Employee Highlight: Nick Reese

A graphic designer, problem solver and translator are all roles played by Nick Reese, Hirons’ newest creative assistant. His job is to interpret and visually convey an idea, message, brand or product in the most effective way possible. From complex campaign concepts down to simple fact sheets, Nick helps create a wide range of digital and physical visuals for clients. We interviewed the most recent member of the Hirons family to delve deeper into his creative mind and uncover more about his passion for art – at the office and outside of work.

 

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

I initially graduated from Park Tudor here in Indianapolis. I went on to attend High Point University in North Carolina, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in graphic design and digital communications with a minor in photography. In school, ads were my favorite projects. I love the overarching structure filled with intricacies that branding provides. I also love the emotion an ad can stir within a person. An image, combined with a well-crafted message and intricate thought process, is all you need to make someone grin from ear to ear or cause their stomach to drop. That’s beautiful to me.

I landed my job here at Hirons thanks to someone from RePro Graphix who passed along several names of agencies in the area. I ended up interviewing with Tom and the creative team. Shortly after, I became part of the Hirons family.

 

What are specializations/most important tools of the trade?

Creative is a bridge – and not just between two people. The work you present needs to speak to the client. You have to structure all of the input you receive into a path for the client to follow or a direction for them to go. For them, an adjective becomes something that performs. The client or account manager will use certain terms in an attempt to convey their vision to you. It is important to dissect those words and fully understand what the client is trying to achieve so you can help them reach the goals they have set for the project as well as identify potential flaws and suggest revisions.

 

As a graphic designer, what characteristics do you need to be successful in the advertising industry?

In this industry, it is important to understand that while your art may look good, it may not perform well. Thus, you need to have thick skin in order to handle criticism. The ability to remove yourself from a situation or project and seek out another point of view is crucial, so it is also important to have humility.

 

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

I collect sneakers – any type of shoe really. Right now, I have around 200 pairs. I’ve been obsessed with them forever. I have notebooks from the third grade that are filled with shoe drawings. Looking back, my obsession with shoes started with a basic understanding of design in terms of form and function. The marriage between the two is the basis of design – something that is both eye-catching and serves a purpose.

 

When and where do you have your best ideas?

Honestly, I have no specific time or place. Sometimes I’m in my car, and an idea hits me out of nowhere. Other times, I’m hunkered down at my desk, and they come to me as expected.

 

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

My first pitch was a whirlwind. I had only been with Hirons for a few months, so I was still new to advertising as a whole. Seeing the details and nuances in prepping and pitching and watching it all unfold made me feel like I was watching a choreographed dance by the end. I learned a ton working under Pam and John, and it was amazing to see Tom present. He had everyone on the edge of their seats.

 

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

I am a firm believer that all problems stem from miscommunication, and I see myself as a translator. In the world of advertising, we have to take the time to study human behavior and learn what works and what does not. We also have the difficult task of capturing a client’s vision and making sure it is well-received by the masses in the most effective way possible. If a problem doing so arises, I keep peeling back layers until I eventually find a communication disconnect.

 

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

The “9-to-5” concept does not apply to the agency world. Here, the work gets done when it gets done. It’s a fast-paced environment, and there is no hand-holding.

 

What is the most meaningful part of your job?

Right now, it’s learning. I’m trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible so I can eventually slay this world of creative direction and feel proud of the impact I am making. Luckily, I have great co-workers who have years of experience from which I can learn.

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

By Hannah Riffle, Communication Management Intern 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Many Friends Do You Have?

By Tom Hirons, CEO 

Robin Dunbar makes a compelling case in his TEDx talk that the human mind has the capacity to manage about 150 meaningful relationships at a time. It has become known as the Dunbar number. Hence the question, how many friends do you have?

When Hirons started working with Ruler Foods, a division of Kroger, we knew that Facebook would be a critical platform and that building a network of individuals who like and follow the page would be one measure of success.

In less than a year and a half, Ruler Foods’ page likes went from 0 to 35,579. And they are still growing. That’s good for Ruler Foods and good for Hirons.

President Trump has 22.3 million followers on Twitter. I have 98. But how many friends?

Dunbar views friendships in a series of concentric circles. At the center are your closest friends, primarily comprised of a few family members. For most people, this may number five to seven.

In the next circle are those 10-15 individuals you might describe as best friends. These are people with whom you communicate on a regular basis.

In the third group, Dunbar describes individuals whom you would be genuinely happy to see if you bump into them at the airport or grocery store.

Beyond that are those who might be on your Christmas card list, with whom you might communicate once a year.

In total, 150. Curiously, the math is reliable. Through centuries, across technologies and across cultures, the number is generally around 150. The average number of Facebook friends? About 150. Dunbar holds that this is based on the capacity of the human mind. It’s how we are wired.

Why is this relevant?

Hirons does extensive grassroots and grasstops outreach. Knowing the Dunbar number and other principles, we can more accurately project the number of meaningful contacts we must make to achieve the reach and results we desire over time. We shape content to significantly increase the likelihood that it will be shared.

It also is relevant as we know the capacity of the computer extends far beyond 150. And through customer relationship management (CRM), we can help clients behave like friends, greatly enhancing sales and customer relationships.

Yet the most powerful application might be for each of us in our own lives. Knowing the natural limitations of our capacity, we might work to push the boundaries of those concentric circles. Imagine taking the time to communicate and expand your list of best friends, or those with whom you maintain regular contact. Imagine never avoiding eye contact or hoping someone you recognize doesn’t see you. I write this hoping I’m not the only one who has done this and equally hoping I won’t do it again.

If I can only have 150 friends, let them all be good friends.

Business Development in about 500 Words

By Mike Murtaugh, Business Development Manager

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

So what does that mean?

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

Are we sales?

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

Is that it?

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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.

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!

Your Editor, Your Friend

By Madelyn Morgan, Senior Editor & Writer

We editors get a bad rap. Often seen as shrews or egotists who delight in the mistakes of others, we are reviled as small-minded perfectionists who can’t see the forest for the trees (or the beauty of your prose through your typos).

But really, we are your allies. Our purpose, like yours, is communication. And your non sequiturs and misplaced punctuation cause stutter steps for your readers, which carries the risk that they might not bother to read further.

We can’t risk that in our business.

Back in the day

I started in newspapers. When I enrolled in college (go Buckeyes), I thought I would become a reporter. I liked gathering facts and arranging them in readable form. I thought I had some writing flair and a good vocabulary. But my first internship was as a copy editor at The Detroit News, and I loved it.

Back in the glory days, even small newspapers had a staff of copy editors (generally five to 10) who were arrayed around a rim of desks. Each would edit a reporter’s story and write a headline for it, then move on to the next one. The stories went to a slot person, generally the best copy editor, who sat in the center of the rim. He or she would do a final read, tweak and send the stories to the composing room to be set on the page. Then we would proof the pages. This process hardly varied when we went from hard type to computers.

Now, of course, newspapers are struggling, and copy desks were the first to go. There was always a bit of a rivalry, or at least a little tension, between copy editors and reporters, some of whom resented any fiddling with their copy (for many of the reasons cited above). Today, reporters are often in charge of editing their own stories, and anyone who thinks that’s a solution should take a look at their news sites and see the typos and lazy headlines.

Set adrift

As an editor, working as a team is ideal – nothing gets through that net! But most of us work singly now, and we carry the anxiety of knowing that we are the last filter – if an error gets past us, it’s out in the world for someone else to catch. And people who like to point out your mistakes are generally not at all collegial.

I am a writer as well as an editor. I love someone to read my stuff, correct mistakes (yes, I make them too) and offer suggestions. There’s a fellow I turn to here when he’s not too busy. If he can’t, I run it by my husband, who ­– as a former newspaper editor – has a keen eye. And he never blinks.

I’m not asking you to hug your editor. Just realize that he or she is really working on your behalf. I’ve got a good crew here who always say “thank you.” One even calls me her work mom, which I take as a compliment – because just like a mother, I want you to look your best.

 

Yep, It’s Still All About Whom You Know

By Ethan Thomas, Communications Management Intern

In just six short months I will be graduating alongside, give or take, 1.6 million undergraduate students attending colleges and universities across the United States. That’s an overall 9 percent increase since 2005 and an incredibly terrifying number of Millennial 20-somethings… but The Institution of Education Sciences says that having some form of a degree in higher education does show a higher percentage of employment than those without. Well, that’s fantastic! The question is: Are all 1.6 million of us going to find one of those jobs? To answer that, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that those with a college degree only have an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. That’s 10 points lower than those without a degree. OK, I’m starting to like the odds a little better now.

“So I am about to graduate with a degree. Still, with all of these other college grads, how the heck am I supposed to separate myself with a simple resume and cover letter?” Thanks for asking. While I am merely a college senior, I have to tell you, a big piece to this puzzle is networking.

First, we have to be honest with ourselves and ask a few questions. Have you been going to the career fairs at your school? Have you contacted your school about alumni in the field you’re interested in? Have you had any internships? All of these are opportunities to meet more professionals to expand your network and networking are an absolute game changer in terms of finding a job after graduation.

Let’s talk about what networking is not. Networking is not adding more friends or followers on your personal social media. Kudos to you if you get 300 plus likes on an Instagram photo, but that isn’t really helping your cause in finding a job.

Networking is not just handing out your resume or business card and hoping to hear back. You can do the same thing online and will probably have the same negative outcome.

Networking is not only meeting professionals so they can give you a job. Entrepreneur magazine says that networking is how you as an individual can add more value to more people in a shorter amount of time. If you’re trying to network for any other reason, you’re missing the point.

Networking is about building positive and influential relationships. Opportunities arise from these; that’s the real trick. The more impactful professional relationships you have, the more likely your name may come up for a job opportunity. At the end of the day, that’s what you’re looking for.

So, get out there. Join the national society or organization of the industry you’re interested in, attend a career fair, find an internship, or just grab coffee with someone. Do everything you can to meet more professionals for the right reason. Show them that the relationship is a two-way street and you’re not just poaching them for a potential job. It may take some time, but the right opportunity will come your way.

 

Intern Spotlight: Ethan Thomas

INTERN SPOTLIGHT

Name: Ethan Thomas
Internship title: Communications Management Assistant

Why did you choose Hirons & Company for an internship?

My original intention of choosing Hirons lies in the Business Program at Butler University, where I am currently a senior studying Marketing and Strategic Communications. Go Dawgs! Butler’s College of Business requires each student to complete two internships during their junior or senior years to graduate. While an internship is required, I wanted to participate in one that would reflect an environment I would like to enter after I graduate, cater toward what I was studying and would push me to produce my best work. After doing a little research on Indianapolis companies that had a strong presence in advertising and public relations, it was a no-brainer that Hirons was the place I wanted to be.

What do you hope to accomplish during your internship?

I have several goals for my time at Hirons. First, I want to learn as much as I possibly can about advertising and public relations. At Hirons, you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by intelligent and influential members of both fields, and I want to take every opportunity I can get to learn more. Next, I want to walk away with tangible projects that I have had a direct impact on. This is something most internships don’t offer, and Hirons separates itself from its peers by offering this to its interns. Finally, I want to embody Hirons culture to be bold, and always outthink, outwork and outperform with everything I do.

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

I have been lucky enough to have previously work at three different internships throughout my college career. From these opportunities, I have gained valuable knowledge, experience and exposure to marketing research, marketing analytics, event planning, digital marketing, organizational behavior and management, and strategic planning through execution based on client needs.

What kind of life experience do you bring to us?

College is not always about class. I am proud of the organizations I am a part of and I believe they help me bring something different to the table at Hirons. As a sophomore, I was the president of the Men’s Volleyball Club sports team. My junior year, I held the Social Chairman position for my fraternity and as a senior, I currently sit on the executive committee for my fraternity. These roles have all impacted me in ways that have helped me grow to become a better leader and follower.

What are your first impressions of Hirons?

Through the hiring process and after my first few days in the office, I have to say Hirons is one fantastic place. After spending a good amount of time in a cubicle, the open concept layout of the office is very refreshing. Everyone is also extremely friendly and willing to explain exactly what they’re working on. As a new intern, I strongly appreciate it. Hirons has that perfect balance of working hard and having a lot of fun. That’s a rare thing to find and I’m very happy and thankful to be a part of it.

Fun facts about yourself:

Standing at roughly 6’5”, many assume I was or am a basketball or football player. There have been a few strange instances where I have been downtown during the NFL Combine and was mistaken for a rookie. In reality, I was actually a volleyball player back at my high school in Oak Park, IL (Fun fact, it’s the same town Ernest Hemingway grew up in.) I almost decided to play volleyball in college. The biggest issue was that academics were not at the forefront of any of the schools I would have attended. Also, there isn’t the glitz and glamour of a potential professional career playing the sport in the states. Thankfully for the better judgment of my family and friends, I stuck to the student route and am much happier just talking about my volleyball glory days.

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?