How Maintaining a Close Relationship with Early-Adopters Can Launch You to Stardom

By Chloe Lyzun, Management Coordinator

In the fall of 2010, a few friends and I followed the sound of live music past the “mall,” cafeteria and bookstore. It was there that I heard the song that would define my college years and play at every major college event for the next four years. The band performing was high-energy and, despite playing for only a few dozen college students, looked to be having the time of their lives. It was obvious that this unknown, face-painted foursome had talent and would someday be playing bigger venues than a Butler University Starbucks, but in that moment it was clear that the guys in Walk the Moon were on top of the world.

Soon after, I became sorority sisters with their manager and was given a mixed CD with a few of the band’s “popular” songs. I was immediately hooked. During the summer after my freshman year of college, I was making copies of their independent record release, I Want! I Want!, for anyone who would take them. This band had stolen my heart and I was determined to be part of their success story.

Walk the Moon returned to campus a few more times, sometimes playing for tired dancers at Dance Marathon or in someone’s grandparents’ garage. Their last free show at school came in December of 2011, when the band played for the largest number of Butler students I’d ever seen jumping, dancing and singing together. “Anna Sun” had never sounded better. Because it was college, and no one had money, the boys slept in the sorority’s TV room (which was definitely not allowed) and ate brunch with us the next morning. It was clear that Walk the Moon was going to be Butler’s band (even though they’re from Cincinnati) and we were going to support them on whatever journey laid ahead.

The next few years went by in a flash and were highlighted with Walk the Moon-related moments: sixty-plus girls crowded into a stuffy TV room to watch “our” band play on Jimmy Fallon’s show, (a video I’ve now seen thousands of times); my parents calling the phone at my summer retail job to scream and tell me they heard “Tightrope” on an HP commercial; and voting for “Anna Sun” to become MTV’s Song of the Summer, which it did.

Now, not a day goes by that I don’t hear them on the radio. “Shut Up and Dance” has gone double platinum, they’ve performed on every major late night show and you can even see Ellen Degeneres and Al Roker dancing with them.

The point of this post is not to brag about my early exposure to such a phenomenal group of guys. Walk the Moon created a brand just like any client we see in agency life. They identified their target audience, solidified their brand image, used social media for strategic communications and made sure every tweet, performance or interview was “on brand.”

The methods they used to build a secure, loyal fan base are universal. Engage with your audience from the very beginning and they’ll stick with you until the end. Walk the Moon was never “too big” to remember the little guys. They still interact with Butler on social media, humbly pronounce that they owe everything to the tenacity of their fans and continue to star friends and family in their music videos.

As for the sorority sister managing them four years ago? They hired her as their touring manager when she graduated. Ah, the life.

Why Brands Were the Real Stars of ‘Jurassic World’

By Maggie Stephens, New Business Intern

‘Jurassic World’ hit the box office last weekend with record-breaking force. It grossed over $511 million worldwide, thus earning the crown of the biggest worldwide debut of all time.

If you saw the movie, then there is no doubt you noticed the heavy amount of product placement. At first, I couldn’t be distracted from the dinosaur-induced awe that the Jurassic Park franchise supplies me with. But, as the movie sped on, I was consumed with spotting products instead of focusing on the dinosaurs. And to me, the brands became the real stars of the mega-movie. Bravo, brands.

Mercedes-Benz and Samsung
Two of the biggest brands throughout the movie are Mercedes-Benz and Samsung. Nearly every vehicle on Isla Nublar is a Mercedes and the characters all use Samsung phones. And, the research and science on the island would not have been possible with Samsung, as seen in the ‘Samsung Innovation Center.’

Verizon Wireless
When funding for the genetically-modified hybrid dinosaur the Indominus Rex is lacking, the park gets a sponsorship from Verizon Wireless. Enter: Verizon Wireless Presents The Indominus Rex.

Hilton
The hotel of Isla Nublar.

Brookstone, Oakley and Pandora
Tired of walking around the sprawling park all day? Go relax in one of Brookstone’s massage chairs. Or maybe you need some sunglasses so the glare from the Gyrosphere doesn’t blind you. You should stop by Oakley right after you watch the Tyrannosaurus Rex feed on a goat. Shopping is one thing Jurassic World is not lacking.

Starbucks
Because what theme park doesn’t have one?

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
This is one of my favorite product placements in the movie. Frozen drinks on a dinosaur-filled island. Relaxing!

Good for brands
The movie showed how product placement has evolved over time. Marketers see the value in product placement because the product will be shared or talked about. Traditional advertising isn’t always as effective these days, and marketers’ best answer to stay ahead is moving toward a model with a higher risk and greater award.

David Kiley of Businessweek found that up to 66% of all TV viewers mute, skip or basically just “tune out” during commercial segments. JMMR notes that average brand recall across all commercial campaigns has dropped to 30%. With these numbers showing such declining results, are product placements in movies the new face of advertising?

The numbers are certainly hopeful. Placements can increase brand awareness by up to 20%. This newfound brand awareness indicates that 31.2% of consumers who see product placements show interest in actually buying a product. I know I bought a Starbucks drink after seeing the movie, but I’m also easily tempted by caffeinated beverages.

While the in-your-face placement of brands was a bit of a distraction from the dinosaur action, it’s generating a lot of buzz for Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, etc. We may just have to get used to this new model as the progressively challenging advertising market changes.

8 Things You Should Know about Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

By Meghan Hamm, Digital Strategist

The mobile-friendly algorithm update that Google launched on April 21st has caused a lot of commotion in the internet marketing world as many companies scramble to update their website in fear of losing search traffic. This update has been designed to reward mobile-friendly sites with higher rankings on mobile devices to help improve the search experience for users.

If you have not checked to see if your website pages are considered mobile-friendly, you should use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. This will let you know if your pages are mobile-friendly or not and will tell you what you need to fix in order to pass the test. If you have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can also check your entire site using this Mobile Usability dashboard. If you do not have a Webmaster Tools account, you can set up this free resource relatively easily.

If your site did not pass the mobile-friendly test and are concerned, here are some more facts about the update and the potential affects it might have on your search traffic.

1. The update affects only search rankings on mobile devices. So, the traffic coming from desktops and tablets will not be affected.

2. It applies to individual pages, not the entire website. Some pages of your site might be deemed as mobile-friendly and other pages may not be.

3. Google is only demoting mobile un-friendly sites for non-branded search queries. Meaning the searches that appear with your brand name in them will not be affected.

4. Local business listings or local pack listings are not affected by this update either.

5. Sites that are mobile friendly will say that they are on mobile devices:

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6. Site speed is also not a ranking factor in the mobile friendly update.

7. The algorithm is a real-time dynamic update, meaning once your site becomes mobile-friendly (if it already isn’t) you will recover the lost traffic that occurred due to the update. It also means that if you make a change to your site that makes it not mobile-friendly, then you will lose the status.

8. Even though responsive designed websites are the preferred solution for mobile-friendliness, if you have a site that uses a separate mobile URL, it can pass the test just the same.
Regardless if you have been affected by this update or not, it is important to have a mobile-friendly site to improve user experience.

 

Bike to Work Day

Are you tired of driving your car to work? Always getting caught at those pesky, red lights? Fed up with driving by yourself and having to listen to music alone? Well has Indy got a solution for you! This Friday, May 15 is Alternative Transportation Day, also known as “Bike to Work Day 2015,” hosted by INDYCOG! If one doesn’t have a bike though, Hirons also supports any of the following:

• Walking
• Carpooling
• Bus-ing
• Hover Boarding
• Hang Gliding
• Scooting
• Segway-ing
• Roller Skating
• Pogo Sticking
• Leap Frogging
• Canoeing
• Horseback riding
And anything else you can use as transportation.

Get from Point A to Point B the fun, green way! Visit indycog.org to find more information as well as bike routes near you.

Also, after working so darn hard all day, be sure to stop by the Tomlinson Tap Room for a happy hour fundraiser for INDYCOG.

Have a happy Friday and don’t forget to transport alternatively tomorrow!

Sustainability Matters at Hirons

By Luke Woody-Fehribach, Associate Art Director

Today marks the one-week anniversary of the 45th Earth Day. This time last week, people were being very conscious about what they drank, how they got to work, what they threw away and what they recycled. SnapChat had an Earth Day story, Google had a quiz and #EarthDay2015 was trending everywhere else. People were consciously caring for the earth.

But what about today? Yeah, people are still caring for the earth, but how many? The earth is precious to us but so often we get caught up in what we’re doing, using and buying and we don’t seem to bat an eye when we toss away a single sticky note into the trashcan. Small actions can make a big difference. One sticky note per person in offices all around the world adds up. I’m no mathematician, but I can figure that one out. It equals a lot. Like a lot, a lot. And here’s the kicker, that’s just a fraction of a fraction of the real problem. If one sticky note per person adds up, imagine what everything else we throw away adds up to. Not enough people are paying attention to what they can recycle and do for the earth.

At Hirons, we are actively doing our part to fight those gluttonous trashcans. Every desk and common area has a recycle bin. In every common area specifically, there are posters reminding employees to figure out if what they are about to throw away is actually recyclable or not. We have a white roof, which reflects the sun and reduces our energy costs. We have a green team, which creates office initiatives to make the office greener. We have a ToxDrop Recycling pick up every quarter, allowing employees to bring in their burnt out light bulbs, empty copier toners, dead batteries, and other miscellaneous electronic equipment that can no longer be used. A couple years back, we switched out 166 of our light bulbs with LED energy efficient light fixtures, some of which being motion sensor. Every month we promote and acknowledge our coworkers for being green. We’ve decreased our garbage by 10 cubic yards and added those 10 cubic yards to our recycling each month. And that’s all just the tip of the melting iceberg. Hirons is also on the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce Green Business Initiative.

Sustainability matters at Hirons and we don’t like to restrict tree hugging to one day out of the year. Every day is Earth Day!

Keeping an Eye on Those Headlines

By Christine Todd, Account Coordinator

It can almost go without saying that having a basic understanding of current events, especially if you work in communications, is so important for everyday work and life. I’m talking to you, college students. If you are in college or a recent college graduate, it’s good to start these habits before you enter the professional world.

With so many sources across all mediums, it’s easier now than ever to stay updated on local, national and world news. I’ve outlined some baby steps you can take:

• Subscribe to a daily email newsletter to get the day’s headlines, such as The Skimm. It will make you feel like a news rock star before you walk out the door in the morning.
• Listen to podcasts while exercising or during your commute.
• Watch local broadcast TV while getting ready in the morning.
• Make a national news channel your browser homepage so you’re almost forced to read the updating headlines every time you hop onto your browser.
• Download a news compilation app on your phone. Circa News and Newsify are some of my favorites. These allow you to pick and choose the RSS feeds from your favorite news sources and put them all in one convenient app.

Doing just some of these everyday will make you stand out at networking events or informational interviews. I can just imagine some of these scenarios occurring if you show off your news junkie skills.

For example:

“What’s that you say? You know about that obscure bill passed through the Indiana Senate last week? I’d like to hear your opinion on it over a cup of coffee, and maybe we can see if my company has an opening in our government relations department.”

Or:

“Hey, you seem pretty knowledgeable about what tech products are popular in Southeast Asia right now. Can you send me links to those articles you were talking about? Here’s my business card, and please feel free to contact me for career advice.”

Well, it may not play out as wonderful as these hypothetical situations, but knowing your stuff can help you get a leg up in the recent graduate pool.

If you work in an agency, you’re expected to know a little about everything, and you’re definitely required to be an expert on your local news outlets. It can make the difference in scoring more media coverage for a client if you are able to make your releases and pitches newsworthy. It also helps if you are able to speak intelligently about why an article you read last night would really help with a client’s communications strategy. Back up your rationale with reputable and multiple news sources and you could come across a winning plan.

You can even help avoid terribly timed social media situations like this.

So yes, it can be very easy to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world around you. Beyond fulfilling your civic duty as an educated human, being a news junkie can help you professionally and also personally because let’s face it, it’ll probably help your stats at Wednesday night trivia.

Start reading, listening and watching. Keep an open mind and don’t limit yourself to just one news source.

 

Intern Spotlight: Kenyatta White

INTERN SPOTLIGHT Kenyatta-Photo

Name: Kenyatta White
School: Grantham University
Graduation Year: 2016
Major: Master of Business Administration
Internship title: New Business Assistant
Hobbies: Cooking, DIY projects and event planning

Duties at Hirons:
As a New Business Assistant, I provide account support for prospective clients, supporting the New Business Department in the day-to-day management of prospective accounts. Some of my responsibilities include drafting proposals and scopes of work, providing daily updates on new business and federal opportunities, and conducting secondary research.

Favorite part about interning at Hirons:
I love the staff interaction. We find any reason to celebrate one another, from birthdays to promotions and everything in between. Oh, and there’s always delicious food and snacks laying out the office and who doesn’t like food?

What have you learned during your time at Hirons? How does this opportunity relate to your career goals?
At Hirons, I’ve learned so much about strategic planning and execution in regards to the client’s needs. It’s awesome to see a scope of work first presented by the New Business Department turn into a full body of creative work. This internship opportunity is just what I needed to jump start my career in public relations. I think that my military discipline, along with the hands on experience I’m receiving here at Hirons, will be a great asset in pursuing my PR goals.

Most difficult aspect of the job:
There isn’t really anything at Hirons I find too difficult. However, as an U.S Army Veteran, I think that a change in work culture can be challenging in general. Transitioning from a military environment to pursue a career in a corporate one can sometimes take some getting used to.

Fun facts about yourself:
• I’m a self-proclaimed foodie.
• I’m a hair product junkie (the first step is admitting that you have a problem).
• I also really don’t like camping – the Army ruined that for me. Oh yeah, I’m a U.S. Army Veteran.

Why Agency Life is the Best Life

By Blair Mulzer, Account Coordinator

As my one-year anniversary at Hirons draws near, I have begun to think back on the past year and all its significances. It’s been a period of many firsts for me – my first year out of college, married, living on my own and in a new town and working in my chosen career.

One of the most noteworthy realization’s I’ve come to is how much more I have learned about public relations in the past 10 months at Hirons than in my four years at college. Looking back, I know I made the right decision to start my PR career working at a PR agency versus in-house.

I’ve heard it said that the experience and knowledge gained from working three years at an agency is equivalent to working several years at a company. In view of this past year, this rings true. While at Hirons, I have been exposed to a wide variety of clients, brands, strategies and people and I believe there is a tremendous breadth and depth of experiences to be gained working at an agency. Let me share with you some of the reasons why I believe agency life is the best life.

1. When starting out in your career, it is ESSENTIAL to have career mentors. I have friends who are the sole marketing, PR or communications person at their company – that’s great, if you know it all, but if you are just starting out how will you learn best practices?

The senior account managers here at Hirons are awesome. They have been a great resource for helping me think through the best strategies for different projects and campaigns, how to work and talk with clients, how to better write for various mediums like video and radio scripts, speeches, new business proposals, specialized pitches, PR and communication plans, etc. and more. If I ever have feel an inkling of doubt or have a question, I am positive that someone here has the answer for me…

2. And not just an answer, but the BEST answer. Another great aspect of working with an agency is that you’re working with a team. I have some bad ideas and I have some great ideas, but on my own I am quite limited. However, when working with a team the possibilities are endless. Every account has a manager, a coordinator or two, and a creative designer. We joke that teamwork makes the dream work, but in all seriousness it takes a team to carry out all the details of a successful campaign.

3. Want experience planning and executing a press conference? How about staging a photo shoot or video shoot? Maybe take part in a branding workshop or facilitate a focus group? Participating in these opportunities and others are always made available to staff who want to gain new experiences. It’s great because my clients’ current projects and campaigns don’t limit me from gaining new experiences. We are always welcome to lend a hand on other projects.

4. It never gets old. I love that every week, month and year looks different for me. With having a variety of clients, I get to think and work in many different ways. One day I’m focusing on B2B messaging and strategy for a company in the UK and the next I’m working on public outreach for youth in Indianapolis. My exposure isn’t constrained to one industry or location, I get pulled in many different directions, making me a more well-rounded person, and eventually, ace of the trade.

5. Lastly, you know way more than you think. Because I am often moving at a hundred miles an hour, I often forget how much I’ve really accomplished and learned in such a short amount of time. I cannot tell you how many press release I’ve written, media phone call’s I’ve made, press events I’ve put on, hits I’ve obtained, or projects and campaigns I’ve initiated and completed in the past year. It’s crazy to think back on all that I have done just 10 months out of college – Oh, and with the help of an incredible team, won my first PRSA Pinnacle Award.

An in all, agency life is exhilarating, addicting, and incredibly rewarding. If you’re graduating soon or thinking about making a career change, I advise you to heavily consider working at an agency – especially Hirons.

The New On-Demand Lifestyle

By Jim Parham, Chief Operating Officer

The third season of “House of Cards,” premiered last week. Well, premiere may not be the right term – the whole season downloaded in one fell swoop.

I’m a fan of  “binge watching” – you know, get a few friends together and watch Frank Underwood give a few asides, then you want to see more. No longer do you have to wait a week to see the next episode. No longer do you have to deal with 30-second messages about E.D.-fighting drugs or insurance. Today, it’s about content delivered where, when and how you want it and as much as you want it.

Go ahead, watch all 13 Netflix episodes in a two-day binge. You will undergo the same endless sensory overload experienced by Johnny Depp in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

While TV still has a big audience, The New York Times noted that, “Prime-time ratings for the Big Four broadcasters are dropping more precipitously than ever.”  Part of the problem might be demographics: Business Insider recently reported on a “generational shift in which younger viewers don’t want cable or satellite service, just wireless Internet that allows them to view video on their tablets and laptops.”

Just as we’ve seen the tanking of newspaper readership and subscription rates, there’s more on the horizon. Most likely, there will continue to be an assault on traditional television viewership as we move to a converged communication platform where the tablet, cellphone and laptop are all things to all people. Sure, we’ll sit in front of the 50-inch for an HD version of the Super Bowl, but that’s more of a social function than functionality.

Let’s not forget about where a lot of good “television” is coming from: HBO, Showtime and Netflix.  Looking at the list of Emmy nominations each year, it’s hard to tell that network television exists.  “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” are landing huge market shares, even though they are accessible through subscription-based services.

It appears to me, more and more people want high quality entertainment that’s smart, entertaining and uninterrupted. Sure, many watch “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol,” but things are changing fast. Reality TV may have been a big hit for the broadcast industry, but there are only so many New Jersey housewives out there.  Thank God.

As traditional broadcasters feel the hot breath of competition, fueled by technology, they may want to turn to the inspirational wisdom of Frank Underwood: “There is but one rule:  Hunt or be hunted.”

6 Pieces of Advice for Aspiring PR Pros

By Kendall Bybee, Account Manager

I was recently approached by an old college peer of mine to answer some questions for one of her PR classes at my alma mater, Indiana University (GO IU!). The questions she asked were thought-provoking and ones that I often mulled over myself when I was in college (oh the good old days). As a fairly new PR pro trying to hack it in the business, I wanted to share my responses with those who are on the brink of graduation and might be looking for some answers and clarity about the industry.

So let’s dive right in…

1. What competencies are needed for a successful career in public relations?

First and foremost, you need to be a great writer. I honestly don’t think there is a more valuable skill to have in PR than being an above average writer – be able to write well, often and fast. Organization is another quality that I believe all employers look for. Especially at the agency level where you’re constantly juggling multiple different clients at a time and usually have to quickly jump from one account to the next throughout the day. Thinking strategically and knowing how to properly conduct research are also key competencies. Lastly, I think being a people person and a good communicator is vital – that is, of course, if you ever wanted to be trusted to be put in front of a client.

2. What criteria do you use to assess the abilities of a potential employee in public relations?

A potential PR employee must be well-rounded with a broad understanding of all aspects of communications. The world of PR is ever-changing and employers are constantly demanding new skills from their employees. Therefore, you must be flexible and able to adapt and grow with the needs of your clients. Also, potential employees should be passionate and curious with a strong desire to learn. You must be bold and creative, quick on your feet, and have a genuine interest in people and building relationships.

3. What PR competencies and skills do you typically miss when you encounter recent college graduates?

Generally speaking, I think the skills that college graduates usually lack are in the areas of strategic thinking and research. It’s honestly the foundation of everything we do and two skills that often get overlooked in college. You use these skills to solve problems, write communications plans, to develop successful campaigns and to monitor and measure those campaigns. Strategic as well as creative thinking is an absolute must when you’re trying to maximize your resources and implement the best possible campaigns and plans for your clients.

I also think media relations gets wildly overlooked in college. I believe it’s a huge part of PR and needs to be built into every college curriculum for majors including journalism, public relations, strategic communications, etc.

4. What should a college students focus on in their PR studies?

Focus on the above. And then focus on your weaknesses. There’s nothing better than a well-rounded graduate who is capable in all areas. Hirons is a full-service agency, meaning we offer services in all areas including public relations, advertising, marketing, media relations, media planning and buying, design and production. I didn’t solely focus on PR in college (although is was my specialty), I also took classes in graphic design, advertising, research, intensive writing and marketing. These additional skills not only helped me build a comprehensive and versatile portfolio but they also set me apart from other candidates gunning for the same position.

5. What should college students know about public relations before they graduate?

I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before, but you’ll never fully understand it until you step into your first PR job out of the college – this is a fast-paced industry we work in. There is no such thing as a “slow day” or “down time,” or at least rarely. For me, this is the kind of environment I thrive in and that’s why I chose to begin my career at an independent agency. I love having my hands on multiple different projects and being able to work with and learn from our media, creative and production teams in the agency. It’s a busy, hectic, stressful, crazy job – but it’s also extremely rewarding and SO much fun.

6. Do you have any other advice for PR students?

Start small and finish big. What I mean by that is choosing to work at an independent agency like Hirons verses a larger global firm in a bigger city was the best decision I could’ve made for myself. Not everyone will agree with me on this, but there is true value in starting out in a more intimate setting where you’re able to really learn the ins and the outs of the industry, where you’re trusted with more responsibility and really able to show people what you can do. Downside to working at an independent agency that has a lot of big clients? Long hours, late nights and early mornings. I’ve worked from 7am to 9pm before prepping for a big press conference that was expected to last a total of 20 minutes. Were the long hours worth it in the end? Absolutely. The skills I’m acquiring at Hirons right now is arming me for my future.

Expect the unexpected. Cliché, I know, but it also could not be more true. There is never a “normal” day at the office, which is one of the reasons why I love my job. I don’t thrive in a routine-kind-of environment – I love chaos and I love solving problems. If you’re looking for a job where you can walk through the door each day and know exactly what’s going to happen, PR is not for you. Have I received 11pm emails from clients who needed a press release by 6am the next day? Yes. One thing I didn’t realize when I came into this industry was that we are on the clock 24/7. We don’t live in an 8am-5pm world. Be prepared for that.

Love what you do. If you don’t love your work, there’s no way for you to ever fully reach your potential. Since starting at Hirons 8 months ago, I cannot tell you how far I’ve come as a young professional. I feel more confident, more experienced and more able then I ever have before and more sure that I’ve chosen the right career path.