Employee Highlight: Mike Murtaugh

How did you get interested in advertising/PR and how did you break into the industry and land your first job?

The path I took to wind up in advertising and public relations was unplanned. All through college, I was confident I would follow my passion for sports writing into the job market. Surprisingly, I switched potential career paths at the last possible second towards the agency side. My degree from Butler University was in marketing, and I pivoted toward the business development and PR side once I started working in an agency.

After graduation, I landed my first job with another agency in Indianapolis. A friend of mine from college had started working there and had done well for himself, so when an in-house position became available, I applied as a way to get my foot in the door. Long story short, I sort of fell into the industry, but have been in it ever since.

What are the specializations/most important tools of the trade?

To be successful in an agency, you need to pay attention to detail and possess a willingness to do what you’re asked, when you’re asked to do it. It shows others that you are passionate about the work you do, that you care about it and also that you care about the final product. Working long hours or working on a challenging project will help you prove, to yourself and others, what you’re capable of accomplishing.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in the advertising industry?

In the advertising (and public relations) industry, you need to be confident and flexible. It is important to be self-assured and know you are in the industry for a reason. Know you can handle whatever you encounter and be able to go with the flow when people present you with challenging assignments.

Do you have any interesting hobbies/second jobs/bits of information that make you pop as an individual?

My passion is sports – playing them, watching them. It’s a big part of my life. Aside from sports, I enjoy spending my time with friends, watching movies and listening to music.

When and where do you have your best ideas?

There is not one consistent place where I come up with my best ideas. I will sometimes stew over something for a little while and formulate a strategy before I dive into it. Sometimes an idea will come to me in the middle of the night, and I will get up to jot it down. You never really know when an idea is going to hit you.

What has been the most exciting project/campaign that you’ve worked on at Hirons?

On the account side, I’m most proud of being able to take the first stab at writing copy for the Eskenazi Health website. It was cool to see our team launch the website, in full, during fall of 2016. In terms of business development, I’m most proud of reaching our goal of continuing to grow our federal initiative. Although it took almost a full year in my current position, we finally landed an exciting new federal client, which is a U.S. military initiative.

Why is effective advertising/PR so important for growth and success of organizations?

Advertising is a growing, competitive field. Since companies can now promote their products on various social media platforms, the push to be smart, creative and strategic has never been greater. If you’re not all of the above, you will fall by the wayside.

On the public relations front, a company’s reputation is built entirely on a narrative – what people are saying about you and the context of the conversation. PR complements paid advertising, in that it’s a way for companies to utilize a separate promotional vehicle to spread the word about their company – what it does and why you should be doing business with them.

What’s one important tip you would share with anyone looking to go into the agency world?

My tip to others would be to soak in as much knowledge as possible from the people around you, especially those new to the agency world. In most agencies, especially one our size, you will find a lot of people who have a lot of experience. Make yourself a sponge and soak in as much as you can, as quickly as you can.

What is the most meaningful part of your job?

The most meaningful part of my job is getting the win. Although the process may sometimes be grueling, and there may be a lot of hoops to jump through, checkpoints to achieve and challenges to bypass, none of it matters in the end when you get the win.

Learning by Doing

By Andrew Gretencord, Business Development Intern 

It’s easy to worry about your first internship. As I walked through the door on my first day at Hirons, thoughts cycled through my mind in ever-accelerating circles. Will I add value to the agency? Am I suited for this position? Will I enjoy my work and maybe even exceed expectations?

As I walked to my desk, I could tell from my surroundings that the work environment was right. It was clear that I was going to have to work extremely hard to match the intensity and drive of the individuals at Hirons. This aspect was exciting and challenging because this would be my first job in a professional setting.

Since I was hired as a business development intern, I assumed all of my energy would focus on that area. To my pleasant surprise, Hirons gives me the freedom to gain valuable experience in all departments of the company. A month ago I never would have expected to be working on press releases, crisis situations, social media and business development. But getting hands-on experience in a range of agency services shows me how complex and diverse an integrated communications agency is.

I have always been a hands-on learner, a testament that likely rings true for most people. Last week, I assisted in the development of podcasts on diverse topics such as crisis communication, media buying and public affairs. Not only was I able to assist in preparations for the podcasts, but I was also invited to watch the recordings. Listening to business professionals who have worked in their fields longer than I have been alive was a humbling experience. But rather than being intimidating, it was motivating.

I have come to realize that Hirons is successful because it encourages its staff to become well-rounded, to work on both internal and external affairs. It is an amazing experience being able to work with talented individuals who all have unique skill sets.

Albert Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” By filling me with experiences, Hirons has provided me with real-world knowledge and skills. I’ve worked on the front end and back end of many different projects, with many points in between. And I’ve only been here a month.

Executive Leadership: Ann Kneifel

Whether it’s crunching numbers or traveling out west, passion drives her actions. For 15 years, Ann Kneifel, chief financial officer, has overseen the balance sheets at Hirons, ensuring that bills and salaries are paid. We sat down with Ann to learn more about her career.

Where did you go to school?

I went to school at Miami of Ohio, where I studied interior design and business management. When you’re that young, you don’t know where your career is going to go. It’s neat to look back at where you started and where your path has taken you.
What was your first job in the industry, and how did your path lead you to Hirons?

After graduating, I started at Sears in the accounting department. (You should have seen the huge computer rooms.) After that, I was the business manager for a dental office. I’ve spent my entire career in accounting, but in different industries. That’s what I love about accounting – all types of businesses need accountants, which has given me the opportunity to serve a variety of organizations.

I joined Hirons when we were in Bloomington, and it’s been a great place for this chapter of my career. Although I am in an accounting role, I love being in a creative environment and seeing new people come in after college because they have fresh ideas. We also have people who have been with the company for many years. It’s a nice mix.

What is something that makes your day-to-day life unique?

Accounting tends to be a very routine job but, because I work at an advertising agency, I never know what is going to happen. I walk in the door and I just never know. Some days that means reading scripts or recording clients’ radio spots. Peyton Manning, the mayor and the governor have been in here over the years. Every day is exciting!

What would you describe as your “time capsule” accomplishment? If you could take only one project, accomplishment or victory with you from your career, what would that be and why?

My proudest accomplishment was earning my Executive MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Going back to school when I was 58 was very challenging. Most of the other students were in their early 40s. I had not been a student since I was 18 years old and I was working full time, so it was intimidating. I didn’t think I could do it. But it’s so important to continue to learn throughout your whole life. My father instilled a passion for learning in me.

What advice would you give to a young professional?

Work hard. Be persistent. You’re going to have great successes and great failures. Work through all of those days with a smile on your face. You can hardly go wrong with a good attitude. Take responsibility for your actions. You’re going to make mistakes, but ride through it.

Whether it’s for work or leisure, read everything. I am a voracious reader. One of my recent favorite books is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s a very well-written book. One of my all-time favorites is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Of all of the agencies in the industry, what makes Hirons different?

There is a purpose behind everything we do at Hirons. We always strive do the right thing. Tom Hirons goes out of his way to help mentor young professionals. That creates a high-energy environment of hard workers.

Executive Leadership: Rose Durbin

As a witness to the evolution in the media and digital worlds, Rose Durbin paved her way as a problem solver. Throughout her exhilarating and varied media career, she has reveled in the challenges posed by emerging media, from cable television to social media and evolving developments in digital data measurement.

We sat down with our media director to talk about her career path and evolution.

Where did you go to school, and what first drew you into the world of advertising and marketing?

I attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, working in the university’s business office all four years while studying toward a degree in English. During my time there, I learned how important communications and PR were to an organization.

I took my first computer class in 1972 and realized the potential of the medium. With new, innovative technological tools at my fingertips, I knew I had the opportunity to be part of something big!CPC_8197

What was your first job in the industry, and how did your path lead you to Hirons?

I began my career at an advertising agency, in accounting, then transitioned to media, where I found my niche. I moved around to other agencies in neighboring cities. I first worked for Hirons from 2004-2007 and came back in 2013. (We hope for good!)

What is something that makes your day-to-day unique from others at Hirons?

While many of the challenges I confront as media director are technical in nature, I relish brainstorming with the media team to find innovative communications solutions for clients. In an industry that is constantly changing and evolving, it’s key to stay at the forefront of new developments and research.

How has the industry changed over the course of your career, and how have you adapted?

Everything is much more complex. Instead of relying so heavily on just Nielsen for TV and radio, we utilize comScore just as much for any type of digital advertising or placement. With the precision of the analytics that we use on a day-to-day basis, those numbers alone can tell the story for you now.

I appreciate the challenges that come with a fast-paced media environment. Our digital team does a fantastic job of reading consumers and knowing how to communicate with them. They think outside the box. That’s really important to Hirons in general. We really do focus on using the most innovative technologies and ideas to serve our clients in the best way possible.

What would you describe as your “time capsule” accomplishment? If you could only take one project, accomplishment or victory with you from your career, what would that be and why?

I am most proud of executing the integration of cable into broadcast media for clients. In a time where clients were using cable for the first time, I saw it as an opportunity to introduce them to a new era of advertising, one where they can measure success individually. I miss the intimacy of those client relationships from the days before digital skyrocketed. Taking the time to develop those relationships is so important to building a strong foundation for all future work.

Of all of the agencies in the industry, what makes Hirons different?

Hirons is constantly growing and learning, which is something that many of our clients appreciate and admire. For me, it’s refreshing knowing we are always a step ahead and are always improving.

Why Culture Shock Is So Important

By Megan Auger, Communication Management Intern 

Culture shock is defined as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life or set of attitudes.”

Sometimes this phrase has a negative connotation, but for many of us, experiencing culture shock is what makes us well-rounded and diverse individuals. Whether it’s traveling domestically or internationally, experiencing different lifestyles allows us to begin to understand others’ backgrounds and ways of life. In today’s social landscape, a broader understanding of  others’ differences and beliefs helps us to better communicate and engage.

Let’s say you live in New York City. Taking a trip to Tulsa, Okla., or Columbus, Ohio, would be a major change from the hustle and bustle of the city life you know. The pace of life definitely would be slower, and you might find other differences in social interactions, political beliefs and lifestyle values. However, you are sure to find some similarities, too, which are equally surprising!

Sometimes, the smallest differences can make the biggest impacts on us (like accents or work ethics). These discoveries help us learn about and understand how others live and feel. They also give us a measure to examine our own attitudes and values.

As important as it is to note cultural differences here within the United States, culture shock occurs more often in international travels. Hirons’ very own Hannah Riffle, Communications Management intern, studied abroad in Ireland on a trip that granted her life-changing experiences that she believes changed her view of the world.

“This opened my eyes to the possibilities and diverse ways of thinking. Before the trip, I thought of the world from a national lens. Now, I think from more of a global lens,” she explained.

By traveling to Ireland, Hannah was able to learn about the social norms, religion and lifestyles of the Irish, which broadened her perspective and worldview. “Being abroad made me thirsty to learn more about other cultures and how we interact with each other because we all bring something unique to the table,” she said.

After experiencing such new and unique ways of life, we tend to see things more objectively and accept others for who they are. Even though it may come as a “shock,” it’s a positive one that we can take back with us and use in our everyday lives.

Employee Highlight: Nick Reese

A graphic designer, problem solver and translator are all roles played by Nick Reese, Hirons’ newest creative assistant. His job is to interpret and visually convey an idea, message, brand or product in the most effective way possible. From complex campaign concepts down to simple fact sheets, Nick helps create a wide range of digital and physical visuals for clients. We interviewed the most recent member of the Hirons family to delve deeper into his creative mind and uncover more about his passion for art – at the office and outside of work.

 

How did you become interested in advertising/PR, and how did you break into the industry and land your first job?

I initially graduated from Park Tudor here in Indianapolis. I went on to attend High Point University in North Carolina, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in graphic design and digital communications with a minor in photography. In school, ads were my favorite projects. I love the overarching structure filled with intricacies that branding provides. I also love the emotion an ad can stir within a person. An image, combined with a well-crafted message and intricate thought process, is all you need to make someone grin from ear to ear or cause their stomach to drop. That’s beautiful to me.

I landed my job here at Hirons thanks to someone from RePro Graphix who passed along several names of agencies in the area. I ended up interviewing with Tom and the creative team. Shortly after, I became part of the Hirons family.

 

What are specializations/most important tools of the trade?

Creative is a bridge – and not just between two people. The work you present needs to speak to the client. You have to structure all of the input you receive into a path for the client to follow or a direction for them to go. For them, an adjective becomes something that performs. The client or account manager will use certain terms in an attempt to convey their vision to you. It is important to dissect those words and fully understand what the client is trying to achieve so you can help them reach the goals they have set for the project as well as identify potential flaws and suggest revisions.

 

As a graphic designer, what characteristics do you need to be successful in the advertising industry?

In this industry, it is important to understand that while your art may look good, it may not perform well. Thus, you need to have thick skin in order to handle criticism. The ability to remove yourself from a situation or project and seek out another point of view is crucial, so it is also important to have humility.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies/second jobs/bits of information that make you pop as an individual?

I collect sneakers – any type of shoe really. Right now, I have around 200 pairs. I’ve been obsessed with them forever. I have notebooks from the third grade that are filled with shoe drawings. Looking back, my obsession with shoes started with a basic understanding of design in terms of form and function. The marriage between the two is the basis of design – something that is both eye-catching and serves a purpose.

 

When and where do you have your best ideas?

Honestly, I have no specific time or place. Sometimes I’m in my car, and an idea hits me out of nowhere. Other times, I’m hunkered down at my desk, and they come to me as expected.

 

What has been the most exciting project/campaign that you’ve worked on at Hirons?

My first pitch was a whirlwind. I had only been with Hirons for a few months, so I was still new to advertising as a whole. Seeing the details and nuances in prepping and pitching and watching it all unfold made me feel like I was watching a choreographed dance by the end. I learned a ton working under Pam and John, and it was amazing to see Tom present. He had everyone on the edge of their seats.

 

Why is effective advertising/PR so important for growth and success of organizations?

I am a firm believer that all problems stem from miscommunication, and I see myself as a translator. In the world of advertising, we have to take the time to study human behavior and learn what works and what does not. We also have the difficult task of capturing a client’s vision and making sure it is well-received by the masses in the most effective way possible. If a problem doing so arises, I keep peeling back layers until I eventually find a communication disconnect.

 

What’s one important tip you would share with anyone looking to go into the agency world?

The “9-to-5” concept does not apply to the agency world. Here, the work gets done when it gets done. It’s a fast-paced environment, and there is no hand-holding.

 

What is the most meaningful part of your job?

Right now, it’s learning. I’m trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible so I can eventually slay this world of creative direction and feel proud of the impact I am making. Luckily, I have great co-workers who have years of experience from which I can learn.

How Many Friends Do You Have?

By Tom Hirons, CEO 

Robin Dunbar makes a compelling case in his TEDx talk that the human mind has the capacity to manage about 150 meaningful relationships at a time. It has become known as the Dunbar number. Hence the question, how many friends do you have?

When Hirons started working with Ruler Foods, a division of Kroger, we knew that Facebook would be a critical platform and that building a network of individuals who like and follow the page would be one measure of success.

In less than a year and a half, Ruler Foods’ page likes went from 0 to 35,579. And they are still growing. That’s good for Ruler Foods and good for Hirons.

President Trump has 22.3 million followers on Twitter. I have 98. But how many friends?

Dunbar views friendships in a series of concentric circles. At the center are your closest friends, primarily comprised of a few family members. For most people, this may number five to seven.

In the next circle are those 10-15 individuals you might describe as best friends. These are people with whom you communicate on a regular basis.

In the third group, Dunbar describes individuals whom you would be genuinely happy to see if you bump into them at the airport or grocery store.

Beyond that are those who might be on your Christmas card list, with whom you might communicate once a year.

In total, 150. Curiously, the math is reliable. Through centuries, across technologies and across cultures, the number is generally around 150. The average number of Facebook friends? About 150. Dunbar holds that this is based on the capacity of the human mind. It’s how we are wired.

Why is this relevant?

Hirons does extensive grassroots and grasstops outreach. Knowing the Dunbar number and other principles, we can more accurately project the number of meaningful contacts we must make to achieve the reach and results we desire over time. We shape content to significantly increase the likelihood that it will be shared.

It also is relevant as we know the capacity of the computer extends far beyond 150. And through customer relationship management (CRM), we can help clients behave like friends, greatly enhancing sales and customer relationships.

Yet the most powerful application might be for each of us in our own lives. Knowing the natural limitations of our capacity, we might work to push the boundaries of those concentric circles. Imagine taking the time to communicate and expand your list of best friends, or those with whom you maintain regular contact. Imagine never avoiding eye contact or hoping someone you recognize doesn’t see you. I write this hoping I’m not the only one who has done this and equally hoping I won’t do it again.

If I can only have 150 friends, let them all be good friends.

4 Tips to Prepare for the “Big Feast”

Emery Barnes, Business Development Intern

It’s that time of the year! Turkey Day for most, but for many young millennials across the country, it’s the time of year when graduation is approaching. As all of us have learned, there are many things to do to prepare for the “big feast” (first job).

  1. Adequate Preparation

A Thanksgiving feast (full-time position) requires sufficient preparation. One cannot expect an extraordinary meal if no preparation goes into it. Investing ample time beforehand in things such as “cooking lessons” (industry-related experiences) will allow you to fill your plate (resume) with a variety of delectable dishes (skills). The earlier you start, the more food you will have on the dinner table.

  1. Master Your Craft

Adequate preparation not only allows you to prepare more food, but it also increases its overall quality. The more experience you have preparing delectable dishes, the better you are able to perfect your craft. Instead of indiscriminately packing your plate (resume), find the dishes (skills) you love and learn how to execute them with perfection. Study them, teach them and continue to learn more about them each and every day. When you put your heart and soul into something, you will be blown away by the end result. Persistence pays off.

  1. Variety Is Key

While it’s true that mastering one dish (skill) will set you apart from the pack, it will still only get you so far. You may cook a killer turkey, but what about those people at the table who are allergic, vegetarian or simply do not have room on their plates? The more dishes you learn to prepare, the more people you can not only serve but also satisfy. In other words, the more skills you develop or experiences you have, the more attractive you become to a wider range of recruiters and future employers. With an increase in competition and fluctuating demand for entry-level positions, having a varied skill set will allow you to confidently and competently walk into any interview and convey how you are able and eager to make an immediate impact.

  1. Patience

Some people who come to your table may have already eaten their Thanksgiving meals. DO NOT LET THIS DISCOURAGE YOU OR MAKE YOU ANXIOUS! Your dish is still delicious, and many people are eager to try it. While some students may attend graduation with job offers in hand, there are many others that will still be waiting for their meal. Everyone has a different plate and will start their feasts (first jobs) at different times. Patience is key for a great Thanksgiving dinner: One should never rush a good meal.

With humility, adequate preparation and persistence, you will set yourself up for an extremely bright future. Although the next “feast” isn’t until 2017, it’s never too early to prepare!