Three PR Lessons Learned from Boilermaker Football

Photo by Chris Costidakis

By Megan Auger, Communication Management Intern

To me, being a Boilermaker is the best thing in the world. But some students of Purdue University may not feel the same way each Saturday between the months of August and November.

With an abysmal 9-35 record since I arrived 4 years ago at Purdue, Boilermaker football has been struggling to come out with a winning season (According to SB Nation, the past 4 years have had the worst win percentage in Purdue’s football history). While ticket sales are struggling and many students are beginning to give up on supporting the team, there are some major communication and PR lessons that can be taken from this crisis that focus on simple ways to continue to support the team, or client.

  1. Never show discredit to the “team”

Even though the team has been struggling the past few seasons, the athletic department has never done anything to show any lack of support for the program. (If anything, they are supporting it more than ever, with a new football performance complex, renovation of the stadium and newly designed Drew Brees academic center) No matter what is going on within the organization, or how the organization is being viewed from the public, it is important to always support the team (or client) and continue to represent them in a positive light. Purdue football marketing efforts, events and promotions are still in full swing and have been each season.

If there is an organizational issue and an adjustment is made, it is imperative to support the decision of the organization and move forward with the change. For example, with head coach Darrell Hazell being asked to resign, Purdue Athletics has fully extended their support to the football team and new interim coach for the remainder of the season.

  1. Collaborating many parts of the “team”

To improve and get better results, collaborating with different parts of the team will ensure success in the future. For example, combining offense with special teams to get better field positioning, or joining the digital department with communications management to help a client improve their social media and online needs. By combining teams like this, it creates more strategic positioning for who you are representing in order to help them in the best and most effective way possible (Collaboration makes the world go round here at Hirons!).

  1. Pay attention to the stats

Statistics are arguably the most important factor in improving your team’s game. Results are essential to review how your game plan worked out, and these findings let you know what needs to be focused on more to ensure success next time. To improve in a football game, you must know your stats, and in an agency’s case, reviewing the “stats” on the campaign will give results as to what strategies worked best. For both a sports team and for everyday agency life, the stats are crucial to strategizing on what the best “game plan” is.

 

Good move, Twitter

Ethan Thomas, Account Coordinator

Hey Twitter, I appreciate what you’re doing. And I’m not alone.

As I explained in What’s Happening, Twitter?, the social media giant is losing active users to Instagram, Snapchat and others. However, there is hope for Twitter in the live streaming market, especially with its rights to stream NFL games.

Well, Thursday Night Football on Twitter is killing it! CBS reported overall lower ratings for the network during each game, but our good friend Twitter is picking up the slack. Just over 2 million viewers chose Twitter over their cable provider when watching the NFL’s second non-Sunday football game.

While the sheer number of viewers was a pleasant surprise, I was also impressed by the targeted advertising that most live streaming services fill with a blank screen (looking at you, Xfinity). I was honestly worried it would be the same two advertisements played over and over again ad nauseam. In reality, it was a pleasant mix of ads that didn’t make me question if I was watching the right channel or not.

While the entire broadcast is technically being run by CBS, Twitter has managed to piggyback onto the opportunity to act as its own television network.

Let’s think about this:

  1. Twitter did not have to do the heavy lifting of dealing with announcers or a broadcast team.
  2. Twitter users do not have to pay a monthly subscription fee to watch.
  3. Advertising appears to target the consumers watching.

Not saying that running a highly efficient live stream isn’t difficult, but let’s be real: Twitter is getting the better deal in this arrangement.

After watching, the first thing I thought of was how unimpressed I was with Facebook’s attempt at streaming live sports. If you don’t recall, Facebook was the main provider of coverage of all preliminary games in USA men’s basketball’s Olympics quest. The system seemed flawed, rushed and overall not ready for use by your everyday Facebook user.

Twitter isn’t just a social media network like Snapchat or Instagram. Twitter is becoming THE online media network. As an avid sports fan, I’m honestly impressed with Twitter’s streaming capabilities. As a member of the advertising community, I’m extremely interested in getting more involved.

Success Comes in all Sizes

By Malcom Weaver, Communication Management Intern 

We have all heard the saying “teamwork makes the dream work.” A quote that lets us all know that with a great team you can accomplish the necessary goals and objectives that you create for yourself.

Teams come in all different sizes. What size team do you prefer to work with? Does this size help your organization complete goals and objectives in a timely manner?

The goal of an advertising agency is to provide professional services to desired clients. An agency must produce, manage and complete messages that bring awareness and ultimately consumers to the clients’ brand. Strategically, there are many ways to accomplish this. Operationally, there are different team sizes based on the agency. Simply enough, agencies are categorized as small, medium or large. In these categories, small agencies are more likely to work with smaller clients, while larger agencies are more apt to assist larger clients. Below is a breakdown of how many employees will typically work at each size of agency:

  • Small Agency – 1-10 Employees
  • Medium Agency – 11 – 75 Employees
  • Large Agency – 75 + Employees

* According to AgencyFinder.com

From my internship experience, I’ve had the opportunity to intern at both a small and medium sized agency. The small agency consisted of five full-time employees and a rotation of three to four interns each semester. Hirons consists of 30+ employees, not to mention the office therapist and social media icon, Hank the Golden Retriever (Check out @hankathirons on Instagram!).  Both experiences are providing me with insight on some key differences in agency sizes and their effects on project/campaign execution.

At both sizes, I have had the ability to create stronger relationships with my coworkers. With larger agencies having a staggering 75 or more employees, it becomes increasingly difficult to develop those relationships. A positive and motivating working environment are always a positive. Agencies thrive off the ability of great teamwork, and great teamwork has a direct correlation to strong relationships.

Each full-time employee at the smaller agency had a very specific role. Those roles included: Account Manager, Creative Director, Communications Director, and Digital Production. Each role essentially ran a department of one. While they did have the support of three to four interns, it left them shorthanded when client deadlines all seemed to line up on the same day.

With more of an advantage of the medium size agency in Hirons, you are able to utilize the advantage of having departments (accounts, creative, digital, business development, media) and creating small teams within those departments to complete projects in a timely manner. Hirons gives clients access to our management team who distributes tasks to those various departments to work towards overall success and completion of client projects.

As for large agencies, I am not aware of that experience. However, working in small and medium agencies has given me the perspective to understand how important teamwork is to the success of an agency. Although I have been very pleased with my involvement in small and medium agencies, there is still a sense of curiosity to understand the ins and outs of a large agency as well. As for Hirons, teamwork has a large influence on the success of the company. With the dedication of each employee it allows Hirons to take on large name clients and provide top of the line service.

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 – FinishLine.com‎

Ad www.finishline.com/WomensRunningShoes

4.4  rating for finishline.com

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)

Ad www.finishline.com/WomensRunningShoes

4.4  rating for finishline.com

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 “www.finishline.com” 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
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pantone-studio/id329515634

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?

twitterblog

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.