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.


Brando Hills Brando Hills wrote:January 10th, 2014

Facebook Makes Adjustments to Improve Advertising for Brands

Brands can relax a little better knowing that Facebook plans to get rid of their Sponsored Stories on April 9th. This news comes in the new year after Facebook announced back in June 2013 that different changes were in progress to eliminate redundancies, optimize social context in ads, and promote ad consistency.

Last month Facebook rolled out their new video ad feature that allows brands to use videos to share their message. The new updates will give brands and advertisers better advertising opportunities through Facebook and will create a better experience for the end users.
Contact us if you are interested in learning how your business can grow using Facebook Advertising.

Brando Hills
Social Media Specialist
800-728-2656 ext. 114

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Brando Hills Brando Hills wrote:December 20th, 2013

HRB’s Favorite Vines of 2013

Different brands played with Vine in a fun way to increase their social media exposure and show off their creativity this year. We went around the office and collected everyone’s favorite branded vines and here is what we got.

Oreo warned us of the dangers of “All milk and no dunk”  when it comes to Oreo cookies…

General Electric showed us what happens when you mix food coloring, milk, and dish soap…

Designer Valentina Kova showed us what high-fashion looks like…

And it’s safe to say we can all effectively pack a suitcase for the holidays, thanks to French Connection.

Dunkin Donuts even created the first ever TV ad made completely from Vine, played on ESPN during the Pregame Show before Monday Night Football.

Thinking about adding Vine to your marketing mix?
Contact us and learn how Vine could be a huge asset for your company.


Brando Hills
Social Media Specialist
800-728-2656 ext. 114

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Brando Hills Brando Hills wrote:August 29th, 2013

Facebook Updates Pages Terms: Promotions Accepted on Timelines

Yesterday, Facebook updated their Pages Terms to make it so promotions are not limited to apps anymore for Pages. I’ve gone ahead and noted some important changes.

HRB Social Media Updates and Hints

  • Not at the mercy of using apps for promotions. Before if you had any type of promotions, giveaways, contests, etc.… businesses had to develop an app. Promotional wise, this discouraged engagement with content on the Page’s Timeline because users had to click and enter the app in order to participate. Businesses can now utilize promotions within their Timeline to increase likes, shares and comments. Again, promoting on the Page timeline rather than an app.
  • Collect entries through different promotions.  Businesses can collect entries through likes and comments on a post made by the Page or users. This could increase the amount of engagement with a post and create an easier way for users to engage with promotions.
  • Like to vote. Pages can use likes as a voting system on their Timeline to promote better interactions with their posts. This would include liking, sharing and commenting. Note, businesses cannot administer promotions on users’ personal timelines. i.e. “Share this post on your wall to receive an extra entry.” That’s a no no.
  • Apps are not extinct. Sometimes developing an app is appropriate, especially if you’re running a campaign that is separate from the content being shared on your Page’s Timeline. Use an app to organize your campaigns to avoid your Timeline from being too cluttered or confusing.

Remember to stay away from any promotions encouraging users to tag themselves in a photo for a chance to win. Facebook will bring the hammer of Thor if they find businesses asking users to tag themselves in content that doesn’t depict that user.

Ready to develop your new social media strategy? Let us know!

Brando Hills
Social Media Specialist
800-728-2656 ext. 114

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HRB Advertising Agency wrote:June 24th, 2013

Brando Hills Awarded Social Marketing Associate Certification

HRB Social Media Strategist Brando Hills recently completed his Certified Social Marketing Associate Certification (CSMA), granted by the eMarketing Association.  This certification  recognizes professional-level  competence in the capability of performing social marketing functions using current tech processes and establishing and implementing social media marketing techniques.eMA Certified Social Marketing Associate

The nationally recognized eMarketing Association provides study, training and testing for various online marketing certifications, including the CSMA.

“Brando’s certification as a CSMA just adds to his already considerable knowledge. It will  boost the interactive team’s capabilities greatly by applying his advanced skills to help our clients achieve success in social media the right way,” said HRB’s Director of Digital Strategies Tracy Pratt.

Brando knows the importance of always keeping relevant and up to date on all things social media.  With his certification he will be able to assure HRB clients that they are taking the correct strategic routes to digital success.

Contact us to find out how we could help your business build a Social Media Marketing Strategy

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Brando Hills Brando Hills wrote:June 17th, 2013

Facebook “Hashes” Out A New Feature: Hashtags

Once considered only being a Twitter thing to do, the hashtag has once again grown its presence across social media. Used as a way to bring context into a specific and larger discussion, Facebook announced yesterday that all hashtags used on their platform are now clickable. Facebook introduced this new feature as way for users to freely explore and discuss what others are saying about a specific topic. Before the release of Facebook’s hashtags, conversations about a relative topics were hard to find in the big picture. Now hashtags welcome a whole new way for Facebook users to interact with other users about a topic of interest.

HRB Social Media Marketing | Facebook

So what’s a hashtag? A hashtag is a tag embedded in a keyword or phrase preceded by the # symbol. Many brands use hashtags to build brand awareness around their products or services. A hashtag can bring together your brand community and create the buzz you’re looking for whether it be for a new product launch, rebrand campaign or brand engagement. There are now over nine different social media platforms that have integrated the hashtag. This type of integration provides an even better opportunity for businesses to grow their message. Businesses are now able to direct their traffic to a conversation rather than push them to their page. This allows brands to join the conversation and engage with brand advocates. The new hashtag integration can also bring together the conversations happening on other networks that use the same hashtags. This new feature will provide a better way to monitor and engage with users who are talking about topics related to your brand on Facebook.

If you are interested in finding out more about a hashtag strategy or developing your social media presence,
contact us. We can provide you a quick and easy guide that’ll get your business on the ground running. Our expertise in social media can bring new leads and generate sales for your business.
Click here to learn more– HRB Social Media Marketing

Brando Hills
Social Media Specialist
800-728-2656 ext. 114

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Brando Hills Brando Hills wrote:May 9th, 2013

Facebook Advertising: In Stream Video Ads Soon to Hit News Feeds

Facebook advertisers’ eyebrows are raising after hearing about an advertising addition coming in July to Facebook.  Attempting to expand its advertising revenue, the social media giant, Facebook, announced it will support in-HRB Social Media stream video ads. Similar to sponsored stories, these video ads will appear on users’ news feeds. Facebook selected five brands to be their guinea pigs: Ford, Unilever, American Express, Coca-Cola and Diageo.

Since the ads only run for 15 seconds, advertisers must decide whether they want to develop new content or edit longer ads into the ad spot. Still, the new in-stream video ads are an opportunity for brands to share content that is more engaging.

If your company hasn’t started advertising on Facebook yet, then let HRB help spread your message across one of the biggest social media sites. Facebook allows you to target users in a very granular way, and our digital marketing team can develop a strategic advertising campaign that’ll reach your target audience, build your social media presence and drive traffic to your website.
Contact us for more information.

Brando Hills
Social Media Specialist
800-728-2656 ext. 114

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Brando Hills Brando Hills wrote:April 3rd, 2013

Social Media for Business-to-Business Companies

Social media in the Business-to-Business world is still not being used to its fullest potential because many businesses don’t understand how to use it.  A recent study by Eloqua conveyed that nearly 40% of Business-to-Business marketers are not using social media to its full potential.  However, some businesses are bolstered by their efforts in the B2C world. Successful at conversing with consumers, some businesses are becoming more aware of the potential social media can have on lead generation and a company’s overall digital presence.

If you are a business wary of navigating the evolving social media landscape, let us help. Our social media strategy can help you develop or enhance your business’s social media presence and help you become more comfortable with adding social media to your business marketing strategy.

Two sides of the same story

The social media story has two sides. On the one side you have businesses engaging with consumers (B2C) while on the other side, you have businesses using social media to reach out to other businesses (B2B). How important is each side of the story? According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 94% of marketers indicated they were employing social media for marketing purposes. Though both sides of the story are important, let’s first look at B2B social media as we might look at writing a book.Social Media Infographic

Preface | Understand Why Social Media Is Important

Learning About Why Your Company Needs to be Social

Research shows B2B companies are not using social media as a lead generator. Why? Some companies don’t seem to understand the potential social sites can bring. That’s why we start with the “Preface.” It is the introduction to social media at your company. This is where we educate our clients on the benefits of developing a social media presence. For instance we demonstrate our expertise by targeting specific social media sites that will produce the desired outcomes. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Twitter, we make it our goal to teach our clients how social media can be used to grow business and generate leads. Download our Integrating Social Media into the Mix to learn how HRB can grow your social media presence.

Because they may not understand how to use social media for their business, B2B companies sometimes don’t want to devote the resources needed to engage in and monitor their social media sites. Outsourcing your social media management ensures the focus stays on your key messages and goals. One way to approach outsourcing might be to consider your company the “author” of your story and an agency such as HRB as the “storyteller.” This way, the storyteller focuses on getting your message to the right audience while you focus more on running your business.

Table of Contents | Organize List of Social Media Chapters

Finding the Right Channels for Your Company

Lead generation is an important goal in considering the right channels for your business. Sometimes we need to help our clients overcome the perception that social media is just about posting vacation pics or chatting about children’s accomplishments. The Table of Contents is where we try to outline the steps we’ll take and the social media channels we’ll use to make social media a successful marketing tool for your brand.

Social Media Guide for B2B

The Story | Company’s Strategy and Goals

Illustrating the Story Through Social Media

According to the survey by Eloqua, 43% of companies have no strategy in place for incorporating social media into demand generation. A strategy will help guide your social media efforts and maximize the time and resources you devote to it. This step is where we build the social media strategy that best fits the goals of your company. We also take a look at what your competition is doing online. Our knowledgeable use of social tools helps monitor your brand and capitalize on any new business opportunities.

The Conclusion | What Did Our Company Gain?

The most important insight B2B companies look at is measurable ROI, the value you receive for your investment. . There are a variety of social media metrics that can be used to track the success of your strategy. It depends on the business goals of your campaign or strategy.

Social media should be an important part of your company’s internet marketing strategy.

For more information about developing a Social Media Strategy for your business please contact us.

Brando Hills
Social Media Specialist
800-728-2656 ext. 114

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Kurt Zenisek Kurt Zenisek wrote:October 26th, 2011

How to See Who’s Linking to Your Site

A site that’s online isn’t much of a site unless people go to it. The raw website visitor stats that services like Analytics and Quantcast provide sometimes aren’t enough for gauging the traffic flow to a site. A “link” is a fundamental way in which visitors reach a site, and direct links (typing in the web address) and search engines are the two other ways. Of course, there’s “good company” and “bad company” online that could be linking to you. I’m not going to discuss right & wrong in this article, but I will go over how to be more aware of one factor that affects all sites… backlinks.

Which method is best?

There’s a few different ways to find who’s linking to a site. Some are tools made available by search engines like Google while some are various services that are available online.

Google’s link: command (perfect for URL-specific stats)

Google BacklinksUsing link: as part of a Google search will list the webpages that have links to that specified webpage. For instance, will list webpages that have links pointing to the Google homepage. Note there can be no space between the “link:” and the web page url. It’s also important to know that this finds the backlinks for that one URL, and doesn’t provide matches for every URL on the site. By the way, you can use the number of matches below the search box to get a rough number for assessing the online penetration of that webpage.

Google Webmaster Tools (perfect for site-wide stats)

Google Webmaster Tools BacklinksAs part of Google’s Webmaster Tools, they have “Your site on the web” => “Links to your site” in the side navigation that shows backlink stats for a site as a whole. Essentially, this provides:

  • A list of sites and what pages they’re linking to
  • Which page is being linked to the most
  • The terms being used for the links
  • and you can get fairly granular with each data set

Everything else

SEOmoz Open Site ExplorerThe above methods obviously depend on what Google has indexed, and similar tools are available using Bing and other search engines so one can diversify their data set. There’s also a great service from SEOmoz called Open Site Explorer that’s worth looking into.Unfortunately, searching for a tool that accumulates these stats resulted in finding a lot of adware/junk sites so your mileage may vary depending on the service being used.

Knowing who’s linking to a site a good way to understand what sort of company that site is involved with, and this can be helpful when working with the public relations & marketing for a website. It’s also a decent way to see what others are saying about a particular site, but do keep in mind that this is just one way that websites establish a connection with one another.

Kurt Zenisek
Web Developer
800-728-2656 ext. 123

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Shelby Kraus Shelby Kraus wrote:May 20th, 2011

Word Gets Around

I recently read an article about how the social media and PR universe are much like a small town and it resonated with me. IF you are not from a small town, defined as less than 10,000, then perhaps you will not see the connection I do. The social media universe is very much like a small town in that what everyone is trying to do is build a community. Small towns have so many wonderful traits, but they also have some that can be a bit unnerving at times.

I am from Lost Nation, Ia. In its heyday it topped out at 900. I was in the last graduating class as we only had 23 students in my senior class. Believe me, you know everyone and they know you. Some of the similarities that I see between a small town and social community are:

Growing up in a small town, you know almost everyone. They also know everything about you. This transparency is good in many ways, but you are reminded that “word gets around” and the community can quickly learn the bad things someone says or does. Likewise, a company partaking in social media needs to be prepared for customers seeing its dirty laundry along with the good.

In a small town, everyone looks after one another, even if you don’t care that much for each other. There is a bond with communities. I think it is kinda like having a brother or sister. I am an only child and it has always amazed me how my two sons could be picking at each other one minute, but when someone says something or does something against the other they stand together the next minute. Social communities are very similar in this way. The political community is a prime example.

In either a literal or virtual community, you are welcome to join, because we are curious about you. The cost of admission is cheap, especially if you help another member. You are gradually accepted. No matter if you’re considered a “newbie” (even after belonging somewhere for 10 years), you’re still a part of the gang.

However, the thing with gangs is that betrayal is costly. Same with a small town or a virtual community. Betray the group and know that forgiveness comes slowly. Trust is imperative. Companies and organizations need to heed this warning. If a mistake is made, at least own up right away and correct it so everyone can move on.

Ultimately, I think what we are all searching for is a sense of belonging. To belong, one knows your name, your first name. You are not a “Dear Card Holder” or a Sir or Ma’am. Anyone in business, social organizations or school, you need to remember that. We are not faceless beings. We have names. My name is Shelby, I am still from a small town, working in a small city, with two teenage boys and even though my demographics might be interesting to you, my psychographics might be even more so – pay attention.

Remember to connect with folks and create the community you want. We might not all be right for yours, but I bet there are many who are perfect.

Shelby Kraus
Vice President, Public Relations
Account Manager
800-728-2656, ext. 125

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Megan Jasin Megan Jasin wrote:December 3rd, 2010

Social Media Doesn't Sleep: 10 Reasons to Proactively Monitor Your Brand

social-media-doesnt-sleepWhether you’re a social media novice or expert, it’s important to remember that the Internet never sleeps. While we may need eight hours of rest before returning to work in pursuit of our blog, Internet marketing and public relations goals, there are millions of Internet users who continue to post content when we hit the hay.

With recent changes in search engines and today’s short attention spans, people are now expected to post and promote new content regularly. While automation tools are helping companies and brands share information around the clock, many employees still feel worn out at the end of the day. It’s a lot of work to consistently post and track content on top of our everyday responsibilities, yet it’s more crucial than ever that we monitor what people are saying about us.

Throughout my internship at HRB, I’ve worked on accounts that have needed immediate attention because someone wasn’t listening. A news release wasn’t posted on time, a complaint from a dissatisfied customer slipped past a Community Manager or a competitor beat a client to the punch. I’ve learned these problems can be prevented if we take the time to monitor the Internet and our social media accounts.

Here are 10 reasons why you should proactively and consistently monitor the brands of your company or client:

1) The Point of Need — Information and research is always changing. People are always talking about the latest news and they expect to be kept in the know. It’s important to satisfy these needs and you can do this by following RSS feeds and writing blogs about client events and industry changes. We’ve done this and we’ve heard good reviews from clients and interns who turn to our site for updates and information and can easily find what they’re looking for. (Just be sure to set up blog categories so your website visitors can easily find what they’re looking for!)

2) The Influencer — In today’s business markets the competition is more fierce than ever. Consumers are overwhelmed by the variety of choices they’re given and they’re willing and ready to remain loyalty with one brand, service or product.

Establishing and actively maintaining a presence on Facebook® and Twitter® may seem trivial, but it’s absolutely necessary because your competitors are all doing it. After a prospective client “Googles®” your company, they will immediately turn to social networking websites to see if you’ve built a presence there to listen and engage with others. If you want to be viewed as an influencer, it only makes sense that you engage in networks or outlets that are influential. And right now, that’s Facebook and Twitter.

3) The Crowd — Bloggers, fans and Internet marketing gurus can all be influencers if they have a strong following. Target them when planning your social media campaign or invite them to guest blog for your company or your client’s company. Be sure to respond to their comments promptly. Check out my Friday blog posts—in particular, this post mentioning my Top PR Reads—to see which crowds I follow online.

4) The Competitor — It’s wise to follow, acknowledge and learn from your competitors. They can be huge motivators when it comes to learning about the needs of your mutual target audience.

The goal in using social media isn’t to blab about your own brand, but to create social capital, or a representation of your brand’s “social currency” via online and offline conversations, reciprocity and relationships. We use metrics to determine who’s influential, who we should be following and how we can be unique in our own campaigns.

5) The Crisis — Reading social media updates around the clock helps HRB anticipate, manage and be transparent about PR crises experienced by our own clients and others in our industry. Bottom line: Ignoring crises shows that your agency is disconnected from your audience and may be incapable of dealing with problems head-on.

6) The Campaign Impact — Be sure to measure your ROI and determine if your campaigns are working. Many social media platforms have built-in analytics tools, so educate your team members and your clients about how they work and what they can show you about your clients’ growth and sales progress.

Also, if you’re getting a lot of comments, responses or “Likes” on your blogs or social media pages, this is a great opportunity to showcase your brand’s expertise. Respond quickly and engage with your audience. After all, you can never really be sure who your audience is, and a prospective client may be listening!

7) The Question/Inquiry — As stated above, make sure that your client or your client’s account manager(s) respond quickly and completely to questions and inquiries. These may be posted directly in your news feeds or profile pages, or as direct messages via e-mail or a “Contact Us” form. This can be easy if you designate one person, such as a Public Relations Director or company spokesperson, to respond to such issues.

For the last six months, I’ve been responsible for responding to all questions, comments and concerns about HRB that are posted daily on the company’s social media sites. Sometimes it’s hard to respond to everyone in a timely manner, but it’s been really interesting to see which posts generate the most traffic to our website and which “fans” end up becoming clients.

8) The Problem — Problems are easier to solve when you know: a) that they exist and b) why they’re occurring. Do a little research if you’re getting negative comments or your followers aren’t responding to your social media engagement tactics.

9) The Compliments — Everyone loves to be complimented. Link to your competitors’ social media pages, blog articles and websites on your company’s own social networks to show you’re not full of yourself. Your company may think you’re a leader in your industry, but so do all of your competitors. Show them a little SEO love. Create Twitter lists, as I’ve done for HRB, to follow, acknowledge and compliment them by re-tweeting their tweets.

10) The Complaints — As I’ve stated in previous blogs, listening is the new marketing. Create e-mail alerts that can be sent to you each time someone posts a comment on your social media pages, and if it’s a complaint, quell that individual’s anger by opening up an honest dialogue. Focus on the positives, not the negatives, and take the conversation offline if it requires further attention or a response from a manager. If you truly listen to outside complaints, you have a unique opportunity to learn and change, showing that your company or client is attentive and understanding.

These are just the ways I proactively manage brands. What tactics do you use on behalf of your company or clients?

Megan Jasin
Public Relations Intern

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