Cracker Barrel’s Hard Lesson

By Emily Hayden, Account Manager

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is learning a hard lesson in social media best practices this week.

A month ago, an Indiana man named Brad left a simple post on the wall of the corporate Facebook page, “Why did you fire my wife?” There was nothing else. Initially, just a few responses to the original post added more details, including that Brad’s wife (now identified as Nanette) had been let go on his birthday after 11 years of service.

Once these details came out, the story went viral, and internet trolls have now taken over the corporate page. The campaign has spread across Twitter and Instagram, with the rallying cry of #JusticeForBradsWife.  Within 24 hours, there have been thousands of posts and comments, and national media are beginning to take notice.

The only action taken so far by Cracker Barrel has been to turn off the ability to comment directly on the wall of its page. Scroll through the comments section of anything that has been posted recently, and you can see how that doesn’t really slow down the wildfire once it has started.

While Cracker Barrel is attempting to figure out a response, we thought this was a good opportunity to point out the value of strong corporate social media management.

First, don’t take the decision to approach social media lightly. If you aren’t prepared to commit the resources needed to properly maintain and monitor your presence, it creates the potential for these PR nightmares. If you don’t have someone highly skilled on your team, hire professionals who can establish pages, create content, monitor and respond for you.

Next, a few safeguards should be put in place on all corporate pages to prevent this situation.

  1. Set pages so that wall posts must be approved by an administrator before going public.
  2. Have a team in place to continually monitor page activity.
  3. Keep an eye on comments to things you have posted. There is no way to filter these through a pre-approval process, but someone monitoring the page can hide inflammatory posts and comments and even ban abusive users from the page.

Last, and possibly most important as far as Cracker Barrel is concerned, respond quickly and accurately to any posts or messages. A simple statement from Cracker Barrel on the original post would have gone a long way in preventing this whole situation. While Facebook and other social streams seem larger than life, real people are on the other end of all interactions, and each has the potential to stir the general public to either hate or love your brand.

Cracker Barrel, we feel your pain and wish we had been there to help prevent it. The Hirons team is ready for any questions you have about social media or crisis public relations.

Fine-tuning Facebook Ad Data

By Olivia Crum, Digital Coordinator 

More than ever, consumers are engaging with ads across a plethora of platforms. Due to the increase in digital channels, Facebook has expanded its measurement partnerships to increase cross-channel comparability and, later this year, third-party verification. By partnering with companies such as Nielsen and ComScore, Facebook is taking strides to ensure accurate ad delivery data.

Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) is a statistical analysis that measures the impact of media tactics. It specifically allows advertisers to measure performance across media types, enabling comparisons among TV, digital and print ads. Advertisers will be able to determine which ads performed best and which ads yielded the greatest ROI. This information becomes more powerful when used to create subsequent advertising plans.

The concept of MMM originated with consumer package goods advertising. It has proven so useful that Facebook is encouraging advertisers to utilize the analysis to make tactical decisions about future campaigns.

These additions will benefit our advertisers throughout the planning and evaluation process. MMM will allow Hirons to look at all data in a synchronized platform to better evaluate a client’s ad performance. With Facebook’s measurement partners, we can now verify and measure specific outcomes for Facebook impressions. This will better inform us, as well as our clients, as we begin planning future campaigns.

Designing Efficiently

By Chris Costidakis, Associate Art Director

Photoshop vs. Illustrator vs. InDesign

From photo editing to typography tools to sound design, the industry-standard Adobe Creative Suite gives creators of all kinds everything they need to create professional work fast – for literally any type of design project.


Whether you’re creating a logo, designing social media graphics or putting together a brochure, Adobe has created perfect app solutions with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.


Before I dive in, here are some vocab words so you’ll know what I’m talking about:


Raster ImageRaster images are made of pixels. A pixel is a single point or the smallest single element in a display. If you zoom in on a raster image, you may start to see a lot of little tiny squares.


Vector Image – Vector images are mathematical calculations from one point to another that form lines and shapes. If you zoom in on a vector graphic, it will always look the same.


So how do you know which app to use? Here is the breakdown:




When should I use Photoshop?

Well, it’s in the name … photos! The app was originally designed as a comprehensive solution for creating, editing and retouching any type of raster image.


When should I use Illustrator?

Illustrator is used to create vector images. Anything created in Illustrator can be scaled to teeny-tiny favicon thumbnails or ginormous Times Square billboards – all without losing any quality or adding any weird pixelation. A design created in Illustrator will look identical on a business card or a bus wrap.


When should I use InDesign?

Adobe developed InDesign for the desktop publishing market, and it’s primarily used to lay out newspapers, magazines, books, posters and fliers. Pretty much anything with large amounts of text should go straight into InDesign.


What makes the Adobe Creative Suite superior is that all of these programs work together seamlessly! For instance, if I was designing a pamphlet, I would edit the photos in Photoshop, design the logo and icons in Illustrator, then bring them all in and finish up the text in InDesign! Cool, huh?



What’s Next?

By Malcolm Weaver, Communications Management Intern

It is no surprise that consumers are changing how they consume information. So of course advertisers have been changing with them to reach their clients’ target audience. In recent years consumers have been using digital: online, mobile, streaming and apps. Why? Your advertising needs to always reach the decision-maker, and the decision maker is all over the digital space.

As technology develops, digital has become one of the most efficient forms of media to increase consumer awareness and spending. By using mobile advertising as an example; news, social media, videos and multiple apps are all accessible on your smart phone.

According to studies ( on “time spent for adults digital media use per day,” 51% of total adults studied use Mobile and 42% of total adults studied use desktops/laptops. Smart phones contain the same qualities of a desktop – in a portable form. Enabling advertisers to reach out to “on the move” consumers as well as those who are actively consuming media from their computers.

As advertisers strategically place their messages across multiple media platforms, the overwhelming problem is getting consumers to actually engage with the message. For example, with pre-roll ads, your consumer is right where you want them to be, on YouTube. Your consumer is doing exactly what you want them to do, searching for entertaining videos to watch. But, when your perfectly placed advertisement pops up… your consumer no longer does what you want them to do. In most situations, after 5 seconds your consumer is given the option to skip your advertisement.

Problem: How do you fit 15 or 30 seconds worth of content into the first five seconds of the advertisement? Solution: Geico’s ‘Unskippable’ Campaign. Ad Age named Geico’s ‘Unskippable’ 2016 Campaign of the Year. A series of ads were created with the overall theme of “You can’t skip this ad, it’s already over.” Within the first five seconds of the advertisement you’ve heard from Geico that “15 minutes could save you 15% of more on car insurance.” Their main message has been delivered to consumers within the guaranteed five second window provided.


As a brand Geico found a way to successfully adapt by thinking outside of the box. Success is measured in the aspect of this campaign by not only measuring the overall quality of created content; but through Geico’s ability to adapt to the changes in the market, all while providing comedic relief to potential consumers.

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.

The Key to Using Google Search Advertising Effectively

By Olivia Crum, Digital Media Coordinator

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


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


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


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

  1. Use Specific Ad Groups

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

  1. Group Related Keywords

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

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

Women’s Running Shoes –‎


4.4  rating for

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


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

  1. Create Engaging Ads

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


This is how the 140 characters are divided out:

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


4.4  rating for

Description (80 Character Max)


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

  1. Use Quality Landing Pages

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

Speaking about Talent in Hispanic Diversity…

By Ana Kotchkoski, Account Manager 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Costidakis, Associate Art Director 

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

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

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

Download Link

Learning to Code Just Got Easier


By Chris Costidakis, Associate Art Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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