Student starts agency

By By Sean Leviashvili, News Staff

‘ Michael Iamele, a middler communications studies major, scanned through a series of digital files he’s created for each of his new and potential clients Monday night, a practice he attributes to his recent co-op experience.
‘They’re called Intranets,’ he said, pointing to the digital information system that allows him to communicate on matters regarding press and event logistics, among others, with his clients and staff of about 20 student members. Iamele said most of his responsibilities now center around consulting.
Iamele is in the early stages of developing and launching his own communications firm, Eye to Eye communications, and he has been holding informal weekly meetings with staff members since the beginning of this semester.
‘We usually meet right around here,’ Iamele said, pointing to a set of couches on the first floor of the Curry Student Center.
Iamele described his firm as a full service communications agency, which covers all branches of the field, including crisis communications, marketing, public relations and advertising.
‘Crisis communication takes place when an organization has or wants to prevent a problem,’ he said. ‘When this happens, a communications firm can come in and work with the issue by holding conferences and working with the press, for example.’
Iamele said crisis communications includes three aspects:’ branding, political and corporate. While this aspect of the firm is significant to its development, it doesn’t hold priority over the other branches, Iamele said.
The marketing department, one of the four departments that make up Eye to Eye Communications, oversees social and grassroots movements, consumer trends and new business prospects, or as Iamele phrased it, ‘new biz.’ Public relations and advertising both encompass entertainment, corporate and athletics.
‘One of our goals, actually, is to work with the sports department,’ Iamele said. ‘Our basketball team and hockey team are both first division, and our football team is in danger of being terminated.’
At the moment, Eye to Eye Communications functions as a non-profit, representing on-campus organizations, whose names he did not disclose on account of privacy. In a year, Iamele said he anticipates the firm will shift to a for-profit organization and will continue to build up a clientele. Iamele said he and the other members of the firm are looking to represent and promote events and organizations on campus, but are also looking to include clients who are not affiliated with Northeastern.
Andree Peterson, a junior communications studies major, said event planning can be a very involved process.
‘People don’t realize just how much an event actually entails,’ she said. ‘If you’re booking a speaker, for example, you have to take care of their hotel accommodations, make sure they have access to transportation and help them find their meals, sometimes.’
These details, she said, can often be overlooked by those not involved in event planning.
Obtaining new clients would fall under the marketing quarter, and within that, it would be categorized as a ‘new biz’ obligation, Iamele said. Dave Courtney, a middler who is dual majoring in chemistry and engineering and was appointed to run this section of the firm by Iamele, said that much of his work boils down to networking.
‘I make connections for Mike, and help him continue doing his own thing,’ Courtney said. ‘Right now, I’m working on a launch party that we’re planning, in addition to working on our connections. Making connections is great, in terms of communications and in life in general.’
Connecting is vital for anyone who wants to work in the field, Iamele said. Establishing these connections is just one of the reasons he created Eye to Eye Communications.
He toyed with the idea of creating his own firm for some time, probably about two or three years, he said, and discussed it with his younger sister, who is a freshman at Emerson College. The two of them even came up with the name.
‘It was sort of a play on words, with our last name being Iamele, but when I discussed the title with other people they said it got a good message across, like our company would be seeing eye to eye with our clients,’ he said.
Before this, Iamele had discussed the possibility with a friend, AJ Devino, a Northeastern student who passed away in 2007. The two had collaborated and decided their firm would be called ID for Iamele-Devino.
‘I knew that I needed to start an agency one day, the way AJ would have liked, but I didn’t want to be involved in anything at the time,’ he said. ‘Eventually after prodding by others, I decided to fulfill our dream and start an agency. I know she’s proud.’
As Iamele said, it did take some outside encouragement.
‘About a year ago, a few people, maybe a total of 10, told me I should look into launching a communications firm at Northeastern,’ he said. ‘It could be because I’m organized, and more recently because I was involved with a big agency over the past few months, but I really wanted to bring people’s skills together to create this.’
The idea remained hypothetical until Iamele was well into his first co-op, which was at the Cambridge office of Weber Shandwick, a global public relations and communications firm.
‘It afforded me the opportunity to network with some of the most well connected people in the business, including Gordon Browns advisor, and the director of General Motors. It was an amazing experience, I had a chance to learn from some of the most talented minds in the business.’
After completing his co-op, Iamele said he was more driven to organize his firm.
‘I refused to let the skills I acquired over the past six months go to waste,’ he said.
‘ Iamele said the options for experiential learning are limited for students in the communications studies department. Aside from co-op opportunities, the on-campus organizations and classrooms exclude practicality, Iamele said.
‘The classes are very theoretical and communications is such a practice based field,’ Iamele said. ‘You need to have experience.’

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