my best experiences involve the city of Boston, so I’d say it will definitely play a big role in the development of my brand.

Are you still playing music these days? What’s going on with EyesAreBlind productions? What do you do with your time besides pumping out awesome t-shirt designs?

For those who don’t know, EyesAreBlind Productions is a booking/show promotion company one of my best friends and I started when we were freshmen in college. I don’t know if I would ever close the door on EAB because I’ve learned so much about the music scene and how to run a business from it, but it’s hard to keep up when time and resources are in short supply these days. It would take the right package of bands for me to start booking shows again. 

As for playing? I still get the itch every once in a while, but I don’t really play music anymore. I’ve just got too many things going on to really make something of it. By day I do graphic design and print production for a printing company (www.pixxlz.com). By night I do some freelance work and run RSC.

What tunes have you been jamming lately?

My iPod shit the bed a little while ago, so I’ve been pretty limited in my music selection. But I’d say Circa Survive, Inner Party System, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Set Your Goals have gotten the most love lately.

Any local artists or musicians you want to collaborate with in the future? What’s next for RSC?

It seems like a pretty standard move these days is to sponsor bands, but I’m really not interested in doing that right now. If I were to do it at all, I could only see myself doing it discreetly with a couple of my friends’ bands. But like I said, it’s really not something I have in mind at the moment.

I am more interested in teaming up with some other types of artists and clothing lines to create something. I’m actually working on a collaboration with my homegirl and fellow Bostonian Lori from Cavata Clothing. There’s a good fit between our brands, so it should work out great. That’s scheduled to release this June.

Beyond that, I still have a lot of ideas for my own stuff. I’m planning another release at the end of June for my summer line. I will also be a vendor at The Renegade Craft Fairs in Brooklyn this June and San Francisco in July. Hopefully I’ll be able to check out some local shows too such as SOWA (South End Open Market), though I haven’t signed up for that one just yet. It’s going to be a great summer. I want to take RSC to the next level and make some new friends in the process. Lots of cool things will be happening, so don’t sleep on it.

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Social Media and Pizza: A Case Study

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I live and work in downtown Boston, MA. When it’s time for lunch, I have many options. Today, I wanted to try a new place. I wandered down Newbury Street and decided to check out Bostone Pizza.

Bostone Pizza claims that they are Boston’s “only authentic NY pizzeria, featuring thin crust Neapolitan and deep dish Sicilian pizza.”

I tend to like my pizza covered with the most outrageous toppings you can think of.  I also love it prepared in a variety of ways. For this reason, Bostone caught my attention. But when it’s my first time in a joint? I opt for a straight slice of cheese. That’s just how I roll.

Well, the slice did not disappoint. But you must remember that there are tons of lunchtime options around here. Newbury Street alone offers everything from Indian/Chinese fusion to Spanish tapas. How can a pizza parlor compete?

I think Bostone is going to be just fine.

While dining, I checked in on Foursquare. I also chose to share my location on Twitter. Within an hour, Bostone sought me out and recognized my patronage. Trust me; this sort of thing makes a difference. I think that many of Boston’s plugged-in professionals and undergraduates would agree.  

The next time I’m looking for lunch in downtown, I think I’ll try Bostone’s Mediterranean with extra feta.

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