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.
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 18 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.
For 30 years, Mark’s copywriting and creative direction have helped clients move the sales needle. At ease writing fun and funny executions as well as more serious, emotional work, Mark has garnered five career Best of Show awards in various advertising competitions and his TV spots have appeared in the Communication Arts Advertising Annual. Mark is a previous owner of Foundry, an award-winning creative shop. He also served as Executive Creative Director for the Indianapolis outpost of Publicis Worldwide.
At Hirons, he oversees all creative output in the agency, helps lead new business efforts, mentors creative staff and works closely with Hirons’ leadership team. LeClerc delivers a heightened level of creative strategy for client campaigns. With years of experience in leadership positions, he also conducts seamless cross-department collaboration, resulting in superior client service for both current clients and potential clients alike.
Mark leads the Healthy Indiana Plan, Gateway to Work, Next Level Jobs and Indiana Farm Bureau creative teams at Hirons, successfully helping each client reach diverse individuals and families in rural and urban Indiana. Mark grew up in a small town in southeast Indiana (population: 300) and saw his father juggle full-time factory employment with farm ownership, working the fields and raising livestock on nights, weekends and vacations.
Mark holds a Bachelor of Science in Radio/Television from Butler University. He is a former member of the board of directors for the International School of Indiana and chaired their marketing committee.
Rose Durbin leads the media team for all Hirons accounts. She manages strategic planning and buying that encompass all media, from local to global, online and offline. She is passionate about research and “digging in” to a client’s business. Rose believes every media plan should support the brand’s business objectives and track results against those goals.
Rose’s business perspective is strengthened by years strategizing plans for business-to-business and business-to-consumer businesses. She has deep knowledge of diverse industries including health care, financial services, retail, media properties and hospitality.
While Rose has a driving need to be on the edge of all things new, she relies on analytics and hard evidence to guide choices and methods utilized in digital media. Rose works to cultivate relationships with media partners so that all available resources can be dedicated to the business objectives of the brand. She has a special interest in providing clients with meaningful added-value.
She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Xavier University in Cincinnati.
A career-long public relations agency professional, Emily has led major media relations and crisis communications projects for clients in a variety of industries. At Hirons, Emily is responsible for several key client relationships and primarily focuses on the areas of marketing and communications planning, implementation and media relations.
Emily’s expertise in marketing and public relations has led to an extensive agency background and client roster, including working with both business and consumer audiences. Her work has spanned the education, healthcare, nonprofit, insurance, service provider and technology industries. A few of Emily’s current clients include James Allen Insurance, a broker agency focused on writing highly niched insurance policies with a primary focus on farm and ranch products for the top agricultural agents in the U.S., and IU Health.
Prior to joining Hirons, Emily worked at a PR and advertising agency with clients in the real state, transportation, engineering and healthcare industries.
Emily earned her accreditation in public relations and is currently serving as the president of PRSA’s Hoosier Chapter. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa.
“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.