Our proprietary Rural Reach program helps companies, organizations and government agencies communicate with rural populations through a unique matrix of strategies and tactics. Our approach moves beyond traditional advertising and public relations tactics to break through to rural communities.

Rural Americans are often difficult to reach through conventional marketing strategies using paid and earned media. Poor rural residents in particular pose distinct challenges to communicators and marketers.

Among other differences from their urban-dwelling counterparts, rural populations have decreased access to high-speed internet, making tactics such as digital advertising less effective. Rural regions also are often disconnected from conventional advertising and public relations vehicles such as billboards and large daily newspapers.

Because of these barriers, the rural poor are often forgotten or simply ignored by marketers. At a minimum, the demographic is woefully underserved.

Hirons’ Rural Reach program accounts for these difficulties to help companies, nonprofits and government agencies effectively target audiences in sparsely populated communities.

Visit our Insights page to hear COO Deana Haworth discuss her personal connection to Rural Reach.

Our staff aren’t only rural communications experts. Many come from rural homes themselves.
Learn more about some of our staff below.

    Chief Operating Officer
  • Mark LeClerc

    Executive Creative Director

    Business Development Manager
Chief Operating Officer

As COO, Deana leads all company operations including business development, growth and strategic planning and serves as a senior adviser on key accounts.

In her 20 years at Hirons, Deana has led many projects to success, including the transfer of water and wastewater from the City of Indianapolis to Citizens Energy; a renaming, rebranding and capital campaign for Eskenazi Health; the launch of ParkIND at Indianapolis International Airport; and public outreach efforts for RebuildIndy — the $1 billion initiative to improve water quality and an aging sewer system.

She also led federal initiatives for the National Park Service, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau and the U.S. Army. Deana heads up Hirons’ proprietary Rural Reach program, bringing clients unique strategies for reaching rural populations.

Deana was born and raised in rural southern Indiana. She’s an expert at effective communication and outreach to rural communities, which she saw was lacking in many communications initiatives to people living in places like her childhood hometown. She worked with members of the Hirons team to develop Rural Reach, a research-based communications strategy for effectively engaging rural populations across the United States.

Deana earned her Accreditation in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America. She has a master’s degree in public relations from Ball State University and a bachelor’s in journalism from Franklin College.

Mark LeClerc
Executive Creative Director

A rural Indiana native with more than 30 years of industry experience, Mark oversees all creative and quality control personnel at Hirons. Mark has garnered five career Best of Show awards in various advertising competitions, and his TV spots have appeared in the Communications Arts Advertising Annual. He previously served as executive creative director for the Indianapolis outpost of Publicis Worldwide.

At Hirons, Mark delivers a heightened level of creative strategy for client campaigns. He oversees all creative output in the agency, helps lead new business efforts, mentors creative staff and works closely with Hirons’ leadership team. Mark assists the public affairs team with branding and has directed the creative work for digital and traditional media advertisements and collateral materials for several state clients, including the City of Brazil’s rebranding, the Commission for Higher Education’s Next Level Jobs marketing and the Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s REAL ID digital advertising.

With years of experience in leadership positions, he also conducts seamless cross-departmental collaboration, resulting in superior client service for both current and prospective clients. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in radio/television from Butler University. He is a former member of the board of directors for the International School of Indiana and chaired its marketing committee.

Marissa Smith
Business Development Manager

Originally from a rural town in east central Indiana, Marissa relocated to Indianapolis in 2015. Marissa found her passion in the field of communications, exploring both the nonprofit and agency sectors of public relations through a variety of professional and volunteer roles. In the fall of 2018, Marissa joined Hirons’ communications management team as an intern. Her ability to meet tight deadlines and think strategically quickly earned her a full-time position within the agency.

She currently serves as the business development manager, a role in which she is responsible for developing new business proposals, tracking budget projections and assessing new client opportunities. She also works closely with Deana on the Rural Reach program, a passion project driven by her personal background.

Marissa is a member of the Public Relations Society of America’s Hoosier Chapter and leads Hirons’ Diversity Team. She also serves as Hirons’ representative for the Indy Rainbow Chamber and is on the Board of Directors for Girls Rock! Indianapolis. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Her degree includes a concentration in public relations and a minor in advertising.

“Our overly simplified mental models of America’s economic geography – especially of its rural areas—mask a more complex reality.”
“Using lessons learned through our work, we can help you strengthen your services in rural areas and better engage rural families.”
“We can better understand the rural poor if we have a sense why they’ve chosen to live there.”
“Rural communities have weathered a changing America through volunteerism, entrepreneurship, resilience and the capacity to adapt.”
“Most new jobs aren’t in rural areas, which explains why rural residents believe the recession never ended.”
“Many places in America now depend almost entirely on e-commerce giants such as Amazon, which has created the new factory town.”
“Lack of broadband is especially relevant to any outreach effort in rural America.”
“The key to improving our outreach to rural audiences, particularly the rural poor, is to understand that generalizations only go so far.”
“Their remoteness makes rural populations not only difficult to access, but also difficult to approach.”
“Hirons’ experience with rural populations tells us that old-fashioned strategic communication techniques work well with any public, especially when extensive market research is a part of the effort.”
“Not all rural places fit the mold of decline.”
“Hirons has worked with both rural and poverty issues for its entire 40 years of existence.”

From small-town government to national nonprofits, we have the experience and expertise required to reach audiences outside of urban centers — specifically the rural poor. We’ll help you unlock rural markets. Let’s talk.