Advice from a man who’s almost done it all

Peter Burakowski of visitbuffaloniagara.com gives advice NU students

Canisius grad Peter Burakowski thought he was ‘too cool’ at his first job to cut out flyers. That was until his boss chewed him out for ruining their company’s first impression to potential clients.

“I learned that day you are not ‘too cool’ for anything. That is my advice to you, don’t think something is below you,” said Burakowski.

After working at Righteous Babe and Sony BMG Burakowski decided he needed important things like benefits and healthcare, so he took a job working in marketing for The Talking Telephone Book.

“It brought me in a decent pay check, but how can you market a phone book? I wasn’t passionate about it,” he said.

Working at a less exciting job did teach Peter one thing, “Every medium has a shelf life.”

He explained that the phone book was once used by everyone for information, and advertisers paid big money to get their products featured. “Have any of you even used a phone book lately? Have any of you used on in the past five years?” When the answer he received was no Burakowski explained that phone books have had to adapt their marketing practices over the years in order to survive. Things like apps for phones and internet use of increased by the company.

After a year working for the phone book company Burakowski finally found a job he could be passionate about at the Buffalo history Museum. The self proclaimed history buff explained, “It’s easy to work when you’re passionate about something, and who gets passionate over a phone book?”

Visit Buffalo/Niagara is Burakowski’s most recent, and current place of work. He takes big time writers from major news papers like the New York Times, and Washington Post around the city. He also does copy writing, public relations, and most recently Social Media.

“The best possible advice I can give to someone who wants to be in PR and marketing is: know the brand you’re talking about and know your audience.”

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Run Mehlman Run

NU senior to race coast to coast to raise funds to fight disease

After college, most people look for a job, try to move out of their parents’ house, and worry about paying back student loans.

Niagara University student Nicole Mehlman, on the other hand, is going to go for a run.

Across the entire country.

This summer, Mehlman, a communication studies major, will participate in the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adult’s 4K for Cancer. She will travel from San Francisco to Baltimore – more than 4,000 miles – in an effort to raise money to aid young adults affected by cancer.

She got the idea from fellow NU student Vince Schiano, who spent last summer bicycling the 4K for Cancer. “He told me that I would be perfect for (the run); he really encouraged me to do it,” she said.

“The trip was absolutely life-changing. I have never been able to meet so many new people and see so many things and make a difference all at the same time,” Schiano said of his experience.

In May, Mehlman, along with a number of young adults from around the country, will embark upon the inaugural 4K for Cancer run. Each of the 30 days of running will consist of 12 one-mile increments in a relay style, according to www.4Kforcancer.org. Runners will ride in a chaser van while not doing their leg of the relay.

This type of self-propulsion from ocean to ocean is not an easy task.

“It’s insane how much you need to focus. It’s so easy to lose track of your goal, especially when it’s 112 degrees in the middle of Kansas,” Schiano said.

The 4K for Cancer began in 2001 with students at Johns Hopkins University, led by Ryan Hanley, who lost his father to cancer. The bike ride is 70 days and riders in groups of about five go between 40 and 130 miles daily, with rest stops every 10 to 20 miles, Schiano said.

The 4K for Cancer has sponsored up to four cross-country bike rides every year since and, in 2012, merged with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults to consolidate efforts to a common goal.

Supporting the fight against cancer is personal for Mehlman. Her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and is now cancer-free after having a double-mastectomy. Her grandfather has recovered from skin cancer. A neighbor also survived throat cancer.

Of his own experience, Schiano said, “Once the ride started, the connection to the cancer community grew (exponentially).” He got involved in the fight against cancer after his aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. “She’s been my inspiration since the start.”

After spending time volunteering at treatment centers and hospitals, Schiano said he feels connected to a much larger community.

“You start riding for one or two people, but then you end up riding for 400, 500 people by the end, and it turns into you just wanting to support anyone who’s been touched by the disease,” he said.

After biking across the country to support the cause, Schiano, a senior CMS major with a minor in psychology, aspires to do public relations work for a not-for-profit cancer organization after graduating in May.

According to www.ulmanfund.org, more than 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year.

“There’s no better time than now to get involved in the young adult cancer awareness and support campaign, because a lot of young adults need that help and they’re not getting it,” Schiano said.

Mehlman has already raised more than $2,400 toward her ultimate fundraising goal of $4,500. Her deadline is May 15.

Schiano began fundraising for his trip by collecting bottles and cans around campus and telling people about the cause. “I would tell them, and they would tell someone else, and it turned into networking, and a lot of people that I didn’t even know started supporting me,” he said. “It really taught me the generosity of people.”

The end of college will be the start of quite a journey for Nicole.

To find out more about Nicole, or to make a donation, visit http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/nicole-mehlman/.

Working your way up

Buffalo.com’s Ben Kirst advises future journalists

Nicole Mehlman

Buffalo.com’s Digital Communications manager Ben Kirst stopped by Niagara University’s Web Design class to discuss the web, and its affect on journalism. Kirst is a western New York native from Fredonia and started small as a writer for Dunkirk’s local news paper.

“I covered all kinds of sports at first, high school on up,” he says.

Kirst says he utilized small jobs and the contacts he made over the years to work his way up to his current position. “My biggest advice to all of you is use the people you know, and network like crazy,” he advised.

In terms of content on his web site Kirst described why the Buffalo News decided to make two pages, “Buffalo.com is geared toward ages 18 to 35 and focuses on sports and entertainment. The Buffalo News has the main web site that is more hard news. Buffalo.com is still part of the Buffalo News, but at the same time we compete with each other.”

Buffalo.com is the smaller of the two sites with only a five person staff and three freelance photographers, but Kirst says their following is growing as they add more creative content.

“We’re in the top ten in terms of the most visited sites in western New York, and that’s definitely something to be proud of. We’re also striving to reach more people through promotions and events that are geared towards younger people in this region,” he explained.

Despite bigger sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the Buffalo News, Buffalo.com has started to make a name for itself and hopes to widen their reach across the western New York area.