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Advice for Communications / Marketing Students from a New Media Titan

Ryan Belmore, owner of What’s Up Newport  spoke with Suzanne McDonald about his career path, what his company might look for in recent graduates, and what aspiring new media practitioners should focus on.

Who is Ryan Belmore and What’s Up Newp?

What’s Up Newp is a hyper-local company focused on supporting and spreading the word about local businesses, restaurants, and entertainment in Newport, Rhode Island.

“I always say that with hyper-local social media, it’s not enough to play. I want to be the voice of the community,”said Belmore, the owner of the one-man company.

Belmore majored in fire-science in college, “which is the furthest thing from what I’m doing now with my life that you could possibly do,” he laughed. He then worked in administration management for the New England Patriots for eight years. After which, he did social media work for nonprofit organizations until he bought What’s Up Newp in 2014. He now runs the website, social media and radio show on his own with some help from freelancers.

What should communications & marketing students focus on?

According to Belmore, the most important things for students to learn include:

  • Strong writing skills
  • Work ethic
  • Creativity
  • Communication skills
  • Understanding your audience
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Basic coding skills
  • Social platform analytics
  • Website analytics
  • Business management – sales, accounting, selling advertising

He said that a lot of the drive to succeed has to come from within the student, rather than being something that could be taught. Belmore said that when you own a company, “you know everything relies on you. Success and failure, it runs directly through you. […] You know to be successful, you have to push it.”

What new media does What’s Up Newp rely on?

What’s Up Newp has a website run on WordPress, as well as a radio show on every weekday. As for social media, followers can get updates on local news on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Belmore said he recently began a Youtube channel, as well, to showcase interviews, and Belmore is looking to expand on Google Plus.

What’s Up Newp could have a page on every platform, he said, “but as a one man company, I can’t possibly update and keep them all running. What I do, I want to do well.” He said as the company grows and he continues to learn about new platforms, the company’s sites will grow as well.

What would a company like What’s Up Newp look for in potential employees?

Belmore said it’s important for recent graduates and potential employees to really study the social media world that they want to work in. If they want to be in a hyper-local company like What’s Up Newp, then they should understand the community and what companies right now are doing well and could be doing better.

He recommended looking at sites like Street Fight or getting daily emails from places like Fanpage Karma to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the business. “You have to be open to always learning what’s going to be new,” he said.

Finally, while Belmore warned students to be careful what they post on social media while in college, he added that there’s great opportunity to use social media to their advantage before they graduate. “Start to connect with people in your area who are movers and shakers and tweet them,” he said. “Let them know you’re out there, and once you graduate, once you’re looking for a job, hopefully you have a little bit of a relationship started with them.”

What do you think students should learn now to get jobs?”

Steering a course for students’ career success with Captain of Big Fish Results

Independence and ability to effectively research market changes are among the most valuable skills students can have now and throughout their careers, according to the Captain of Big Fish Results Tony Guarnaccia, when he spoke with Suzanne McDonald during her “pro-sourcing,” (rather than crowd-sourcing) campaign on what students need to know to land New Media jobs. The interview is split into 2 video clips, above and below.

Big Fish Results and its Captain

Big Fish Results works with companies of any size to help them become the market leader online, making them the “big fish” online. Big Fish uses a universal methodology – attract customers, lure prospects, and haul in the catch – that focuses on goals rather than on specific platforms, so that their techniques will not go out of style when the platforms do.

Guarnaccia, who founded Big Fish Results, has worked in the digital marketing industry for 15 years, previously working for thousands of small businesses and a dozen Fortune 500 companies. He double majored in fine arts and entrepreneurship. He played violin for years, ran digital advertising for ADP payroll services, and then founded Big Fish Results.

“I’m blessed because I’m one of the few people that actually has used both of their degrees.”

Guarnaccia’s advice for new New Media practitioners

Some of the core classes Guarnaccia recommends: general marketing, public relations, and public speaking.

“It’d be preferred if they’re learning things that are more up-to-date … it could be a blog post, even. Personally, that’s what I do. I always try to read, and I always try to stay somewhat up-to-date with what’s going on as much as I can,” he said.

The “main drivers” students should know, according to Guarnaccia, are Facebook, LinkedIn, Hootsuite, and Google. He said it’s important for students to understand their business models and “how they fit into the ecosystem,” rather than just understanding the details of each platform.

What Big Fish Results looks for in applicants

Guarnaccia said that he often looks for people who have a fine arts or sports background, because it shows that the person can be creative, analytical, and wants to win. He said it’s important to be passionate about whatever you’ve done in the past.

Other traits he looks for includes:

  • Adaptable
  • Professional
  • Real-world experience
  • Passionate
  • Problem-solver

Guarnaccia advises students to figure out what they want to do as early as possible and try to think about why you want to invest your time in that.

“I think if you’re passionate about something, you’re going to be special. And that’s a big theme of ours, being passionate about it,” he said.


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