We found ourselves sitting out at on a patio at an Italian restaurant that overlooked the main thoroughfare—with a great view of a night club across the street—complete with a massive disco ball illuminating the entire block with 1970’s flair and equivalent music to boot. The throngs of people wandering up and down the Grande Allée seemed endless and reminded us of many public events back home like the Feast of Saint Anthony in North End of Boston or Water Fire in Providence. If it weren’t for sheer exhaustion of an entire day exploring the city Sue and I would stayed out and partied with everyone well into the wee hours…
That and the next day’s wonderful breakfast at the L’Arvidienne that Mireille and Serge would prepare for us: a tasty tomato and basil omelette with a fine veal pâté for our toasted breads.
After our delightful breakfast the following day, we were ready to explore a little further outside the city limits. We decided to check out Les chutes de Montmorency (Montmorency Falls) and the nearby Isle d’Orleans (Island of Orleans). The falls were exceptional, billed as being approximately 30 meters (98 feet) higher than Niagara Falls they are spectacular to watch especially from the bridge that spans the width of it from above. There is an entire section of stairs and landings that slope down one side of the rocks nearby that offer a breathtaking view of the falls, and a cable car ride that takes you back to the top (or down if you wish) connected to a visitor’s center below. There are many spots to take fabulous pictures and get sprayed all at once.
The Island of Orleans was a bit of a disappointment for us however. We were told that this place was a picturesque spot filled with shops, sites, and great views of Quebec City nearby. We were expecting something like Martha’s Vineyard and what we really got was Nahant Massachusetts meets Westerly Rhode Island with a little Cape Cod thrown in. Not that it was bad, but certainly attempting to tour the entire island would have been a waste of a whole day for us. Instead, we stuck to the main attractions: the chocolate shop, the gelato shop, the foundry, and of course the microbrew. We ended getting there too late to hit the wineries and some of the more rustic shops. But after two hours we were done. We desperately ran back to the visitor’s center to return our skipping English language tour CD for a refund. Our advice would be to avoid the island if you can or stick to the aforementioned highlights and move on to more interesting venues.
So disappointed were we with the Island of Orleans that we immediately made a bee-line back to Quebec City and parked our car near the Rue du Petit-Champlain for an early evening stroll in the shops and a very nice dinner sitting outside one of the more eclectic eateries that feature a lot of pork and pig dishes (including a decent attempt at barbecued ribs) at Le Cochon Dingue. Watching ships go by in the evening hours as we enjoyed the outside ambience was very tranquilizing and helped to undo our pensive impressions of the island earlier.
For our last day in Quebec City my wife and I were treated to a lovely breakfast of, you guessed it, French Toast! I was waiting for it over the last couple of days and Mireille certainly delivered. We were a little sad to be leaving our hosts—we had grown fond of them in the last couple of days. I would certainly recommend any couple of all ages visiting Quebec City to look into staying at the L’Arvidienne Couette et Café. The rooms were clean, decorative, and comfortable: each one named after a famous French painter such as Monet or Van Gogh. The service and friendliness of the hosts are bar-none top notch. And there is ample free parking that you wouldn’t find if staying at a B&B in the crowded Old Walled City. All in all, this was a very good stay for a couple of native New Englanders.
But it was time for us to head home, of course after a little diversion back to the old city for a few more hours. This time we parked at an underground parking garage near The Parliament Building. We headed over to this palatial edifice which is the seat of government for the Province of Quebec, and at one time all of Canada. My wife and I passed through a minimum of security that would have given the guards at the US Capitol Building a nervous breakdown, and we made it just in time for the free tour. We were treated to anecdotes on the building’s history (tied with Quebec’s) as recorded in the architecture and stained glass windows everywhere you looked. Also, we were taken to the two main meeting chambers for Quebec’s Parliament past and present—including the room where they almost voted to succeed from the Canadian Union back in 1995. And we checked out the interactive multimedia kiosks in the building’s foyer that presents many fascinating videos on the goings on in Quebec the province, Quebec City, and Canada—all in French of course.
The Parliament building was a good short diversion that whetted my appetite for more historical ventures while touring the city. So we ended up walking over to the The Artillery Park where you can tour the Old Armory, Soldier’s Barracks, and the Colonel’s Home just beyond the wall near the Rue Saint-Jean. Unlike the extensive Citadel that we just didn’t have time to visit, we thought that we could do a quick tour of these smaller historic military sites before we had to finally head home. We were pleasantly surprised that for a minimal fee (covering all three buildings) we got to see some interesting artifacts and learn some intriguing historical facts here.
The Amory was the largest that once held munitions used to repel the British invasion back in 1759. It was also used as an ammunition factory to help Canada’s war effort in both World Wars of the last century. Finally, it was turned into a museum that features pleasant and informative staff in period costumes, a stage for presentations, lots of artifacts from the city’s various periods, formal tours of the sites, and large model of historic Quebec that can be viewed from a catwalk above much like (but a fraction of the size) the massive Italo Gismondi’s model of Ancient Rome in the Museo della Civiltà Romana located just outside of Rome Italy in the EUR district.
The other buildings in the site were also interesting as the staff/performers played their parts well to give visitors a sense of what it was like to live in earlier times centuries ago—up to and including a wood burning fire in the barrack’s kitchen where a cook was preparing for the visitor to sample actual bread (baked in the original hearth, with a titillating aroma permeating the entire kitchen even from the outside) and other victuals the soldiers of the day sustained themselves with. I should also remark that the cook seemed to be very much in love with the maid who serviced the Colonel’s home nearby as he told us to compliment her eyes for him when we went over there—this was apparently more than an act as those two were beaming when they saw each other—a nice reminder of why my wife and I came to Quebec City in the first place: a romantic get-a-way.
After our little amorous interlude and historical excursion, we decided to have one more meal outside before we headed back to the United States. We walked along the Rue Saint-Jean to the Rue Sainte-Anne, and found a row of eateries with patios just waiting for us to patronize. I was in the mood for a simple hamburger and we ended up at this labyrinthine Irish Pub called, Maison Serge Bruyère—though the name does not match the signage which suggests, The Pub St. Patrick. An Irish Pub in French Canadian Quebec City you say? Well it couldn’t hurt to try it and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of service, food, and beer we got there. Also, the view of the street and the throngs of people going by were a nice bonus.
Afterwards, we got one more gelato for the road and begrudgingly decided that we absolutely had to leave and go home. We retrieved our car and left this fabulous place the way we came. As we crossed over the bridge once again, the sun was starting to set over the Saint Lawrence bathing the city in an iridescent golden light—what a wonderful last look it was.
On the ride back and well into the evening, my wife and I talked about some of the things that we were definitely going to see and do the next time we visit Quebec City, sites and attractions such as: The Citadel, The Centre d’interprétation de Place-Royale, The Falls at St. Catharines, The Plains of Abraham, the ubiquitous horse and buggy ride, a boat tour of the Saint Lawrence River with stunning views of the city, more nightlife attractions, more museums including the Dragon exhibit at the Musee de la Civilisation (if it is still there), more eating outside and more fine dining experiences, and simply more of everything that can be gleefully enjoyed in one of the most romantic cities in North America—only a six and a half hour drive from Boston. This was a true travel success as far as we were concerned.
We vowed to return again someday, perhaps very soon in 2011 as Quebec City celebrates its 403rd year anniversary on July 3rd. I don’t think Uncle Sam will mind us spending two Independence Day holidays with our neighbors to the North.
The first things that we noticed as we got closer to the Old Walled City (originally a fortified enclave complete with a citadel for troops and lined with canons), were the amount of happy people wandering about on both sides of the street, or sitting in the outside patios of the many restaurants one after another, and of course the more than occasional horse and buggy with happy riders enjoying the cool and comfortable summer air.
We were getting more and more excited that we made the right decision to come here the further we went along the Grande Allée. And finally when we passed under the wall of the old city we were treated to something that my wife and I hadn’t experience since our trip to Italy back in 2005: a European city look and feel that was as close to the real thing without ever having to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The sights, the sounds, the architecture of the buildings, the cobblestone streets, the French speaking people, everything reminded us so much of Europe I swore we were in Siena or Florence. The city was abuzz with activity. There were happy revelers about, live music being played on virtually every corner, street performers entertaining the crowds, quaint little shops, eateries, etc. It probably helped that we arrived in Quebec City on the cusp of Canada Day so there was an air of extra celebrating to be had.
After a brief tour of the old city that we would be spending the entire following day exploring, we pulled up to the valet at Le Saint Amour and let them take our car while we went inside. The place had a wonderful “turn of the last century” décor to it with a fabulous main dining section called, the salle a diner jardin. In other words, it was a large open atrium-like space inside that had plenty of seating amidst these massive potted plants hanging high above our heads—i.e. a dinner garden.
The food was exactly as you would expect a fine French restaurant to have, with excellent wine choices (over 250 choices), a delectable lobster bisque, a tender and juicy grilled petit filet mignon with oxtail, and exquisite selection of pastries for dessert. Though a little on the pricey side, we most certainly enjoyed taking in the local color and relaxing in this charming restaurant after a long day of driving. And the staff was immensely pleasant and helpful. We had lost our expensive digital camera there that evening (must have been the wine), but they dubiously found it, secured it, and promptly had it waiting for us when we returned the next day to retrieve it. Had that been a New York City restaurant I fear it would have been seen on the street being sold for a mere $50!
The next day Mireille prepare for us and the other guests at their B&B a wonderful pear crepe breakfast. Serge was only too happy to toast our bread for us and provide helpful tips on visiting the city. The both of them were incredible hosts and made us feel right at home.
After breakfast, we immediately set out back to the Old Walled City to see the sights. The first thing to note was that despite the narrow one-way streets that would give even Bostonians a shrill of anxiety, the traffic jams were at a tolerable minimum (when there were any), and there was ample and affordable parking—especially in the Lower Town part of the old city by the waterfront and the Musee de la Civilisation. Eight dollars Canadian for twelve hours is quite a bargain seeing as you’d have to pay three times that anywhere in Boston if you’re lucky.
Starting out on the Rue Dalhousie we walked up towards the purported oldest street and square in North America, the Rue du Petit-Champlain. Certainly this little village nestled in the shadow of the iconic Château Frontenac high above, deserves its accolades and adorations by residents and visitors alike. Used many times in movies as a double for European hamlets, one can easily see why with its picturesque little shops, stone buildings, outdoor eateries, chocolatiers like Madame Gigi Confiserie (where I purchased a fine Cognac Noir bar of chocolate), cobblestone roads, and the occasional villagers walking about clad in period costumes and even carrying lanterns in the evening, this place exudes Old World charm and is a main draw for visitors to Quebec City.
Over the course of our visit, my wife and I spend hours hanging around the Rue du Petit-Champlain, perusing the shops, dining outside, and dreaming of our next trip to Europe—most likely France this time.
When we were ready to see more of the city on our fist day we decided to take the Funicular railway to the Upper Town part of the old city that lets you out right near the aforementioned Château.
There’s just something really cool about taking an inclined car up the side of a hill overlooking the Saint Lawrence—kind of like being in the elevators at the Luxor in Vegas but outside and more picturesque.
The Château Frontenac is the epitome of Quebec City’s architectural symbolism. Many images have been taken on the Château’s hallowed facade from all over the city, the air, and the river. This edifice defines classic European style and elegance. We wandered around it in awe and proceeded to venture inside. There are many inspiring features to this fully active and classic hotel including high-end shops, lounges with verandas that overlook the Atlantic City-like boardwalk and the river below, and staff walking about in old world Victorian costumes. One could spend quite a bit of time exploring this place; just imagine what it would be like to stay there!
The rest of the day my lovely wife and I spent exploring the Upper Town of the old city. The amount of people wandering about on these small streets was staggering to say the least. Also the streets were alive with performers of all kinds in all manner of costumes and all types of music and live performance: opera, magic, rap, folk music in French and English, comedy, mime, jugglers, dancers, harpists, etc. And a plethora of artists and painters also lined parts of the streets including the famous Rue du Trésor. It made me wonder (as a native Bostonian) if Boston streets ever get this culturally intense.
We ate lunch at a nearby French country restaurant, Creperie Le Petit Château (with a charming little courtyard to eat at set back from the street for a quiet repast), walked down the Rue Saint-Louis touring the shops, and then ambled our way over to the Rue Sainte-Anne perusing more shops, and then headed over to the Rue Saint-Jean for even more shops!
You would think that we would have grown tired of shops in Quebec City, but that simply was not the case. Exploring one quaint place after another is a real New England trademark whether you’re in Woodstock Vermont, Falmouth Massachusetts, or Newport Rhode Island. The shops in the old city were every bit as interesting as their New England counterparts.
We did manage to take in a 3D multimedia experience on the history of Quebec that seemed a little outmoded but historically interesting. The Quebec Experience also on the Rue du Trésor is a combination of 3D movie and animatronic action that falls a little short of knocking ones socks off when compared to a real 3D IMAX show or a top notch interactive experience like Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas (indefinitely shut down) or Honey I Shrunk The Audience/Captain EO at Disney World’s EPCOT Center. However for what it is, it does present a dignified and unique historical perspective on the city that is at least worth the price of admission.
With the sun setting, my wife and I decided to head back to the L’Arvidienne to freshen up and take in an outside dinner along the Grande Allée.
There I was banging away at my Mac, looking for an easy romantic get-a-way for my wife, Sue, and I. We wanted something different and exciting, we were sick of the old New England standbys (though wonderful destinations) like Martha’s Vineyard, Newport Rhode Island, Woodstock Vermont, and even Foxwoods™ Resort and Casino. With 720,000 square miles from Maine to Connecticut there just wasn’t anything that we were interested in doing in all six states combined.
So I decided to look elsewhere outside of New England, but within driving distance, that we could spend a quality three-night romantic weekend during the Fourth of July holiday. I looked at Niagara Falls, the Poconos, and even another jaunt down to Virginia (that we’ve been to many times), but nothing sufficed. We weren’t interested in flying, spending way too much money, and being under-whelmed by cheesy tourist traps.
And that’s when I said to Sue, “How about Canada?”
To which she replied, “I don’t know, I’ve been to Montreal and didn’t like it all that much.”
“Well, maybe there’s somewhere else in Canada we could go to,” I retorted.
“Well, go ahead and look,” she added.
So I did and after about two-seconds of searching on the Internet I came across Quebec City.
And we’re so glad I did.
I started with the official site of the city that had some basic information about visiting this French Canadian enclave. That piqued Sue’s and my interest. Then I came across the official tourism site and we watched a well-made Quicktime video about the wonders of Quebec City (i.e. the capital of the Canadian province and the surrounding areas) and we were hooked.
What a charming little city it seemed to us, and potentially a wonderful adventure for to embark on within a six and a half hour drive. Quebec could be the perfect romantic destination that we’ve been looking for—and it was as it turned out.
I made a few calls and got us reservations at a quaint little B&B near the old city (more on that later), and Googled the driving directions, looked up some sites and attractions, and asked my wife how to say, “good day,” and “thank you,” in French.
Just before our trip we made sure to get our passports as per the on-again off-again TSA rules for going between North American countries. We also got lots of recommendations from co-workers of things to do and see while there. And finally we packed up our car and were off to the Great White North on our little odyssey.
Though the Google maps website puts the drive at about six and a half hours, it really took us more like nine and a half with the stops we made for lunch and gas and just plain stretching out. No matter, the country-side that far North in the US was absolutely amazing. Lush old New England landscapes (right out of a classic painting) permeated the horizon and beyond, the little NE hamlets lining the road and the valleys were charming, and mountainous regions like the Franconia Notch in New Hampshire was awe-inspiring. Even though the Old Man isn’t there anymore it does not detract from the beauty of this venerated place.
Crossing over into Vermont for the last fifty miles before the US/Canadian border I began to get a sense of something unique, something I’ve never felt before: I have never been this far north in my entire life. What a feeling it was to be driving to another country. Sure, I’ve been to other countries like Italy, Germany, and The Bahamas, but I’ve always flown and expected the routine to be the same—kind of a disconnected “get on the plane in the US, sleep for a bit, have a few drinks, and get off the plane somewhere else.” But this was not the case when driving to Canada. I felt like a real explorer (for what it’s worth), charting new territory, and getting exhilarated in the process.
Finally it was time to cross the border. The Canadian border check point was relatively quiet and the person checking our passports was pleasant and unassuming. He waved us through and then we were in Canada. Just like that. Not just Canada, but a French Canadian province with its own language and customs. How incredible! Now I was driving Nord on Autoroute 55, and trying to take everything Canadian in as much as I could from the driver’s seat of my car. My wife was amused by my fascination with this whole experience as if she did this everyday and it was no big deal, but it certainly was to me.
We made a couple of nondescript pit stops along the way, but ultimately we got to our destination: Quebec City. I was still having trouble resolving miles into kilometers when suddenly the outskirts of the city crept up on us as the sun was starting to wane. What a beautiful site it was seeing the Saint Lawrence River for the fist time in my life as we crossed over it at that part of the day. Finally, we crossed the bridge we were on and headed for the heart of the city.
Our immediate goal was to get to the Rue Grande Allée towards the Old City. Our bed and breakfast, L’Arvidienne Couette et Café, was a charming little chateau-like home right across the street from the famed Plains of Abraham where the French residents fought the British army for control of the city back on September 13th, 1759. The French lost, and for over a hundred years Quebec City was ruled directly by the British until 1867. Founded on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, this little settlement had seen centuries of war, development, industry, culture, tourism, and world renown to become one of the greatest North American cities. Per capita, Quebec City has the highest number of fine dining restaurants, and is one of the few places on the continent where English is “not” the most commonly spoken language (excluding Mexico of course).
Our ebullient hosts at the L’Arvidienne, Mireille Hubert & Serge Gauthier, were fabulously attentive and endearing as they doted on us from the moment we arrived. Mireille had taken the liberty of making dining reservations for us that evening at an impressive little French restaurant in the Old Walled City called, Le Saint Amour. After freshening up a bit we headed out on the Grande Allée to the restaurant.
Marketing Communications Writer for the 21st Century Digital Age
The first aspect of my writing career that I like to talk about is my education—specifically my training as a writer. I was classically trained from grade school through college in English language, literature, and writing skills. In high school, I studied Latin and dramaturgy. At UMass Amherst I studied everything from Shakespeare, The History of the English Language, linguistics, the great British and American writers, creative writing, social and political writing, philosophy, and literary criticism.
I did all of this without the benefit of the Internet. In other words, I learned through books and countless hours of study and writing!
I like to say that writing is not a service (like dry cleaning for instance) but a profession. The years a writer puts into their craft, the enormous financial expense in training and higher education, the amount of words both written and read daily, the intensity of research on any writing project, and the amount of dedication to the art and profession makes a writer far more valuable than what a lot of corporate entities perceive.
Not everyone can write, write well, write fast, and write with style and diversity. And as you’ll see from these pages, being a modern-day professional writer involves far more than just being able to put words on a digital page. A marketing and communications writer needs to employ other skills such as: image processing, desktop publishing, branding and logo design, web content creation and management, Search Engine Marketing and Optimization, digital media production, video editing, cloud-based data and resources management, online media streaming, content management systems (i.e. CMS, like WordPress), marketing automation systems (i.e. MAS, like Marketo), social media marketing (from Twitter to Facebook, and more), and web-based languages such as HTML/PHP/XML/CSS.
Yes, the modern-day professional writer has been called upon to be so much more than a simple Wordsmith. They must be a literally a Digital Swiss Army Knife that can ply their extremely diligent and pithy words into extensible digital online media in so many unique and unexpected ways.
I am such a writer!
I have worked for many online digitally-related organizations that have helped to hone my other skills over the years.
One of the first was Thunder House Online Marketing Communications (TH). The name itself implies a whole host of digital marketing, which includes writing and working with a lot of other online digital media. With them not only did I get the opportunity to do some great writing but that’s where I began to learn about Adobe Photoshop and web-based languages such as HTML. I also learned a heck-of-a-lot about technology, computer platforms, and web-based services providing tech support for my brothers and sisters there. I loved TH! All of us who worked there did. We were more than a just a bunch of colleagues, we were family! That place was the truest testament of the ideals of what dot-coms really were before the bust. Very rarely have I come across an organization that even came remotely close to what it was like to work for TH. Sadly, I was the very last person to leave there—being the one who turned off the company’s lights for the last time.
However, I am still friends with several of my TH colleagues all these years later.
And, it was because of the merger of Thunder House and Hill Holliday Interactive to become Zentropy Partners that I met my future wife Sue!
After Thunder House I spent several years working with an great group of people in a post dot-com digital consultancy association called VelocityDomain Network Solutions (see the Branding & Logos page for more about that organization). As you’ll see below, while at VelocityDomain, I got to work with a host of great clients including R. M. Productions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Harvard Business School.
Eventually, VelocityDomain split up and I found a fine new opportunity with Viisage/L-1 Identity Solutions. I got to write some amazing pieces for them including strategic messaging guides, product descriptions, case studies, data-sheets, and contract-winning proposals. I was also part of a program that implemented new digital data resource management tools such as Privia Platform and Google’s cloud-based products such as Picasa.
Unfortunately, after a few mergers and acquisitions most of my L-1 colleagues (including myself) had to seek out new opportunities.
That’s when I took the time to be an entrepreneur again with my biggest role as Stay-at-home-Dad!
Sue’s and my child was born shortly after the L-1 layoffs and what would have been a downer was actually a true blessing in disguise! I got an opportunity to be with my newborn for far, far, far longer than what most working dads get: a paltry two weeks paternity leave!
During that truly inspirational time in my life I also embarked on writing screenplays and pitching them to Hollywood Executives in California, writing books and pitching them to Literary Agents in New York City, and host of short stories and lots of blogs. I wrote travel blog articles for Beantown Socialite, blog posts on lots of forums (from writing to politics), and my own personal blog at TenthSphere.com.
I also taught both screenwriting and traditional writing classes at local film industry groups and adult education schools.
Finally, I also created a wealth of marketing materials to promote the screenplays and books, everything from: one-sheets, banners, post-cards, bookmarks, pitch-books, print ads, custom graphics, to flyers, and more!
Then along came Satcon Technology Corp., and I was ready to get back to work. This was a great company that had a dot-com feel to it. Plus, I really loved the fact that it operated in the sustainability market building solar power inverters to incorporate clean energy into the national grid. My supervisor at Satcon immediately recognized my writing abilities and had me working on everything from proposals, press releases, data-sheets, conference marketing collateral, to research projects and more. And I used a fair amount of digital media tools and including CMS and MAS. Plus, I stood in for the Director of PR who was on maternity leave at the time.
When Satcon unfortunately went under, I found myself switching gears working for Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center. And as the name implies, there was a ton of media that I produced, managed, and distributed. I was responsible for virtually every form of digital communications both into and out of the organization. I wore many hats there from Director of Social Media, Director of Public Relations, Senior Marketing Writer, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, to Producer of Special Broadcasts. The amount of work that I did there, and the wealth of digital online tools that I used, takes up almost an entire website to showcase: which is this website!
As you will see from these pages, there is a ton of content that I created for Dedham Television from websites, marketing collateral, public relations media, copywriting pieces, custom graphics, branding & logos, print ads, to video production, and even acting/hosting.
But like all good things, my time at Dedham TV came to an end when they ran out of money to keep me on. But the silver lining from all of that is the wealth of new skills and experience that I now have to offer a new organization.
I also would like to my note that the reason why this portfolio is jam-packed with written content not only about the pieces showcased here but also lots and lots of stories behind these pieces and my overall experiences as a writer, is that I have encountered my pitfalls throughout my writing career; pitfalls, caveats, and downright scams that I hope my fellow writers will avoid. The lessons learned, and detailed here, is intended to help those fledgling aspiring professional writers to not get taken advantage of—like I was. One of the most important lessons comes from acclaimed author, the late great Harlan Ellison. He says very plainly (in a video you can watch on my Journalism page), “Pay the writer!”
More lessons to follow throughout this portfolio…
One of my last clients was a Silicon Valley startup that needed a product launch announcement on Medium.com. I had to distill a copious amount of technical information from several white papers and online resources into a succinct 500+ word post. They actually had gone through several writers until they found me. And I delivered exactly what they were looking for!
I am a professional marketing and communications writer that can do just about anything you need!
I am currently on the market for a new and exciting permanent opportunity with a progressive organization utilizing all of my digital writing skills.
I invite you to peruse these pages and see all of the multi-dimensional benefits that I can bring to your organization.
I bring the: 21st Century Digital Writing!
I look forward to working with you!
Note: A properly formatted 1-page version of my resume can be viewed or downloaded here. My resume has evolved quite a bit over-the-years, which is why I am now using this simplified version. I’ve only gone back about 11 years on the current distributable resume but below you will find roles that I’ve had that go back even further.
I am a seasoned, experienced, and professional marketing and communications writer—with a focus on the digital media space. I can meet all of your copywriting, messaging, promotional, PR, SEO, editorial, web- content management, print collateral, lite image processing, proofreading, and advertising campaign needs.
Digital Copywriter at SeaChange International, 2018 – 2018
Developing and creating new messaging and rebranding content across the various digital channels (online, mobile, and interactive). Working with CMS, MAS, Adobe Creative Suite, and OTT/IPTV/VOD/TSTV marketing.
Marketing and Communications Writer at Creativedge – Innovative Marketing Solutions, 2014 – Present
Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center, 2013 – 2016
Managed and produced all digital communications, websites, marketing campaigns, print advertising, events, copywriting, and public relations media. Produced, directed, shot, and edited various broadcast programs.
SEO Analyst at MIT Sloan Management Review, 2012 – 2013
Provided comprehensive SEO analyses and restructuring, using innovative strategies (such as word clouds), for the publication’s archival preservation project.
Blogger, Author, Screenwriter, Writing Consultant, and Stay-at-Home Dad at TenthSphere.com, 2009 – 2010
Produced product marketing collateral and new business proposals to market facial recognition software and document authentication hardware products.
Marketing Communications Writer at VelocityDomain Network Solutions, 2003 – 2006
Provided comprehensive marketing and communications writing for clients with services including: marketing collateral, website content, direct mail pieces, proposals, research projects, graphic design support, white papers, interactive educational materials, project management, event coordination, print and media advertising, metrics testing, ecommerce support, press releases, and technical writing.
Corporate Clients: Irma S. Mann Strategic Marketing (ISM), R.M. Productions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Neshamkin French Architects, BC International Corporation, John Hancock Financial Services, Harvard Business School.
Product Marketing Specialist at B. Dalton, 2002 – 2002
Provided marketing content and promotional materials for booksellers.
Communications Associate/Tech Support at Thunder House Online Marketing Communications, 1997 – 2001
Worked with the account managers and marketing team to produce written and digital media content for clients. Corporate Clients: Smith Barney, Olympus Worldwide, UPS, Fleet Bank, State Street Bank, Marshalls.
Managed the Y2K Mitigation and Report Project, and drafted comprehensive annual Technology Infrastructure Budget Proposals.
Also provided desktop, server, web-services, and network technical software and hardware support for multiple platforms: Macintosh/OSes, PC/Windows, Silicon Graphics/IRIX, Sun Microsystems/SunSparc, and PC/Linux).
Note: Visit my LinkedIn profile here (or click the link on the webpage footer) for even more professional career background information on me.
I am currently developing a new fitness blog to help fans get into physical shape for cosplaying (e.g. superheroes, anime characters, game characters, etc.) at comic cons—learn more about that on my Everything Else! page.
Author & Screenwriter — I penned various Science-Fiction & Fantasy novellas and short-stories, and non-fiction books. Some of which were independently published in both digital and print formats, pitched to Literary Agents in New York City, and promoted at San Diego Comic-Con. I wrote both feature film and television format screenplays/teleplays. Some of which were produced and/or pitched to Hollywood Executives.
I am currently working on a new children’s space science adventure series that I am looking to get traditionally published.
Publisher — One of my other long-term enterprises is to run a small press for new genre sci-fi, fantasy, and supernatural authors. I am looking for crowdfunding investments to help finance this endeavor. The small press is called TenthSphere Collections. One of my goals is to publish a sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural anthology series, called Space Brain, and sell it at comic cons such as Boston Comic Con. I hope to promote a limited number of print books and ebooks from such authors at comic cons as well.
Marketing Communications writing is at the core of what I do. Honed over years working for some great companies and clients in the Boston area I have amassed a vast portfolio of mar/comm [that’s how I refer to the category] pieces to share.
The following examples include:
Direct Mail Solicitations
Social Media Marketing
Many of these pieces were created using a combination of Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and online mar/comm collateral creator tools such as Vistaprint.
Let’s jump into it, shall we?
B2B With DTV!
Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center was looking to expand their operations into the Business to Business (i.e. B2B) market. What they had to offer was a top-notch film/TV studio along with state-of-the-art video and editing equipment and software. It would be a perfect place for corporations to shoot and produce their corporate videos for conferences, training, and advertisements.
So when the Executive Director had a meeting with a high-level Boston area marketing executive, she came back to me to help your develop a new B2B marketing campaign.
And B2B With DTV! was born!
Not only did I produce the following promotional flyer but I also concepted, developed, and wrote all of the content that went into this marketing campaign. Furthermore, I had a ton of these flyers professionally printed up and I distributed them at various professional venues. Had I had more time at Dedham TV, I would have begun a direct mail campaign to circulate the flyers to corporations looking for our services.
Finally, I integrated all of the copy and images (that I shot and edited) into the version of the DedhamTV.com website that I created (see the Websites page for more on that project).
This flyer was created in Adobe InDesign. I heavily modified a great promo-template that I found on the Internet—including Dedham TV’s branded color scheme and style usage that I helped create. All of the images were shot by me and edited in Adobe Photoshop.
To learn more about new company tagline that I wrote for Dedham Television (that appears on this flyer) visit the Copywriting page.
Bamboo Rose Platform Raises Everyone!
On my Technical Writing page I have a detailed discussion about this promotional flyer that I created for Bamboo Rose. So definitely go there to read the entire story of how and why I created it.
The only thing that I’d like to add here is that I again heavily modified an Adobe InDesign template that I got from the Internet. Also, I took the company logo and lots of their graphics/images off their website and from Google searches; as well as, adding other images from Google to create the collages you see in the flyer. All of that image editing was done with Adobe Photoshop.
The goal here was to create a convention-ready promo-flyer (with a few minor tweaks) that they could use almost immediately. This was to show what I could do for them if they hired me for their Marketing Copywriter role.
As a professional writer these days, one has to be more skilled than just being able to put words on a page. Professional writers (Mar/Comm, Business, Copywriters, Legal, Industry, Medical, Technical, etc.) have to know tons of content creation software from the Adobe Suite of products to CMS and MAS systems (like WordPress and Marketo), and even wire-framing platforms like Axure.
Professional writers have to be highly-skilled “Jacks of all trades”, which goes back to my original argument (made on my Nick Iandolo page) that writing is not a service but a profession and should be treated as such!
My most recent client (as of Spring 2018) was SeaChange International. They are long-established Emmy award-winning player in the video advertising technology space. Their successful history of servicing the traditional cable TV industry is well-regarded. Currently, they are in the process of taking the vast OTT (i.e. Over-The-Top, which means not-cable TV but via the Internet) video delivery market by storm.
Their massive portfolio of end-to-end platform agnostic back-end systems, video delivery, ad-insertion, content management, and multiscreen multi-device user interfaces makes them a huge competitor for companies like TiVo, Comcast, and MobiTV to name a few.
This new endeavor was part of a huge rebranding project spearheaded by their VP of Marketing, Kurt Michel.
His Senior Director of Product Marketing, Claire Cobden hired me to work as their Digital Copywriter. It was an amazing contract role that allows me to produce: data-sheets, tech specs, web content, white papers, customer segmentation analyses, and other marketing collateral. In the short time that I had been with them I produced tons of copywriting content!
The piece featured here to the left was the culmination of all of the work that I did for SeaChange. Essentially, they bundled their best product families together to form a tightly integrated suite (or solution) and offer that as a complete product called PanoramiC.
The interesting thing about this piece is that 95% of what I originally wrote was preserved after several rounds of reviews! Also, I was responsible for the layout of the text boxes, the addition of the sidebar, and the use of a table to demonstrate use cases. In fact, I generated the use cases on this piece based partly on my own understanding of broadcast and network systems technologies—and they were right on as far as the product managers were concerned!
Overall, I built the templates that were used for the draft versions of datasheets and technical specs (see my Technical Writing page for an example of that), which elements from them went into the final published pieces.
I also did other work such as writing up Customer Segmentation Analyses, B2B Collateral Proofreading & Copyediting, and White Paper Revisions. Much of my work went into the new website.
The following piece is a mock-up example of the new datasheet template that I wrote and produced for them. The final version can be viewed below. I thought it would be worthwhile to display here for potential employers to see how I worked on these pieces. This was simply created in Microsoft Word (the final version was built in Adobe InDesign).
SeaChange Adrenalin (Final Published Version)
And here is the final published version. Note the similarities between the draft and the final versions. A lot of my design ideas were incorporated into the final version, including the sidebar, the graphic placement, the headers, the text box placements, and a third page of Merchandising Options. It goes without saying that I wrote all of the copy on both versions.
L-1 Identity Solutions DAS & AutoTest Families
One of the best companies I ever worked for was L-1 Identity Solutions (A.K.A. Viisage Technologies). I was brought on as a Marketing Communications Writer where got to do a crazy amount of writing: everything from case studies, web copy, proposals, data-sheets, marketing collateral, brand positioning and strategic messaging guides, to product descriptions, and more!
I worked with a great bunch of people whom I’ll never forget. I’d still be there if L-1 hadn’t acquired DigiMarc, then became MorphoTrust, then got acquired by Sarfan.
Sadly, the role ended after two years due to the acquisition and merger that saw my role there redundant. But that’s okay, because they treated me super well when I was there, and saw me off with respect and kindness—as all companies should.
On my Technical Writing page I go into great detail about the data-sheets that I wrote and produced for L-1 Identity Solutions/Viisage Technologies.
In the example to the left for the DAS Family of product solutions for Document Authentication Services, I had a bunch of technical specifications that I had to turn into features and benefits. I had already written a marketing Messaging Guide for the upcoming launch (see below), which included the value proposition for each of these products; therefore, I was well-versed in how to effectively write the product descriptions.
This data-sheet required a lot of elements from the main body headline and content, the features and benefits sidebar on the first page, to the tech specs and third-party integration on the second page. There’s a lot a negative space deliberately used in this document so as not to overwhelm the reader with content. I really like the L-1 color palette and design elements.
L-1/Viisage was a great company to work for. I’ll never forget how they gave me a place to focus my creative professional energy while I was grieving the loss of my mother. That organization came into my life at the right time and helped me in more ways than just professionally and financially. I made some good friends there, was paid what I was worth, and when it was time to leave they gave me a generous severance package that saw me through buying a new house and bringing home a new baby.
I only have great things to say about them. Period!
Here’s a funny L-1 anecdote: While I was helping on a huge proposal, one of the Sales Directors came up to me an said, “Ah, Nick, we’re going to need you to pick up some DL ID cards in Roxbury [Mass.].” To which I said, “Okay, no problem.” To which he then added, “And we’re going to need you to drop them off at a testing facility in Munich.” My reply was, “Munich? Munich Germany?” His final answer was, “Yes.” And so I was on a plane to Munich Germany the next day and did not sleep for like 48 hours! It was a crazy awesome adventure! I even got a chance to drink some amazing Hefeweizen beers at the Hofbräuhaus with a few Japanese businessmen!
The only thing I’ll reiterate here is that had I had the original Adobe InDesign file and the fonts, I would have done an even better job making this picture-perfect industry convention/conference-ready. However, I think the result of what I did have to work with came out really well. I only wish that my massive efforts were rewarded with at least a face-to-face interview. But that’s what happens when politics gets involved in hiring decisions.
If it’s any consolation, my buddy tells me that the person they did hire took nearly two months to start (when I could have started immediately!). So they cheated themselves out of two months of profitable work to accommodate some higher-up’s request. Oh well.
So my friends, when interviewing you should always ask,“How many people are you also considering for this role? What is your timeline to making a decision? Do I have as good a chance as the other candidates in winning this opportunity, or are you close to making an offer to someone else?”
These questions will save you a lot of time, aggravation, and heartache!
L-1 Identity Solutions – Illinois Secretary of State
This case is by far my favorite because the story behind it really shows off how fast a writer I am.
The story goes like this: The Directory of Marketing at L-1 (Viisage Technologies at the time), Marty Dugan (now the VP of Business Development at Inprentus) came up to me and said, “I need you to rewrite this case study for a conference going on in Germany right now. You have two hours to do it.”
And I gave it back to him fully rewritten to his absolute satisfaction in ONE!
And as aside, since the topic of the case study dealt with identity theft, I felt it necessary to ratchet up the drama and serious tone of the copy.
See for yourself.
NutriSavings – BSNENY Obesity Case Study
As a “hired gun” (i.e. a freelance writer), I am frequently called up on to do “one-offs” such as case studies, blog posts, contributing articles, and video scripts to name a few.
The following piece was written for NutriSavings, a B2B health and wellness service provider. They also have an app called NutriSavings Platform that subscribers can use to help them make healthier food purchases and receive discounts for doing so.
They called me in to collate several white papers and other content into a comprehensive case study on Obesity for their client BlueShield of Northeastern New York.
They would have been satisfied simply with the final copy in a Word document with no formatting, graphic elements, columns, or breakouts. But that’s not the way I roll when is comes to Marketing and Communications writing. I told them that the easiest way to do this was write it up as if it were the final published version.
The reason behind it is that it will be way easier to figure out how much space you have for limited word counts in each section and sub-section if you make it in template form instead of just writing willy-nilly in a Word document.
Having an idea of what constraints you have to work in is always better than trying to pare down the work—often times leading to abandoning content and having to start over.
Here, to the left, is the final draft version of the case study written and created in both MS Word and Adobe InDesign. The published piece is no longer available on the NutriSavings website due to its outdated data—now pending revision.
Oh, and though the authors on the document say that they are NutriSavings execs, I am the one who actually ghost-written it; I have the original files to prove it.
The most recent tagline, 21st Century Digital Writing, is my LinkedIn professional headline rather than whatever job title I’m shooting for. I believe my tagline in this case (i.e. for my entire profile) conveys far better what I can offer clients and companies than a job title that might get outdated. Good copywriting is future-proof!
Now granted, this doesn’t work in every case. And in fact, I chose to headline my Candidate Profile One-Sheet with a job title that makes it easier for prospective hiring managers to give my credentials a cursory glance for possible jobs that reflect that title.
Next up is the brand new and exciting tagline for Dedham Television.
Here was the old one:
Here is the new one that I wrote:
Integrated Media for a Connected Community!
Which one would you prefer?
Obviously the newer one that I wrote. The old tagline was wrapped up in the old logo and simply did not reflect the newer digital times that we live in. Therefore, I made a case to the Exec. Dir. to change it, and she agreed. The new tagline is used on the new Dedham TV website, product data-sheets (as on the reverse page of the document to the left), and on marketing collateral such as the business cards—see the Websites page and the Branding & Logos page for examples.
Best Western Centralized Advertising Website Program – ISM
Back when I was working at Irma S. Mann Strategic Marketing (ISM), I did a lot of copywriting for their Best Western Centralized Advertising Website Program (a mouthful, I know). My primary duty was to promote and grow the program which was a subscription service to a proprietary website builder app for BW franchisees. This involved reaching out the BW members nationally and internationally through direct mail, HTML email advertising, and faxback solicitations (yes, faxing as in facsimile machines, if you can recall what those were!).
The example here is a direct mail piece that I created in a Adobe Pagemill (a now defunct desktop publishing program, superseded by Adobe InDesign and Photoshop/Illustrator to a lesser extent).
Below is an example of a faxback solicitation!
And finally, below is an example of a rich HTML Email (direct mail) marketing campaign for the BW website program. This was actually created in both Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia (now Adobe) Dreamweaver. I coded this in HTML before it was sent to Constant Contact for distribution.
Note: Though the graphics and design might be a little slim on these three examples—due to the fact that I hadn’t fully developed my Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator skills at the time (ca. 2003-04)—the important thing to note is all of the actual copywriting in these samples. They are filled with all of the features that make for sizzling copywriting: hooks, humor, pithy witticisms, value propositions, price points vs. pain points, and calls to action to name a few. ISM actually had real graphic designers working on other client projects; I was one of the few writers who could bridge the divide between writing and design, and do it digitally!
Best Western Centralized Advertising Website Program – ISM
Even though there is a whole page Marketing and Communications page that is full of marketing collateral examples of my writing, I thought that a few examples here from the BW website program might also serve as samples of my copywriting work.
While I managed this program for ISM, I wrote a ton of stuff from technical documents, webcopy, reports, proposals, to the aforementioned direct mail pieces and more. Below is a sample of a report that was used as part of a Welcome Kit that I created for the BW website program. The kit’s purpose was to get the new subscriber to the program up-to-speed quickly to all of the features and benefits of the program, which included website statistics and SEO.
Print Ads are a staple of copywriting. As the Senior Communications Manager at DVAC I got to create a number of print ads that made their way into the local news publications such as The Dedham Times.
Below is an example of one such print ad announcing Dedham Television’s new website (that I built, see the Websites page for more info). Not only did I write all of the copy for this ad but I also created the design in Adobe Photoshop.
The important thing to note here is that the Dedham TV tagline also appears here on this ad. Furthermore, the fonts, branding, and logo were all carefully chosen to represent the organization. The ad succinctly illustrates all the new features and benefits of the DedhamTV.com website.
To the left is another print ad that also appeared in The Dedham Times that I worked on with Susan Howland of Creativedge – Innovative Marketing Solutions. This one was a simple promo for a live audience recording of a spiritual medium experience hosted by Dedham Television. Though the copy on this ad is pretty bare bones, the color graphics are what makes the ad really pop out.
Cut the Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY!
A long time ago I wrote two non-fiction books on screenwriting, the first one was titled Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY! It was, as the following banner describes it:
The concise easy-to-follow no BS book on screenwriting!
And it was!
In fact, the book was even endorsed by the organizers of Hollywood’s Great American PitchFest. So much so, that I was invited to be a guest exhibitor at their annual conference. They gave me a nice booth to occupy, for which I created this banner:
Note: This is a greatly reduced version of the original banner image. The original is a Photoshop file tops out at about 400MB and is over 8K pixels wide! The printed version of the banner that was used on the booth is almost 6 feet long!
Not only did I write the aforementioned non-fiction books but I also wrote a series of Science-Fiction books titled NLV (A.K.A. New Las Vegas). They were in novella formats, each chapter a semi-stand alone story but with an overall story arc. They featured a suite of recurring characters all loosely connected to each other.
The concept was about a super-sized version of Las Vegas in the future where almost nothing is illegal.
I managed to write, produce, and publish two EBooks of NLV—future chapters are still in development.
And to promote them, I created marketing collateral, which included promotional post cards. The following sample was distributed at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con resulting in thousands of downloads for each chapter!
Note: This postcard really highlighted the fact that the books were only available in EBook formats. This was a conscious choice to tap into the lucrative digital publishing market with almost no overhead for physical printing needs. Furthermore, the QR code on the back of the postcard takes you directly to NLVProject.com. The website also dedicated to the promotion and details about all things NLV. It was a great website full of media and news and so much more. The website is currently in a mothballed state as I am retooling the entire writing project for traditional publication.
What are Spec Sheets? They concept or idea documents. Essentially, an organization’s marketing department would bounce around new ideas and if they have a really good creative staff—especially writers—they can put together a flyer or data-sheet on a speculative product or service.
This type of copywriting can also be employed when campaigning for new opportunities at companies. I have had the opportunity to put together spec sheets for companies like GTECH(now IGT), BOSE, and HASBRO.
The following are my spec sheet samples that I created for each of the aforementioned organizations.
Back when the iPhone was a relatively new thing, it seemed like there was an app for just about anything coming out in droves. It was only a matter of time before online gambling apps would become a reality—albeit a mostly illegal reality. However, there are quasi-legitimate gambling apps that exist today such as: SLOTS.LV, DraftKings, and Lottery.com.
However, thinking forward as I was campaigning for a copywriting role with GTECH, I created and delivered this spec sheet on a new product called the iLotto by GTECH!
As you will see in the sample, this spec sheet has all the copywriting tropes: catchy headline, problem-action-result sales pitch, a call to action, plus some quick and dirty technical information to help entice customers.
When I create a spec sheet, I go all they way, which includes elements like copyright info, legal disclaimers, actual company graphics and branding styles, and design elements (sidebars, text boxes, etc.). This particular sample was created in an older version of Adobe InDesign.
Back when my desktop publishing skills were still in its infancy, I used Microsoft Word a lot to create more primitive spec sheets. However, my focus has always been on the writing first, then the graphic design. I’ve gotten a heck of a lot better since now that I use Adobe InDesign to create most of my spec sheets and marketing collateral for companies and clients.
But back in ’04 the iPod Click Wheel was all the rage!
Anyway, BOSE is a great company in Framingham Mass. and I really wanted to work there. So I put this spec sheet together as part of an interview strategy. This one isn’t as tricked out as the GTECH sample but the copy is what’s important here.
HASBRO: G.I. Pony & Escape From Starkiller Base
Hasbro is like a fortress: trying to breach the employment wall there is extremely difficult—even when one of your relatives works there!
I can’t tell you how many jobs I have applied for, phone screened, and interviewed for in the past. However, for one reason or another they never seem to move forward with me. I have sent them numerous portfolios and the following spec sheets. Sometimes when it seems like I’d be moving to the next level in the interview process, the job gets put on hold or cancelled. Sometimes I simply never hear from them again.
I often joke that no one gets hired at HASBRO…well, almost no one!
Anyway, here are two of my masterpieces during my feckless attempts to work at the “Star Wars and Marvel” toy company!
The first is G.I. Pony: Viva La Ponyville. This is a mash-up of My Little Pony and G.I. Joe, two HABRO merchandising properties. I thought it would be fun to put this together to demonstrate my Brand Writer skills. I have to credit Susan Howland of Creativedge here for the kick-butt pony images. I put together the spec logo at the top the sheet in Adobe Illustrator. Note the witty and whimsical style in the overall copy—especially with the horse puns used for the characters’ names.
I actually think this would have been a great toy line had I got a chance to pitch it!
The second is Star Wars: The Force Awakens – “Escape From Starkiller Base”.
The story idea is that you’re either a member of The Resistance or the First Order. You are trapped on the doomed Starkiller Base and have to escape before it blows up. The game play involves an interactive board game setup enhance by mini-touch screens and connected mobile devices. There was even a VR component to it as well.
The whole concept was to create a popular HASBRO brand-based game, and write the compelling copy for it, to campaign for a Games Writer position. They needed creative game ideas that encompassed their brands, and I gave them one!
It’s too bad that the work that went into this concept didn’t go anywhere. Oh well, I still think it would have made a best selling 21st Century game!
See for yourself.
Advertorials, the cross between an advertisement and an editorial, can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the fun that they are to write. You can literally tell any story you want in any fantastical way that you want, and still market and promote your product or service. The curse is when readers get deep into the advertorial and realize that they are not reading news but a thinly-veiled advertisement. It can be very annoying.
The key to not alienating your readers from the product or service that the advertorial is trying to promote is to simply be up front with them: this is an advertorial but you’re going to want to read it anyway. Why? Because it will tell a great story regardless.
That’s they way I wrote the following two advertorials.
Note — These documents are formatted in traditional formal short-story/journalism pre-publication formats. They were never intended to be dressed up as marketing collateral, only to be submitted (magazine-style) to the prospective employers.
SAM ADAMS OCTOBERFEST: THE NECTAR OF THE GODS
At one time, my favorite beer was Sam Adams Octoberfest. If you’re a craft brew drinker who could resist the malty and toffee flavor of this fine seasonal beverage?
And around that time my wife and I were getting married.
So being the ever exuberant writer that I am, I decided to write a series of Sam Adam Beer Chronicles that were both episodic and interconnected to each other (much like my science fiction novels). The first one I wrote was Sam Adams Octoberfest: The Nectar of the Gods. I won’t spoil the plot here; you can read it in its entirety by clicking on the image to the left.
Writing it was great fun; however, what was even more fun was handing a copy of the story to Jim Koch himself! For those who don’t know who Jim Koch is, he is the man who founded and presides over the Boston Beer Company, and is quite the folk hero around these parts!
He said he was thrilled to read it, which I hope he did but knowing how insanely busy he is, I’m sure he never got around to it. Regardless, giving the story to him was a personal victory for me!
HOW I GOT LUCKY ON CHRISTMAS GTECH: THE COMPANY BEHIND THE MAGIC
Next up is a little advertorial that I wrote for GTECH (again as part of my campaign to secure a writing position with them).
This one was about a true story of my wife Sue (as in Susan Howland of Creativedge who I keep mentioning all throughout this portfolio!) and a trip we made to a Connecticut casino of Christmas Day Night. Since GTECH (and presumably IGT now) makes casino gaming machines, I thought that it would be a great idea to merge the two into an advertorial that I could use to present myself to the company.
Though it went nowhere, here is the story anyway, which illustrates my copywriting and advertising writing skills.
As I have mentioned before, a lot of times prospective employers want to know if you have the chops to write for them; therefore, they will give you (the writing candidate) an assignment. For NASUNI Corp. it was two product reviews that answered questions they proposed.
Here they are for your reading enjoyment!
Note — This was written in 2010, a lot has changed technology-wise since then. I am now the proud owner of a prematurely past-its-prime iPhone 7!
As we near the final entries into my Copywriting section of this online portfolio, I have decided to include the following story pitches that wrote for Thrillist Boston. If there’s one thing you can say about me, it is that I have no shortage of ideas. This should be a good benefit to any future employers who need writers that can constantly come up with new stories and story angles for their marketing efforts. I am that person!
Spec Copywriting Samples
Finally, I’d like to end off this section with some Spec Copywriting Samples. One agency that I reached out to required that I was familiar with all of the various copywriting styles.
Know, Like Trust
Problem, Pain, Promise
B2C Copywriting, Bonus/Incentive
Of course I am!
So here they are!
If I were Apple Inc. here’s what I’d say about the new iHoloPhone:
“Telegraph, Telephone, Cellphone, iPhone… Meet the 2020 iHoloPhone: everything before it: is like tying a string between two cups!”
If I were Tesla Motors here’s what I’d say about the new Hydrogen-powered Model H1X car:
“Now the most prevalent substance in the Universe powers your car…forever. The H1X utilizes the most advanced eco friendly hydrogen burning engine on the planet for a staggering 1000 miles per cubic meter of H1 gas. And the only emission is water vapor. This is the car that Mother Earth has been waiting for— so have you!”
If I were Del Frisco’s Grille opening up in Dedham Mass, here’s how I’d get “foodies” to come to my new location:
“New York has only one; Massachusetts now has three! Who knows steak better than New Englanders? Come in out of the cold, watch the Pats win in the next ‘snowbowl’ and dive into the best rib eye this side of the Charles!”
KNOW, LIKE, AND TRUST
If I were a fast-growing local financial services organization that wanted to sound like the big Wall Street boys, here’s how I would write my next ad:
“AIG, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, BOA, AMEX, and two of the Big Three automakers: what do they all have in common? Nothing with Dedham Financial Corp! We don’t take bailouts, handouts, or copouts! Our clients make the money first. That’s the DFC guarantee!”
PROBLEM, PAIN, AND PROMISE
If I were a health care provider organization such as Lahey Hospital here’s the message that I would to convey to patients considering changing medical services:
“Lahey Hospital: honest, caring, convenient, and comprehensive medicine. Everything you need to get well again.”
B2C COPYWRITING, BONUS/INCENTIVE
If I were Ben and Jerry’s moving into JP Licks’ territory here’s how I’d run my campaign:
“This Saturday at Ben and Jerry’s newest location in Dedham Mass there will be an ice cream blowout! All of your favorite flavors: New York Superfudge Chunk, Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and many more, plus some blasts from the past like Rainforest Crunch and Wavy Gravy, will be given away to the first 200 customers who come on down! Also there will be games, entertainment, and maybe even a clown or two! Don’t miss this Ice Cream Madness in May event!”
If I were a web-services company here’s how I would write my banner ad:
“Web hosting, web development, and ad words, all made easy with One Click Web!”
If I were resurrecting Satcon Technologies, here’s how I would spread the word:
“National security has always relied on strong stable energy resources. Now more than ever America needs to utilize and optimize its domestic sustainable power sources: solar, wind, and clean burning coal. Satcon offers its energy grid customers a vast array of new products designed to make power generation and transmission safe and secure for America’s future and beyond!”
If I were sending out a direct mail piece to tell local residents that a new small business (a jewelry store) was opening up in Dedham Square, here’s how I’d get their attention:
“Dedham Square has just become a little more sparkly! Caution! You may need sunglasses to see what’s inside!”
JUNK OFF! 20% OFF WASTE REMOVAL NOW!
RUN THE RACE GET FREE STUFF!!!
BUY ONE, GET TWO FREE! BUY TWO, GET FOUR FREE!
FORGOT ABOUT VALENTINE’S DAY? WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED!
Journalism, which includes magazine articles, blogs, and travelogues, has been a favorite activity of mine for a long time. I have really enjoyed going on location, taking in the local color, speaking with talent and celebrities, covering events, ghost writing, penning contributing articles, and writing about all kinds of subjects—especially for pop-culture, product announcements, consumer protection, how-tos, and special events.
Below are links to the various journalistic articles that I have written, published, and posted over the years.
During my corporate hiatus between L-1 Identity Solutions and Satcon Technology Corp. I spent some time as a blogger ca. 2009 – 2010. My first real blogging gig was with Beantown Socialite owned and operated by Kristen Haley of X10Industries (now called Zomalo) at the time.
She’s since moved to Newport Rhode Island and runs a similar enterprise down there called Newport Social.
Sometime after I stopped writing for Beantown, the site was migrated from its original server to a WordPress-based server (the domain name beantownsocialite.com now points to zomalo.com. Though the copy, styles, and external links, were successfully transferred to the new hosting site; unfortunately, the images and relative links (for multi-part articles) were not. I have no idea why her tech. did not move the images over as well.
So the following 3-part article on Quebec City (among others of mine) has been sitting on the current Beantown Socialite WordPress site for years without its images and no internal links connecting the parts.
But since I’ve been building this portfolio of my work, I thought it would be nice to restore at least this article to its former glory: images and relative links and all.
This took quite a while, so I probably won’t be doing it for the other ones any time soon. However, you can get a sense of the Travelogue Writing aspect of my Journalism Writing with this article that was published in Summer/Fall of 2010 on Beantown Socialite.
Embracing the Chaos—Rhode Island Comic Con Rights the Ship
By Nick Iandolo
Fast forward a few years and I had been covering Rhode Island Comic Con for four years.
The 2014 RICC was quite an event! Not in a good though. It seems that the con was way oversold and the fire marshall closed the doors in the middle of the Saturday part of the convention—locking out thousands of fans, artists, and vendors on an exceptionally cold and blustery day in November! It was a media and public relations disaster for the company that runs the event, Altered Reality Entertainment. I document the entire pop-culture con meltdown in my Motif article titled: Rhode Island Comic Con Growing Pains.
The following year, 2015, RICC made Herculean efforts to redeem themselves and fix what happened in that disastrous Junior year. Which they did!
As a member of the press, I was invited to witness and document every aspect of the convention and the major strides they made to turn things around.
It should be noted that this was a nearly 12,000 word article! In fact, Mike Ryan once said about me, “Nick is the only writer that I know who can take 100 words and turn them into 1000!” That’s the kind of writer I am. Literally two days after the convention, when one of the editors called me and asked how the article was coming along, I answered with, “It’s done: 12000 words!” She was floored, and so was Mike!
Here is the article in all of its 12K word glory!
I have a lot more articles that I wrote for Motif available here. Lots of them were on other topics like movie and documentary reviews, interviews with local pop-culture celebrities, an on-set coverage of a film production, a horror convention coverage, commentaries, and more. There’s also an epic 4-article series covering the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con!
I did a lot writing for Motif, made some good friends there, and had some good times (including producing and co-hosting with Rosemary Pacheco a movie review show called Take 2, and being an awards-show presenter).
Here’s one of our better episodes:
However, just like my days at Dedham Television/DVAC, they had to come to an end, and I needed to move on to new and exciting opportunities.
Master the iOS Photos App with These Hidden Gems
By Nick Iandolo
Sometime during March/April of 2017 I took a job as a Staff Writer for an Commercial Blog that focused on consumer electronics (e.g. smart phones), Internet user technology (e.g. WordPress), technical how-tos, user-tech online courses, and technology-business-related eBooks. The company/blog was called Make Tech Easier.
This was a great gig! I got paid to write articles (i.e. blog posts) from home. I loved the idea of working for a company was so decentralized that my editor was in Singapore and my fellow writers were all over the world. We used Hipchat to meet online and discuss business (story pitches, writing advice, etc.).
Now without further adieu here is an example of the types of articles that I wrote for Make Tech Easier:
iCloud Apple ID – When Taking a Call Through Your Computer is Just Too Cool!
By Nick Iandolo
This one is all about the power of Apple ID published on LinkedIn Pulse. Not only are there useful tips in the article but a few infographics and images that I created to help the reader (you can see one of them on my Custom Graphics page under Infographics).
Managing your Emails: Email Software or Cloud?
By Nick Iandolo
This article was also published on LinkedIn Pulse.
I think there’s a lot of good info in this article—especially the advice of using an email address of a dedicated professional (i.e. non “GMail,” etc.) domain name (like firstname.lastname@example.org). Nothing says amateur than using a generic email address/domain name!
Note: The reason why these LinkedIn Pulse articles are links from the images and not directly hosted PDFs like the articles above is because I know that my LinkedIn Pulse articles will be there as long as I am on LinkedIn, so I don’t have to worry about these examples suddenly becoming unavailable like parts of the Quebec City article above. If anything changes with that, I’ll post hosted versions here.
Trade and Industry Publishing
New Uses of ePassports: Automated Border Crossing and Beyond
Ghostwritten by Nick Iandolo
Sometime shortly after I started working for Viisage/L-1 Identity Solutions, my writing abilities were quickly recognized and utilized by the Director of Marketing, the Director of Sales, and the VP of Sales at the time: Marty Dugan, Jeremy Kirsch, and Jenny Openshaw respectively. All have gone on to become high-level execs of some outstanding companies in the the technology industry (Jenny is now SVP of Sales and Sales Operations, of what L-1 ultimately evolved into, IDEMIA).
During that time (ca. 2007-2008) I was given the wonderful opportunity to ghostwrite and article for Smart Card News (a British identity technologies publication). I have the original drafts to prove that I actually wrote it.
The following article that I wrote was on the exciting new uses for ePassports—especially as it pertained to border security—much more effective than building a feckless $26B wall if you ask me!
This document is an excerpt from the publication that features my article (pps. 14-16)—see the link below to view the entire magazine.
Over the years I have been involved with a number of branding and re-branding projects for various organizations. Also, I have created unique logos for companies that capture the essence of their business model and mission statement.
Below are a few examples of my branding and logo work. Note: Logos were created by me in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
Yes, I created a logo for myself to brand me as a professional marketing communications writer (with a plethora of other professional skills). Now-a-days, as a professional individual (not just a corporate entity), one must have a unique identity, which includes a brand, that sets them apart from the rest of the competition. Professional writing is as much a competitive industry as any other.
If you look at this Portfolio Website overall, you will see that it is rife with the same branding styles and colors as the rest of my Nick Iandolo-centered marketing collateral.
The logo I chose to create was built around my initials [N, I] and my chosen moniker [Nick Iandolo]. Since I really like the colors red and black I, chose to incorporate them into my logo and brand.
The branding styles can be best seen on my current Candidate Profile One-Sheet that I send around to prospective employers. You can learn more about it on my Marketing Communications page (see the link above).
This logo and branding is also incorporated into a series of banners for my professional social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+), see below:
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Banner
This banner (like this post’s featured image), displays my logo over a background of the Boston Harbor waterfront at night. Since I am a Boston-based professional writer (and was born in Boston), I have a special connection to this city; therefore, I use its imagery as part of my branding style. Also note that my tagline, 21st Century Digital Writing, is also part of the banner and my branding concept.
This one was created for the above social media channels based on their general image size guidelines. It translates fairly well for the various platforms that it appears on such as a computer webpage, mobile phone, or a tablet.
YouTube required a slight different version of the banner. The following image moves the logo and tagline to the center of the image (and makes it more prominent), which shows up better on YouTube webpage and mobile sites.
DVAC – Digital Visionary Access Corporation
The time that I spent at DVAC was an educational experience like none other. The volume of work that I produced there was second to none. Couple that with the wealth of new skills that I acquired allowed me to do just about anything that I could think of at that organization.
This included rebranding the entire organization with new logos, signage, and copy.
Part of that was changing the name from the old Dedham Visionary Access Corporation to the modern Digital Visionary Access Corporation. And with that, a logo to accompany the new moniker.
Below, the logo incorporates the DVAC initials along with the new company name. I wanted to keep the overall color scheme used for the Dedham Television logo but add some new colors in there as well. Also, note the ring and electron-like balls surrounding the words. That was to represent the modern digital age of the organization.
I created this logo in Adobe Illustrator.
I also created a new LinkedIn business page for DVAC. This page required a professional-looking header (below); therefore, I applied my Photoshop skills taking the logo and adding it to a collage of both the rolling green hills of Ireland and an aerial shot of New York City’s Times Square at night—the perfect balance of nature and beauty merging with our digital world.
Note: This is the original image of the banner/header. The LinkedIn business page itself was updated to a new format, and has changed the way it displays the image, which I do not have any control over.
Part of the rebranding package that I did for DVAC/Dedham Television was changing their old feckless tagline from “Watch It!” to the modern and robust “Integrated Media for a Connected Community!”
The new tagline shows up on everything from the header on the new Dedham TV website that I built, to the aforementioned video bumper, to the new business cards that I designed for the organization—see below.
As a founding member of VDNS, I not only worked on the website but also the marketing collateral, which included the branding and logo.
The VDNS logo was created in Adobe Illustrator with the help of Susan Howland. We went with a design that was like a swirling vortex that represented the power and enthusiasm of our organization. The logo was primarily black and white with the vortex in color. We chose a purple and red color motif. Also the words Velocity and Domain were smashed together as was the convention at the time.
Finally, the tagline was simply the rest of the organization’s name: Network Solutions. However, we went with lowercase letters ending with a period. I also included some of the computer platforms we worked on underneath that for marketing and branding purposes (i.e. the technical tagline).
We created a white-filled version of the logo for the flash website, which you can see in the sample image on the Websites page.
Finally, I came up with a branding tagline used on the website that we believed represented our core values as solutions providers:
“no fancy slogans, no smoke and mirrors…network solutions.”
We even made a version of our logo with it.
One important thing to note about the look and feel of the VDNS organization was that we were all very Bostonian in our corporate culture. We all came out of the dot-com era that was high in metropolitan lifestyle and design. Boston had a flair all of its own separate from NYC or San Francisco—despite the fact that many of our companies had offices in those cities as well. We were all “professionally casual” most of the time, as were the companies and clients we worked for. This branding style is best represented by the design work on the website’s splash/landing page (see the link above) and our marketing collateral on the Marketing Communications page.
Brand Positioning as defined by Philip Kotler (Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University) is: The act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.
There are 3 comprehensive steps to successful brand positioning:
Understand what your customers want, your company’s brand capabilities, and how you’re competitors are positioning their brands.
Choose a positioning statement that will resonate with your customers, can be delivered by your company, and differentiates itself from your competitors.
Finally reflect the brand positioning in everything your company does, e.g.: packaging, communications, product design, service, visual identity, brand personality, etc.
These were certainly challenges to meet but over the years I have found different ways in which to accomplish brand positioning goals—see below for examples.
L-1 Identity Solutions
At L-1 Identity Solutions (formerly Viisage Technologies), I was part of the Sales & Marketing team. I wrote lots of marketing and communications collateral for that organization—some of which included brand positioning documents.
The following two examples demonstrate various brand positioning strategies: Strategic Messaging, Key Message,Value Propositions, Competitive Advantages, and Key Differentiators.
ID Suite Launch Messaging Guide
Satcon Technology Corporation
Both L-1 and Satcon were two of my favorite companies to work for. Had L-1 not merged and became MorphoTrust then Sarfan, or had not Satcon gone under in a market that was just not ready for solar sustainability energy grid equipment manufacturing, I’d still be at either!
But companies change and they come and go. You just have to keep rolling along and adapting.
With that said, I did everything I could to help both thrive in their respective industries. For Satcon, I got the opportunity to step in for the Public Relations Manager while she was on maternity leave. During that time I wrote a host of PR and marketing collateral for the organization, most of which you will see strewn throughout this portfolio.
I also worked very closely with the Sales Department writing Proposals for Government Contract Awards, B2B Sales Letters, and project success stories (which were used in said proposals).
The following is an example of one of those Project Success Stories.
And finally here is a B2B Sales Letter that also presents brand positioning for Satcon. Note the lowercase initials “nri” at the bottom of the letter—those are my initials in the who actually wrote the letter location otherwise known as “the typist.”
From time-to-time I am called upon to use my Adobe Photoshop skills to create custom graphics for organizations, clients, and productions. Usually these custom graphics compliment the professional writing or video projects as part of the deliverables for the aforementioned entities.
Below are examples of the custom graphics that I created and their associated projects (writing or video production).
This collage was produced for the aforementioned program, which was a panel discussion and a live Q&A session about the environmental impact of the Algonquin high-pressure gas pipeline extension (known as the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline) passing through the Massachusetts communities of Dedham, Westwood, West Roxbury, and on to Boston. This was a deeply fought over issue in both the courts and with non-violent civil disobedience at the work sites. Even a member of Dedham’s Board of Selectmen, Michael Butler, was arrested attempting to stop work on the pipeline. The image of his arrest is in the upper right part of the title card.
I was also the program’s main producer, giving it its title: CROSSROADS…
Therefore, for the title card, I chose the two road crossing motif along with a montage of pipeline protest images. Also, I made sure that the Dedham Television brand logo appeared on the show’s title card.
The fonts and font colors were also carefully chosen to represent the intensity of the controversy while being easily viewable over broadcast airwaves and video streaming services.
The next three title cards were created for a children’s program that I helped to produce. Each card represents a different segment of the show.
How To Draw
This segment was a essentially a POV tutorial for kids to show them how to draw an animal. I chose a slew of kids-related hand-drawn images, along with a colorful rainbow palette for the segment’s title. The fonts were also specifically chosen to capture the youthful nature of the segment.
The girls in this segment wanted to do a full gymnastics demonstration. I thought it would be fun to call it Gymnastics Elastics because of the amazing flexibility that they had. I kept the design simple focusing on a collage of great gymnastic scenes from The Olympics and World Championships. The font was chosen to express the elasticity of the gymnasts.
The Secret Life Of Animals: Pandas
Finally, the kids did a segment on Panda Bears; therefore, I chose to create a college of pandas doing all kinds of silly things. I chose two different fonts and color sets for the show’s title and sub-title to give it visual variety.
NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER: NSFC @ SDCC – The Renegade Panel
I wanted the logo for the show to be obviously comics-based; therefore, I incorporated a variant of Captain America’s iconic Vibranium shield as well as me in a variant of Cap’s uniform—only instead of an A on the cowl, there’s an N! The font is, as you would guess it: Comic Sans, which was the official font for the show.
During the editing of this episode, the great Leonard Nimoy (who play Spock from TVs Star Trek) passed away. I thought it was only fitting to dedicate the episode to him. There is an opening dedication to Leonard that is a title with a background image of the Vulcan IDIC (an iconic totem from Star Trek lore). However, at the very end of the episode, I created this superimposition of Leonard both young (as he was when he first played Spock) and older (as he was before he died: venerated)—note the background image of the original USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and Shuttlecraft Galileo, and the Star Trek fonts. I also employed a feathering technique on this memorial.
His great artistic talent and love of humanity will be sorely missed!
Type: Title Cards (for show segments only)
Though The Renegade Panel was a special NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER broadcast, it was part of a much larger regular episode that would have been aired had the show not been cancelled. This larger episode simply called NSFC @ SDCC was going to employ a hybrid of documentary and journalism style covering the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con; as well as, the standard 4-segment format of the regular NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER show.
Those four segments were known as: Wormhole Extreme!, From Beyond The Stars!, The Amazing Cinematograph!, and Future Shock!
The following are title cards from each of those segments. The were also co-created in Adobe Photoshop with the help of Susan Howland of Creativedge. As you can see from each of these designs, I employed a Retro-Sci-Fi/Art-Deco design (with a little modern sci-fi imagery sprinkled in) in both the images and fonts. I wanted to capture the Golden Age of Science Fiction with these title cards. Even The Amazing Cinematograph harkens back to sci-fi movie classics such as Fritz Lang’sMetropolis.
During the run of NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER, I also produced a much smaller version of the show called NSFC Update!
This was supposed to be a 5-12 minute quickie version of the show’s more informational content such as pop-culture convention dates, movie releases and reviews, and other announcements. It quickly morphed into whole show in and of itself with some genre-related comedy skits as well.
This title card was used in the opening sequence of the show. It was a collage of great sci-fi tropes and imagery from Godzilla to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It still uses the Comic Sans font.
Again, this was co-created with the help of Susan Howland of Creativedge.
Aside from Broadcast Media, I also use my Adobe Photoshop skills to create Marketing Collateral for companies, clients, organizations. The custom graphics used on this data-sheet that I created for Bamboo Rose (a retail software company) was tailored specific to the flavor, style, and message that the company required to promote their product.
The first page header of the data-sheet is a collage of elements from their software platform, retail industry images, and the company logo.
The reverse side incorporated a fashion and lifestyle collage that preceded the company’s Factoid.
Type: Product Concept
Finally, there is a demo image of a fictional product that the Bamboo Rose retail software platform is capable of creating from concept to store shelves (it’s a visual part of the case study described on the reverse side of the data-sheet).
Frequently, as I create mar/comm and writing-related content for websites, custom graphics are an essential part of telling the story both textually and visually. The following backgrounds were created by me in Adobe Photoshop for three micro-sites that I built for Dedham Television. Each micro-site represented a Video-on-Demand channel for the broadcast media organization. The channels were: VIDEOSNOW! (for entertainment programs including NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER), MeetingVids§ (for municipal and community programs), and SchoolSpaceπ (for educational and kid’s programs).
Each background was designed to compliment and enhance the channel’s purpose.
Note: These are the full sized original images. The ones that are actually used on the micro-sites are blurred out versions because the focus there is on the uploaded and available videos.
Type: Entertainment Programs Collage
This collage represented all of the major public entertainment shows that Dedham Television was airing at the time—including the shows that I had produced. It was designed to easily fit into an HD broadcast screen size and aspect ratio.
Type: Municipal Collage
This collage is a collection of the foremost public buildings in Dedham (the town hall, the court house, the Ames Schoolhouse/future town hall, and the Endicott Estate), plus the official Seal of the Town of Dedham Massachusetts.
Though I usually write the copy for advertisements that I’m working on, from time-to-time, I’ve been asked to also provide a custom graphic design for the ad as well.
This one was a simple quarter-page ad announcing the new website for Dedham Television (that I built, see the Websites page for more info on that). The ad not only discussed all of the great new bells and whistles that Dedham TV was promoting on its online presence, but also I chose a mobile-web design motif for the ad. The copy is framed by an outline of an iPad, the new Dedham Television logo (that I created, see the Branding & Logos page for more info on that) also appears prominently, the fonts I use are a combination of 3D and elegant, the layout of the text is carefully placed for readability, and the company’s new tagline [“Integrated Media for a Connected Community!”]—which I wrote (see the Copywriting page for more info on that)—fills out the bottom of the ad.
It goes without saying that I wrote all of the copy for this ad as well.
I’ve written for a few blogs as a paid freelance writer. The most recent being Make Tech Easier (MTE)—a consumer technology how-to and review online publication. As a writer for them, I frequently had to provide custom graphics for my articles.
The following examples come from my published articles on MTE.
This custom graphic is a collage of screenshots depicting the use of Apple’s Photos App for iPhone. The article it appears in is titled Master the iOS Photos App with These Hidden Gems. This was created using the Apple’s iOS Photos App and Adobe Photoshop.
Type: Processed DSLR RAW images via Adobe Lightroom
One last side note about my custom graphics skills as it pertains to my professional writing experience is also my ability to digitally process images in general. In other words, not just taking digital pics and plopping them into Photoshop to mash them up with other images and add titles and effects, but also to take nicely shot images and tweak them in Adobe Lightroom for photo galleries and such.
Even though I am a big fan of using the HDR setting on my iPhone to take professional-quality images that I will process later for a dedicated purpose, I also use a Canon DSLR camera for really amazing shots, which is evident by the following example:
On the former DedhamTV.com Summer Camp page, I had a photo gallery with pics of one of the kids’ video production classes that was held. In the original photo to the left of Anne (an intern at the time) and the kids, it had some issues—especially where Anne’s black dress was concerned. As you can see in the original, her dress is almost completely detail-less. Also, the lighting tones (due to the neon lights above) were too cold and lifeless. The image is a little blurry thanks to the kids’ constant movement, but I kept it that way because they made the class full of life with their youthful exuberance—you can’t beat that!
Using Lightroom, I tweaked the contrast, brightness, and histogram of the image to rectify the above issues, as you can see here:
In the second example here, Anne is down in the studio setting up for a shoot. Again the details of her dress weren’t apparent and the lighting was too bland.
All of which I fixed in Lightroom here:
Note: These examples are not the actual original images. The RAW camera files are about 25MB each (too big for web pages), and the processed images currently in the linked photo gallery are 1920 x 1280 when viewed full size. The images here are reduced in size for easy posting and example purposes for this portfolio.
Unfortunately, you can no longer view the entire photo gallery as the new, new Dedham TV website (that I was not involved in, which is sorely lacking in a lot of the great and relevant content I created) has omitted the nice photo gallery (that I worked really hard on) for that page. In my opinion, this is a big marketing mistake. Simplifying the DTV website loses all of the features and benefits details that prospective businesses would want to know about before working with Dedham Television. This also includes parents who would consider sending their kids to the Dedham TV Summer Camp. Those images in the photo gallery would have been very helpful to generate new campers to sign up. But now it’s gone! Oh well…
Here you will find a cross-section of videos that I directed, wrote, shot, edited, produced, distributed, and sometimes even hosted.
They are sorted by type, i.e. documentary, special program, genre news/journalism, promotional video, PSA, and performing arts.
Also below you will find detailed discussions about video scripts and video projects; some of which that did not get past the proposal or development stage, and some that did not work out as planned.
Feel free to watch, read, and enjoy!
Noble and Greenough — Stamp Out Hunger — 2014
Production Notes: Directed, shot, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. This was a request from the Noble and Greenough School to cover this annual community service program. After arriving, I decided to shoot it as a documentary because there was so much human interest material and the school campus made for a great picturesque location. I got a wealth of footage that day including B-roll, interviews, and montage material.
Back at the studio, I used Final Cut Pro 7 to edit the video; adding classical music from Bach, Beethoven, Delibes, and Rodrigo. I also used a variety of motion techniques to convey theme and story elements.
Overall, this 11-minute video really captured the essence of this all-day charitable event to benefit the hungry and food insecure. And it was lauded by the school’s marketing and communications department as the best coverage and broadcast of their yearly event.
Taste Dedham — 2014 — The Halloween Special
Production Notes: Directed, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. At last minute, I was called in to host a special annual event called Taste Dedham. This is a local food expo where restauranteurs, caterers, and food service organizations come together to showcase their delicious wares, along with music, and dancing, and fun! These expos usually are theme-based and this one was a Halloween special. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to go and host it as Batman!
I had a cameraman with me who shot while I hosted and directed. Back at the studio, I edited this program on Final Cut Pro 7. I used royalty-free music and media from Video & Audio Blocks. I used some public domain images from The Internet. And legally under the Fair Use Policy, I used snippets of commercial music.
This 34-minute program is a cavalcade of food exhibition and fun montages, jaunty interviews, a memorial to Boston’s late great Mayor Thomas Menino, and there’s even a blooper reel during the end credits!
The Dedham Rotary Club and Open Table praised the production and broadcast as being the best and most entertaining coverage of this event ever and to date.
Production Notes: Directed, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. During my time at Dedham Television/DVAC (Digital Visionary Access Corp.), I produced and ran a show called NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER. It was a genre/pop-culture news, comedy, and commentary show that featured guests from the film and TV industry, characters from sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, original characters, fun locations, and music.
This episode was shot at San Diego Comic-Con. I brought a cameraman with me and we shot the entire convention including this panel discussion with two players in the Hollywood film and TV industry: Daniel Thron and David Bryant.
There is also lots footage and montages from the convention as a whole (5 days worth). I make use of fast and slow motion techniques to help convey the scale of this massive event. Footage was also shot on an iPhone 5s as well as multiple digital HD cameras.
The episode was edited by me with Final Cut Pro X (the first to be edited on this new platform for Dedham Television). I utilize a wide range of editing techniques from: motion transitions, multi-camera angles (using PluralEyes to synch the audio), multiple video tracks that include overlaid media (i.e. public domain images and movie clips), multiple audio tracks that include royalty-free music and sound effects, scrolling backgrounds, and even a 7-video track 2-film comparison starting at time code 26:49. I also used animations generated in Adobe After Effects.
Finally, I added a memorial to the late great Leonard Nimoy (better known as Spock from TV’s Star Trek).
This is my best producing and editing work thus far and it was well received for YouTube Comic-Con-related broadcasts of 2015, and the best show Dedham Television ever produced!
Sandra Gilpatrick — Wealth Consultant
Production Notes: Directed, co-written, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Sandra Gilpatrick, CFP®, CDFA™, Wealth Consultant. Sandra is a good friend of mine. Her woman-owned business, helping independent women manage their finances, is a remarkable enterprise. So when she wanted to promote her business, she felt that a promo-video would be a great place to start. We discussed various options at my studio office and decided to draft a 5 – 7 page script first. We whittled it down to about 4 pages, coming in at about 3 minutes.
The first iteration of the video was shot at my studio in front of a blue screen, edited on Final Cut Pro 7 which later I put in lots of royalty-free establishing shots of the Boston skyline from Video Blocks. We also used some jazzy royalty-free music from Audio Blocks. Though Sandra and her husband appreciated the first pass at the video, they felt that they needed a more intimate setting that captured the class of sophistication that Sandra really does exude.
So we decided to reshoot the video at the St. Botolph Club in Boston’s Back Bay. We used a single camera shoot with a teleprompter. We shot in two of the most elegant rooms in the club (the Atlantic Room and the Green Room). Finally, we shot some B-roll footage of Sandra walking along the Parisian-style mall on Commonwealth Avenue.
Back in the studio, with the blue screen concept abandoned, I chose a different editing approach. Sandra wanted to pay homage to her wonderful and inspiration grandmother, so I did a Ken Burns-effect image pan of Sandra’s grandparents. Also, we changed the background music to something trendier and hip from Pond5. We used some iPhone captured footage from lectures on finance that Sandra gave in a montage. I also added overlays, chirons, and titles.
In the end, I produced for a Sandra a nice little promo-video that she is very happy with, has had many views, and screenshots from it adorn her website’s homepage.
Public Service Announcement/PSA
NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Batman vs. Harley Quinn!
Production Notes: Directed, written, hosted, and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. A few years ago it seemed like everyone was jumping on the Ice Bucket Challenge to help raise awareness and research funds for treating ALS. Well, I felt that Dedham Television needed to do their own version of the Ice Bucket Challenge and since I was producing NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER at the time, I decided to do a superhero/super-villian version of the Internet meme.
I got one of my actors, the beautiful and whimsical Katie Lewis (who loves to cosplay at comic cons herself), to dress up as Harley Quinn, and I donned a Batman costume, so we could do a real cute and sneaky version of the challenge!
This was a multi-camera shoot outside of Dedham Television’s studio in the parking lot. It was edited on Final Cut Pro 7 with very little bells and whistles as far as effects were concerned since it was a PSA.
This was a very well-received version of the Ice Bucket Challenge and Dedham Television also donated $100 to the cause.
Kira Seamon’s Bird Ballet
Production Notes: Directed and edited by Nick Iandolo for Dedham Television. This one was a bit of a challenge because there was very little time to prepare for this shoot. Essentially, I was asked to cover this performance art event at the Traditions of Dedham, Senior Living Facility. Kira Seamon is a performance artist, and one of her passions is community service—especially for seniors. Therefore, she choreographed an entire ballet to music from Tchaikovsky’s three most-notable ballets (The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake) along with a visual presentation of photography centered around domestic and exotic birds.
Some of the more difficult aspects of filming this was that I was only allowed one spot in which film (the rear of the hall); therefore, I focused solely on Kira’s performance. The greater challenge was the audio. Kira’s audio system was not up-to-snuff; the music was poorly amplified. Therefore, being a classical music audiophile myself, I dubbed over pre-recorded digital versions of the ballet pieces in place of the original audio.
I also wove in and out of the performances in the editing process (using Final Cut Pro X) fading between Kira and her photographic work, which I felt made for a more interesting video presentation. Finally, I added a few small interviews during some of the performances, and a royalty-free video from Video Blocks of swans during the end credits.
This was also the first time Dedham Television utilized the new video bumper tag and logo that I created in both Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.
The Executive Director of Dedham Television praised my work on this project saying that I took a nearly un-film-able event and turned it into a work of art!
Video Scripts/Video Projects
Writing for educational and public broadcast media or for commercial video is somewhat different from traditional screenwriting or episodic television script writing. I have written lots of traditional screenplays (following the tenets set down by McKee, Field, Snyder, and Trottier) and pitched them to Hollywood executives as events such as The Great American PitchFest. However, when I began working for Dedham Television/DVAC I had to learn new styles to writing production-level scripts. Furthermore, I started producing commercial videos where I had to modify my screenwriting skills to meet the demands of that media type.
The following are three examples of this type of Video Script Writing.
Sandra Gilpatrick — Wealth Consultant
The following script is the final version that Sandra and I wrote and produced. Sandra provided all of the financial and personal information, I then reworked it into concise marketing/commercial video dialogue and formatted everything into a proper video script. I also converted the script into teleprompter text that Sandra read from while shooting the video.
AOC Investment Advisors
Jennifer Williams-Bulkeley, a referral from Sandra Gilpatrick, and Founder of Vinolytics (formerly, AOC Investment Advisors) contacted me about developing a video series that focused on investment opportunities in the world of fine wines and vintners.
The first official contact between us resulted in a Project Evaluation (PE, which you can read here). She was intrigued enough by the PE that we then moved to a Newcast Video Project Statement of Work (SOW). The following SOW, though not a video script, is a highly-detailed video project that covers every aspect of the video production from technical details, a comprehensive development process, future episodes, production costs, and more. I could have easily written the five-page script mentioned in the SOW based on all of this research.
Though the project never moved past this stage, is it interesting to note that AOC evolved into Vinolytics, and Jennifer began producing her own wine and vineyard videos in a blog format that she broadcasts on her Vinolytics Vimeo Channel. Though my vision of what her winery and wine culture video series did not match up with hers, I still think that I provided her with invaluable information that she seems to have adopted in a more subdued form.
Which is why I do PEs now instead of full on proposals, and I usually charge for an SOW these days because I do not like giving away intellectual property for free—lesson learned.
But I’ll still allow you to read the SOW because it was geared towards that one specific project. And if I can help out a fellow creative/entrepreneur how is trying to start their business with what a solid SOW for this type of work should look like—and more importantly, what they should be getting paid for a similar project—then I don’t have a problem posting the SOW here.
Prime Motor Group
Now that I think about it, since I’m all about helping my fellow creative/entrepreneur, I’m going to include here the comprehensive proposal I wrote for the Prime Motor Group (PMG) that details a Group Training Video Production Project.
This was a particularly poignant endeavor because I was essentially lied to by the PMG exec who assured me that the project was already approved by corporate even before I had written the proposal!
What they wanted was a new series of training videos for their automotive sales representatives—and believe me they needed it! The old one they showed me was something from the late 1980s with bad, bad, bad video green screen effects; terrible audio, and the most boring dry old man explaining on a white board how to sell cars! Yeah, it was that bad.
So I knew what they needed, and needed it badly, but it was going to cost them.
But it didn’t work out that way, unfortunately.
You see, the problem here is two-fold:
Trying to determine a reasonable budget for a project like this that takes into account how valuable the video producer’s time is, plus all of the production costs, and a minimal profit to make it all worth it. I took great pains to figure all that out. Though I had the benefit of Dedham Television’s studio and equipment, I still required a host of production expenses (as detailed in the proposal). My time and work is worth something to me, and I wasn’t about to under cut it just to land a contract—any business person or freelancer will tell you that is the surest way to sell yourself short and not be taken seriously—and be miserable in the process. Therefore, I went to a few freelance videographer and producer websites and a videographer hourly rate calculator and worked out an hourly wage (along with all of the production costs) that was acceptable to my needs. Which I guess didn’t jibe with theirs!
The second problem is that the client really didn’t want to pay for the work! They thought they were going to get a massive discount (or even FREE WORK) from me because of their relationship with Dedham Television. This happens all the time. When clients see what these projects really cost, they balk at it. And that’s when you know that you DO NOT want to work with them; they will rip you off either deliberately or through ignorance. Run!
And that’s what happened with the PMG project.
I got into a heated discussion with their contact when they tried to “nickel and dime me” with a fraction of what the project was worth along with pushing it out six months or more (or really never!). When I called them on that, I was told that I was making a $54K mistake. Really? They had rebuffed the actual cost of the project and tried to get it for a song, and then they tell me that I was making the huge mistake, losing the cost of the whole proposal that they had already dismissed!
Anyway, I knew that the project was dead right then and there despite the promise that it was already approved by corporate!
So I left them to go and pay 3-times as much from an ad agency or video production house to produce their training videos.
I have no idea what ever happened to the project; my guess is that they didn’t do a darn thing and continued on with the tepid old-white-guy and the snooze-fest bad training videos.
Lessons to take from this experience:
Never sell your work short!
Never do any free work!
Always put a high on value your skills and experience!
And if you want clients to take you seriously: ask for a lot of money, which you deserve!
Here’s the training video production proposal my friends for you to learn from:
NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER – NSFC @ SDCC – 2014
This episode was so, so, so near and dear to my heart! It was going to be my NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER Magnum Opus. I had originally planned to do a 3-episode series all based on my adventures at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC).
When I got the green light from my executive producer, Donna Greer, to go to the San Diego Comic-Con it was like I had hit the jackpot. I had pitched a bunch of show ideas, which I thought were pretty inexpensive and easy to pull off; I also added SDCC in for laughs never thinking she would go for it. But she did! In fact, that was the only pitch she accepted—she said that was the most doable one, go figure!
Anyway, my mind went into overdrive as to how I was going to produce this show. SDCC is a 5-day mega event (4 full days and a 1 preview night). There was literally an infinite amount of possibilities with regards to doing a show there. And even more doing a NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER show!
My show had a lot of scripted stories that complemented the reality-based stuff like movie reviews and real-life sci-fi/fantasy adventures. There was a sub-plot brewing that my character, Nick (obviously) gets transported into my version of the Mirror Universe (think: Star Trek’s Mirror Universe but without the violence). Also, I was being stalked by a crazy fan Susie Prince (played by Emmy Kuperschmid) who was bent on stealing me away from my fictitious scientist wife Katie (played by Katie Lewis and not my real wife who is Sue Howland).
Anyway, figuring out how to mesh the two (the fictional stories and the real-world adventures at SDCC) was an extreme challenge.
So the way I approached it was the way I always approach a project: with writing (a teleplay in this case).
I wrote the following script that included footage to be shot for the scripted “Nick in the Mirror Universe/Susie Prince pursuit” story-line; as well as, trying to envision all of the amazing things that I would see and experience at SDCC. Also, trying to do movie reviews while out there (particularly the 2014 Godzilla), and what ultimately became The Renegade Panel.
The Renegade Panel was originally going to be an actual SDCC panel that I put in for way in advance. It was going to be called D-I-Y Sci-Fi, and it was going to include myself as an indie sci-fi show producer and author; my buddies Dan Thron, David Bryant, and Benjamin Hansford as indie movie makers, VFX artists, and writers; and finally David Patrick Turner (whom I met at the 2013 SDCC) as an indie comic book and graphic artist. Between the five of us, we had thousands of followers on social media and would have done an amazing official panel as SDCC 2014.
However, it didn’t happen. The reason it didn’t happen (and I state this in The Renegade Panel) was because of its “indie” nature. Despite appearances, SDCC is a very corporate and traditionally-bound media event. They like traditionally published authors, studio movie directors, and established traditionally published comic book artists. Oh they allow independent artists to have tables and exhibit booths on the convention floor but very rarely are they doing panels in the conference rooms above.
I worked tirelessly to get the SDCC organizers to approve my panel. I even went there myself before the convention started to meet with their programs manager and make my case. An easy case because there were panel cancellations that we could have fit right into.
I felt very slighted by the whole experience—and a bit demoralized. It was unfair.
But then something wonderful happened!
Dan and Dave!
My two best friends in the whole world (mentioned above) came to my aid! They drove down from Los Angeles and to meet up with me in San Diego. We partied the night before, then the next day we (along with my cameraman Dan Hallissey) went to the convention center, took over at table at a nearby Starbucks outdoor patio, and shot The Renegade Panel.
The resulting video (which you can watch above) was awesome!
In fact, I think it came out better than if we had just shot a traditional Q&A audience-driven panel discussion.
I made it a point to edit the heck out of that video as I’ve documented in its production notes.
Now the rest of the convention was a cavalcade of happenings after happenings.
We even recruited fans like Chuck Hoster and Ric Meyers to act in the show’s scripted parts!
And, after the convention we shot more footage of all the Mirror Universe stuff, which included an insane scene of Susie Prince forcing me to marry her!
Yeah, it was crazy!
However, that is all footage no one will ever see—except for me.
Several things happened to derail the 3-episode series.
The Renegade Panel was the only episode produced, which took months to edit and used up all of my available resources given to me by Dedham Television.
And worst of all, when we got back from California and looked at the convention footage (after we shot the Mirror Universe scenes) a tragedy occurred: the sound for most of the footage was ruined by a bad microphone cable!!!
I was crushed by this! Hours and hours of irreplaceable footage destroyed by snaps, crackles, and pops! Devastating!
This happened to the footage that was shot only at the convention itself, which thankfully did not include the footage to The Renegade Panel (we used lavaliere mics for that).
So when I edited The Renegade Panel, I used soundless clips from the overall convention footage in montages throughout the video.
Anyway, that was almost four years ago now (at the time of this page update) and I still haven’t gotten over it!
Regardless, here is the shooting script, which hopefully will give you a sense of how the other episodes NSFC @ SDCC 2014 would have gone: The Renegade Panel, The SDCC 2014 Convention Coverage, and a special NSFC Update! – Mirror Universe episode that would be a broken out sub-story between SDCC2014 and the Mirror Universe. Like the other NSFC scripts, they are written in a particular format for broadcast video production (like network TV teleplays but tweaked for the smaller indie scale on which they are produced).
Sadly, only The Renegade Panel survives.
And the show got cancelled shortly after The Renegade Panel was broadcast.
However, what I learned about show and video production (writing, directing, editing, shooting, producing, casting, set design, makeup, stage management, budgeting, scheduling, and acting) would become invaluable skills and experience for the rest of my career.
Working on the web is a huge part of my business. I can create a custom website for a client or company using a CMS such as WordPress, or edit an existing one using commercial website builder tools such as WiX or edit straight HTML. I can also work with PHP, XML, and CSS. I am also able to work with MAS such as Marketo that also creates Internet-based content.
As a modern-day professional Marketing and Communications Writer, web-related skills are as essential as image and graphics creation and editing, which of course I have—see my Custom Graphics page for more on that.
I create lots of great web-content that keep people coming back for more!
Below are examples of my best website building experience—and of course there’s this Portfolio Website as well.
Back in 2015 while I was working for the Digital Visionary Access Corporation (whose subsidiary is Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center, DTV for short) as their Senior Communications Manager & Producer of Special Broadcasts, I was given the task of redesigning and rebranding the DTV website.
I won this opportunity due to both my previous web creation and content management experience, and that I saved Dedham Television/DVAC over $80K building them a custom 3-channel Video-on-Demand platform prior to the website redesign—see below for the entire story on that project.
Suffice it to say that I designed, built, and edited every single aspect of this beautiful website!
I used a great dynamically responsive WordPress template called MH Squared (used primarily for European media publications), did tons of custom graphics (from backgrounds to buttons), created the video bumper that is featured on the homepage, wrote absolutely all of the copy for every single page and post that exists on the website today (including ghost writing for my former colleague’s posts), shot and edited an enormous amount of pictures used throughout the entire site including the photo galleries, chronicled and preserved the storied history of the venerated 502 Sprague Street Studio, provided a whole new promotional platform for the Media Engagement Center’s classes and workshops, added additional functionality to the site via WordPress plugins and HTML/PHP/XML code, and linked the site to the VOD channels and the sister site www.DedhamTVLive.com (more on that below).
Every page is rife with SEO from keywords, meta-descriptions, links (internal and external), categorized in WordPress, registered with the major search engines (some involving PHP code), and even the images all have alt-tag descriptions.
And finally, there is a huge social media connection (that I enabled) between the website and DTV’s Facebook, Twitter (using Google scripting), LinkedIn, Google+, Vimeo, and YouTube channels.
Needless to say, I poured my heart and soul into making this the best possible Broadcast Media Production Company website available for this non-profit organization.
The effort was also part of an overall rebranding program that I proposed, executed, and managed for Dedham Television and DVAC, which including changing the company name, writing a new tagline, new logos and signage, new business cards, new domain-specific email addresses, new promotional materials, new social media channels, new video production classes, B2B/C strategic marketing initiatives, and public relations announcements and studio-related advertisements.
I did literally everything at DVAC that one could think of as a Senior Communications Manager and Producer of Special Broadcasts, Director of Public Relations, Director of Social Media, Showrunner, Video Producer and Master Editor, and Webmaster. All of my skills were brought to bear in this role and I acquired many new and invaluable ones!
Below are a few more screenshots of some the more prominent pages on the website:
Website Status Note: I haven’t been with DVAC/Dedham Television for a while now—and it shows because the site has not been updated in nearly two years, nor are the domain-specific emails functioning any longer—and there is talk about doing another redesign of the website to a simpler interface. That project has nothing to do with me. I also feel that that would be a huge mistake to downgrade this amazing website that looks spectacular on HD displays and on mobile devices. The website I designed is capable of doing everything imaginable on the web for a media organization: playing embedded live and recorded video, running a company store and an ecommerce operation (e.g. paying for membership and classes via the website), displaying an enormous amount of graphic images and media in a beautiful layout, running slide shows of new DTV programs and events on the homepage, and viewing a news ticker of the latest real-time happenings at the studio.
The idea that this website somehow needs to be redesigned is, in my opinion, a huge step backwards for Dedham Television and DVAC—it would be no better than the klunky and bug-ridden nascent website they had before at DedhamTV.org.
Oh, and I was the one who registered and utilized the Dedham TV dot-com URLs.
Along with the creation of the new DedhamTV.com website, I felt the need to also create a sister website for all of the new live (and pre-recorded) video streaming that Dedham Television was starting to get into.
After my successful creation and implementation of the 3-channel Video-on-Demand platform for DTV, I convinced the Executive Director that a portal companion website dedicated to the video streaming was necessary so as not to overload the flagship website with too many options. A convenience that I created for the very same people who are having trouble navigating the DedhamTV.com website as it is. With almost no effort, one can find the link to DedhamTVLive.com, which is clearly marked as to what the purpose of that website is. Those who are complaining about the so-called “trickiness” of navigating the website are simply too lazy or impatient to explore these two website works of art!
And if simplicity is what they require, then DedhamTVLive.com is for them.
This website is predominantly a stylized landing page with three simple subpages that go to the three different video-streaming services that DTV offers.
What I did was take our use of UStream, TelVue CloudCast, and our VOD channels (built on Vimeo PRO, more on that below), and consolidate them on to one website where anyone can find them! Seems pretty simple to use to me.
I used the WiX Website Builder for this site because there was no need for a complicated WordPress template here. The WiX website template is also a dynamic responsive template for mobile devices. The site contains all of the new branding for Dedham Television, which includes the new logo, buttons, titles, fonts, social networks links, Dedham-specific imagery, and colors—with enhancements for this particular site.
Also, there is a clear link back to the primary DedhamTV.com website.
The DigiSim page (or Digital Simulcasting) is the direct link to Dedham TV’s TelVue CloudCast live video simulcasting stream of what is being broadcast currently on Dedham Television. It should be noted that I was also able to embed the coding for this streaming media player on the homepage of DedhamTV.com (where the YouTube video bumper widget is) to broadcast online special presentations: the town elections, the Flag Day parade, a high school championship game, and more. Again, for the sake of user convenience. It should also be noted that using this service (i.e. TelVue CloudCast) is a bear: the webplayer is a kludgy interface with very little customizable features, the hardware behind it (at the studio) is klunky, expensive, and outdated, and the service is all in old-style Standard Definition. I championed abandoning this service in favor of UStream but change seems to come slowly to DTV.
The LiveStream page was built on DTV’s new subscription to the UStream service. This was a total Internet-based video-streaming service for remote location coverage of events and presentations that could be viewed from anywhere in the world. Originally, there were going to be four channels here: DSPN – Dedham Sports Programming Network, Dedham Family (family friendly live-stream content), D-SPAN (live-stream news coverage for Dedham, and Dedham Discovery (a live-stream educational channel). Sadly, the only channel to get launched was DSPN, which does not seem to be currently functioning.
The Video-on-Demand platform that I created has a link from the DedhamTVLive.com homepage to the full VOD page on the main DedhamTV.com website (no need to re-invent the wheel here). Click here for a screenshot of that page (or see the above webpage screenshots). See the story below for a complete overview of the creation and implementation of DTV’s VOD platform.
Website Status Note: Basically, this website has not been updated in about two years as well. The problem with these two websites is not the design or functionality: it is simply that Dedham Television/DVAC needs to maintain them! These dynamic websites would be gemstones in the crown of DTV’s Broadcast Media Enterprise if they were constantly maintained and updated. There was talk of a website update in late 2016 that would have involved me but it never came to fruition—despite my repeated queries to the Executive Director.
Suffice it to say, that I was once DTV/DVAC’s webmaster and we had huge plans of which theses websites were the groundwork for. However, when they decided to downsize, they felt that the website (and all of their Internet presence and cloud-based services that I built for them) just wasn’t as important as their other efforts. Just a superficial website makeup was enough for them.
In my opinion, that is a hugely flawed way of thinking. In fact, that kind of thinking was what got Dedham TV in a bit of a bind when the Town of Dedham had a technology review not too long ago. See the story for the creation of the VOD sites below for more.
Anyway, in my opinion, with video-streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, HULU, Amazon, Crackle, Metacafe, Vimeo, ComicCon HQ, and more, the concept of Cable Access Television is becoming more and more a thing of the past just like Cable Television in general. People are “cutting the cord” in droves these days and going directly to video-streaming services on the Internet. My vision as Senior Communications Manager and Producer of Special Broadcasts was to position DTV/DVAC to take full advantage of these future prevailing media broadcast technologies. However, it seems that for now Dedham Television/Digital Visionary Access Corporation wants to stay rooted in the past instead of pushing forward into the future. These websites (and the micro-sites below) are a glimpse into what that future could have been.
Sometime around winter or spring of 2015 the Town of Dedham hired an IT consultant to do an assessment of the town’s integrated Information Technologies, which included the local cable access television studio (i.e. Dedham Television). The review was not very favorable to DTV’s overall technological status: still broadcasting in SD, an outdated website, and most importantly no Video-on-Demand platform from which to view archived and recently broadcast public (entertainment), municipal, and educational programs. In fact, the only way to watch some of these programs online was either through a klunky and buggy embedded media on the old DedhamTV.org website (which had very little content), or on Vimeo.com/DedhamTV video-streaming service (which was very difficult to search and navigate through, and there was no direct link to the DTV website as well).
This was a very disheartening blow the the managing staff of DTV, probably because they saw no easy way to fix the problem.
In fact, they sought out a super-complicated solution that thankfully I steered them away from.
I remember walking into a meeting, that I should have been invited to, between DTV’s Executive Director and reps from TelVue (the people who provide the aforementioned kludgy digital simulcasting service for Dedham TV), and the only thing that I heard aside from their techno-salesy-babble was, “It’s going to cost you $80,000…”
$80 Grand for a system rooted in the aughts! No way!
As soon as they left, I said to the Exec. Dir. that I could build a better VOD system with off-the-shelf cloud-based services and micro-sites off the company’s website for ZERO dollars!
Actually, I ended up getting paid a little more than zero for the project but at a fraction of what TelVue was going to charge for their dinosaur system.
The new channels are:
VIDEOSNOW! – The public and entertainment channel for DTV’s archived and recent broadcasts
MeetingVids§ – The municipal and government channel for DTV’s archived and recent broadcasts
SchoolSpaceπ – The educational and public school related channel for DTV’s archived and recent broadcasts
The way I did it was:
Create three separate subdomains for DedhamTV.org (later DedhamTV.com) called: videosnow.dedhamtv.com, meetingvids.dedhamtv.com, and schoolspace.dedhamtv.com
Use the portfolio feature of DTV’s existing VimeoPro account to create three distinct and customizable portfolios (i.e. channels) for each of those subdomains, and link them through the CNAME feature of the DNS Zone Editor for the website
Design and create three separate backgrounds and branding styles for each of the new channels. The VIDEOSNOW!, MeetingVids§ (with the legalese subsection character), and SchoolSpaceπ (with the Pi character) channels were all uniquely designed using Vimeo’s templates and my Photoshop skills for the backgrounds. You can view the un-blurred backgrounds for each channel here.
And not only did I create all of these channels and subdomains but I also developed and entire SEO system to thoroughly tag and annotate each video that went up on the VOD platform, making them very easy to search on and find what one was looking for
When I rolled out the VIDEOSNOW! channel first, it was an immediate hit with the managing staff of Dedham Television! I was immediately contracted to do the other two channels and eventually the two websites discussed above.
I saved the organization over $80K on a system that will never go down, and one that DTV did not have the burden of trying to maintain—other than putting up content.
Websites Status Note: It should be noted that though the VOD channels are still being used, neither the annotated data that nor the SEO tagging that should accompany each video is being implemented. Again this comes back to the lack of focus on the importance of having a webmaster or communications director or a similar person (or persons) constantly updating these micro-sites. If fact, the DTV staff has been taken to referring people to the Vimeo.com/DedhamTV URL instead of the VOD URLs, which is not only a huge step backwards but a branding and marketing mistake for Dedham Television, and a waste of all of the effort that went into building these VOD channels!
I mention all of this here on my portfolio page because I do not want prospective employers or clients to confuse the current state of these five websites with the work that I did initially. Had I been allowed to remain as the Dedham Television Webmaster along with my role as Senior Communications Manager, I would have continued to improve upon these magnificent sites and marketed the content far and wide for a huge ROI for the studio and the organization. In fact, it was my dream to not only enter the amazing and profitable world of video-streaming and video-content-creation, but also to get major studios and corporations to shoot films, commercials, and training videos at the amazing 502 Sprague Street Studio. We were working on all of that when the Board of Directors decided to scale back, shrink back, and step backwards into the past instead of forging forward and investing in the future and in me!
Here are screenshots from each of the VOD channels’ homepages:
Fun Fact: Part of the entire rebranding and PR packaging initiative for Dedham TV and DVAC was also setting up a slew of cloud-based services. This included data and media storage in the cloud, interactive cloud-based training, the aforementioned UStream live video streaming, also the aforementioned VOD platforms, and online accounts with professional marketing printers, vendors, and suppliers.
Someone had suggested that Dedham TV should have a server-client network and even offered to build it for them. Thankfully, I talked the Exec. Dir. out of that plan as well. There was no need to revisit the 20th Century for data and media storage that did not suit our needs. Instead, I set up nice large organizational Google Drive and uploaded all of the most used media and documents (such as every version large, small, or alpha-channel of the DTV logo, the video bumper logo for the end of broadcasts, web-management documents, and more!).
I made sure everyone had access to these data-stores, and set everyone up with the Google Drive app, mobile device email accounts, and training.
The interactive online training was setup through Lynda.com, and you know the rest for the video-streaming.
They had everything at their fingertips; however, sadly they seemed to have abandoned most of those services and resorted to doing the bare-minimum on the desktop computer level and share files via USB drives. Super inefficient if you ask me.
USB drives for Macs are great for Time Machine backups, nothing more. The maintenance-free cloud is where the future lies for any digital media enterprise in my opinion!
VelocityDomain Network Solutions (VDNS)
URL: www.VelocityDomian.com (now defunct)
Shortly after the Dot-Com Dot-Bomb era, a lot of us former “dot-com-ers” were struggling to find comparable employment in the midsts of a serious economic recession. What was once the highfalutin glory days of excess in the dot-com era quickly became a belt-tightening gauntlet of trying to make ends meet with creative approaches to generating income.
Thus VelocityDomain Network Solutions was born. From 2002 to 2006 a group of us post dot-com marketing and technical people came together to build a consulting association to acquire and share clients across industry disciplines, needs, and platforms.
Sometimes a client would need a network analysis and upgrade proposal, or a complete website redesign (or initial build), or a research paper on new markets and barriers to entry, or some simple IT desktop support, or graphic designs for new small businesses, or web-copy, or just about anything that involved marketing and technology.
I worked with a bunch of great people such as graphic designers from Adobe and Hill Holliday, finance and strategic marketing experts from State Street Bank, producers from R.M. Productions, tech gurus from ETG and Collective Technologies, webmasters from WebMate, and of course writers like myself from Thunder House Online Marketing Communications and I.S.M. to name a few. Some employees from theses clients even came over to VDNS as consultants in a variety of roles!
For a good bunch of years we did very well bringing in business to share among all of us from clients such as: B.C. International Corporation, John Hancock Financial Services, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NSight Works, Rust Monkey Productions (later R.M Productions), Harvard Business School, Boston University, TerraZones, Appia, Inc., Neshamkin French Architects, Irma. S. Mann Strategic Marketing (I.S.M.), Winphoria Networks, Epix Medical, Paw Village, and more.
Finally, in 2006 we disbanded as most of us (including myself) were able to find new gainful full-time employment in a variety of sectors.
However, during our time, we needed a website to advertise our services.
Keeping our costs down to a minimum, we opted for a splash/landing page and a simple Flash-based version of the website. One of my colleagues, Susan Howland (now with Creativedge), a graphic designer who specialized in Adobe Flash animations at the time, did the Flash layout and design while I wrote all of the website’s copy (landing page and flash version in both MS Word and HTML). She also worked on the graphics for the landing page.
Below is a screenshot from the VDNS landing page and the Flash version:
One of VelocityDomain’s clients was Houghton Mifflin (before the Harcourt buyout). There I worked in their College Division building companion websites for their collegiate textbooks (mostly English/Literature and History). I used Adobe Flash, XML, and coded HTML in MarcoMedia (now Adobe) Dreamweaver. The content was then uploaded to the websites via the Web Publishing System (WPS). I also used a document management system called Documentum (a pre-CMS at the time). I even wrote and edited a lot of the copy that went into these sites (see the Literary Ships entry below).
Currently, the third party company Cengage has now taken over the production, management, and publishing of HMH’s Collegiate Companion Websites.
Below are samples of two of the websites that I worked on:
Rust Monkey Productions
URL: www.rustmonkey.com (now defunct)
One of my former clients while at VDNS was an awesome little film/game/commercial arts production company called Rust Monkey Productions, Inc. (later R.M. Productions) in Arlington Mass. One of the co-founders of the company, Daniel G. Thron (and one of my best friends), went on to become a successful filmmaker in Hollywood. He has directed movie tie-in viral videos for big name studios, award-winning genre short films, hugely successful commercials, and has worked as a Lead Artist and Concept Artist on blockbuster films such as Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Zodiac, The Fate Of The Furious, and Blade Runner 2049 to name a few!
It was during his early days at Rust Monkey Productions and Looking Glass that he really cut his teeth in the filmmaking arts (from directing, screenwriting, producing, matte painting, visual effects, and acting) that prepared for a successful career in Los Angeles.
During his time at R.M. Productions, I helped them build their killer artsy website using iFrames and HTML. The artwork is obviously Dan’s but I helped with the layout and copy for the site.
Over time, Dan worked with VDNS to provide graphic design work and other valuable contributions to client-related projects before moving to Los Angeles permanently.
Below is a screenshot of the R.M. Productions website homepage:
If my years at Viisage Technologies/L-1 Identity Solutions and Satcon Technology Corp. have taught me anything: it is a passion for taking technical content and writing about it in such a way that makes the reader fall in love with the product!
Whether I am writing about document authentication, facial recognition, solar power inverters, machine vision systems, or blockchain technology, I can distill the very complicated into the very concise—and make it fun to read.
Without getting overly technical, below are few examples of my best Tech Writing work from data-sheets, product descriptions, blog posts, documentation, to press releases.
Being a professional writer and trying to get jobs in that capacity is not always the easiest thing to do. Frequently, when interviewing for a Mar/Comm, Copywriting, Tech Writing, or other type of writing roles, we writers are given writing assignments to prove that we can do the job.
The following two examples were part of a lengthy interview process with a writing assignment for a Marketing Content Writer role at Cognex Corporation. Just briefly, Cognex is a pretty hip machine vision systems company in Natick, Mass. One of my best friends has been working there for years. So when the aforementioned role opened up, I had him network me into getting my credentials in front of the hiring manager.
This got me a phone screen with her, followed by a writing assignment. The assignment was to revise a data-sheet for an upcoming product release (the In-Sight 7000 G2 Series); as well as, write a press release for it.
Now I’m the type of writer that really goes all out with these kinds of assignments. One of them (that I mention below) got me a face-to-face interview because I knocked the writing assignment out of the park. So I expected this one would do the same for me.
So during a whole weekend, I furiously worked on the assignment.
The first part of that was spent not only revising the copy on the data-sheet but actually revising the data-sheet itself!
I other words, I took the PDF of the original data-sheet (linked here for comparison) and brought it into Adobe Acrobat Pro. I would have used InDesign had I had the original InDesign file (and fonts), but I had to work with what I had. However, I think the results (see below) came out great!
Instead of going into excruciating detail of the changes I made here on this page, I invite you to read the actual Editor’s Notes document here that I sent along with the revised data-sheet; it’s five pages worth of changes!
Next up is the press release for the product (to the left). The way I write press releases differs slightly from the way most people do. I take the classic approach (meaning the formal press release structure: newsworthy title, date/location intro, main body article, a quote from a member of the organization, a quote from an industry expert, a call to action, and a Safe Harbor disclaimer), and add on top of it: hyperlinks, images, meta-data for RSS feeds, keywords and hashtags, social media links, and industry associations and forums.
Press releases these days are more than just a simple announcement. When they are distributed on Xconomy, Business Wire, and PR Leap they need SEO and extensible meta-data features because their reach and metrics are going to be quantified and analyzed.
That’s how you write a press release!
See for yourself.
Note: Did I get the job? Well, no. It turns out that literally a day after I submitted all of the above work, the HR rep informed me that they made a job offer to someone else—the reason being: they were further along in the interview process! Really? Why bother having me start the race if someone was already at the finish line?
I have my suspicions as to why but I’ll keep them to myself.
Consequently, I’ve learned two things from this experience.
Never do this much amount of unpaid work at all for any reason—especially when there is no guarantee that you will even get a face-to-face interview from it, which I did not. The above work took about 12 hours over my birthday weekend with nothing to show for it but a weak response about how much the hiring manager was impressed with my work. Then she should have at least put the breaks on the other candidate until I could have come in and get caught up to them. But “her hands were tied.”
Since I did all of this unpaid work, I might as well use it on my portfolio. But from now on if a hiring manager wants a writing assignment then it had better be something reasonable that I can do in under an hour. Anything else would be unethical to ask for, in my opinion, unless they pay for the work. The way writers are treated sometimes in business is shameful. See my Nick Iandolo page to read about my views on the the profession of writing.
Note: As of this writing (April, 2018), If you go to the Cognex website and search for the data-sheet for this product, you’ll find that they are using the same old draft data-sheet (linked above) that they gave me to revise! Also, the current press release they have for the product is so sparsely written that it was probably done quick and dirty by a product manager as opposed to using a professional Mar/Comm & PR writer (like myself). It’s nothing like the full-featured one that I did above. My buddy tells me that it has become generally known in the industry that the quality of the writing at Cognex has degraded considerably. I could have helped them with that but they went with someone else—and it seems that nothing has changed as a result. Oh well.
Bamboo Rose, a retail production software company, was looking for a Marketing Copywriter. Naturally, I applied and through my body of work, and a great phone screen, I got a face-to-face interview. I met with the Director of Marketing and a high-level sales exec.
The interviews went swimmingly and I really thought that I was in the running for the role. So, ironically (as in the opposite of the things that I learned not to do anymore after my Cognex experience), I decided to go all out and create the data-sheet to the left.
During the interview process, I noticed several things that BR could do better. First, their introduction video curiously stops after a minute and a half just before it gets into any kind of discussion as to how the BR Platform solves the retail production-distribution chain problem. I even brought this up to the Director of Marketing and she noted that I wasn’t the first to notice that. Secondly, the website was missing a lot of content, at the time, as to who the software platform really solves the aforementioned problems. It gave a 20,000-foot view but failed to provide any: videos, screenshots, white papers, or data-sheets on the subject—just a few blog posts and testimonials. Those are all well and good; however, any good organization’s marketing department should provide as much info as possible about the technology so as to give the potential customer confidence that they’re investing in the right solution.
I’ve worked with a lot of great companies and the ones that don’t just leave it up to their sales people to convince future clients but also provide lots of product information usually gets the call to action—especially when there’s lots of media-related info!
This was a few years ago, and if you go to the Bamboo Rose website now, they’ve added a ton of new content—but the video is still missing a second half that explains how the software works and why people should use it.
But getting back to my story: I pondered making the rest of the aforementioned video myself, which I have the equipment and resources to do but decided that was too much of a risk to take only having had two interviews with no promise for a second round. I would have totally done that if I knew that doing so would have sealed the deal.
But I opted for the above data-sheet instead. I took all of the relevant content from their website, along with external online sources, and distilled it down into actual stories about how the product works and why it is a great investment. Also, I promoted the mobile-platform component of the software on the first-page sidebar because that’s a huge selling feature that BR didn’t seem (again, at the time) to highlight.
And finally, visibly absent from any of the BR marketing media (primarily on the website, at the time) were case studies. So I decided to make one up (or I would have simply used one of theirs)!
That’s right, I wrote a fictional case study based on what the actual software can really do; only, to show the Dir. of Mar. my marketing copywriting skills. If I got the job, I would have replaced that spec case study with a real one.
Note: For the fictional case study, I created a purely Bostonian retail success story because Bamboo Rose is a Boston-based company. Also, can you guess who the famous actress is; whose image I used for the fictional retail proprietor?
I spent an entire weekend using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign making this convention-ready data-sheet. I also had a bunch of copies professionally printed and then FedEx’ed them to BR for the Dir. of Mar. to have on her desk that Monday morning. I couldn’t have done any more to get that job.
Consequently, I didn’t get the job due to the fact that, according to the HR rep, the job was put on hold indefinitely. About a month later they hired someone a lot younger and less experienced than I (whom I sure they would pay them a lot less) to do pretty much the same job but under a different title. Go figure!
At least I have another great example of my work to prove to potential employers how valuable a writer I can be to them and their organizations.
Lesson Learned Here: the same as the Cognex ones but also don’t oversell yourself in an interview. Not because they might think you’re full of baloney but because if you bring too many skills and options to the table, they might rethink their needs for the role and retool it to something else. I have a feeling I literally talked them out of that job when I put too many ideas in their heads, causing them to downsize the role—leaving me out in the cold (actually it was summer time but you get the idea)!
But I’m sure someone or some organization out there can use me with all of these skills highlighted in this entire portfolio!
L-1 Identity Solutions
My time at Viisage/L-1 Identity Solutions was a great period in my life: I worked for a great company, my wife and I were expecting a baby, and we had just bought a new house! Plus, L-1 sent on a whirlwind business trip to Munich Germany! But that is another story.
Anyway, during my time at L-1 I got to do a crazy amount of writing: everything from case studies, web copy, proposals, data-sheets, marketing collateral, brand positioning and strategic messaging guides, to product descriptions, and more!
I worked with a great bunch of people whom I’ll never forget. I’d still be there if L-1 hadn’t acquired DigiMarc, then became MorphoTrust, then got acquired by Sarfan.
However, on the technical writing side the following data-sheets should give you an idea of the kind of work I did there.
Note: The work I did on these data-sheets varied from revising and copywriting the technical verbiage for the products to editing and revising the original Adobe InDesign files for final print fulfillment.
Document Authentication Family (DAS)
The data-sheet (to the left) discusses the technical and commercial features and benefits of a suite of hardware document reader devices used to verify authenticity (e.g. passports).
The data-sheet (to the left) discusses the technical and commercial features and benefits of a software suite designed to integrate with the above hardware in processing authentic documents.
The data-sheet (to the left) discusses the technical and commercial features and benefits of a dedicated hardware motor vehicle driver’s testing station.
The data-sheet (to the left) discusses the technical and commercial features and benefits for DMV’s who need an online driver’s test scheduling solution.
Tech Specs are subset of Data-sheets. More often than not, a data-sheet will incorporate a tech spec at the end.
Lately though, I’ve been separating out the two. My latest client SeaChange International (as of March/April 2018) has been having me do that for their products. They are in the process of rebranding and I’ve been contracted to help with that as their Digital Copywriter.
The following tech spec is a mockup for their proprietary CMS (i.e. Content Management System), originally called AssetFlow renamed to cContent. When the final version is complete, I’ll post a copy of it here. Until then, here is basically what the content will look like before the final design elements are in place.
The important thing to note here is the formatting of technology standards and acronyms/initialisms, third-party vendors and software developers company and product names, use of trademark symbols (®, ™), specification hierarchies, and succinct product descriptions.
Anyway, the Director of Change Operations found me on LinkedIn after she had gone through several other writers who could not provide BPC with a succinct and effective product announcement—she hadn’t met me yet. Then she met me (through LinkedIn Messaging) and we chatted about the project. I told her I knew exactly what she was looking for. So she sent me two white papers and a host of online content to distill into a readable English product announcement.
Not only did I get it to her within less than 48 hours but I also wrote it in HTML so that it could be CMS-ready. Which means that it could be immediately dropped into any Content Management System (CMS) of their choice (like WordPress) with little to no configuration. Also, the HTML version contained all of the SEO and meta-data that would help make the product announcement even more searchable and more widely distributed.
The result: BPC published it after one draft with only minor, minor tweaks!
Above is a digital reproduction of the published document to Medium.com, which also contains the original HTML code that I wrote.
Note: The actual live post has been removed by the publisher due to the fact that it is now old news. The document is now only preserved here.
Make Tech Easier
Make Tech Easier (MTE) is an online publication that focuses on consumer, web, mobile, and digital content technologies. They produce articles, eBooks, and online courses. As a staff writer, I pitched, wrote, and published articles on the aforementioned topics. I also used my image processing skills to create custom graphics for my articles; as well as, providing SEO, external links, and meta-data for all of my articles.
Though I only wrote for them for a brief period I managed to get a suite of good articles out. I also got to work with a wonderful diverse group of people spread all over the world. My editor was located in Singapore!
To the left are digital print outs of two of my articles. All the articles were written in WordPress, and we used HipChat (now called Stride) to collaborate and discuss story ideas.
Below is a draft version of the document that never made it to publication on the PTC website but was happily read by one of the SVPs at PTC.
Note: The document contains SEO, meta-data, and social media profiles/links on the last page. All images are assumed to have alt-tag meta-data, and all the underlined content are assumed to be hyperlinks (another organic SEO strategy).
L-1 Identity Solutions – Smart Card News
The article (excerpted from the full magazine) to the left was ghostwritten by me for L-1 Identity Solutions (June, 2007). The subject matter was on the value of ePassports. L-1 specialized in secure documents such as ID cards with RIFD tags and phosphorescent inks that show up on special authorized card readers.
The article appeared in Smart Card News. See the Journalism page for more details on this article.
Viisage/L-1 Identity Solutions
While at L-1 (a.k.a. Viisage) I worked on a lot of proposals responding to RFPs for state, government, and international agencies. The RFPs called for technical solutions, products, and services that would meet their needs for identity theft protection and fraud prevention, border security, facial recognition, and secure document authentication such as passports.
Regardless of what the RFP and the ensuing proposal focused on one thing remained a constant: the proposal writing process and team response was an unqualified nightmare. And everyone knew it!
So when I got my experience of this nightmare first hand, I decided to try to do something about it.
I proposed to the Director of Marketing that I could come up with a better way to organize, draft, and produce proposals that would be far more efficient and cost effective.
And thus the Proposal Process Restructuring white paper (to the left) that I conceived and drafted was born.
Though a lot of the recommendations here were not implemented (due to lack of time and resources as we continually scrambled to get the proposals out by the deadlines), some were. Specifically, the implementation of a document and content management system called Privia Platform (I had recommended and CMS such as EMC’s Documentum and Adobe’s Document Center). Other suggestions were also slowly incorporated into the proposal response process such as better use of MS Word’s styles and templates, more centralized editorial control over the final drafts, and better graphics management such as Google’s then Picassa).
The white paper was written in a tech doc format with a revision table—appropriate for a tech company such as L-1. And it also contained tables, images, infographics, and a sample of what the new proposal format could look like.
This was many weeks worth of work (among my other duties) and was well-received by the upper echelons of the company. However, things changed there so quickly that by the time we got Privia up and running, L-1’s competitor DigiMarc was acquired by the company, and of course you know the rest from there (as previously mentioned above).
Neshamkin French Architects
B.C. International Corporation
Irma S. Mann Strategic Marketing (ISM)
User Documentation/User Guides
When you visit my Websites page of this portfolio, you will certainly see a wealth of information that went into the creation and production of the Dedham Television websites and micro-sites (i.e. the VOD channels). It was a massive undertaking to make all of it spectacular, and a labor of love—that Dedham TV seems to have abandoned now in favor of cheap poor quality in the current flagship site’s (i.e. DedhamTV.com) feckless simplicity.
Regardless, had Dedham TV/DVAC had the sense to allow me to complete my work, they could have easily updated and maintained the beautiful flagship website I created for them, long after I was gone. And to help them do that was this document (to the left). It was the Webmaster Manual. And had I been allowed to complete it, it would have been incredibly comprehensive, and an indispensable web-services tool for the organization for years to come. It was even password protected!
By now (after visiting several pages of this portfolio) you have gathered that I write copious documents. This user manual is no exception. It tops out at 15 pages but I had planned on adding a ton of graphics and screenshots, and ton more of instructions and tips. The entire first part of this document was dedicated to detailing the history of the Dedham TV website and the reasons for the changes.
Then I launch into the logins for the WordPress template, the support page for the professional WordPress template that we went with for the new site, and the Google Drive login for all of the cloud-based data and content that I was moving the organization over to.
This document would have also covered administration of the sister site (i.e. DedhamTVLive.com) and the micro-sites VOD channels (i.e. VIDEOSNOW.DedhamTV.com, MeetingVids.DedhamTV.com, and SchoolSpace.DedhamTV.com)—which there appears to no longer be any link from the flagship website! Viewers are now getting redirected via a link on the homepage (and through Facebook) that goes directly to the Vimeo pages for the videos that are completely disorganized and not separated by channel/domain! The micro-sites are beautiful, streamlined, separated, organized, searchable, and easy to use (powered by VimeoPro on the back end). What a waste!
Finally, there is a HUGE SEO component for the website in this document. I have pages of post categories and subcategories with detailed descriptions and slugs to help advance the site’s Search Engine Optimization, along with ensuring a level of professionalism by adding a ton of detail to the back end of the site. When visitors would come to the site, they could search on absolutely every last thing to find what they were looking for from kid’s programs, B2B services, memberships, video production classes, to channel guides, and more!
That is how I roll when I work for an organization that I really care about!
Just take a look at the Post Categories and see for yourself.
I guarantee you that all of this information is missing from the new and not-improved Dedham Television website!
One more thing: I’ve redacted login info on the manual just in case some of it is still valid. I never want it said that I gave out sensitive information. Everything else in the document is non-sensitive and/or publicly available information.
Actually, it’s User Experience/User Interface or UX/UI—and in the case of this portfolio, it all pertains to this type of writing.
Having built quite a few websites, and populating them with tons of content, over the years, I’ve come to know a thing or two about UX/UI design and how to write for it.
The first tenet of UX/UI writing is: never confuse the reader!
Content should be presented in an easy-to-follow straight-forward manner no matter creative the web team tries to be in the effort.
The following examples come mostly from websites but also from a few Mar/Comm pieces (that you can learn more about on and Marketing Communications page).
SeaChange International – Rebranded Homepage, Etc.
With my most recent client (as of late Spring 2018), SeaChange International, one of my major responsibilities as their Digital Copywriter was to help in the rebranding initiative with regards to the re-desinging and relaunching or their new website www.SeaChange.com.
Though Emagine was primarily responsible for the design of the new SeaChange website, I was part of the wire-framing meetings and my content was featured both on the Homepage and the Resources page. My feedback was part of the collaborative effort to build a brand new website that was both gorgeous, intuitive, and representative of the future direction of the company.
And I believe we accomplished that in spades!
The Customer Segmentation Markets content were my contribution to the Homepage as featured in the screenshot to the left. I did all the analyses for the customer segments and wrote all the copy that is further explored though the child pages from the Homepage links.
As detailed extensively on my Websites page, much of the work that went into the Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center’s websites (DedhamTV.com and DedhamTVLive.com); as well as, the Video-on-Demand micro-sites (VIDEOSNOW.DedhamTV.com, MeetingVids.DedhamTV.com, and SchoolSpace.DedhamTV.com) were all UX/UI driven as I built them.
Since then, they’ve gone in a different direction but you can see from the following examples where I was going with these sites. My vision for the organization, as their Senior Marketing and Communications Manager was to take it to a full-fledged OTT digital video streaming and commercial production studio.
Note: The layouts for these homepages are simple and elegant. The flagship website (DedhamTV.com) has everything a visitor needs to get the breadth of the organization, what it does, and where to find content. There’s interactive widgets (that would even live-stream broadcasts on the homepage), a carousel gallery of the latest posts, a huge button link to the DedhamTVLive.com video-stream sister site (where all the VOD, digital simulcasting, and location live streaming channels were hosted); as well as, search functions, breadcrumbs, quick links, a news ticker, social media links, right-navs of useful info and links, a Facebook live news feed, and an interactive GPS driven map. This homepage had it all—you should have seen what all the other pages were like (the best are preserved here in this portfolio)!
The new DedhamTV.com website pales in comparison with lots of missing content, broken links, poor UX/UI design, and a lack of vision for the future of Dedham Television. Visit the current site if you don’t believe me: www.DedhamTV.com. And what’s worse is that DedhamTVLive.com has been completely abandoned, languishing in website limbo slowly breaking down. It’s sad to see all that great work go to waste—at least I preserved the sites in their glory in this portfolio.
Make Tech Easier – UX/UI App Job Apps Review
At some point as a digital Mar/Comm writer, I not only get to create original UX/UI-based content but I also get to review other people’s or companies’ UX/UI work.
As a staff writer for Make Tech Easier (MTE) I got to do just that when I review five mobile device job search apps. I discussed the UX/UIs on these apps, features, benefits, and drawbacks.
As detailed on the Websites page the Velocity Domain Flash Website was built with UX/UI in mind. Simple and elegant was always my goal when building a UI. It couldn’t get simpler and more elegant than the hyper-stylized VDNS flash site. If you have Adobe Flash installed on your system, click here to view the flash site as it was.
Rust Monkey Productions – Homepage
Again, as detailed on the Websites page this was a great example of simplistic and elegant UX/UI design. The artwork is amazing, there was a news feed, and links to their portfolio and demo reel. We used a combination of iFrames, Adobe Photoshop, and HTML to build this creative showcase.
Cognex – Product Datasheet Redesign
As detailed on the Technical Writing page, I did a whole redesign to a datasheet for Cognex Corporation (to the left) they were looking to use for the launch of a new product. I must have overwhelmed them when I not only gave them 5 pages of details about the changes to the original document but also simply took the PDF and made the changes right in Adobe Acrobat Pro! It was almost convention-ready, all I would have required was the original fonts, or better yet, the original Adobe InDesign file (with the fonts). But the result for what I did was pretty impressive nonetheless. If you read this linked editorial document of the changes from the original, you will see that this piece was all UX/UI.
Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.
Companies like HubSpot try to capitalize on this form of marketing as part of their service offering.
Marketing Automation Software (MAS) such as Marketo and Pardot have huge Inbound Marketing features and optimized components built in to them.
There are a lot of limitations when using social media networks to promote your wares.
Typically, I’ll write up short posts that always include the following: SEO-driven copy, meta-data, social media profiles, external live links, hashtags, images/embedded media, and tagging (such as: people, locations, and events).
All of the following samples are also examples of Inbound Marketing in one form or another.
Social Media Posts
Social media posts are limited by whatever platform you are working on. For example Twitter only allows 140 characters, called micro-blogging. Out of that 140 you have to put in most or all of the above elements for a successful posts. And that can be a real challenge.
Facebook on the other hand allows you an unlimited amount of characters to work with but who wants to read pages of content in one post!
And, Facebook has lots of restrictions on what you can post. For example (and rightly so): no hate-speech, no doxing, no nudity, and over-the-top inappropriate content such as graphic violence.
Now you wouldn’t use any of that in your marketing collateral on Facebook but still you have to be careful because someone out there may get offended by something you post and will report you, causing you to either get blocked or have to take down the post. Costing you time and money.
That’s where I come in. Through my experience, I can navigate such social waters and keep the marketing messaging moving forward.
Twitter & Facebook
While working at Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center, one of my roles was Director of Social Media. In fact, that was the first role there that I was hired on for before becoming their Senior Marketing and Communications Manager.
The first thing I had my Executive Director, Donna Greer, do for me was get me a new iPhone 5S (the best at the time). This was so that I could use it exclusively for social media posting. And boy did I post and post and post.
In fact, at one event when we were at a restaurant on a special program during dinner one of my colleagues told me to, “…stop Tweeting and start eating!”
I’ll link that very blog post below.
Anyway, here is a page from a 54-page proposal I wrote for the DTV Board of Directors to campaign to become their new Director of New Media Productions. It would have been Program Manager but that role was removed from the organization due to legal issues.
Though I didn’t get that role, I did become the aforementioned Senior Marketing and Communications Manager and was just fine.
The page here features a slew of Tweets and FB posts I did for DTV during various programs and events—note the use of hashtags and other embedded media in the posts.
Below is another example of a Twitter post from my time with Dedham TV. This one contains embedded media.
There’s a ton of Tweets by me during this time up to about December 2016 (when I left Dedham Television). Since then, most of the Tweets have been auto-posts from Vimeo as new program and show videos were uploaded to the video streaming platform.
Also, you can click on the appropriate social media icons in the website’s footer to take you my network channels anytime while visiting my portfolio.
But I have to admit that the latter two (Google+ and Instagram) have fallen by the wayside for me. I don’t feel there’s too much value in maintaining those profiles too closely. Of course, if your business requires that, then I’m on it religiously!
Now as far as blogs are concerned, I’ve been on a lot of those!
I have been blogging before the term was even coined.
Back in the early days of The Internet, we used to call them Discussion Forums. And I’ve posted tons of content, everything from Classical Guitar practice tips, Babylon 5 rants, political debates, movie reviews, writing seminars, and health & fitness talks.
Over the years, these discussions forums turned in to blogging, which turned into some paying gigs.
Recently, there was Make Tech Easier. I was a staff writer for their consumer electronic and Internet technologies articles (in the form of highly sophisticated blog posts).
And in-between the two there was Motif Magazine, whose webzine was all blog! I wrote a number of lengthy articles that appeared there, everything from Rhode Island Comic Con coverage to documentary reviews and more!
All paying gigs!
I am no stranger to blogging. And you can see lots of samples from each of those blogs on my Journalism page, my Technical Writing page, and my Websites page (particularly the post about the Old Havana Restaurant excursion with Dedham Television where the above social media examples come from).
The following examples however are not published pieces per se but serve as examples of blogging on spec to prove to prospective employers that I have the chops to blog for them regardless of their industry. These cover a different aspect of the “Blog-o-sphere.”
The first example (to the left) was a writing assignment on Ransomware that I was charged with by Kaspersky Lab. This was in regards to a copywriting job at the company. This is an example of the Informational/Content-Driven type of blogging that companies use to both promote their products (through Informational or topic-centric writing) and drive traffic to their sites by constantly uploading newer and newer content.
In order get an interview with their marketing director, I needed to do two things: 1. copyedit and revise a press release (please see my Copywriting page for this sample), 2. write a blog post on Ransomware.
To make a long story short, after I did both those tasks and submitted them, I immediately got the job interview!
As you can see from the PDF reproduction, not only does this blog post cover the topic or Ransomware but it also contains images, links, sources cited, SEO/keywords, and RSS meta-data.
You will find that all of the fully completed pages in this entire portfolio will feature the same.
In this blog post example, I wrote it in the form of Content Marketing. For those who don’t know what Content Marketing is, here is the definition from the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
And that is exactly what I did when I wrote this piece to the left. Though it was not published (the writing job was a quick turnaround), I still believe it is a great example of Content Marketing blog writing, with all the SEO and meta-data components as well. The only thing missing here are images—that I was expecting NutriSavings’ Marketing Department to provide.
The final blog-type example is Journalistic Coverage. This is simply blogging about an event, a person (such as an interview), or a place (such as a travelogue). I have examples of these in other parts of the portfolio but I wanted to show the PTC Journey’s of Transformation from the LiveWorx 2016 Conference blog post example here once again.
The only other thing I additionally want to make note of here, is that this draft version was written in Microsoft Word but made to look like an actual blog post written in HTML on a CMS like WordPress. When working for a client that’s exactly how I create my blog posts for them. I either write in HTML (adding all the styling, links, images, SEO, and meta-data) so they can drop it directly into their CMS, or if they give me access to their WordPress (or other CMS), then I create it right in there (proving all of the aforementioned attributes).
I never got that far with PTC but the VP of Corporate Communications, Jack McAvoy, thought it was good enough to warrant a phone screen with him!
I always love it when I can use technology for the betterment of my fellow humans. So when I was asked to do social media coverage for the 2014 Holiday Harvest Telethon on Dedham Television to benefit the Dedham Food Pantry, I was honored!
For three amazing hours, I did triple duty as the Director of Social Media (Tweeting and Facebooking coverage of the telethon), stage manager (helping to get the talent on and off the stage and preparing for the next segment, and as one of the camera operators.
It was an exciting holiday event that not only pleasantly exhausted me but also made me feel great that we ultimately raised over $12,000 (after all the final corporate donations came in a couple of weeks after) to help feed the hungry in Dedham!
My social media coverage reached viewers as far away as Maine and California!
Below are screenshots of a couple of the Tweets that I posted that evening: