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

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.


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.

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

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.

Advice from the Pros: Four Key Tips for Pitching Bloggers

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,


Salem State University: Accomplished Alumni

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.

2010: The Best Year of My Life

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.


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

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:

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 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 ( 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.

Social Media and Pizza: A Case Study

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.

How to Use Social Media in Your Job Hunt

I know plenty of folks who are looking for a job, yet refuse to join social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s as if they are trying to prove something. The only thing they are proving is that they don’t understand how the rules have changed. Here are a few tips on how to use social media to find the job you deserve.

Make Your Debut

Whether you are an established professional or a graduate looking to catch a break, you must take the appropriate steps to establish your online identity. Start a blog that focuses on your professional interests and then create accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to promote your endeavor. 

Employers are not going to seek you out. You must make sure your voice is heard loud and clear.

Share the Right Information

When using Twitter to aid your job-hunt, you must be somewhat strategic. What sort of information are you sharing? If you are not reading and re-tweeting articles that cover topics relevant to your field, you are not doing all you can to brand yourself online. That account executive at XYZ PR is not going to notice you if you are solely tweeting about Cheetos and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Well, that would probably catch my attention, but I’ll save that for another blog entry…

Go Against the Grain

Do you have an opinion? Do not be afraid to share it! Let’s face it, the social media landscape is filled with @-kissers who love to offer groundbreaking comments like “great post!” on all the hottest blogs. The folks who stand out are those who respectfully voice differing opinions and engage others in conversation.

Pull the Trigger

So you’ve built your online presence and traded messages with a few established professionals. Now what? Pull the trigger!

Ask your new contacts if they would be willing to sit down for an informational interview. This is an excellent way to learn more about your industry and put yourself in front of the people who matter the most.

Think you are done? Not by a long shot!  Ask your social media contacts if you can contribute to their blog as a guest. Start a Twitter-Chat or organize a Tweet-Up. Ask everyone for referrals. Above all else, stay relevant!

Do you have a success story you are willing to share?

How the iPhone has Changed My Life

I’m a bit late to the iPhone party.  Actually, scratch that.

I waited until I could purchase the device at a reasonable price – and that is not something I am ashamed to admit.  When an upgrade offer of $99 for the phone with a two-year contract came to my attention, how could I say no?

As an iPhone user for a little over a month now, I have difficulty remembering how I functioned without it. Today, I’m going to share with you a few apps that have changed my life.

Facebook for iPhone and Echofon

I’m going to lump these two applications together. Do they really need an introduction? Well, yes. Not everyone sits on TechCrunch all day. Elitist bloggers please take note!

Facebook for iPhone allows access to your Facebook account in ways you never imagined. The application has a grid-like menu that provides easy access to all of Facebook’s most important features and makes sharing photos incredibly easy. Push notifications  – which should have been a no-brainer from the start – only recently arrived, but who cares? It’s just an added bonus. I would have used it no matter what. Afterall, this is Facebook – we use it, we love it and we cannot live with out it!

Echofon is routinely touted as the best free Twitter app on the market.  It loads fast, offers multiple features and allows you to view profiles with ease.  Although push notification features are only available by purchasing Echofon Pro, I’m not terribly disappointed.


Distractions – i.e. real life – have disrupted my intake of music over the years. I no longer attend local shows as often as I once did and I’ve become less willing to take risks with my discretionary income. The solution? Pandora Radio!

After entering a song or artist you enjoy, the service automatically selects music and artists that are similar. Although I was already familiar with Pandora, I was overjoyed to hear there was a Pandora app available for the iPhone. Pandora is the type of service that seems made for mobile devices. I would have to guess that users get way more mileage out of this app than they ever would just using the web-based version.

Are you familiar with the Music Genome Project? If not, take a look. It’s an incredible project and the reason why you can enjoy Pandora today!

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is a speech recognition program that translates your spoken word to text. Once translated, you can text or email instantaneously. Its accuracy is quite impressive and it also allows you to add punctuation.  The app has received some rave reviews with good reason; long texts and emails now take only seconds to create and edit before before they are ready to be sent.

However, usefulness alone has not been enough to shield Dragon Dictation and its creator Nuance from controversy.

As TechCrunch reports, some terms of the service’s End User License Agreement lit up the blogsphere late last year when word that the app collects the names in your address book became publicized.

Nuance soon issued a statement explaining that it only collects contact names so Dragon Dictation can better recognize them during the translation process. The company also issued an update to the app which gives users the opportunity to not share this information upon first use. 

Dragon Dictation is too good to be free. Hop aboard before they start charging!

Honorable Mentions:


I have been toying with Tweetdeck for the past couple weeks and I find it to be incredibly useful. It has become especially handy when I participate in Twitter chats from my phone because it allows me to create streams divided by hashtags.

Can 19% of the market really be wrong?

I Am T-Pain

Okay, the I Am T-Pain app really didn’t change my life, but it is a hell of a lot of fun to play around with. Even CNN thinks so!

Use this app to sing along to your favorite auto-tuned cuts from T-Pain himself.  Once complete, simply upload them and share with friends!

Zombie Hunter (7DA)

I have not wasted this much time on a videogame since the halcyon days of Nintendo.

If you are as big a zombie fan as I am, you have to check out ZombieHunter 7DA. You will find hours of delight in cutting down hordes of the undead while completing various missions designed to help save the world from “mutation.” The graphics on this game are top notch and the replay value is through the roof! Best of all, it’s free!

What are the iPhone apps have you been using?