Two great agencies have become one! Henry Russell Bruce (HRB) and ME&V Advertising have merged to create a combined company of more than 50 people with offices in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Quad Cities. The combined agency represents more than 200 clients across 10 states and offers branding, marketing, public relations, and advertising services in healthcare, higher education and banking, corporate communications and nonprofit fundraising. Take a look around →

HRB's previous site can still be accessed below.

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Lea Sullivan Lea Sullivan wrote:October 18th, 2013

Pantone Color Report: A Follow-Up

2014 Pantone Color Report

Rachel RoyAs promised, here’s a quick follow-up on my blog post about the Pantone Color Report from a few weeks ago. Read more about the original Fall 2013 Color Report

New York Fashion Week has come and gone, and the new Spring 2014 Pantone Color report is out. Packed with lots of bright rich colors (duh, it’s Spring!) but also some unexpected neutrals that I really love. Take a more in-depth look of the Pantone® Fashion Color Report Spring 2014 

Images via Pantone

Lea Sullivan
Art Director
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Jule Staton Jule Staton wrote:June 26th, 2013

Advertisers—A Breed of Their Own

College graduation is an event of reflection, celebration, good-byes and the acceptance that it’s time to move on to the next chapter in life. On a lighter note, although my graduation from the University of Northern Iowa was likely the most bittersweet experience of my life, landing an internship at HRB quickly put me on the sweet track rather than bitter.

Once you give in and let the hand of reality smack you straight in the face, it’s time to wake up and smell the post-grad coffee.  That’s right the delicious warm brew that keeps you going through those 8-5 workdays. Here at HRB we have good ole’ fashioned Folgers; it’s the best part of waking up, right?

Transitioning from college life to, well, real life was something I was only excited about if I got into the business I wanted to; advertising. Through all of my experiences I knew that I had to be in an agency and that advertising was my ticket to success in the business world.  Advertising is exciting, quick-paced, ever changing and takes a certain type of person to be successful in the industry.  Advertisers are a special breed.

HRB Public Relations Intern

Photo credit: Flickr user qisur

You have the sales people, human resource managers, economists and those pesky accountants. Then you have the marketers and specifically the advertisers. Creative thinkers to the core one may refer to us as having an extra skip in our step.  Advertisers are forced to think out of the box every day, stretching their brain to the limits and pushing the boundaries of the ordinary. We are a little bit of everything.  You have to be a character, stand out, bring something new to the table, and you can’t succeed unless you take risks.  Yeah, this is my kind of industry.

The industry is niche and getting your foot in the door is all about making those connections.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to start networking now, often, and forever.  Once you stack up on the experience, connections, and plenty of AdWeek you should be able to wiggle yourself into the most fun, challenging, and exciting industry there is, advertising.

I am enjoying my time here at HRB and I can certainly tell you I had to step up to the learning curb quick!  I absolutely believe that 90% of what you learn to be successful is what you learn on the job and not in the classroom.  However you should always be a student; especially in the ad world.  Everything is always changing in this industry and you have to think faster, learn quicker, and always be studious because what’s in today could be completely shifted by tomorrow.

So I am holding onto my seat and along for the crazy ride, because I got myself into the best industry there is… advertising.

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Steve Erickson Steve Erickson wrote:April 26th, 2013

Being a Professional (or, “Tell us we suck.”)

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog I called Reincarnation as a Career StrategyFor those of you who don’t recall every word of it, it was essentially about how to be a good client and build a mutually productive and enjoyable relationship with your agency. I stand by my thoughts from then, but I’d like to add one more comment, about something that appears to be more prevalent in this business.

We all know that “cattle calls,” getting multiple agencies to respond to a request for a proposal, are not going away. When an agency feels it has the opportunity to show what it’s capable of creatively and also sees the potential for some kind of financial gain, you can pretty much count on their engagement. They get a team together to do the needed research, develop a traditional and/or social media strategy, and probably at least a couple of creative executions.

Being a Professional

It can be hard work, and it takes time … above and beyond the time it takes to service existing accounts. And whether they realize they’re up against two other agencies, or six, it’s what professionals in this business know that have to do to win the business. They also understand the math. Four agencies presenting means a 25% shot at winning. Six agencies, about 17%. The numbers don’t lie.

So, what’s my point? It’s this. Every new business prospect knows the agencies they’ve invited to make a proposal have invested hours and hours of time and effort to prepare, with a fractional shot at winning and (usually) no compensation for their work. As part of every RFP, I believe the “losing” agencies should at the very least be “compensated” by a candid conversation with the (now ex) prospect as to why they were not awarded the business.

I said “conversation” not a boilerplate email something to the effect of “Thank you for your participation … the committee has decided to go another direction … we will keep you on our list for any possible future projects … etc.” That’s a total cop out. Hey, if our work totally sucked or if you hated how our team dressed, we’d like to know. We’re professionals, we can take it.

Even worse, and this seems to be happening more often, is the total lack of response from the prospect after the presentation. Phone calls and emails go totally unanswered. In a matter of just days, the agency has gone from an anticipated presenter to persona non grata.

The agency may have had only a 10% or 50% chance of getting the business … but ignoring them afterwards, that’s 100% unprofessional.

Steve Erickson
President, Creative Director
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Kurt Zenisek Kurt Zenisek wrote:September 6th, 2011

HTML5 and Online Games

Cross-browser & cross-platform online gamesIf you’re reading this, then it’s safe to say that you’ve probably played a browser-based game before. It might have been while waiting for a download to finish, during a break, or even is something that you like to come back to fairly regularly. The sheer ubiquity and pleasant simplicity of these games have allowed the online game market to grow immensely over the years. Tie-ins with the Facebook community (ie. Farmville & Mafia Wars) have generated quite a lot of hype fairly recently with some of them reportedly reaching somewhere around 60 million users each month.

Good ideas tend to spread to other mediums so we’re now seeing some of these games being ported to mobile devices. Games like Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and Bejeweled have found their way to the iPhone and other mobile devices even though their predecessors were simple Flash-based games that gained popularity with people who played the game in their web browser.

Biolab Disaster

Here's a teaser of the Biolab Disaster game with an encouraging quote from the Guardian.

With the introduction of HTML5 comes another viable platform for creating these games. Parallels to the great flixel Flash-game library are being released that solely use HTML5 and other functionality built into every modern web browser. One that caught my interest is the Impact game engine. It comes with a library of common game-related functions, a level editor, and various other tools so that making a game in HTML5 doesn’t have to be done from scratch each time. You can check out the first game created using the Impact engine, Biolab Disaster. Impact is a commercial product that sells for $99 so I’m definitely curious to see if this catches on, and if it allows for further development.

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Games have been a part of the advertising repertoire for some time now. Companies like Nikelodeon, Adult Swim, PETA, and countless others offer web-based games while companies like Burger King and Doritos have even made the leap over to game consoles (XBox 360 owners should probably check out Doritos Crash Course. It’s free and yet tastefully Doritos-branded… sorry about that awful pun). The big companies aside, these HTML5 game libraries empower the web designers of the world (with knowledge of JavaScript & a good idea) to create games, and I can’t help but be excited about that.

Kurt Zenisek
Web Developer
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Megan Jasin Megan Jasin wrote:October 15th, 2010

This Week's Top PR Reads by @IowaHawkeyeMeg

Roll out the red carpet for this week's top reads.Here are some of my favorite blog posts from this week. Feel free to check out my team member page to see my own blogs and share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

*NOTE* I also share all of these posts via my Google Reader account (Jace122) and my Twitter handle (@IowaHawkeyeMeg).

PR articles to check out:

Junk In, Junk Out: Well Researched Media Campaigns Can Make or Break a PR Campaign — The latest blog post from my internship supervisor, Shelby Kraus. In it, she discusses why and how agencies can help their clients build targeted media and contact lists for their branding efforts.

Break the “Feast or Famine” Cycle – How You Can Set Up an Effective Marketing Strategy Using Contacts You Already Have — Insightful peace by a new writer I’ve discovered, Lars Helgeson (founder of GreenRope®). In this article posted on the Bulldog Reporter® website, Helgeson discusses how small agencies can take care on a full client load while maintaining old relationships and reaching out to prospective customers.

Groupon Discount Website Targets Corridor — Ever heard of this awesome coupon website? Groupon®, an online coupon service, has been gaining a lot of attention from national press because it uses collective buying principles to negotiate discounts with businesses. Subscribers get daily e-mails alerting them to Groupon deals and the Gazette discusses why the Corridor was chosen as the first Iowa market that Groupon has begun marketing its service to.

Best Ads From the Editors of Creativity — This week I stumbled upon the “Best Ads” section of the AdvertisingAge® website. It was interesting to see which advertisements made Creativity‘s list by agency, client and media type. I think the Royal Mint (of the Print & Design category) and Cadbury® Fingers campaigns are my favorites.

Is the Federal Government on Your Friend’s List? — Great question, Social Times®!

Quality Journalism Will Survive, Says Toronto Star Publisher — I think it’s ironic that the media are the ones writing these stories about the survival rate of quality journalism. What about the public’s opinion? Aren’t they actually the ones that are responsible for driving or slowing newspaper sales? It’s not all a result of the digital revolution, people. Consider the fact that nearly 40% of the American workforce (i.e. “Baby Boomers”) will be replaced by younger employees within the next 10 years.

The New York Times Updated iPad App with Full Version, Won’t be Free For Long — According to ReadWriteWeb®, the NYT® is planning to start charging for their iPad app starting next year. Smartphone users, what are your thoughts on this?

In-App Purchases Generate More Revenue Than Ads — Another great ReadWriteWeb article about phone app purchases. Perhaps this is the motivating factor for magazines and newspapers trying to charge for their phone apps?

That’s it! Check back next week for more interesting reads!

Megan Jasin
Public Relations Intern

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Megan Jasin Megan Jasin wrote:October 8th, 2010

This Week's Top PR Reads by @IowaHawkeyeMeg

Interns: Get your experience in BEFORE you graduate!Here are some of my favorite blog posts from this week. Feel free to check out my team member page to see my own blogs and share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

*NOTE* I also share all of these posts via my Google Reader account (Jace122) and my Twitter handle (@IowaHawkeyeMeg).

PR blogs to check out:

You’re Only As Good As Your Clipbook… — I agree with PRBreakfastClub® bloggers that a clipbook is a great conversation starter and coffee table accessory, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all demonstration of your skills as a PR representative. You should also be able to demonstrate excellent communication skills, an engaging online portfolio, knowledge of current news issues and a passion for literature and reading.

Five Ways to Not Screw Up Your Next Networking Attempt — If you’re a journalist or public relations counselor you should know Peter Shankman. I admit I’ve become slightly obsessed with scanning his HARO® e-mails to learn what types of stories journalists are looking for and to improve my own pitching techniques. Read this post to learn why networking should always extend beyond that first online conversation or conference call.

Building Social Media Bridges — Danny Brown discusses why it’s important for community managers and everyday social media fans to maintain meaningful relationships and “clean house.” I found this post to be very helpful because I struggle with weeding out which social media marketing connections are helpful or harmful to my personal brand.

The Discipline to Write Daily — Chris Brogan never fails to inspire me. Like running, writing requires strength, curiosity and drive. What’s motivating you to write consistently?

National Book Foundation Announces 5 Under 35 Honorees — Anyone that knows me is aware that I’m a huge sucker for reading work by novice writers. Check out this list from the MediaBistro® website – it’s proof that my generation is making a difference in the writing world & it’s also a great testament of the power of PR.

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Intern blogs to check out:

Ad Imagery: Why It Can Make or Break a Creative Project — Great post by former HRB Intern, Allison Maze, on why creatives should always match images to a brand, not vice-versa.

Informational Interviews Are Important — I’ve been following the Internweb.com blog since I was a sophomore in college and I think there’s a lot to be said about interviews that don’t lead to a job. They not only help you network with professionals in your field but they can help you learn what NOT to say in an interview.  (Remember, interviews are just as much about the company being a fit for you as it is about your fit within the company. You may find that the company is a great resource but perhaps not the best employer.)

Do You Know How to “Live on the Web”? — My latest blog post on why listening is the new marketing.

LinkedIn Helping College Graduates Find Their Career Path — LinkedIn®’s new “Career Explorer” tool is helping students connect with others on LinkedIn according to their educations, specialties and career goals by industry and title.

That’s it! Check back next week for more interesting reads!

Megan Jasin
Public Relations Intern

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Allison Maze Allison Maze wrote:August 12th, 2010

My Evolution as a Creative Intern at HRB

To a brand new intern, the workplace is like an intricate organism; it carries on day after day, its many systems collaborating in ways that are both seen and unseen. The organism, in question, is initially intimidating to the intern—but in due time, its processes become familiar and much easier to understand.

Of course, this information isn’t stowed away in some business biology book, nor is it completely recorded anywhere. Part of being an intern is being able to observe a new environment and learn as much as possible from its team members, its clients and its rituals before the internship draws to a close.

Sadly, I find myself writing this blog while in the very position I’ve just described. Yes, it’s that time of year again…the summer is winding down and in a couple of days, I’ll be returning to Drake University for one last lap around its magnificent blue track. Then it’s goodbye, college and hello, real world! But before I lose myself in the persistent pandemonium that is student life, I’d like to share what I’ve learned within the last few months as the HRB Creative Intern.

At HRB, I’ve realized that details matter. Everything that happens within the course of the day—from projects to meetings, critiques and witty banter—shapes an intern’s experience. As an intern, it’s been really helpful to see as much of this business as possible because I’ve gained a better understanding and appreciation of just how multifaceted a company can be.

It’s also worthwhile to get in on the action. For example, the times when I tagged along to an audio recording and editing session, toured a local museum for a project, attended HRB seminars, participated in client meetings, or received constructive feedback from coworkers were some of my most memorable experiences. Furthermore, these opportunities were instrumental in my development as an intern and as a new team member, because they showed me how professionals work together, even if their lines of work starkly contrast.

I’ve also discovered that, more often than not, projects are pretty complicated. It’s rarely a matter of Creative #1 designing for Client X and calling it a day. Rather, there are many emails, phone calls and meetings that have a funny way of shifting a project forward, backward, sideways…well, you get the idea. A tremendous amount of time, creativity, thinking, and planning is invested in everything done here at HRB. Sometimes it’s enough to make a person’s head spin, but the end results are fantastic.

HRB’s ability to generate a rationale that unites a project with a client’s vision and identity has also blown me away. Our work ethic, both on an individual and a collaborative basis, has provided a great model for me to emulate. It’s been neat to be part of brainstorming sessions and team meetings, and especially to work on real projects. PLUS I wasn’t even asked to fetch coffee once (which is probably a really good thing for everyone), but that’s not why I’m going to miss working here.

My time at HRB has been very worthwhile in providing me with the tools and necessary understanding of how to survive and thrive in the workplace. It’s certainly comforting to know that I’ve still got a year before entering the job market, but when that time comes, I know I’ll feel much more prepared because of my internship experience with HRB—and for that, I am forever appreciative.

Allison Maze
Creative Intern

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Allison Maze Allison Maze wrote:July 27th, 2010

5 Tips for Harnessing Creativity

There is no “right way” to harness creativity, but even as an intern, it is natural to occasionally succumb to its slums. Every person has their own “method to madness” when it comes to making ends meet, and many artists, Web designers and writers have overlapping tactics.

Here are five practices that I rely on whenever I find myself in a creative rut:

Quit Waiting Around

Don’t wait to be creative until the last minute. Rushed work in any form rarely achieves its most polished, complete state and it’s frustrating to freeze up when deadlines are tight. Besides, it never hurts to budget for an “off” day. Curb the creativity crisis by keeping a running list of ideas and research resources for inspiration—even if they are unrelated to the task at hand. Tear out magazine pages or find an organized way to archive Website pages, perhaps by using a bookmarks folder or a Website like Delicious. This type of filing system is great to fall back on when your creativity needs a jump-start.

Play Games

Thumb through a magazine and find a few designs that catch your eye, then conduct a brief, informal analysis of each piece. Ask yourself some questions to focus on the design concept: what initially captured your attention? What visual elements really accentuate the design and what would you have done differently? Consider what words come to mind when you see a particular image or image sequence and how they connect with the overarching message or campaign.

Go Online

Blog surf or seek out other Creatives on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Take the time to discover what other professionals in the creative industry are coming up with. Many artists showcase forms of inspiration via different Web services for both their personal and audiences’ benefit. Why not take a gander and see if some creativity results? Better yet, join the conversation! Designers are a very active online group and many use social media to market their products and raise brand awareness. Additionally, there are numerous blogs that teach, provide resources and offer inspiration. Get involved in a professional network to stay in tune with industry trends.

Get Moving

Take a break from your workspace if desirable solutions aren’t coming fast enough. Get some exercise if you’re able to escape for a bit. Exercise improves cognition and gives you an energy boost that lasts for a couple of hours afterward. If you aren’t in the position to get away or simply do not have enough time, take a lap around the office or step outside for some fresh air.

Dare to Doodle

In the computer age, it’s often a million times easier and more aesthetically pleasing to draft ideas in Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign rather than sketch things out by hand. But if you’re like me and often find yourself abusing the “apple + z” keyboard shortcut over minute imperfections, it might be a good move to switch things up. Unglue your eyes from your monitor and revert to the good old-fashioned way of working with a pen and some paper (See Steve Erickson‘s blog post, “The Power of ‘Old Tech Knowledge“). Allow yourself to sketch whatever comes to mind and see what happens when you visually map out your ideas. You might just surprise yourself. 

Allison Maze
Creative Intern

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