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!

Intern Spotlight: Kenyatta White

INTERN SPOTLIGHT Kenyatta-Photo

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.

Why Agency Life is the Best Life

By Blair Mulzer, Account Coordinator

As my one-year anniversary at Hirons draws near, I have begun to think back on the past year and all its significances. It’s been a period of many firsts for me – my first year out of college, married, living on my own and in a new town and working in my chosen career.

One of the most noteworthy realization’s I’ve come to is how much more I have learned about public relations in the past 10 months at Hirons than in my four years at college. Looking back, I know I made the right decision to start my PR career working at a PR agency versus in-house.

I’ve heard it said that the experience and knowledge gained from working three years at an agency is equivalent to working several years at a company. In view of this past year, this rings true. While at Hirons, I have been exposed to a wide variety of clients, brands, strategies and people and I believe there is a tremendous breadth and depth of experiences to be gained working at an agency. Let me share with you some of the reasons why I believe agency life is the best life.

1. When starting out in your career, it is ESSENTIAL to have career mentors. I have friends who are the sole marketing, PR or communications person at their company – that’s great, if you know it all, but if you are just starting out how will you learn best practices?

The senior account managers here at Hirons are awesome. They have been a great resource for helping me think through the best strategies for different projects and campaigns, how to work and talk with clients, how to better write for various mediums like video and radio scripts, speeches, new business proposals, specialized pitches, PR and communication plans, etc. and more. If I ever have feel an inkling of doubt or have a question, I am positive that someone here has the answer for me…

2. And not just an answer, but the BEST answer. Another great aspect of working with an agency is that you’re working with a team. I have some bad ideas and I have some great ideas, but on my own I am quite limited. However, when working with a team the possibilities are endless. Every account has a manager, a coordinator or two, and a creative designer. We joke that teamwork makes the dream work, but in all seriousness it takes a team to carry out all the details of a successful campaign.

3. Want experience planning and executing a press conference? How about staging a photo shoot or video shoot? Maybe take part in a branding workshop or facilitate a focus group? Participating in these opportunities and others are always made available to staff who want to gain new experiences. It’s great because my clients’ current projects and campaigns don’t limit me from gaining new experiences. We are always welcome to lend a hand on other projects.

4. It never gets old. I love that every week, month and year looks different for me. With having a variety of clients, I get to think and work in many different ways. One day I’m focusing on B2B messaging and strategy for a company in the UK and the next I’m working on public outreach for youth in Indianapolis. My exposure isn’t constrained to one industry or location, I get pulled in many different directions, making me a more well-rounded person, and eventually, ace of the trade.

5. Lastly, you know way more than you think. Because I am often moving at a hundred miles an hour, I often forget how much I’ve really accomplished and learned in such a short amount of time. I cannot tell you how many press release I’ve written, media phone call’s I’ve made, press events I’ve put on, hits I’ve obtained, or projects and campaigns I’ve initiated and completed in the past year. It’s crazy to think back on all that I have done just 10 months out of college – Oh, and with the help of an incredible team, won my first PRSA Pinnacle Award.

An in all, agency life is exhilarating, addicting, and incredibly rewarding. If you’re graduating soon or thinking about making a career change, I advise you to heavily consider working at an agency – especially Hirons.

From the Big Apple to Indy, How PR differs in the Markets

By Elizabeth Friendland

Throughout my decade of experience in advertising and public relations, I’ve worked in both New York (literally on Madison Avenue, a la Don Draper) and Indianapolis. The former always seems to impress clients and bosses, and is usually followed by a wide-eyes stare and a “So what’s it like?

Honestly? Working in the media capital of the world is a lot like working in good ‘ol Indy.

Clients are demanding. Deadlines are tight. The workday creeps into the nights and weekends. Account management and creative continue to disagree. Budgets run over. RFPs are both full of dread and excitement.

That’s not say there weren’t a few differences – but they might not all be what you’d expect.

1. Media relations didn’t get any easier.

Often, clients (and sometimes bosses) assume that by virtue of living in New York City, a PR professional is better equipped to know the right journalists (and therefore produce great placements). I’ve landed clients in the biggest outlets you can name, from The New York Times to Vogue to the Today Show — and it wasn’t because I had a 212 area code.

Rather, I got these placements through traditional research; I zeroed in on a contact (producer, reporter, booker) that I thought would be receptive, I contacted them with a super-targeted and personalized pitch regarding a truly compelling story, and I followed up.  Sure, occasionally I’d grab drinks or lunch with a writer, but that usually happened long after we solidified a working relationship through phone and email contact. I can assure you no one checked my zip code when deciding whether to run a story or not.

2. The industry environment was actually less competitive.

I’ve found that smaller markets, such as Indy, are actually much more competitive and cutthroat than larger markets like New York. In Indianapolis and other similarly sized cities, there are a limited number of clients that can afford the services of agencies; therefore, we’re all trying that much harder to vie for a smallish pool of business. For professionals, finding a job can be extremely tough – there are very few positions to go around, so agencies can be hyper-selective.

In New York, it seems nearly everyone works in or around the advertising industry, and jobs are plentiful. While it’s easier to get a foot in the door and obtain a job offer, the stakes are higher; there’s a seemingly endless supply of New York transplants waiting behind you to take the job you won’t (or can’t) do. While agencies in New York do have egos, it doesn’t feel as cutthroat as a small town; there’s plenty of business to pass around.

3. Clients took more risks.

Yes, it’s a cliché that Midwestern owned or based businesses are more conservative, but I’ve experienced this to be true. While few clients, regardless of geography, are flexible enough to totally run with any crazy idea an agency pitches its way, my New York clients seemed to have a larger capacity for risk. Perhaps this reflected a more liberal culture, or perhaps it was solely a business decision – to compete in a larger market, you sometimes have to be over-the-top to attract attention.

4. Salaries were inflated (but it didn’t help).

I remember sitting in the president’s office when she gave me graduate for my first big girl job offer. She asked what I wanted to be paid, and I told her a number nearly ten thousand more than I was making in Indianapolis as a receptionist/PR assistant. As I steadied myself for her shock and horror, she laughed and exclaimed, “Oh, we can do much better than that!” and then threw out a number more than double what I had been making. I had visions of myself living in a penthouse apartment, rolling around in a bathtub filled with dollar bills. I was rich!

That didn’t last long. The reality of New York City rent, utilities and elevated prices on everything from food to toilet paper set in, and within a month I was phoning home for cash infusions. While my salary would have placed me solidly in the upper middle class in Indianapolis, I was struggling to cover the very basics in New York.

5. The pace was unrelenting.

There’s a reason Sinatra sang, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” New York doesn’t hold your hand. I found myself in the office before 6 a.m. and heading home close to midnight. I’m not sure I took an actual lunch hour the entire time I worked there (but man, do I miss deli deliveries!). While my bosses and supervisors were all lovely people and supportive in their own way, there was not the kind of mothering or hand-holding that is truer to the Midwestern spirit. “Figure it out!” was the refrain I heard time and time again.

Mastering the Art of Multitasking

By Chloe Lyzun, Management Coordinator

As I write this I’m in the middle of scheduling meetings, facilitating the movement of projects between account management and the creative department, compulsively checking my email and editing a new business proposal. It may sound like a nightmare, but mastering the art of multitasking has allowed me more opportunities than I ever thought possible. I quickly learned towards the end of my college career that I was not prepared to commit to one career path for the rest of my life. Thankfully, Hirons trusted me enough to give me all sorts of different duties.

While it’s helpful to care about and see the value in all of your jobs, it’s important that you don’t give all of yourself to just one task. This blog, like every Buzzfeed article circling your Facebook timeline, provides a nice, neat list of how I stay sane despite having a dozen daily responsibilities.

Don’t get overwhelmed. The opportunity to take a breather is highly sought after in this business. I’m not going to get a thing done if my brain feels like it’s trying to go 8 different directions. It’s OK to take a deep breath and relax your mind for a second.

Make a list of attainable goals. If someone asks me to edit a 30 page focus group report, I have to break it down into smaller pieces. It’s a lot more fulfilling to check off six 5-page segments at a time.

Organize your time. More often than not, people give me things to read, edit, write, etc. that they want back “by the end of the day”. It’s usually reasonable, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time. Which leads me to my next point…

ALWAYS COMMUNICATE. Every crisis can be avoided if there’s plenty of communication. If I really am too busy, I’m not afraid to say no. It’s better than turning to my coworker at 4:55 and saying, “Yeah, this isn’t going to get done today.” Even the best multi-tasker has a breaking point. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Be a good writer. With as many little projects as I’m involved in, I don’t have time to write something shoddy and implement someone else’s changes later. We’re in the business of communications, yet I feel as though writing quality is the first thing sacrificed when people are pressed for time. If you have time to do something wrong twice, you have time to do it right once.

Listen to good music. I guess this one is a personal preference, as I’m sure there are plenty of people who prefer to work in silence. I’ll never understand that. I’d much rather zone out to Pink Floyd’s Animals than listen to my keys click as I race towards my deadline. Do I need to submit 15 purchase orders? Walk the Moon is going to help me power through. Need me crank out revisions of a 40-slide PowerPoint? Start up some James Taylor and watch me go.

And finally…

Smile. If you’re stressed out, chances are your coworkers are, too. Smile, and you’re making work just a little brighter. I’m sure that no one can say their office has too much light.

Hirons Welcomes Six New Hires: Agency’s digital and Creative Departments Continue to Grow

Hirons welcomes six new hires
Agency’s digital and creative departments continue to grow

Indianapolis — Hirons Advertising and Public Relations has made six strategic hires in multiple departments to bolster an already talented staff.

John Molloy, Carrie Marsteller and Luke Woody-Fehribach join Hirons’ creative department.

Molloy joins Hirons as executive creative director and brings a wealth of experience on regional, national and international brands along with numerous local and regional ADDY awards. His work has been showcased in such prestigious annuals as Communication Arts Advertising and Design, LogoLounge and Graphics.

Marsteller makes her return to Hirons as an associate art director. A graduate of the Herron School of Art and Design, she spent her senior year interning at Hirons before relocating to New York City. There, she worked for many well-known clients including Bayer Diabetes and Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol with brands such as Smirnoff, Ciroc and Crown Royal.

New associate art director Woody-Fehribach comes to Hirons as a recent graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising and creative development. Woody-Fehribach interned with Barn-Find Productions (where he won a creative Emmy for his photography work), Redwall LIVE and Cardinal Communications.

Hirons also welcomes Jake Miller as a senior producer, Meghan Hamm as digital media strategist, and Chloe Lyzun as management coordinator.

As a senior public relations consultant and producer, Miller brings his award-winning talents as a former TV news anchor and reporter to Hirons. As a journalist, Miller has covered stories from natural and man-made disasters to the Super Bowl. A native Hoosier, Miller studied telecommunications, marketing and anthropology at Indiana University.

Hamm will serve Hirons as digital media strategist — a new position on the Hirons roster. She will be focusing on digital strategy in marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Hirons, Hamm managed online marketing at an ecommerce company. Hamm is a graduate of Butler University, where she received a double bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing/international business.

Lyzun has been promoted from intern to management coordinator. A graduate of Butler University with a degree in public relations and advertising, she previously interned with Live Nation, MOKB Presents and Do317 prior to joining Hirons.

“We are thrilled to add outstanding talent to the Hirons team as our year comes to a close,” said Tom Hirons, president and CEO of Hirons. “2015 will undoubtedly bring bold work as a result of our brilliant and enthusiastic staff.”

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About Hirons

Hirons Advertising and Public Relations, established in 1978 by Tom Hirons, is headquartered in Indianapolis and is ranked as both a top 100 advertising and top 100 PR firm in the U.S. Hirons is a digital leader in advertising, public relations, public affairs and media buying. Hirons’ clients include leading private, public and nonprofit sector organizations locally and nationally. Hirons is an employee-owned company. For more information, find Hirons on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Hirons provides a collegial work environment fueled by innovation and passion. Peer mentoring and collaboration inform everything we do, from conceptualizing to presenting award-winning solutions to our clients. Hirons employees are more than just worker bees; they’re actual owners of the company. In 2013, Hirons transferred ownership of the company to a trust on behalf of its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. By giving our employees the keys to the agency (literally and figuratively), our team is uniquely motivated to produce the very best work possible — after all, we own the place.

To learn more about potential employment opportunities, visit http://hirons.wpengine.com/contact/career-opportunities/.

Post-Grad Tips from a Young PR Pro

By Kendall Bybee, Account Manager

My first bit of advice to all you young PR or advertising professionals out there who are on the brink of graduation and surely chomping at the bit to start your job search (sarcasm) would be to take a big, deep breath. Although the “real world” seems uncomfortably daunting, I promise it’s truly not as painful as some people make it sound.

With my six month work anniversary approaching, I’m now able to look back and feel semi-nostalgic about that crazy and often unpredictable time in my life when I was eagerly, and sometimes desperately, searching for a job.

Here are a few tips I learned along the way:

Don’t be afraid to fail.
Yes, my first tidbit of advice is cliché and something your mom probably tells you every day, but I’m here to remind you once more not to be afraid to fail. The process of attaining your first real job out of college can be pretty intimidating. I mean, let’s be honest here. And it’s possible your dream job is going to turn you down. But in my experience, that only makes you push harder to get to where you want to go.

You know that job you don’t think you’re qualified for? Apply anyway. No one ever succeeded without taking chances.

Find a mentor and network like your life depends on it.
Finding a seasoned professional that shares the same passion as you is beneficial on so many levels. Not only does it allow you to communicate with someone who has already been through the trenches and can support you through the process, but it can also help grow your network. I’m sure some of the individuals I’ve considered mentors don’t even realize how much influence they’ve had on me and how many connections they’ve helped me build. And if you’re smart, you’ll stay in touch with those people who have helped you. Many of my mentors are now my colleagues in the industry whom I continue to learn and grow from.

Brand yourself.
You are your own brand. We tell brands’ stories for a living and sometimes we forget that we also have to tell our own story. How are you supposed to properly give advice to clients on how to effectively promote their brand if you aren’t abiding by that advice yourself? Your personal brand starts with your actions and behaviors and dwindles all the way down to the way you dress, how you express yourself on social sites, in job interviews and to clients.

And as a young pro trying to win over an employer, your portfolio is a vital aspect of your brand. It’s never too soon to start building one either. Weebly, Wix and WordPress are user-friendly platforms you can use to begin that process.

Do your research.
There is literally nothing more embarrassing than an employer asking you a question about their agency and you not knowing the answer. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This will also come in handy when you’re searching for agencies and companies you would potentially like to work for. In my non-expert opinion, your first job is extremely important and you should actually like the clients and brands you work for, so doing your research beforehand will help you in the long run.

Side note: Whether you want to believe it or not, research is a large part of everything we do in PR and advertising, so you better get used to it anyways.

Work hard.
No one owes you anything and certainly no one is going to hand you a job undeservingly. We work in an industry that is becoming more competitive every day and it’s your job to prove to employers that you’re worth the risk. Why should they hire you? What can you bring to the table that your competitor can’t? (Legitimately have answers to those questions.)

Also, don’t forget: We work in PR—meaning a good, genuine conversation with an employer can go a very long way. If your resume states that you have killer interpersonal skills, then you better illustrate that in your interview.

Lastly, be confident. If you’re not confident in your abilities then how is an employer supposed to be? Believe in yourself first, the rest will follow.

 

Employee Ownership: How to Attract the Very Best People

By Jim Parham, Chief Operating Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intern Spotlight: Emma Miller

Intern Spotlight: Emma Miller

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Name: Emma Miller
School: Indiana University, Fairbanks School of Public Health
Major: MS in Biostatistics, MPH in Epidemiology
Internship title: Communications Management Assistant
Hobbies: Hanging out with friends, traveling, watching mindless television shows and playing soccer

Duties at Hirons:

  • Facilitate communications for public relations and advertising initiatives to ensure timely response to clients, task coverage, data management, quality control, and intra-company cooperation
  • Draft scopes of work, project timelines, meeting agendas, communications plans, press releases, messaging, and collateral copy for client accounts
  • Track media coverage and follow up with media contacts to ensure placement of client pieces
  • Worked as a member of the branding team for Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management to develop a presentation, talking points, social media strategy, and messaging for the new STEM focus

Favorite part about interning at Hirons:

A small company like Hirons facilitates teamwork and nurtures friendships among co-workers. I have had the pleasure of working with a number of talented individuals, all of whom bring a unique perspective to Hirons and the creative process. This has enabled me to see how the same task can be approached from a variety of different ways. The people here seem to really care about identifying your talents and integrating them into the work that you do. At the end of the day, we support each other at work and in our personal lives. You never feel alone here!

Also, we are a dog friendly office (and this girl loves dogs). There are usually two to three dogs roaming the office at any given time, which really helps the office mood during high-stress times of trying to get a project out the door. Our furry friends remind us to take a break every now and again.

What have you learned during your time at Hirons? How does this opportunity relate to your career goals?

The skills I have cultivated at Hirons are highly transferable to the public health field. Being able to effectively convey your thoughts through written and verbal communication means that you will be successful in the business world regardless of your role. Most importantly, I have learned that you should treat yourself as your number one client to ensure that your actions are conducive to your end goals.

Most difficult aspect of the job:

Omitting the Oxford comma.