Hitting the Deck: Untraditional Networking with 1000Pirates

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If you claim you don’t love pirates, my claim is that you have no soul.  🙂

Entrepreneurs, start-up founders and tech gurus are certainly among the many who adore these swashbuckling heroes, and rightfully so, since they have plenty in common.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending Boston’s 1000Pirates networking event. Yes, the event is as random as it sounds – a night where business folks are encouraged to forgo traditional networking in favor of donning pirate costumes and partying. A few days later, I recounted the experience and what I learned from it in a post for my agency’s blog. Today, I learned it was the most trafficked post our site received during the entire month of October. (I also got this nifty little block trophy and a gift card to Starbucks for the achievement!)

I’ve decided to share the post for you all here as well. Happy reading..ARRRGG!!!

Hitting the Deck: Untraditional Networking with 1000Pirates

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Indie Film’s Not Dead, It Just Needed a (Social) Kick in the Ass

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When it came time to bring his passion project to the screen, indie film maker Dom Portalla wasn’t counting on a venture capitalist to swoop in and save the day. Instead, he turned to the crowdfunding platform IndieGogo to turn his latest vision into reality — an approach a large number of  independent directors are now taking.

I caught up with Dom to discuss his upcoming film “Nicky,” the role of social media in independent film and the the most rewarding aspects of his profession.

Name, rank and why we should care?
Dom Portalla — writer, director, cinematographer and editor for Door Eleven Productions. Fans of independent film should care because we at Door Eleven are fully committed to delivering the most interesting low-budget cinema to the Greater Boston area.

Dom Portalla of Door Eleven Productions

Can you tell us about your latest project, “Nicky?”
“Nicky” has been a passion project of mine and Ken Flott’s (actor/co-writer/producer) for the past several years.

Ken had been writing “Nicky” as a short story and posting it in increments on Myspace while we were making our first film, “Duality”, back in 2006. He came across an image on FoundMagazine.com of a little boy wearing a tuxedo and standing outside of a women’s restroom. Don’t ask me how, but from the image, he immediately formulated a story of a man who lost his little brother in a kidnapping who was never able to get over it.

What really drew me to the story was the profound sense of sadness in the narration. We’ve all had terrible events happen in our lives which cause us to grieve, but one day you wake up and it’s just an idle Tuesday at the office – life goes on. For “Nicky’s” main character, though, this didn’t happen — his entire world sort of ended the day his brother disappeared and he seemingly became disconnected from everything but his own sense of guilt.

I’d find myself checking online more and more frequently to see what new chapters had been posted and even giving Ken the third degree on set to try and find out in advance what would happen next or what left turns the story would take. Years later, I took a stab at restructuring and adapting it as a short film and here we are.

Above: The image that inspired Portalla's upcoming film, "Nicky." Portalla developed a full-scale "crowdfunding" campaign which included a personalized video pitch from his production team as well as test-footage from the film.

Since starting your career in film, what role has social media played in bringing your art and ideas to life?
Social media has provided me the opportunity to connect with those seeking an alternative to mainstream cinema.  It has helped us develop and foster an audience which is crucial when you’re an obscure name in the process of establishing your niche.

It has been particularly useful at this stage in my career when seeking financing. Crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo allow filmmakers to independently raise funds by making a pitch and offering incentives to encourage donations. It is also a great way to include people in the process by involving them on the ground floor.

One thing I’ve always believed is that when it comes to the arts, particularly film, you vote with your wallet. That is why I have upwards of 1,000 DVDs as opposed to a crowded hard drive full of pirated flicks. I feel compelled to put my money where my mouth is. In the same breath, it’s also why I usually refuse to take my lady to see an obviously crappy romantic comedy in a theater. I know if I slap down that $20, they’ll make another equally abysmal film just like it next year and I’d rather not encourage that. Crowdfunding and social media invites everyone to be a part of the system. Don’t like what we’re selling? No harm, no foul. But if you see potential, you have the power to turn a pitch into a reality.

IndieGoGo.com

How do you see social technology shaping the future of the independent film community?
I think we are only beginning to see the tip of the iceberg with some of the things guys like Edward Burns and Kevin Smith have been doing. They’ve both recently made modestly budgeted films that became profitable without receiving real theatrical distribution or traditional promotion because they have tapped into a “direct-to-fan” market via social media. The same can even be said with dozens of different recording artists who are able to record and distribute their own music on their own terms without a record label fat-fingering its way into the creative process. Social technology allows us to cut out the middleman.

Now, with Edward Burns and Kevin Smith — one must realize these two already enjoy the luxury of an established audience who will follow them wherever they go. As 90s indie film superstars with tons of Facebook and Twitter followers,  it’s not as difficult to get the word out and create exposure for their projects. However, that is not to say that someone who creates compelling and innovative work can’t rise up from total obscurity and be the next big thing. That ability is purely due to social media.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the career path you have chosen?
Aside from the opportunity to collaborate with some exceptionally talented people and the friendships that I’ve made, watching my films play to a live audience is probably the most rewarding aspect of what I do.

Our last feature, “The Darkness Within”, was picked up by several festivals and I had the opportunity to see it play in different parts of the country which was an amazing thing for me. As a filmmaker, what you want more than anything is for people to see your work, otherwise you’re just working in a vacuum. Making movies with the potential to find viewership is what makes all the hard work worth it and it keeps me motivated to keep doing what I do.

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9 New Media/PR Lessons from the Experts at Boston University

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I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a Boston University College of Communication course titled, “New Media and Public Relations.”

Taught by the PR veteran/thought leader/dragon slayer, Todd Van Hoosear, the 300-level course aims to explore the effects of new media on the fundamental theories, models and practices of public relations. It also covers and uses the interactive tools that are currently redefining the practice of public relations.

Below, I’ve shared nine key take-aways from my audit of the course. These — along with several others — were shared during my live-Tweeting of the lecture. I think even the most seasoned professional can pick up something new, here:

  1. Filter bubbles = dangerous. Our info is being filtered by our friends as well as Google and FB. | #BUNewMedia
  2. Key elements of a successful viral video: brevity, humor and appealing subject matter. | #BUNewMedia
  3. You can’t guarantee a viral video. But, you can maximize its likelihood. | #BUNewMedia
  4. Videos are filmed with 1st, 2nd and 3rd screens in mind — TV, computer and mobile screen. | #BUNewMedia
  5. Pinterest and copyrighting – major concerns emerging as businesses incorporate service into marketing strategy. | #BUNewMedia
  6. Blog comment activity has plummeted in last two years. Convo has moved to social media platforms — where it’s owned by FB, etc. #BUNewMedia
  7. Blogs — really referred to as websites and news sites these days. “Blog” now really refers to content management systems. | #BUNewMedia
  8. Facebook “Like-gating” proven to be a negative engagement tactic. | #BUNewMedia
  9. PR is about telling stories. New official definition [from PRSA] does not get an A+. | #BUNewMedia

NewMedia_NicholasGPorter.com_NoahWardrip-Fruin_2012

Note: Some Tweets listed above were slightly altered from their original form for the purpose of this blog post.

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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.

Yep
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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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How the iPhone has Changed My Life

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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.

Pandora

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:

TweetDeck

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?

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My Plastic Surgery Experience

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I recently had plastic surgery.

You are probably still reading right now because you want to hear that I got calf implants or liposuction. Sorry, I’m a bit more practical than that.

An interest in body modification is what brought forth my need to go under the knife. Before jumping to conclusions, let me assure you that my tongue is still in one piece and I certainly do not have any facial tattoos.

Instead, here is the story of a 16-year-old who decided to gauge his earlobes. I liked the way they looked. Plus, the underground music and art scene I was a part of had always promoted body art and forward thinking. It all just made sense! Although I stopped wearing plugs several years ago, the time had finally come for me to tuck away all remnants of my modification days for good.

Why you ask? These ½ inch holes were becoming an albatross around my neck. They were imperfections on an otherwise perfect portrait. They were a reason for a potential employer to ask a question like, “Why do you have holes in your head?”

"Why do you have holes in your head?"
"Why do you have holes in your head?"

The time had come for bilateral ear repair.

I determined that the right man for the job was Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio of Back Bay Plastic Surgery. After my consultation, I was very comfortable with his explanation of the procedure and his staff. I was on my way!

Before sewing my earlobes back together, Dr. Del Vecchio needed expose the fresh tissue surrounding the holes. The need to preserve what was left of my earlobe made this a bit tricky.  He used a device typically used for skin biopsies to achieve this.

IMG_3984IMG_3987IMG_3989

With that goal accomplished, he began sewing them back together. They are now as good as new!

The final product!
The final product!

This site focuses on communications, right? I want to point out that Dr. Del Vecchio realizes the importance of social media and uses it to promote his practice. He is currently learning the ropes of Twitter and can be found at twitter.com/easybreast. You can also see footage from some of his procedures on his Youtube Channel — NSFW!  Finally, what business should be without a blog?  Read the latest at http://www.drdelvecchioblog.com/.

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