Word Power: Yes, it Still Exists

Word Power: Yes, it still exists

Let’s be frank. Today, writing well still counts in many ways. But, sadly, there’s a lack of sophistication and purpose to much of what we read. Why? It may be that we’re living in a world of 140 characters, Facebook likes and Snap Chat. Short was always good, but clarity and meaning used to matter more.

At Hirons, we place a great deal of emphasis on good writing. We churn out a lot of copy: radio and television spots, news releases, website copy, brochures and fliers. Luckily, we have developed a strong, diverse team of communicators who provide solid, effective copy to clients. Our goal is that, as this material hits the printed page, Web or airwaves, people will respond to it. Our business depends on this skill. If we don’t write well, we don’t get a second chance.

Read more of COO Jim Parham’s blog here: PR Chronicle

Follow the PR Chronicle for real world advice from Jim Parham, who has 30 years of experience in the world of public relations.

 

 

Employee Ownership: How to Attract the Very Best People

By Jim Parham, Chief Operating Officer

This month we celebrate employee ownership month at Hirons. An ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) is an employee benefit program that often goes unnoticed. Basically, the definition sounds much like the name—employees working hard to attain profits that, in turn, are distributed back to them in shares of stock.

I worked for an ESOP for 10 years prior to joining the ranks at Hirons & Company and the approach was very new to me. But employee ownership is on the rise in the United States and by all accounts, it’s working very well. There are currently 14.7 million participants with 8,926 ESOP or ESOP-like plans.

Hirons & Company is now four years into the transformation from a traditionally established company to an ESOP. We’ve worked with some of the best people in the U.S. to establish and manage this innovative and exciting way to run a company.

Unlike many privately-held firms, where profits and control are handled by one person, a board, or Wall Street, an ESOP uses specific government-regulated methodologies to provide employees with an opportunity to vest in the company.

The benefits are obvious. Each year, stock shares are distributed to qualified employee owners, usually at no cost to the employees, and are vested over a period of time. The stock values are determined by the performance of the firm, not by a far-away board sitting in a high rise on Madison Avenue, New York.

Work hard, reap benefits. Work hard, gain equity in the company. Not a bad deal, is it?

Today, with Millennials accumulating in the workplace, companies are trying to find a way to build loyalty and longevity among their employees. The stereotype is that the average young professional is changing jobs more often than their jeans, and it’s a very expensive process to be constantly hiring and losing employees.

An ESOP operates much like a 401K retirement plan. So, while the stock benefit may be substantial, it’s not readily available to the employees like a cash bonus. This may be why some employee owned companies are not seeing the ESOP as “golden handcuffs” to keep valued employees around. But for those willing to invest and stick with the company, things can be pretty rosy in the future. Again, this is a positive outlook based upon company performance.

“I’m a young professional with a degree, energy and stick-to-itiveness and the Hirons ESOP works for me,” states Courtney Smallwood, the new business manager at Hirons. “Today, it’s often short attention span theatre with my peers when it comes to settling into a job. I prefer to be steady and stable in a position with growth opportunity, which is exactly what Hirons provides with its ESOP.”

ESOP’s have increased in popularity to the point that how-to seminars are popping up like daffodils in the spring. It seems that many firms, struggling to justify traditional organizational frameworks, are turning to this progressive and employee-centric model. The U.S. government is involved in ESOP’s too (well, what is the government not involved in?). The Department of Labor has a large number of employees dedicated to regulating ESOP’s and ensuring correct valuations and prohibited transactions.

Business in America is constantly evolving to meet customer demands. An ESOP is an important tool in the box when it comes to being malleable in the marketplace and attracting and keeping the best-in-class employees.

Dropping Knowledge: 5 Steps for Transforming Your Boring Workspace

By Luke Woody, Associate Art Director 

I am now three weeks into my internship here at Hirons, and it’s safe to say this place is the bees’ knees. (You know, if bees had knees.) And since I am new, this is my first blog for Hirons. Most novice bloggers would write about how they feel at their internship or tell some story about something somewhat interesting, but not this guy. I’m going to provide you with a step-by-step break down of how to get comfortable at your desk.

I live in the creative department here, so I like to make my workstation feel more like a break room when I need to take a mental break. It probably ramps up productivity to take a break at your desk, but I’m no scientist. However, I do feel like I have mastered the science of being comfortable. So listen up!

Step 1: Evaluate your surroundings. Look at other co-workers’ desks to see how they decorate their areas. Sometimes they have some pretty cool stuff, but nobody wants to be a copycat, except for a copycat I guess. Also, be sure to look at your own desk and get an idea of how much room you have to work with. Obviously.

Step 2: Make a list of awesome things you enjoy. Here’s my list:

  • Toy monster truck (for paperweight purposes)
  • (Knock-off) Nerf guns
  • Mustache coffee mug
  • Small foam basketball with hoop
  • Juice boxes (because I’m still a 5-year-old)
  • Remote-control helicopter

Step 3: Bring all that cool stuff to work. Make sure the “feng shui” is just right. Also, be sure not to do this during billable hours. There are people that get paid to do that, like movers and interior designers, but not interns who live in the creative department.

Step 4: Personalization is key. I wrote general notes on the darts of the (knock-off) Nerf guns like, “Look @ me” “Question?” and “Message 4 U.” When you personalize your stuff, it not only lets people know that it’s yours, but it lets them know what you’re about. For example, my coffee mug has a mustache on it. That means I like mustaches, right? Correct. Another way to personalize your desk is to change your desktop and screen saver to a picture(s) that describes you or your interests. I like antique cars, therefore my desktop is a photo of a 1936 Cord 812.

Step 5: Go to work. There’s no point in going through all of this trouble if you don’t get any work done. Why? Because if you don’t work, then you get fired and you no longer have a desk during which to take a break. The point of a creative workstation is to be comfortable and keep a jovial attitude while getting more work done in the process. Like I said, I’m no scientist, but I’m sure there’s some correlation there.

So there you have it, step-by-step instructions on how to make your work area more enjoyable; it might even encourage your co-workers to do the same!

Change is the Only Constant

“Change is the only constant.”

You said it, Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus. Especially in this industry. Creative concepts and new business opportunities constantly shift with the wind, but we’d be remiss to assume outer currents of change aren’t reflected within agency shops as well.

A decade or two ago, it would be commonplace for an employee to stay with one company for 10-15 years. Today, the average worker stays 4.4 years. But even that is old news to advertising and PR companies, where 4.4 years at one firm is considered a lifetime by today’s standards. That’s what happens when Millennials flood the job market.

This dictum is reflected in strategic and creative projects as well. A social media campaign takes approximately 90 days to build momentum, typically lasting three months before the message has peaked and the audience needs something new. Is it because constant multitasking has become an audience norm? Or is it just the nature of our work?

The truth is, we live in a world of momentary exposure: 30-second spots, 140 characters. Fireworks alight for a moment in a sky full of stars.

What separates good firms from great firms is the ability to capture that moment, with the talent you have and the client at your door, and make something spectacular.

We cannot lament lost ventures and missed opportunities or hang our heads when change inevitably comes to collect. What we can do is take the passive concept and make it active. Seize the moment. Pursue the fleeting idea. Realize that change creates opportunity and challenges monotony.

Embracing change, ironically, supplies a consistent long-term strategy to keep an agency afloat.

Change is the only constant?

For a great firm, change is the only necessity.