Employee Highlight: Robert Hickson

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

As a marketing major at Butler University, I found advertising to be interesting. Advertising allows you to reach out and connect with people while creating a buzz about a product or service they might not know exists. Landing my first job involved a lot of networking. I knew a couple Hirons employees when I applied to Hirons, but I still sat down with a dozen or more prospective employers before I interviewed for my current position as digital media coordinator.

What would you consider the specializations/most important tools of the trade?

The Google AdWords certification and Facebook Business Manager platform are two tools I would consider important because they help measure the success of a campaign. Since you don’t learn about these particular tools in school, they become on-the-job learning opportunities. It has taken time and experience to get to the point where I now feel confident as a campaign manager.

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

In order to be successful in the industry, you have to be able to prioritize your work. Our work moves quickly, and turnaround time is short compared to other industries. You are doing something new every day, and you might not necessarily know what it is or what to expect. The job is multi-faceted, so you have to be able to adapt to wearing different hats. A solid work ethic and the ability to follow through are also important.

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

I enjoy snowboarding and hiking, along with going to coffee shops. Open Society (located on College Avenue) is my favorite because it’s not your standard coffee shop. They aren’t afraid to experiment with drinks, and they have a cool atmosphere.

When and where do you have your best ideas?

While mornings are most productive for me, late at night is when I am most open to new, creative ideas. My mornings tend to fly by because I am focused on what’s in front of me, but late night is when I have time to explore innovative ideas.

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

I would consider my most exciting project to be the government-related campaign I worked on because I was here for the duration of it, from beginning to end. My favorite, however, would be The Villages’ “Power of One” campaign, which was an initiative to recruit foster parents. We helped the client convey its message well and in a simple manner. Plus, it felt good doing something geared toward helping kids in need.

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

Advertising and public relations are important because they, ultimately, are how you acquire new clients, drive new business and get your name out there. The growth of an organization is extremely measurable, especially where digital is concerned. Growth is also a way to show experience, which is something I try to present to clients.

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

Be adaptable: Things are constantly changing – especially regarding clients’ initiatives or their overall objectives – and you have to be able to adjust with those changes. Don’t be afraid to learn: You won’t know about everything in your field going into it, especially in the digital world. Just try to absorb as much information as you can and actively seek out learning opportunities.

What is the most meaningful part of your job?

The most meaningful part of my job is the end result. The final product speaks volumes about the quality and purpose of what we do as an agency to current and prospective clients, whether our work consists of finding foster parents for kids or enabling someone to have access to health care.

Intern Spotlight: Fall 2017

Mikaela Malott and Laura Ellsworth recently joined the Hirons team as fall interns. Learn more about their previous experiences in this intern spotlight.

Name: Mikaela Malott
Internship title: Communications Management Assistant

What college do you attend and what is your major?

I am currently wrapping up my senior year at Indiana University, where I study public relations and advertising. I’m also working toward a minor in psychology.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

I took a PR writing course with Hirons’ COO, Jim Parham, last semester, and he encouraged me to look into the internship program. I spent a day shadowing at the office in May and was immediately impressed with the office culture and welcoming employees. Hirons’ mission to “be bold” is synonymous with my goals and how I envision my career in PR.

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

This is my first time working at an agency, so I am hoping to gain experience with all types of client accounts that will broaden my perception of the PR and advertising industry. I’m looking forward to getting to know the Indianapolis area better and getting involved with the community.

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

Prior to joining the team at Hirons, I interned for Learfield Sports, a sports advertising company that oversees athletic multimedia rights for collegiate partners across the country. I worked directly with sponsorship sales for IU Sports Properties, which includes advertisements for Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium. The summer before that, I was a communications intern for Indiana Soccer Association, a nonprofit organization for youth sports and community outreach. These opportunities have provided me with substantial experience that I hope can be put into practice during my time at Hirons.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

My favorite quote is by Maya Angelou, “People may not remember what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” I try use these words for guidance as a professional and as a human being in general. I have always felt that the best results come from true, honest hard work.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

I won’t lie, our office dogs Hank and Maya were one of the biggest selling points in accepting the position. They aren’t very good at paperwork, but they make up for their lack of opposable thumbs with a lot of heart and ambition. Overall, 10/10 as co-workers.

Fun facts about yourself:

  • I starred in a series of local TV commercials for my family’s nursing home when I was younger. In retrospect, I think it was foreshadowing my career in advertising!
  • I’ve self-proclaimed myself as the biggest Fleetwood Mac fan in the tristate area. My cat is named Stevie after Stevie Nicks.
  • I have two younger sisters named McKenna and Macauley and, yes, if my parents had a boy, his name definitely would have been McDonald.
  • I played soccer for 10 years.

Name: Laura Ellsworth
Internship title:
Business Development Assistant

What college do you attend and what is your major?

I’m a senior at IU Bloomington, majoring in media advertising and receiving a certificate in liberal arts and management.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

Coming up on graduation, I was looking for experience working in an agency before I make the jump to a full-time career. I looked at every agency within driving distance and Hirons’ commitment to client excellence resonated with me. “Be bold” just happens to be one of my goals as I enter the workforce, so how could any place be better?

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

In addition to learning the basics of how an agency works, I want to learn more about the beginning stages of client strategy and campaign development. I’m hoping to get the chance to learn more about building relationships with clients and to build my technical skills in business writing and project management.

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

Previously, I’ve worked on internal communications at Indiana University. As an intern for IU Communications, I wrote news features and assisted with press releases. Additionally, I managed the university’s arts Twitter account and helped on other university social media projects, including live coverage of the School of Global and International Studies “America’s Role in the World” conference and Little 500.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

As a member of IU’s Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP), I’ve learned a lot about where business and humanities cross and the communications skills necessary to be successful in business. Though I’ll graduate from IU, I’ve taken classes at a few different places, and the opportunity to interact with students and professors from different backgrounds has taught me that diversity of experience is the most valuable asset to team problem-solving.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

Walking into the lobby, I was impressed with the amount of pride that Hirons takes in the work done here – enough to display pieces on the walls. That told me that Hirons is an agency built on expertise, but the feel of the office and the energy of the people I got to interact with showed me that they’re forward-thinking and don’t just rely on past success. Also, I got to pet a dog during my job interview, so of course I was immediately excited to work here.

Fun facts about yourself:

My favorite food is tacos, I crochet small animals and if there’s a historical drama on Netflix, I’ve watched it.

Executive Leadership: Tom Hirons

CEO Tom Hirons sat down with us to discuss his unique experience in the advertising world after 39 years in the business. A creative at heart, Tom recounts the path he took from starting the company to where he is today and the challenges he has overcome to achieve success in a fast-paced industry.

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

I went to Indiana University in Bloomington. I long had interest in advertising and actually paid for part of my college as a freelance designer, concert promoter and political campaign manager. Luckily an extraordinary mentor, Phillip Ward Burton, convinced me I should get better clients than rock stars and politicians. He opened my eyes to the opportunities in communications and what I could learn.

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

Ideally, my day is not unique from others. I strive to do the same jobs everyone else is doing. I want staff to perform at the highest level and think strategically, which is why we do our best to work together and keep it uniform. I do, however, have responsibility for more unique tasks such as serving as the senior branding consultant in the agency, gathering talent and assembling high-performing teams. I also have the ultimate responsibility for accountability to our clients for our quality of work.

In the beginning of your career, whom did you look to as a mentor? How has that changed as your career has grown?

In college, Phil Burton was my most important mentor. He helped me realize my potential in communications. Another influencer was my entrepreneurial mentor, Steve Huse, founder of Noble Roman’s and current proprietor of St. Elmo’s. Jerry Neely and Lee Marchant were also extraordinary mentors, grooming me to be chairman of the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce at a really young age. As my background was not in business, they taught me how to use boards of directors and gave me in-depth training on budgeting and financial analysis.

The biggest challenge to starting as CEO is you don’t have co-workers or a boss who is constantly thinking about your professional growth and development. It is essential to find a way to identify the experiences you need, correct the shortcomings you have, and build a set of professional experiences to help you grow in your profession.

As my career has grown, it became clear I needed a challenge, motivating me to open an office in China. This allowed me to work with three Fortune 500 companies as well as work in another culture, opening up a mid-career professional growth opportunity that I could not have found anywhere else. I continue to do that with clients and peers. Today, I look to our COO, Jim Parham, and David Geis, state director of the Indiana Bankers Association, for guidance.

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

My most meaningful accomplishment is building a successful agency and operating offices in Beijing. I am very proud to say that we were the first international company to register a woman as our CEO. It was incredible to see her break that barrier and create opportunities that would lead to an extraordinary career.

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

The most visible change is technology. Our initial technology purchase was an IBM Selectric II, a typewriter with a small memory card. Before technology we would buy marker pens by the case to do hand-drawn design renderings and camera-ready art. Technology has driven change. Early on it changed how we did our work, and now it is changing the work and services we provide. Not being a digital native, I have had a learning curve, but surrounding myself with talented digital workers has helped me learn tremendously.

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

Our brand. In reality, there are a number of great firms and talented people in communications. We are different by our integration and digital leadership, and by being research-based, results-focused and employee-owned. Philip Kotler, among the senior faculty at the Northwestern School of Management, is quoted saying, “If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” This rings true, which is why we have built our brand on a set of values that distinguishes us from other shops. Our values are to outthink, outwork and outperform with a core essence of being bold. Our reputation has continued to be our greatest strength for 39 years.

Intern Spotlight: Summer 2017

Our summer interns have arrived! Hirons is excited to welcome Daniel Morgan, Elaine Evans, Preston Radtke,  Katrina Ent, Christy Herzog and Andrew Gretencord. Get to know them in this intern spotlight.

Name: Daniel Morgan
Internship title: Digital Assistant

What college did you attend and what was your major?

I attended Indiana University in Bloomington and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

I was interested in gaining agency experience and expanding my skill set beyond writing and editing.

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

I’m hoping to expand my understanding of digital marketing, specifically using analytics platforms and audience targeting.

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

I have extensive experience working as a newspaper reporter and writing content for the communications office at IU. I also played a central role in a student-led effort to bring a TEDx conference to Indiana University for the first time.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

I’ve lived in Indianapolis almost my entire life, so I have a thorough understanding of what the city has to offer.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

It’s a dynamic environment. There’s something different to work on each day, and I’m enjoying the variety of projects as well as the lively collaborative atmosphere.

Fun facts about yourself:

I once bowled a perfect game in Wii bowling, and I love hiking. I hope to one day hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

Name: Elaine Evans
Internship title:
Design Intern

What college do you attend and what is your major?

I currently attend Herron School of Art & Design at IUPUI. I am majoring in visual communication design and will graduate May 2018.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

I reached out to John Molloy for a job shadowing experience and to get his expertise on my portfolio. He met with me for several hours and offered me an internship.

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

I want to gain practical experience and knowledge in my field. I also want to meet professional designers and directors, see what their lives are like and what their experiences are in the industry. Networking and a future position at Hirons are also what I’m striving to achieve.

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

I have worked as an in-house designer for a local non-profit called Good News Ministries, where I learned how important personal brands are to a company. I was able to help them transition from their previous brand to an updated one by creating their new brand manual. I also interviewed clients and wrote stories for their newsletters and social media.

Additionally, I worked at the Basile Center at IUPUI, where I was able to design work for Herron, IUPUI and other offices within the university. I worked beneath strict brand guidelines and learned to be creative in executions of design so that they were unique. This position allowed me to explore techniques that are not normally accessible to designers. For example, I learned to operate the laser cutter, an 18th century letterpress and silk screen. Each of these techniques were used for different projects and taught me to think outside of the typical realms of print design.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

I grew up in a biracial family; my mother was born and raised in Taiwan, and my father is from Danville, Indiana. I have been fortunate to visit my family in Taiwan and study abroad in Japan. I am inspired and pull from different cultures whenever I am designing. I’ve learned that there are always two sides (or more) to a story, an opinion or a statement. I enjoy studying how people think and how that influences their decisions.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

Everybody is so cool! There’s so much personality at Hirons, and I love it. I love that there are dogs here and that there aren’t social walls built up based on position. I was impressed that the people who work here are very dedicated to their work. This is exactly the atmosphere that I want to be in because everyone is working toward the same goal of doing great work. I am inspired by the positivity, the optimism, the transparency and the energy. It really does feel like a team when working on projects and it’s a team I want to be on.

Fun facts about yourself:

  • I spent my first year of college pursuing a piano performance degree at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and I still teach piano in Avon.
  • I like to rock climb, ride motorcycles and travel.
  • I never wanted a dog so much until I started working at Hirons.

Name: Preston Radtke
Internship title: Communications Management Assistant

What college do you attend and what is your major?

I attend Ball State University for emerging media design and development. I’m in graduate school.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

I wanted to gain more invaluable industry experience. I have never worked for an agency before, and Hirons seemed like it met all of my needs.

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

I hope to grow my overall portfolio of accomplishments and experiences while making impactful connections along the way.

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

I have experience in journalism, health care PR, adaptive technology, podcasting and creative writing.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

I have been out of the country at least five times in my life, so I have a greater perspective on things. My disability has also allowed me to look at things from different perspectives.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

Hirons’ staff is very relaxed and approachable while being productive.

Fun facts about yourself:

I’m apparently a Freemason (non-practicing), I’m working on a book, I collect hats and my favorite band is Sleater-Kinney (Carrie Brownstein of “Portlandia”).

Name: Katrina Ent
Internship title: Amos Brown Intern

What college did you attend and what was your major?

I attended Ball State University. My major was public relations and my minor was entrepreneurial management.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

I chose Hirons for an internship because I wanted to gain experience with a well-established public relations/marketing agency. During my junior year at Ball State, the PRSSA chapter scheduled a “Half Day with a Pro” at Hirons. I fell in love with the office culture, and I will never forget the piece of advice Tom gave me and my peers, “If you couldn’t run your own agency, I won’t hire you.” That is the day I decided to minor in entrepreneurial management.

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

I hope to accomplish many things during my time with Hirons, but my biggest goals are as follows:

  • Successfully pitch to the media
  • Receive media training and (hopefully) conduct media training for other professionals
  • Learn how to handle crisis communications
  • Improve my writing skills (press releases, media advisories, blogs, newsletters, pitches, social media, etc.)
  • Learn more about media buying and how the process works

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

After graduating from Ball State, I think I have many skills to bring to the table. I am social media-savvy and can get really creative when posting through social media. I have organized a social media campaign through a student-run creative agency as well as through my past internship with Hendricks County Community Foundation. I also have experience with media relations. Being the public relations intern for the 500 Festival taught me how to prepare 500 Festival princesses for interviews as well as develop working relationships with news reporters. During my time with the 500 Festival, I also had the opportunity to write the script for the parade, which is the fourth largest parade in the world. My strongest skills include media relations, creative writing and social media.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

My philosophy is to always be positive (even during the worst times) and to always be kind to one another. I have grown up watching Ellen DeGeneres, and the tag line “be kind to one another” was a line Ellen would always say at the end of her shows. Since watching her show, I have lived by that quote every day. I have also learned to joke every now and then. It’s important to know when you need to be professional or serious, but laughter is the best kind of medicine for everyone. This is an anonymous quote I found on Pinterest: “Laughing is, and will always be, the best form of therapy.” I have learned to live life by being kind to everyone, by being positive, and by not taking life so seriously all the time.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

My first impression of Hirons was that the staff is incredibly talented at what they do. The environment at Hirons is very fast-paced, which was why I decided to apply to Hirons in the first place. I knew that Hirons was a very well-established public relations/marketing agency. I also knew that I wanted to be part of a team that knows they are the best and that could provide me with opportunities I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Fun facts about yourself:

  • I am the oldest sibling and the oldest cousin on my dad’s side of the family.
  • I am a huge foodie! I love eating at new restaurants, especially local.
  • I was featured in a nationwide TV commercial during my undergrad at Ball State University.

Name: Christy Herzog
Internship title: Communications Management Assistant

What college did you attend and what was your major?

I recently graduated from Bradley University. While I was there, I studied advertising and social media marketing.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

I chose Hirons for an internship because I love the mission behind Hirons. I love the idea of being bold and not being afraid to be different and unique. What sets you apart from others is what makes you succeed. Not to mention, I also loved the fact that Hirons is in my hometown!

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

I hope to gain knowledge about the account management field. I want to be able to be an active member in all aspects of a client’s account and help to better their business. It’s a part of advertising that I have wanted to have a role in since I chose advertising as my major.

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

I was previously an intern at Kelly and Company Advertising Agency in Peoria, Ill. as the social media specialist. During my time there, I was in charge of posting to multiple clients’ various social media pages and tracking the results. During my collegiate career, I was also a media intern for the Chicago Auto Show. I was in charge of posting to the auto show’s multiple social media accounts including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, as well as creating press releases.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

I am extremely personable and pay great attention to detail. I am goal-driven and set my sights on the big picture with small milestones along the way. I am also very flexible and don’t mind getting things thrown at me.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

I love the atmosphere at Hirons. Everyone works together as a team to create something that the client and Hirons will be proud of. I also love the trust that everyone has in each other. The community here is so tight-knit, and I think that is something that is important in this industry. My overall first impression of Hirons, “I’m going to like this place!”

Fun facts about yourself:

I went to a university that was smaller than my high school, I could binge watch an entire season of The Office in one sitting, and I love to cook more than anything.

Name: Andrew Gretencord
Internship title: Business Development Intern

What college do you attend and what is your major?

I am an incoming senior at Indiana University, majoring in advertising through The Media School.

Why did you choose to intern at Hirons?

I chose Hirons because of its outstanding reputation, testaments from previous interns, and after meeting some of the staff working here. Last year I attended a presentation led by Tom Hirons through my fraternity, and I quickly realized how it could be beneficial to work with Tom and learn from his immense knowledge of the advertising agency.

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

I hope to understand both the internal and external sides of advertising. It is essential for me to understand the work that goes behind each project as well as the implementation strategies used to ensure the project is successful.

What kind of work-related experience do you bring to us?

During my time at IU, I have served as the marketing specialist and marketing director for two separate student government elections. I learned valuable time management skills, ran several social media accounts, and delegated tasks to team members. I also have served as a brand ambassador for companies such as Mattel and Delta Airlines, representing their brands through grassroots marketing.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

Throughout my life, I have always been comfortable working with new people and have developed several exceptional business relationships along the way. I consider myself a very personable and cooperative person, traits that translate well in the advertising business.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

My first impression of Hirons was how welcoming and dedicated staff members are at training younger people within the agency. They have a focused intent to pass on their experience and knowledge and to ensure I am prepared for bigger roles in the future. In the short month I have been here, they have allowed me to work in the business development, crisis communications, social media and public relations departments, which has opened my eyes to the possible fields I may want to focus on in the future.

Fun facts about yourself:

I am an avid movie-goer and, one day, I want to work in the movie industry.


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.

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.

From theory to practice: The value of real-world experience

By Hannah Riffle, Communication Management Intern 

Would you get into the car with someone who learned to drive only by reading a book? A strong foundation of knowledge does not fully prepare you to sit behind the wheel and hit the interstate. As we heard growing up, “Practice makes perfect.”

CPC_6125Just like driving, learning communication strategies from a book is only the first step in becoming a practitioner. I study public relations at Ball State University, and diverse classes in writing, design, media ethics and campaign management have given me an understanding of important theories. With some basic knowledge, I jumped into my first internship, at a digital marketing agency, where I was immersed in the day-to-day of agency life. Three internships and dozens of classes later, I am creating content and implementing social media strategy for real-world clients.

In my first month at Hirons, I applied some of what I learned in a case study course to compile award submissions for some of the agency’s innovative client work. I used lessons from a media research course to analyze best practices in specific segments of the industry and share insights that would guide future strategy. I utilized findings from a media analytics course to create engaging social media content and evaluate its performance.

My experiences were key to developing my skills and building confidence in myself as a practitioner. I know I have chosen the career path that best aligns with my interests.

Are you studying for a future career in the communications industry? Here are a few ways to apply your classroom knowledge:

Join relevant student organizations at your university. Does your university have a Public Relations Student Society of America or American Advertising Federation chapter? These organizations allow you to make an impact at a local level and engage with thousands of peers across the nation. Plus, when employers look to recruit, these affiliations make you stand out!

Volunteer your time with a nonprofit. No matter where you are in your educational journey, it is never too early to test your skills. Don’t let feelings of inexperience hold you back from growing. The only way to gain experience is through practice. Do you see a nonprofit that could benefit from some strategic social media initiatives? Or is there one that has a story waiting to be told to the media? Sometimes the best experiences come from opportunistic outreach.

Apply for a summer internship at Hirons. Interested in learning more about communications management, digital media or creative services? Check out our available internship opportunities and apply by March 15.

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.

Business Development in about 500 Words

By Mike Murtaugh, Business Development Manager

According to Forbes, business development is the “creation of long-term value for an organization for customers, markets and relationships.” To us at Hirons, it means exploring the ways we can challenge our capabilities while driving the growth of our clients and agency. It’s more than just finding a way to meet our clients’ base expectations; we strive to uniquely outthink, outwork and outperform for every client we work with, going above and beyond the initial request and final desired result. Business development, for us, is opening the doors for our clients to grow to a level they’ve never reached. It’s about mixing strategy and creativity to create “wow” moments and jaw-dropping experiences.

So what does that mean?

In simpler terms, our business development team is responsible for reaching out and bringing new clients to the agency. We can’t create “wow” moments without clients, so in the grand scheme of things, we are the first step in this exhilaratingly hectic process.

Are we sales?

Kind of. If you consider our services our “product,” and our business development team to be salespeople, then yes, we are sales. More importantly, the main thing we are selling is ourselves. Many agencies like us do great work, but that is not the sole and determining factor for a new business opportunity. Clients not only want the best work; they also want a reliable agency who can get their work done in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Every client that we work with has different preferences, demands and needs. As a research-based firm, we start by learning as much about a client’s situation as possible, so we can tailor our proven services to their specific goals.

Is that it?

We are constantly trying to expand our agency, which means that we’re also always evaluating the market for new opportunities. As an agency with experience in branding, public relations, digital media, media buying, creative development and more, we are able to serve a wide variety of clients. With a long list of specializations, it is important for us to explore and generate new business opportunities that allow every member and department at our agency to “outperform.”

Internally, we are always exploring ways in which we can better promote our services across all departments. As we approach our 39th year in business, you could say that Hirons has lived and seen it all. We rode the wave of digital and technological breakthroughs and assessed their potential for the communications industry, and we have incorporated these new trends into projects for new and existing clients.

We continue to explore ways to creatively generate new business online. Having an established online and social media presence is one way to generate buzz and attract new clients. By focusing heavily on the digital presence of not only our agency but also those of our clients, we can establish ourselves as a leader in the industry.

Final thoughts

Business development varies among agencies, industries and companies, and while we all have different definitions, the goal is always the same: fostering growth. Let’s get to work.