The Importance of Voice

By Madelyn Morgan, Senior Editor

As a writing coach for young people, I would encourage teens to find their voice – the words and syntax that best reflect who they are and what concerns them. While it was hard for some of them, others found that writing was the best way to express themselves and loved to experiment and play with words.

Working for a publication or institution, writers learn to adopt its unique voice. Your job is to represent the organization and its values, and often the voice is authoritative, knowledgeable, capable. The focus is on the organization and the message, not so much on the receiver of the message.

But in advertising, the audience is paramount. Whom are you targeting? What are their interests? What kind of language do they use? What kind of appeal will appeal to them?

Advertising is not just used for selling products, brands or services. It’s also used to reach out to audiences to inform them, or maybe even persuade them to do something.

For example, take a campaign intended to stop an audience from pursuing an activity that can damage themselves and others. Research has shown that this audience does not generally respond to shame or “tough love.” However, offers of help or support can prove successful in changing behavior.

So that’s what we did, and it worked.

The beauty of copywriting is the wide range of voices you can adopt: supportive, expert, fun-loving, smart. It’s not always clear what will work best to reach your intended audience, and that’s where audience research comes in. At Hirons, we perform research for every client and campaign, and it really does produce results.

I’m used to anonymity as a writer. As an advertising copywriter, my work is even less about me. And I’m fine with that.

What I Didn’t Learn in College

By Brittany Kaelin, Account Coordinator 

Fresh out of school and into this fast-paced place they call the “real world,” I have faced a learning curve for which I was unprepared. Back in my “glory days,” I worried about making it to class and acing the exams that would determine my grade.


With a degree from Purdue University (Boiler up!) in public relations and strategic communications, I thought I would be golden to enter agency life and rock the young PR professional lifestyle. As I quickly found out, my education gave me a good foundation, but there was still so much more I needed to learn.


After four months at an agency, I have identified five facts of life that were not mentioned during those weekly power-hour lectures. No offense to my beloved alma mater, but this is what I wish my professors would have covered in COM 100.


  1. Agency life is fast-paced.

When you work at an agency, you find out how fast your feet can move. There will be times when you will be bouncing around not only the whole office but throughout the whole city. Whether it’s organizing a big event or shooting a commercial, you learn very quickly how important it is to deliver a quality product on a short deadline.


  1. The way you were taught to write a press release is not a universal template.

Headline, lead, quote, pyramid style and boilerplate. There’s not much to a press release, but there are about 20 different ways to write one. Like I said, college gives you a good foundation. But at an agency,  always make sure to find an old press release and copy its writing style and format before you send your first draft to your manager.


  1. No question is a dumb one.

When you are thrown into the exciting world of advertising and PR, you have to be willing to take in as much knowledge as you can. Everything is a learning opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask to sit in on a client meeting or for more details on a project. It’s better to do it right the first time than to keep making revisions.


  1. You won’t be writing eight-page papers.

For some reason, professors believe you’ll be writing eight-page research papers once you exit college. They have one thing right: Writing is very important in this industry. However, “short and sweet” is usually the key when you write. There will be times when you will write longer documents, but they will be about projects you are invested in. The best thing is there are no works to be cited at the end of a document!


  1. Be willing and able to work long days.

 Long days go along with the fast-paced lifestyle. There will be days when you have to be up with your game face on by 8 a.m. and you won’t plop down on your bed until after 9 p.m. Even though that may seem like a long time, those days fly by and are usually the most rewarding. It always feels good to see your hard work in the final package.


The main takeaway I can offer as I adjust to life as a rock star young professional is to be proactive and take ownership of your work. No one will hold your hand, but they will usually take time to answer your questions. Put your best foot forward and always take a stab at working on something you’ve never done before. You may surprise yourself. Every challenge is an opportunity to improve your wealth of knowledge.


Bottom line: It’s like you never graduated. Every day you’re still learning, and sometimes you’ll have homework.  However, there won’t be any pop quizzes!

The Key to Using Google Search Advertising Effectively

By Olivia Crum, Digital Media Coordinator

In our digital age, advertising opportunities are endless. Why’s that? Whether on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, your consumer is always connected. Advertisers can better target their audiences and reach them where they are, when they are there.


One digital service that you may not know about, but have definitely seen, is Google AdWords.


Google AdWords is a platform that provides advertising services on Google and its advertising network. This service allows advertisers and businesses to set a budget and only pay when someone clicks on their ad.


I have outlined a few key elements to remember when creating search ads in Google AdWords:

  1. Use Specific Ad Groups

When you start a campaign, you will want to run a series of different ads. By creating ad groups, you can add keywords specifically related to your advertisement. Keywords are simply Google search terms or phrases. For example, if you own a shoe business and want to drive sales through search advertising, you would want to create specific ad groups for each type of shoe: Women’s Running Shoes, Men’s Dress Shoes, Children’s Boots, etc.

  1. Group Related Keywords

Within your ad group, you will create keywords. These keywords need to be related to one another so that the correct ad shows for related searches. For example, in the ad group Women’s Running Shoes, you would have keywords such as “running shoes for women,” “women’s running shoes,” “women’s athletic shoes,” etc.

Those keywords, or search terms, will then generate the related ad. When you search “running shoes for women,” this is the first ad that appears:

Women’s Running Shoes –‎


4.4  rating for

Find Great Deals On Top Brands. Buy At Finish Line & Earn Rewards!


Because Finish Line knew it wanted to target people searching for women’s running shoes specifically, it created an individual ad group containing keywords related to women’s running shoes. By doing this, it is ensuring that the ad the consumer sees is related specifically to his or her needs. This will avoid people coming to its site and then leaving immediately.

  1. Create Engaging Ads

While making sure that your ad relates to the keywords is extremely important, it’s only half the battle. You need to make sure you are creating an engaging ad that will draw in consumers. You have 140 characters to tell your consumer what they want and why they want it from you. Each ad consists of two headlines, 30 characters each, and a description that is 80 characters.


This is how the 140 characters are divided out:

Headline One (30 Character Max) – Headline Two (30 Character Max)


4.4  rating for

Description (80 Character Max)


You want to make sure you use some variation of your keywords in your headline as well so that consumers know you offer what they need. So in the example above, the Finish Line headlines are “” and “Women’s Running Shoes.” Both are beneficial because the consumer can see immediately exactly how his or her search is related to the ad.

  1. Use Quality Landing Pages

Your ads also need to take consumers to a related landing page. Your landing page is extremely important because if Google sees that your ad about women’s running shoes is taking consumer to a page with men’s running shoes, your ad will not receive a high quality score and therefore will not show as often.

Speaking about Talent in Hispanic Diversity…

By Ana Kotchkoski, Account Manager 

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month, from Sept. 15 to Oct.15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. During this time they seek to publicize and learn even more about the talents and contributions of Hispanics.

Allow me to begin this celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with relevant information that captured my attention.

CNET Spanish magazine recently published a list of the 20 most influential Hispanics in the technology sector, which includes six women among a constellation of Spaniards, Mexicans, Argentines, Brazilians and Americans of Hispanic origin.

“It’s not easy to find Latinos in the technology industry in the United States, but after some hard work we gathered for the third consecutive year to celebrate a list of 20 Hispanic professionals who represent the best in the industry thanks to intelligence, perseverance, creativity and leadership,” said Gabriel Sama, director of CNET in Spanish.

The honorees represent companies ranging from AT&T, Oculus, Microsoft and Sprint to the NASA space agency and the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They include Pilar Manchón and Silvia Vásquez-Lavado, whom the publication considered “excellent examples of the effort, dedication and talent” of this select group.

Manchón, born in Seville (Spain), founded a successful virtual assistant firm that was acquired by the microprocessor giant Intel, where she now works as director of intelligent assistance and voice. Vásquez-Lavado, from Peru, overcame a childhood marked by sexual abuse and become a successful PayPal executive.

Among the names on the list is Alicia Abella, assistant vice president of services and technology in the cloud of AT&T. Of Cuban descent, the engineering graduate of Columbia University (New York) wants to use her leadership position to increase diversity in the technology sector.

There’s also Cindy Alvarez, an American of Mexican origin. She graduated from Harvard and is director of user experience on Yammer, the social network for companies acquired by Microsoft. She did not buy her first computer until she started college and had to borrow to do so.

Not everyone on the list is female. Thaddeus Arroyo, a veteran of the communications industry, faced the challenge of improving the wireless infrastructure in Mexico and expanding the number of subscribers to AT&T in that country.

Mexican engineer Alfredo Ayala, who some consider the “Latino Steve Jobs,” is leading the research and development teams at Walt Disney Imagineering, the scientific arm of the entertainment company.  Brazilian engineer Hugo Barra is a key player in the global expansion of the Chinese company Xiaomi, which already dominates the mobile phone market there. Barra told CNET that growing up in Brazil has given him an enormous ability to adapt to any situation.

Also selected was Arturo Bejar, former director of engineering of Facebook, whom The New York Times has dubbed “Mr. Nice.” He recently left the social network to focus on projects related to promoting empathy, compassion and good manners in digital communications.

Rafael Camargo, an Andalusian engineer who worked 51 years for the iconic Razr, StarTAC and Droid phones, now seeks to revolutionize the cellular industry with the Project Ara modular phone from Google. Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian engineer and CEO of Sprint, is determined to change the course of the wireless telephone.

For his part, Leandro Graciá Gil was responsible for coordinating and directing 20 engineers from around the world to develop the final version of the Google Cardboard virtual reality glasses. Similarly, Alex Kipman, an engineer born in Curitiba (Brazil), is the brain behind Kinect and, more recently, Microsoft HoloLens glasses.

The list also includes Ramiro López Dau, an Argentine who runs 33 virtual reality movies for Oculus, and Andrés Martinez, a Mexican engineer who oversees several projects for NASA. A colleague was also honored: Evelyn Miralles, born in Venezuela, is lead engineer of the virtual reality lab at NASA facilities at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Jordi Muñoz is a young Mexican who founded 3D Robotics and runs a successful drones business in Berkeley, Calif. Rafael Reif, of Venezuela, is president of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most important academic institutions in the world especially in the fields of technology, science and innovation.

Ileana Rivera, from Puerto Rico, is senior director of IT for Cisco and is in charge of choosing phones, computers and software used by workers at the communications networking giant.

Rounding out the list are Luis Sosa, a Venezuelan executive at the helm of DDM Brands, which is working on the ambitious Project Ara at Google, and Marcos Weskamp, Argentine, design director and co-founder of Flipboard and now Uber’s new head of product design.

Together, these 20 individuals are sharing their talents with the world of technology and enriching  the cultural diversity of the United States.

New Pantone App Lets You Create Color Palettes From from Your iPhone

By Chris Costidakis, Associate Art Director 

Pantone has launched an addictive new iPhone app aimed at Instagrammers and digital-savvy designers. The Pantone app lets users create personalized color palettes from selfies and pictures by matching hues in the photos with the 10,000 hues in Pantone’s library.

The app identifies RGB, CMYK and Hex codes and indicates appropriate color schemes to match. Users can create, test and store palettes on designs and materials, and they are easy to share via social media. Other handy features include the ability to name and geotag palettes and then upload them to Photoshop and other design software via Creative Cloud. All these features go a long way to providing what Pantone is calling the “first offering in a new digital suite of solutions for the creative industries.”

The Pantone app is geared at younger designers who can’t necessarily afford to spend hundreds of dollars on Pantone’s color swatch booklets, but it does still come at a cost. Users must pay an $8 USD monthly subscription fee or an annual fee of $60 USD to gain full access to color libraries.

Download Link

Long Copy in 601 Words (and Numbers)

Let’s keep this short. It’s a blog.

But, there are times when long-form writing is called for. If you are writing to seniors, know that they are readers. And, especially before making a buying decision, they want to know all they can know. Imagine your mom or dad and how they would read a booklet before making a major purchase decision. Research suggests their approach would be very different from your own and even more different from your children.

If you are selling yourself at a job interview and the interview was scheduled for a half hour but lasted an hour, what would you think? Sounds like the interview went well.

Would you stand up after thirty minutes and walk out of the room if you were selling yourself, or any product or service? Of course not.

And you shouldn’t stop writing in direct response advertising. You’re engaged in the conversation and it’s rude and unproductive to terminate your conversation prematurely. There is a reason why direct response television is in a longer format than 15 seconds. And, the same reason applies to print or direct mail if you are seeking to close a sale and get an order.

So how can you write copy that will engage the reader from the first sentence to the last?

Here are the top eight tips for better long-copy writing:

  1. Make it personal, relevant and a reward to read. Your reader will appreciate it.
  2. Tell a story. And, make the story about someone, not just something. People are interesting. It’s called a human interest story for a reason.
  3. Pay close attention to your sentence leads. Try action-verb sentence leads (look at this list for examples). Or use transitional sentence leads such as so, and, or … to pull a reader through your copy. And please never start a sentence with the word “the.” Phil Burton, who is possibly the greatest copywriter of our time, said, “Writers beginning sentences with the word ‘the’ are placing signs at the beginning of their sentence saying, ‘Graveyard ahead’. Weak sentence leads are the death of sentences and the morbidity of unfortunate readers.” No, you will NOT find a “the” lead in this blog. Never.
  4. Make good use of extensive punctuation:
    1. “Quote someone”
    2. If you’re excited show it!
    3. Question marks? Absolutely!
    4. Use a pause – give your readers a moment to catch their own thoughts.
  5. Vary your sentence lengths. Some sentences can be long but they should always be clear. And make some sentences short. It works. It’s conversational. See?
  6. Write to one person. Get close. Whisper, don’t shout.
  7. Edit viciously. Justify every word. Find stronger nouns, more vibrant verbs and eliminate any unnecessary adjective or adverb.
  8. Use lists. Number your list instead of using bullets. Your list has a specific number of things you want your reader to know, in order of importance. Using numbers tells your reader you have 7 things that you want them to know. Bullets kill reader interest.

Let the reader get in the last word. Ask a question. Force them to think.

What would be the impact on your organization if you were able to significantly improve internal and external communication?

Listen to and agree with your customer’s thoughts. Make their next steps clear. Call them to action.

Improving your internal and external communication will make a significant impact.

What’s happening, Twitter?


By: Ethan Thomas, Account Coordinator

Daily users are declining. Total active users are declining. Is it management? Or is it that a picture is worth much, much more than 140 characters?

It really seems as though Twitter is losing its following to Instagram, Snapchat and – though I hate to admit it – Pokémon Go. Instagram rebranded its logo, put a minimalist touch to its interface, and even changed up its newsfeed algorithm. Snapchat has exploded into the realm of paid advertising content, and companies are finally catching up to speed on how to reach customers on the platform. And in less than a month, Pokémon Go has become the biggest game in U.S. history (though its popularity seems to be fading).

All of this is going on and what, Twitter removed links and photos from counting toward the maximum character count? Seems like a pretty boring summer for a social media behemoth.

Don’t worry. Twitter isn’t brooding in the corner while Snapchat and Instagram take over the social media landscape. It’s got a bigger plan. If you haven’t been looking, you could have missed it.

Last fall, the NFL experimented with the first free live streaming of a football game on Yahoo Sports. Yahoo reported that the live stream accumulated 15.2 million unique viewers, 33.6 million video streams and over 460 total minutes of video consumed. The game took place in London, and the most surprising statistic came from somewhere unexpected: 33 percent of the entire audience, just around 5 million unique viewers, were overseas. For a sport dominated by American fan bases, this is huge. Twitter definitely took notice.

Twitter swiftly won the global digital streaming rights for 10 NFL Thursday night games. It beat out big-name competitors such as Amazon and Verizon – two big competitors in the live-streaming market. “This agreement also provides additional reach for those brands advertising with our broadcast partners,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He may not be everyone’s favorite major sports commissioner, but he’s nailed this right on the head.

The potential for advertisers to utilize this medium is enormous. Not only will there be outstanding paid promotion opportunities, but the amount of organic brand-to-consumer connections will set a tone for other major sports in the United States and abroad.

“This is about transforming the fan experience with football,” said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “People watch NFL games with Twitter today. Now they’ll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights.”

Twitter’s been relatively quiet about this, but with less than 50 days left until kickoff, expect to see brands begin pushing their involvement.

Old School. And Visionary.

download (1)

By Tom Hirons, CEO

Phillip Ward Burton was an advertising genius.

Burton’s career started at Proctor & Gamble where he responded to letters from consumers and rose to be the senior creative officer consulting on all Proctor & Gamble brands. He went on to be a professor at Syracuse University, the feeder school for New York agencies. His textbook for advertising concepting and copywriting became the most widely used in the US. His weekly column in Advertising Age, “Which Ad Pulled Best?” popularized his research on advertising perception and explained what factors contributed to advertising effectiveness.

In 1987 the American Advertising Federation wanted to present him with their inaugural Distinguished Educator award and name it the Burton award. He accepted the award but declined to have it named after himself saying, “You never know what scoundrels may follow me.” In reality, he was too humble to have the award named after him.

When Burton reached the mandatory retirement age at Syracuse, Indiana University picked him up. He continued to teach for another 20 years. One day he came to me and said, “I think I’m going to have to quit teaching.” Knowing he was a bit hard of hearing I shouted back to him, “Mr. Burton, why would you do that?” With a smile, he replied, “I really can’t hear the students.” I leaned in and reminded him that what he had to say was so important I didn’t think the students would care. But, he had made his mind up. He asked me to pick up his classes. And, for another 20 years I carried on his tradition.

Phil Burton came from the golden age of advertising. His contemporaries were Burnet, Burnbach, Ogilvie, Reeves and other giants of our industry. His ideas and principles were ground breaking and as relevant today as when he started. Simplicity. Relevance. Humanity. Truth.

So much has changed in our field. Advertising is both a reflection and driver of culture. Digital media has revolutionized how we communicate. Technology has impacted our craft. Public relations and advertising have converged.

Culture has changed. And, Phil Burton would be right at home.

Building Client Relationships One Post at a Time


By Emily Hayden, Account Manager 

As an account manager at Hirons, I spend quite a bit of time each week monitoring my clients’ social media pages. I act as the front line when it comes to observing and responding to online conversations involving the brands I represent. This takes certain levels of skill and tact in order to maintain the brand’s voice and please its customers.

When monitoring social media, I see it all – the good, the bad and the just plain weird. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of really trying to understand what the original poster wanted to say and the emotions behind it. While it might seem counter-intuitive, social media truly are about relationships. Most posters just want the company to hear what they have to say, whether it be critical or complimentary.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s really easy to see a negative comment online and give a canned response along the lines of “Thank you for your feedback, [NAME]. We will take it under advisement moving forward.” Here’s the thing, though: This doesn’t accomplish anything for anyone. As the account manager, it’s my job to get that feedback to the client in the hopes that its staff can make the necessary changes to improve that customer’s experience. Along with doing that, it’s crucial to provide the customer with a response that shows that the company really does care about fixing whatever might be broken.

On the other hand, as important as it is to respond to negative comments online, it’s equally important to acknowledge the positive ones. I try to never use the same “Thank you” response more than once. I like to authentically thank people for being loyal customers in any way I can. It just makes people feel good to be acknowledged, and it makes me feel good to reach out to people who love the brand as much as I do.

A great client recently gave me the most humbling compliment anyone could give to someone in my position. He thanked me for replying to customers on Facebook in the way that I do – adding that I respond as though I were an actual employee of the company. While that’s an amazing compliment, what he doesn’t realize is how seriously I take the responsibility of managing social media accounts.

As an account manager, I am able to see firsthand how passionately our clients care about their work, and that enthusiasm is contagious. The work we do through Facebook, Twitter and other social channels is our opportunity to help our clients share their passion with their customers and fans on a personal, real-time level. In many ways, social media are the most powerful tools we have for sharing the voice of our clients, and we waste them if we issue a canned, computer-generated response.

My advice: Be a fan of your fans. Share your passion, get more shares!


Learning to Code Just Got Easier


By Chris Costidakis, Associate Art Director

Wouldn’t it be cool to know how to create your own iPhone game? Apple just made learning how to code so simple and fun, a kid could do it!

At Apple Inc.’s World Wide Developers Conference 2016 (WWDC), app developers from around the world gathered to hear the latest announcements from the tech giant and to learn ways to make their apps better.

This year’s conference was full of new firmware updates for iOS for iPhone, macOS for Mac, watchOS for Apple Watch and tvOS for Apple TV as usual. But there was one announcement that stood out to everyone at the conference.…

Swift Playgrounds™ is an innovative new app for iPad that makes learning to code fun and easy for anyone. Swift Playgrounds brings coding to life with an interactive interface that encourages students and beginners to explore working with Swift™, the easy-to-learn programming language from Apple used by professional developers to create world-class apps. Swift Playgrounds includes Apple-developed programming lessons, where students write code to guide onscreen characters through an immersive graphical world, solving puzzles and mastering challenges as they learn core coding concepts. The app also features built-in templates to encourage users to express their creativity and create real programs that can be shared with friends using Mail or Messages or even posted to the web.images

“I wish Swift Playgrounds was around when I was first learning to code,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Swift Playgrounds is the only app of its kind that is both easy enough for students and beginners, yet powerful enough to write real code. It’s an innovative way to bring real coding concepts to life and empower the next generation with the skills they need to express their creativity.”

In addition to the lessons, Swift Playgrounds comes with a number of built-in templates to help aspiring developers express their creativity. Students and developers can modify and build on this code to make it their own by adding graphics and touch interactions.images (1)

A preview release of Swift Playgrounds is available to Apple Developer Program members, and a beta release will be available to the public in July. The final version of Swift Playgrounds will be available in the App Store for free this fall.

For more information, including videos, images and demos, visit,