By Amanda Reid | @Amanda_L_Reid
I recently moved from Washington DC up to Boston, the North End to be specific, and wanted to share with you a couple Do’s and Don’ts I learned along the way.
DON’T bring your car. Sell it, give it to your sister, total it, but DO NOT bring it with you. If you do, be prepared to spend half your day circling the narrow streets for a spot (and risk being side-swiped) OR you can park it in a garage… for a couple hundred bucks a month… a half mile away. The city is extremely walkable and public transportation is great so please take advantage.
DO go sightseeing. Living in DC I used to loathe the tourists that would swarm my city. Clogging up the metro with their cameras and maps- they always seemed to be in the way. IT’S JUST THE CAPITOL!!! I would scream at them in my head. Now, as much as it pains me to admit, I get it. I love mindlessly walking around Boston, getting lost, enjoying the tourist traps. People come from all over the world to see Boston, don’t forget to stop and enjoy your city every once in a while.
DON’T think that all restaurants in the North End are created equal. Just because the name sounds Italian doesn’t make it legit or worth your money. Do your research and don’t be shy about trying places not on Hanover.
DO cheer for the Boston Bruins - the Capitals are out of the series anyway.
By Nicole Solera | @nsolera16
Starting a new job is scary but also exciting. Seeing as I just started here at Castle, I am currently experiencing many of these emotions. Everyone here is so friendly and I plan to take full advantage of the beautiful city of Boston just across the bridge. However, each company does things differently which can make people nervous for their first week at work. Having just finished mine, I put together a list of 10 tips for starting a new job.
Dress Up: Even if the office is casual, you want to make a good impression.
Be five minutes early: Boston traffic is always unpredictable. You are either early or late, so better to be early.
Pack snacks: The first week you will be so busy you might find yourself starving half way through the day.
Be prepared: The Scout’s motto means you are ready for anything, including your first day of work.
Bring a voided check and social security card: It’s not mandatory, but most companies need at least a voided check for direct deposit. If you have that information ready it will make the paperwork go much faster.
Be friendly, even if you’re shy: Before you know it you will have a whole new lunch crew.
Ask questions: No one expects you to be the expert your first week so ask lots of questions and take notes.
Bring cash: We live in a world where cash is almost obsolete. However, there are still some places that are cash only and the last thing you want is to get stuck without it and no way to pay for that morning cup of coffee.
Always be professional: You never know who might be in the office.
Be open-minded: Most likely you took a new job to learn, let your company help you do just that.
Hopefully these tips are helpful for starting fresh. Just remember be friendly, ask questions and be prepared.
By Jessica Dixon | Guest Blogger from Spider PR
I have been lucky enough to work with The Castle Group for the last week and it’s been fantastic. Travelling all the way from its PRGN sister agency in London (Spider PR), I was truly welcomed into the team and what a week it has been!
It has flown by so quickly but I’ve made some great friends, eaten glorious food, explored an incredible city and learnt a lot in the meantime. It’s been interesting to see the similarities (and differences) between PR practices in the US and UK and I can definitely say I have picked up many tips which I will be sharing with my team when I get back home.
On the first night I helped the TCG events team with a fundraising event which was for The Boston Harbor Association and I’m glad to say a record amount was fundraised compared to last year which is great news. About 350 people attended in total and I helped with the silent auction which meant I got to mingle with many attendees, whilst managing the bids and persuading people to ‘bid more/go higher’ – I like to think the British accent helped.
Throughout the rest of the week, I attended a few speaker events for Visions Healthcare and an internal meeting with Burns & Levinson which were both incredibly interesting and I was enthusiastically welcomed both times, whilst also helping out with the media relations for existing client NuVal.
In the evenings I have managed to explore the city, venturing to Harvard on the first day, taking the subway, which I might add was somewhat of an experience. What a stunning area it is, a true red brick university, full of culture and a great community vibe. I have also been to Quincy Market where I was lucky to have my first ever clam chowda – I wasn’t disappointed. Sitting out in the street, amongst locals, tourists in the sunshine, eating amazing food – you can’t get much better. The North End is brilliant and I went to Mike’s pastries on good recommendation to see what all the fuss was about. I huge bakery with anything and everything sweet you can imagine. I debated for about 15 mins before deciding on a New York cheesecake (even though in Boston) and even though the slice was huge, I polished it off before a well-needed walk home.
Newbury Street was next on my list and I weaved my way through the Prada-clad shoppers, before heading to Back Bay to see churches, libraries and other architectural sites. The TCG team has looked after me so well and even took me to my first ever baseball game where we saw the Red Sox, sadly get beaten but it was a fantastic night and I am pleased to say I now know what the 7 innings ‘stretch’ is.
To sum up – it has been an unforgettable week, helped by an extremely professional, likeable and above all fun team to work with. Thank you TCG for letting me stay and hopefully this won’t be the last you’ll see of me.
By Whitney Dow Ferguson | @WhitDFerguson
Boston strong: a phrase that now scrolls across bus banners, indelibly marks local buildings and fuels political speeches has united and comforted us in the last week. Bostonians are the original rebels – descendants, whether in ancestry or spirit, of those who left England for the sake of individualism and freedom; rebels who formed the city on a hill that would cement the American paradox – a nation of individuals rooted in strong communities.
In the aftermath of the Marathon bombings, Bostonians were reminded that our pride and collective character are not unique to the region, but to our nation. Over the past weeks, our self-sufficient spirit has been fortified by the nation’s support and expressions of our ties to what is, in fact, not just our town.
As President Obama remarked at the memorial service, “After all, it’s our beloved city, too. Boston may be your hometown, but we claim it, too. It’s one of America’s iconic cities. It’s one of the world’s great cities. And one of the reasons the world knows Boston so well is that Boston opens its heart to the world.”
This sentiment resounded at Castle when our former colleague, Jessica Ciccone, contributed an article to the St. Louis Dispatch, which is posted here. Jess was, and remains, an incredible mentor and role model. While at Castle she consistently encouraged each of us to get involved with local organizations in an effort to give back to Boston. This is what makes Jess not only a great communications professional, but a great friend. I was comforted by her article and hope that you find some solace and insight in it as well.
By Elizabeth DiVito | @MissChicSparkle
I, like most Bostonians, have spent the last couple of days trying to digest what happened at Monday’s Marathon and, I must admit, I am still coming to grips with the reality of the situation. The city that I know and love is forever changed and the sporting event that so many of us looked forward to each year will never be the same.
In the office for the first time since the bombings occurred, my colleagues and I have been sharing stories back and forth, not about the investigation or possible suspects, but about the heroic citizens that stepped in to help, the feeling of community and solidarity in the city and the prayers and acts of kindness that we have received from around the country. We have taken great comfort in these stories, and I hope that by sharing them, we can provide some comfort to others.
If you would like to donate to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino have set up The One Fund. If you are looking for other ways to help or show your support, you can check out this list compiled by Boston.com.
Stay Strong Boston!
By Sandy Lish | @slishcastle
Last night I attended the opening night performance of the “Book of Mormon” Boston run. I am a total musical theater geek and have been so looking forward to attending this show. It’s sold out and it’s become impossible to score a ticket (and by the way, the show is everything it was cracked up to be, and more—LOVED IT!). My 13-year-old son, who typically has no interest in a ticket to anything that doesn’t involve goals, runs or baskets, asked if he could come with me. Please don’t judge me on my parenting---I knew there would some questionable and mature language and content, but didn’t realize that his vocabulary would be so inelegantly expanded. We’ll get past that.
Anyway, I digress.
I settled in to my seat and started rifling through the Playbill, expecting the usual—info about the show and its performers, ads for wealth management, restaurants and future performances, and of course, three full-page ads for the real Book of Mormon and the Mormon church. Huh??? I had to take a second look: was this part of the show? A continuation of the irreverent take on the Mormon religion that is at the heart of the performance? Nope. These were ads with a call to action to read the real Book of Mormon, with one simple bit of copy on each one: “I’ve read the book,” “The book is always better,” and “You’ve seen the play…now read the book.”
Religious preference, beliefs and opinions aside, this is brilliant PR. Where else would the Mormon church find a captive audience of potential non-Mormons engrossed in the topic of the Mormon religion? So PR 101, they found a potential target audience and found a way to reach them.
But if PR 101 is about reaching your target audience, PR 102 has to including combatting negative messaging. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks the musical “Book of Mormon” is a glowing ad for the church. However, it seemed that the church realized there was no way around the stereotypes and parodies in the show, and rather than retreating from them, addressed them head on through these ads.
I was expecting to have to explain some new, um, “terms” to my son last night, but had no idea this would be an opportunity for a lesson in what makes good PR. In addition to the other, um, anatomy and “language” lessons that came during the show. I’m sure that the good PR lesson is what he’ll remember. Or at least I can tell myself that before the laughs, there was one teachable moment. And then we laughed our “you-know-whats” off.
By Elizabeth DiVito | @misschicsparkle
Work here at Castle starts at about 8:30 a.m., but I like to get in around eight to settle in, grab some breakfast and start my news catch up. If you’re wondering what I mean by “news catch-up”, I am referring to the countless websites, newspapers, blog posts and Twitter feeds I check each morning to make sure I am up on what is going on in the world since I went to bed the night before. This all sounds pretty routine for PR people like me, but what about the rest of the working world? Do we really need to know about everything all the time?
Sometimes I feel like I spend a good chunk of my free time reading and absorbing information. Some people are obsessive about cleaning out their in-boxes, but I am more concerned with getting to my daily newspapers and scanning the majority of the posts on my Bloglovin feed (Bloglovin is like a more hip version of Google Reader) before I start my work day. If I don’t get to these things first thing in the morning, the rest of my day feels a bit off, like missing that first cup of coffee (or tea in my case). The problem with this is the simple fact that there is just too much information out there to be able to know what is going on with everybody and everything, all the time. Between the newspapers, online news sites and social media platforms it can be really overwhelming.
In an effort to spend less time glued to my laptop while at home and spend more time interacting with REAL people, I have made an effort to only check my news sources, blog reader and Twitter feed one time after I leave the office, usually before I go to bed at night. The latest news from the Middle East and who got voted off of Dancing with the Stars can wait until I get into work the next morning. And just in case something major happens, the nice people at CNN will send a news alert to my iphone so I won’t miss anything!
Does anyone else feel totally overwhelmed by all the news and information out there?
We would like to share with you this encouraging post written by Marijo McCarthy at Widett and McCarthy.
By Marijo McCarthy
A few weeks ago, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Boston, for the “Celebration of Support”, an annual event which brings together scholarship students and donors. Not only am I an active ambassador for my alma mater, I am a believer in the value of such stellar public higher education opportunities for all. And, in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I established a small endowment in my parents’ names to help other young people obtain the opportunities I did so many decades ago.
I was preceded at the podium by an incredibly talented young woman whose hard-working father had single-handedly raised a family of daughters and was proudly watching the first of his family get ready to graduate from college. The look on his face as he listened to his daughter thank her family and her university was priceless. She was smart, articulate, grateful and full of opportunity to go on in a career designed to help others.
How could I follow that wonderful student? How could I put into words what it meant to be part of her success and achievement? All I could do was tell my own story starting with an education which laid the foundation for me to go on to law school, develop a successful practice working with small business owners, and come full circle back to the campus that provided the support I needed to pursue my career. But of all my many roles as a proud U Mass Boston alum, none makes me more proud and humble than being a small part of a student’s success. I so look forward to the day when I will meet the first James and Joanne McCarthy Student Success Fund recipient. Now that really will be full circle!
Many of the donors in the room were sharing the experience of meeting their first scholarship student … someone who had actually benefitted by their generosity … and the pride they felt in meeting “their student” was visible. The warm relationship between small donors and student recipients is palpable … after all, it’s a stretch for many alums to give endowment dollars, but it is a stretch that rewards again and again and again. It’s a gift from the heart and an investment from the head … after all, almost 80% of U Mass Boston graduates stay right here in Massachusetts and give back to their communities. So the circle continues.
Gift giving opportunities are not limited to the holiday season, so get in touch with your inner philanthropist now [never mind what happens with the charitable tax deduction… give because it feels so good!]. If you need more encouragement, visit the vast array of gift giving opportunities at my alma mater and feel good http://www.umb.edu/giving/reports/report2011/studentsuccess ! Check out the YouTube clip of grateful U Mass Boston students, then move down the page and give to the University that supports those very students’ success.
By Danielle Doyle | @ddoyle09
The power of light is undeniable. Light has the ability to stimulate the senses, enhance your appetite, create memories and affect one’s disposition. Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., National Institute of Mental Health says it can actually alter our brain chemistry and lead to genuine mood shifts. Illumination plays a significant role in our daily lives. Everything from the light level in my office to my bedroom at night affects the way that I feel in a space. Daylight Savings provides a powerful example. “Springing forward” made me realize that the sun setting later in the day symbolizes opportunity and hope (for warmer weather?) and also makes me feel more productive. When I leave the office and the sun is still out, I feel as if I completed everything that I set out to do and still have time to enjoy my evening. I can’t say whether this sensation is perceived or actual but it doesn’t really matter because it feels good!
This type of sentiment associated with a light experience (or memory) is exactly why people work with lighting experts to create the atmosphere in an event space. Event lighting is one of the most important aspects of an event. Thoughtful lighting can help to bring a room to life and transform an empty space to an elegant and visually appealing experience. The best colors for events are those that make people comfortable or stimulate their senses. Here is a look at the most common colors we use in lighting design and how it can have emotional impact on an attendee.
BLUE- Blue is a relaxing color that has a calming effect on the body; it lowers blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. In hot and humid weather it provides a cooling effect. It also creates a feeling of cleanliness, healing and wisdom. It is also real people pleaser, the best-liked color, and associated with the ocean, sky, and time off from work.
RED – is a warm color often associated with power, strength, excitement, warmth and passion. Red is energizing and excites the emotions. It also stimulates the appetite. Thus many restaurants use red. Red warms the body, increases the heart rate, brain-wave activity and respiration.
GREEN - is associated freshness, coolness, clarity and growth. It creates harmony of mind, body and soul it reminds us of spring and therefore new beginnings. It brings feelings of calm, anticipation and hope, and it has a soothing, relaxing effect on the body as well as the mind.
ORANGE - is associated with warmth, enthusiasm, stimulation, energy and exuberance. It’s a lively color. Orange is the color of fun and sociability. Warming and energizing. Orange is also good for stimulating the appetite and reduces fatigue.
VIOLET – is not found much in nature but has a sense of spirituality, purifying, mysticism, and creativity. Violet heightens our awareness and helps us to give our very best. Violet also provides a calming effect for body and mind.
YELLOW – Yellow is a reminder of happiness as well as a memory stimulator. Too much yellow can create fatigue. It inspires a sunny disposition, with feelings of warmth and optimism. The color also promotes quick, clear thinking, making it ideal for an office.
PINK – Pink has a soothing effect and creates a mood of sensitivity and love. Pink’s tranquilizing effect helps to dissolve anger and encourages unconditional love.
What color will you use to light up your next event?
By Elizabeth DiVito | @misschicsparkle
A few years back, an article came out about First Lady Michelle Obama’s morning routine, including the fact that she wakes up each morning at 5:30 a.m. Some people thought this was ridiculous because for many of us, including me, waking up that early would mean running on only 5-6 hours of sleep. Why? Because most working adults do not go to bed at 10 p.m. each night. Work, kids, insomnia and our favorite TV shows keep us up way past the hour of 10 p.m. and force us to hit the snooze button the next morning.
After beginning my new job, I decided to change all that by starting a new sleep routine. I began going to bed each night at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. no matter how badly I wanted to stay in bed. It was tough going in the beginning, and I found myself lying in bed at night willing myself to fall asleep. Eventually my body adjusted to the routine and I got to a point where I didn’t hate my alarm clock.
With all the extra time that I have in the morning, I’m able to shower, dress, put on some laundry, load my dishwasher , grab breakfast, check my email and still beat most of my colleagues to the office (except Wendy, she is always in before me). Because I have time to get myself together each morning, I am ready to hit the ground running when I get to work instead of rushing around for an hour before settling down. I’ve also been sleeping better and feeling more energized because my body knows when to go to sleep and when to wake up.
Training your body to get up that early when you aren’t use to it isn’t easy, but these are the tips that helped me adjust to the change:
- Go to bed at the same time each night, even if you’re not tired yet. Eventually your body will adjust.
- Don’t eat after 8 p.m. and avoid caffeine after 4 p.m. A full stomach never feels good lying down and that espresso shot to power through the last hour of work can keep some people up all night.
- Power down your brain an hour before bed time. I make a point not to watch TV or be on my computer before bed because it pumps me up instead of relaxing me. I find reading to be a great way to calm the brain.
- When the alarm goes off, get right up. Delaying getting out of bed, even for a few minutes, only makes it that much harder.
I know some of you still think I’m crazy, and I’ll admit that the early to bed, early to rise routine isn’t for everyone, but, if you find yourself in a mad rush each morning, and you’re exhausted by the time you get to your desk, give this a try. And don’t worry about missing your favorite TV shows, you can DVR them and watch them over the weekend.