Jared Fogle and Subway: Thoughts on Crisis Communication

By Shannon Samson, Media Relations Director

Oh, the power of celebrity.

TMZ has breathlessly reported Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently took their children to eat at a Subway restaurant in Glendale, California, prompting website Business Insider, Inc. to report, “The fact that the socially-conscious and wealthy couple took their children there sends the message that Subway is a family-friendly choice. With the Jared Fogle scandal looming, the brand needs this kind of exposure.”

With Brangelina being as big as it gets in the eyes of the world, site commenters have already speculated Subway paid them to take the kids on this highly-public family outing. Even if that were the case, would it be enough to free the sandwich chain from its fractured public image? Is there any hope this good PR would rub off on Fogle himself?

“What is happening is not spelling good things for his future; that’s for sure, no matter what the outcome,” Hirons COO Jim Parham told WTHR, “We all know the equation, perception becomes reality. There’s a lot of perception going on about this case and that may affect people’s reality and that can hurt the brand.”

The images were damning. FBI agents raided Jared Fogle’s Zionsville home and left with computer equipment, leaving everyone to guess it must have been in connection to the child pornography investigation of former Jared Foundation employee Russell Charles Taylor, Jr. We watched as Fogle walked silently and solemnly in the rain to his attorney’s car to get away from reporters camped outside his home.

“The only person Mr. Fogle should be speaking with right now is his attorney in order to have the cloak of the client-attorney privilege,” Hirons President and CEO Tom Hirons told host Rafael Sanchez on an RTV6 newcast. (Video here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/e8PhfqyC44s) Hirons said the two keys of crisis public relations are not to get ahead of the news and to get it right. “Once you know the facts, you want to move very quickly because that window will only be open a very short period of time and you want to get as much accurate information out as quickly as possible to control the situation.”

Subway released a statement the day of the raid, saying it was monitoring the situation closely. Later, a spokesperson said the company was terminating its relationship with the long-time spokesman. Fogle released a statement in May when Taylor was initially arrested, saying he was shocked by the allegations and severing ties with him. Since then, Fogle has been silent.

Hirons said that’s smart. “At this point, there is a lot of insinuation, but it’s really premature for him to make any statement or for anyone to be out in front of this issue.”

Since the raid, a former journalist in Florida has told reporters Fogle once made a suspicious remark to her about middle school girls which prompted the FBI investigation. Fogle’s attorneys, on the other hand, keep reminding everyone their client has not been charged with a crime. TMZ is reporting they’re even saying the raid was a complete bust.

If it does turn out that Fogle did nothing wrong, it is possible for him to rehabilitate his image. Parham cited the comeback stories of Michael Vick and Martha Stewart as examples. In those cases, however, juries had actually convicted those celebrities of crimes.

No doubt Fogle is hoping his name is cleared quickly. He’s lost his lucrative gig with Subway, charities have distanced themselves from him and media around the world are lumping his name in with the likes of Bill Cosby and Hulk Hogan. I am sure he much prefers Brangelina.

Press Events 101

By Blair Mulzer, Account Coordinator

Having organized a dozen or so business announcements, groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings in the past few months, I find that a press event checklist is an absolute must. It keeps you from forgetting both the big and small details that are necessary for your press event to go off without a hitch and to finish strong. Below are 10 steps to ensure your next press event goes successfully.

Step 1. The minute your client tells you about an event, put it on your calendar, their calendar and the calendars of everyone who will be involved.
It’s not only good for you to be in the know, but your team members should be, too. This keeps them from scheduling other client meetings over this client’s event and having to miss one or the other.

Step 2. Begin crafting the press release and media advisory.
A lot of questions arise when you begin writing the release and advisory, and the answers you receive will also be helpful for event planning. Once you get all the details down including timing, location, speakers, attendees, etc., you can craft your media kit and…

Step 3. Schedule your photographer and audio production company.
You need both your photographer and audio controller at the event an hour early to set up and become familiar with the location. It’s also a good idea to have your photographer stay after the ceremony to get photos of residents, civic leaders and stakeholders.

Here is what you need as part of your audio production package:

  • Multi-audio input box – for videographers to plug the microphone into to eliminate the need for multiple microphones on the podium
  • Podium
  • Microphone
  • Two speakers
  • Audio-input chord – to plug your phone into the speakers to play music before and after the ceremony
  • Audio controller – someone to run the system for you

Step 4. Select speakers and send out invitations.
Once you select your speakers and design an invitation, both mail and email it to your speakers as well as to any civic leaders and elected officials you would like to attend. These might include the governor, mayor, town council and chamber of commerce members, and the state senator, representatives and city-county councilors who cover your district. Don’t forget to invite area business leaders.

You will reach the general public in other ways, see step 7.

Step 5. Write a speaking outline and talking points.
It’s a great idea to write out a speaking timeline and talking points so that speakers have a good idea of when they are to speak and what they should say. Give the timeline and talking points to the speakers as soon as possible so that they have time to prepare their remarks. Someone should act as the emcee, both opening and closing the ceremony and introducing each speaker. Here’s an example outline with simple talking points:

John Smith – title here, emcee

  • Thanks everyone for being there
  • Acknowledges key stakeholders/attendees
  • Makes a few opening comments
  • Introduces next speaker, Mr. Jones

Mr. Jones – title here

  • Affirms Smith’s announcement
  • Adds details unique to his perspective

John Smith

  • Thanks Mr. Jones
  • Introduces next speaker, Mr. Johnson

Mr. Johnson – title here

  • A few comments based on his perspective

John Smith

  • Thanks Mr. Johnson, thanks everyone for attending and invites distinguished guests to participate in groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

Step 6. Scope out the location ahead of time and come up with a weather backup plan.
What if it’s raining the day of your outdoor celebration? Should you rent a tent just in case, or move the event indoors? These are questions you need to answer prior to your event, and preferably not the hour before. If there’s a solid chance of rain and plan B becomes plan A, remember to communicate that to your audio controller and photographer.

Step 7. Send out the media advisory and push event details on social media.
Send out the media advisory a week before the event, follow up via phone or email a few days before, and send a final reminder the morning of. In addition, post and tweet about the upcoming event on Facebook and Twitter a week prior, two days before and the morning of.

Step 8. Gather all materials necessary for the event.
The event is a few days away. Make sure you have everything you need. Ribbon and large scissors for a ribbon-cutting, enough shovels for a groundbreaking, beer toasts for a brewery opening … you get the drift. Also, make sure you have your client’s logo to attach to the front of the podium and copies of the speaker outline and scripts for each of your speakers.

Once the media materials are approved, print out your materials and assemble 10 media kits. Place any renderings you have, the press release and your business card in each folder. Also, carry an extra folder with multiple copies in case you run out.

Step 9. Coordinate the press event.
You have followed up with attendees and media and have prepared all materials necessary for the event. You show up at the event an hour early to help set things up, making sure the audio controller knows exactly where you want the speakers and podium set up and has appropriate music playing.

You make sure all speakers are accounted for, and that all town officials, civic leaders and elected officials in attendance will be recognized in the opening remarks and invited to participate in the groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Five minutes prior, you gather the speakers and place them in order behind the podium and give the emcee the green light to begin. After the speeches conclude and distinguished guests are invited to participate in the ceremony, you make sure everyone has a shovel or is spread evenly behind the ribbon. You count down for a formal photo, then give the group the go-ahead to cut the ribbon or start digging.

After the ceremony has concluded you …

Step 10. Distribute the press release and spread the news online.
Send the press release out to media right after the ceremony concludes. Next, post the release and any project renderings and photos of the event on your client’s website, then share the URL on social media for the public to learn about the news.

Congratulations, you just ran a successful press announcement. Now, get ready for the next one!

Take Your Dog to Work (Every) Day

By Marissa Jansen, Communications Management Assistant

Tell me: what’s better than walking through your front door after a bad day at work only to be greeted by the one and only companion who makes a bad day better? No, I’m not talking about your child, roommate or spouse, I’m talking about your beloved canine friend.

Dogs are quite possibly the happiest and most consistent companions in our lives. Without question, they will always be glad to see you regardless of your gloomy mood after a long day at the office. Imagine if they were with you throughout the day, constantly wagging their tail, cuddling at your feet and awarding you the title of “Most Popular Employee of the Week.”

This past Friday, June 26th, marked the 17th annual event, Take Your Dog to Work Day. This day was created by Pet Sitters International (PSI) to celebrate these wonderful companions while also promoting their adoptions. Though “Dog” is implemented in the title of this special day, PSI doesn’t discriminate against other animals—the week prior was Take Your Pet to Work Week. From birds to bunnies and cats to clown fish, an estimated 10,000 companies nation-wide have participated—you can bet Hirons was one of them!

It’s no secret that there are many positive aspects to having pets around the office. If not for the many studies conducted testing the benefits of their presence, than the increasing number of offices creating a “pet friendly” workspace should give it away. There are even pet therapy organizations that volunteer their pups to improve the moods of people all over the country by taking them to nursing homes, hospitals, schools and more.

According to PetMD, reduced levels of stress, encouragement of longer work hours, and increased camaraderie are simply a few of the benefits we receive from having man’s best friend hanging around at work.

Although June 26th was celebrated as national Take Your Dog to Work day, here at Hirons, every day is take your dog to work day. Our office is very pet friendly—in fact, most days you can expect to see at least one adorable dog running around (shout-out to our regulars Hank, Maddie, Charlie and Matt Damon).

We find that whenever you hear the lively sound of dog tags jingling throughout the office, morale is higher, people are friendlier and overall, everyone’s in a better mood! So even though Take Your Dog to Work day only comes once a year, Hirons recommends you try to make it a regular occurrence because let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy seeing the furry faces of our fabulous canine friends?


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

By Chloe Lyzun, Management Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Brands Were the Real Stars of ‘Jurassic World’

By Maggie Stephens, New Business Intern

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

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

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

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

The hotel of Isla Nublar.

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

Because what theme park doesn’t have one?

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Meghan Hamm, Digital Strategist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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









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

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

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


Bike to Work Day

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

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

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

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

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

Sustainability Matters at Hirons

By Luke Woody-Fehribach, Associate Art Director

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

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

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

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

Keeping an Eye on Those Headlines

By Christine Todd, Account Coordinator

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

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

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

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

For example:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Intern Spotlight: Kenyatta White


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

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

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

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

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

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