About Nick Exposito

Nick is the Marketing Coordinator and New Biz Air Traffic Controller at Matrix Group. He graduated from Seton Hill University were he also played football - Go Griffins! When he’s not at the office you can find him at the gym, coaching, watching a movie, attending a concert or sporting event, traveling, fishing, or relaxing on the beach. Nick is a huge Pittsburgh sports fan, and thinks that Rocky is the greatest movie ever made (despite the fact that they chose to set the movie in the second best Pennsylvanian city…)

10 Writing “Rules” That Are Okay to Break

Don’t begin a sentence with a “but” or “and”. Don’t ever write in passive voice. Never start a sentence with “because”. How many of you have ever heard these writing “rules” from a teacher or authority figure? My guess is all of you.

I recently attended a writing seminar hosted by Association Media & Publishing (AM&P) and the topic was “Back to the Basics: Writing for Associations.” Leslie O’Flahavan led this fun and interactive workshop, and she gave great insight on why it is okay to go ahead and BREAK all of those writing “rules” and get them out of your head.

Here are the 10 writing rules Leslie says can be broken:

  1. Don’t begin a sentence with “but” or “and”.
  2. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.
  3. Don’t begin a sentence with “because”.
  4. Don’t write a one-sentence paragraph.
  5. Don’t use contractions in business writing.
  6. Don’t use “they” as a singular pronoun.
  7. Don’t split an infinitive.
  8. Don’t write a fragment.
  9. Don’t begin a sentence with “however” or “therefore”.
  10. Don’t write in passive voice. Ever.

When writing for your organization, all of these rules can be broken. Yes, all of them. Thanks to blogging and social media, a more casual and informal writing tone is now not only accepted but often expected. So live on the wild side and break rules a little bit! Just be careful that u don’t go 2 crazy w/ it. ;)

What other writing “rules” do you think need to be broken from time to time?

Our Favorite Video Editing Tools: Final Cut Pro & iMovie

It’s no secret that video is one of the hottest marketing trends and tools right now. If you haven’t taken the leap into video creation for your organization, now is certainly the time!

Video creation can seem like an overwhelming task at first thought, but good news! If you have a smartphone (who doesn’t these days?) and the right video editing software, you can create pretty great video content. Sure, your videos may not be super bowl ad worthy, but you’ll be surprised at the quality of content you can produce with the right tools.

Two of our favorite editing tools are iMovie and Final Cut Pro, which are both Apple products. While they are a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison – one is a more basic, budget friendly option and the other is more full-featured and an investment – they are both great tools to get the job done, depending on your needs.

Here’s a little background on each editor, and the advantages of each:

iMovie

This is a great program for beginner video editors to use to learn the ropes. We love it for it’s ease of use and basic editing features – it has enough tools to get the job done, but none of the more complex editing options that often intimidate beginners. Since it’s an Apple product, you can seamlessly bring in different Apple programs to the application such as iTunes, Garageband, Photos, etc.

We also love that it:

  • Makes it easy to jump back and forth between scenes
  • Is very simple to change the audio over a video clip
  • Gives you the ability to fix shaky/unsteady video
  • Is available on all Apple devices, so you can make edits on your video from anywhere

The biggest advantage of iMovie is that it’s free! A great way to get some exposure to video editing, without an initial investment.

Final Cut Pro

This is a signature video editing software, and includes more advanced features and capabilities. With a modern and sleek design, Final Cut also makes the experience for the editor more exciting while remaining pretty easy to use.

Some of our favorite features include:

  • The magnetic timeline, which makes it easier to produce your project. It automatically snaps multiple clips into place and gives you the ability to move the clips around the timeline quickly and easily.
  • Multi-Channel Audio that allows use different audio channels to make the sound of the video high-quality.
  • Compound clips option, that keeps you from worrying about gaps when you add videos together, and it transitions the video smoothly.

There is a cost associated with Final Cut Pro – right now it’s priced at $299 – but we believe it’s one of the best video editors on the market and worth every penny.

For most of our video editing needs here at Matrix Group, such as the Matrix Minute video series, we use Final Cut Pro. But we also love using iMovie to quickly edit and post videos to social media that are more timely.

There are many other video editing programs out there, but these are by far our favorites. And remember, if you ever need any video help, we’re here for you!

Have to dabbled in video editing? What’s your platform of choice?

Getting Things Done: How To Decide What To Do, When

When it comes to getting things done at work, how do you go about it? Do you write down a list, type it in a document, use sticky notes? What do you do to make sure you are getting things done throughout your workday?

Recently, CEO Joanna Pineda and CTO Maki Kato held a Friday Forum, which is a learning session held during lunch by one of the Matrix Group staff members, about what they’ve learned from reading the book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” by David Allen. They did a great job of summarizing the information from the book, and many of their suggested approaches for how to get tasks done more quickly, efficiently, and effectively in the workplace were eye-opening to me.

My #1 takeaway: How to decide what to do, and when.

In the book, David Allen suggests asking the following questions to help you determine which tasks you should tackle at any given time:

  • How much time do you have? 2 hours? 30 minutes between meetings? All afternoon?
  • What is your context? Where are you? The office, house, car, gym, etc. and what tools do you have to use to accomplish this task?
  • What is your energy level? Maybe there’s a task that should only take you 30 minutes, but it requires a lot of mental energy, and it’s 4:30pm on a Friday. But, you have two other tasks that should only take 15 minutes each, and are easy breezy. Focus on those tasks.
  • What is the priority list? When are my deadlines? What do I need to get done this morning, today, by the end of the week, or the end of the month?

So now, at the beginning of the day, I take a look at my list and my calendar, and then ask myself these questions so I can formulate a plan of how, and when, I will knock out all of the tasks on my plate. It’s been a game-changer for my productivity.

Keep in mind that energy level is key, though! Sometimes I may have a task on my plate that will only take 30 minutes, and it’s planned into my day between my afternoon meetings, but it’s a task that takes a lot of concentration. The 2:30 slump arrives and in that state of mind the 30 minute task may take me more like 45 minutes to an hour to complete. In that case, it may be better for me to focus on one of my other 30 minute tasks that requires less mental energy.

One more quick tip I learned – review your email once an hour, not every 5 minutes, to avoid distraction.

Have you read Getting Things Done? What is one of your top productivity hacks?

How to Use Social Media for Your Business

As the Marketing Coordinator at Matrix Group, I’ve started to use social media on a daily
basis not just to connect with my friends, but to see what is going on in the world and to see what is trending from a business and marketing standpoint. I’m also learning a lot about how to use social media to connect with your clients and constituents so they can better connect with you.

I recently attended a digital writing class hosted by Carrie Hane, Principal of Tanzen Consulting, where I learned about everything from creating better emails to writing for SEO. The topic I found most interesting, though, was writing for social media, since I use it on a daily basis and it’s something you don’t learn a lot about in college or in school in general.

My top takeaways about writing for social media were:

  • Always put your audience first – what are they interested in? What content can you share to best meet their needs?
  • Use calls to action!
  • Aim to be shareable. More shares = more likes = more interest = more business!
  • Keep in mind that your social channels and each post are part of a much bigger story.
  • Use hashtags to be found and to join the larger conversation
  • Think about how you can differentiate your content – there is a lot of noise on social media, so what can you do to stand out in the crowd?

While all of these are great ideas to keep in mind when it comes to writing for social media, each platform is different and requires a slightly different strategy, so there are some quick tips that I learned for how and what to post to each channel:

  • Twitter
    • The ideal tweet shouldn’t exceed 100 characters and needs to be more than 70.
    • Add photos to your tweets whenever possible
    • Share 4 to 5 relevant pieces of content that are not your everyday, such as blog pages, articles, or retweets of a relevant quote.
    • Make sure you are following your customers back!
  • Facebook
    • Share business news and current topics that are happening in the industry.
    • Always try and include pictures with your posts – you will get more engagement from your audience.
    • Facebook allows unlimited text in your posts, but the ideal length for a post is above 40 characters but less than 120.
  • Instagram
    • Use great pictures or short videos to get a lot of traffic.
    • Have a balance of posts between “fun” images and business related / promotional images
    • Try to keep posts to under 150 characters, and keep in mind that only the first 140 characters will display before they get cut off and users have to click “more” to see the rest.

And one more piece of advice for all platforms: regularly update your profile picture and cover photo; it’ll keep your audience more engaged with your page.

I had a great time attending Carrie’s workshop, and as you can see I learned a ton! If you’re interested in hearing more from Carrie on writing for the web, make sure to check out the Matrix Minute video that CEO Joanna Pineda recorded with her about How Writing for Digital is Different.

What other tips do you have for using social media for business? I’m all ears!

Tackling Your First Job Out of College

You just finished college and all that hard work is finally going to pay off. At least you hope it will.

You studied hard, got good grades, got involved outside of the classroom, had a few internships, and even took advantage of the interview coaching that your university offered. You polish up your resume, send it out, and get a few interviews. The interviews go well (hooray!) and you get the anxiously awaited call – you got the job! Great!

…but now what? You’ve had plenty of coaching on how to land the job, but few people actually prepare you for what you can expect and how you can survive those first few weeks of your first big-kid, full-time job.

So, as a recent grad, here are my tips on how to tackle your first full-time job out of college:

  • Learn as much about the company as humanly possible. Do tons of research ahead of time, and soak as much information in during your first few days and weeks as you can. The more you know, the more of an impact you can make at the company.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and ask a lot of questions. You are new and will struggle with certain tasks that are assigned to you for the first few weeks. Your colleagues will always be there to help you, so do not be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS. Believe it or not, they don’t expect you to know everything already. Phew!
  • Go to as many meetings as you can. Sitting in on meetings is a great way to learn about what’s going on at the company. By going to different meetings you will discover what projects are going on, how those projects are managed, who you are working with, and you will also get a better grasp on the inner workings of the organization.
  • Always have a notebook (or laptop) handy for taking notes. A lot will be thrown at you those first few days and weeks, and, honestly, a lot of it can sound like gibberish. Writing everything down helps enormously!
  • Have fun. I’ve already found that the old adage is true: If you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life. So make it FUN! I am fortunate that the office environment I work in is fast-paced and exciting.
  • Never miss an opportunity to grab lunch. In addition to being a great way to socialize and make friends at work, grabbing lunch with colleagues is the best way to get a feel for the company culture and to learn some insider tips for success.

That’s it! In recap: Ask questions, go to lunch with colleagues, go to meetings, have fun, and don’t ever stop learning. If you do these little things now, down the road you will be thrilled to go to work every day, and you may even find yourself climbing that corporate ladder in no time.

Oh one more (very important) tip: know where the CEO parks his or her car. That way you won’t accidentally park in that spot on your second day of work! Not that I know anything about that…

Have any other tips for success at your first full-time job? I’d love your advice!