Category Archives: Culture

Congratulations graduate! Here’s why I won’t hire you

Eleven reasons why I will never hire you

At HB, over the past 14 years, we have received thousands of resumes from new college graduates. Too many had the background to make the cut or at least garner a second interview. But disastrous interviewing skills brought them down.

Here’s our take on what went wrong and how to improve.

Please share with any graduates in your life.

Posted in Business, Culture | 3 Comments

Summer Reading

To say that I hail from a family of readers is an understatement. The only thing that my divorced parents have in common is their passion for reading. Breakfast with either of them involves a newspaper and maybe five words.

While I consider myself an avid reader, I struggle to make reading a daily ritual, except during the summer. As I did during elementary school — when it was required — I begin the summer by making a summer reading list. With Memorial Day behind us, summer has unofficially hit New England. So I hit the bookstore (yes, the actual store!) this week to get my stack started.

On my summer 2013 list:

Lean In. Sheryl Sandberg.
I held on tight for months, leaning away from the cloud of chatter and activity around Sheryl Sandberg’s controversial book. What convinced me to loosen my grip on the rail and let myself ride the wave? A respected acquaintance posted this on Facebook:

I keep buying the book and sending it to anyone who should read it… the male executive committee of our company, numerous business partners, friends, and family, I believe I am up to 75 books sent out to the world. This is such an important piece of work and one that all need to read and talk about. I no longer feel alone in my corporate experience, thanks to Sheryl!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Stephen King.
As a PR pro, I devote much of my week to writing via content planning, editing or actual writing. Although I haven’t read any of his fiction (well, maybe once during a college summer…), I adored King’s smart, engaging contributions to Entertainment Weekly, whose column I still mourn. During my bookstore tour I discovered this gem. A combo plate, if you will, it offers practical tips as well as an inside glimpse of King’s writing experiences.

The Icarus Deception. Seth Godin.
Let me first admit that I had forgotten the specifics of the Icarus myth. In case you need a refresher: Wearing wings crafted by his father, Icarus did not heed Dad’s counsel to play it safe. Icarus flew too close to the sun and plunged to his death.

Godin reminds readers to get out of their comfort zone. While Icarus went down in flames, Godin reminds his audience that getting outside of your comfort zone can lead to success and creativity (not flames).

The Burgess Boys. Elizabeth Strout.
My summer pages will certainly include many fiction selections (most likely at the beach!). At the top of my list is this suggestion from my mother. Strout spins engaging stories with complex characters; her Pulitzer-winning Olive Kitteredge was a past summer read.

Curious to learn more about the HB shelves? Check out our summer reading Pinterest board and follow #SummerReadingHB on Twitter.

I would love to hear about your summer reading list. Friend me on Goodreads or tweet me at @perrinmcc so we can exchange titles.


Posted in Books, Business, Culture, Hart-Boillot, Writing | 8 Comments

Focus is happiness – what I learned from Ikea


Ikea prides itself on “functional home furnishing products,” building a massive business and in-store experience in the United States since 1985. Some of its most successful products include storage systems that organize anything from office supplies to baby clothes into well-designed compartments, buckets, and racks.

But here’s the thing about well-conceived storage: you get the most ROI on your purchase when you need to organize and store many items. As useful as it may be, Ikea storage works at its highest capacity when its products are full or near-full.

Humans are different. We work best when there’s less storage, less clutter, and less stuff. Humans operate better when they focus.

Daddy issues

Since becoming a father less than a year ago, I’ve needed my share of Ikea storage to contain the explosion of toys that litter my living room. More significantly, I’ve certainly struggled with time management and focus.

Focus goes a long way in parenthood, too. Time spent with my daughter – when my responsibilities are solely to love and nurture her – results in her improved motor skills and increased smiles.

Similarly, when I spend time writing or designing at home, my best work is done when my wife is spending her quality time with our daughter. This allows me to concentrate on a single task for maximum output – even for a short period of time. No email, phone calls, or web surfing allowed. And, as delightful as it could be, no parenting interruptions.

Do what you love

Through my struggles with time management, I’ve learned that focus can be applied to big-picture thinking in addition to small, task-oriented activities. Rian van der Merwe, an expert in sociology and technology, explains the value of building a platform statement as a guiding proclamation. My first draft looks like this:

“I build digital experiences using art, design, and simplicity.”

If ever I’m off-track in my thinking or creating, I go back to my platform. It helps get rid of the clutter and doesn’t require any Swedish storage. The platform will change over the years, but the purpose won’t: to guide and focus my work beyond my current challenge, life situation, or job.

Rian sums it up best when he ditches old goals and moves on to new, focused ones:

“Just like we’ve moved on from the idea that the big office is a big deal, we have to let go of the idea that a big enough title is equal to a successful career. Much more important is that we figure out what it is that we want to spend our time and attention on — and then working at our craft to make that our platform.”

Encountering purpose

Now I’ve not only brought more focus into my life, but it’s slowly becoming a purpose – the reason for my life’s work. The platform helps push away the clutter and provide a clear path for success and happiness. From this, I learn to nurture not just my offspring, but my daily work. In Karen McGrane’s uniquely-titled post on A List Apart, she closes with a bit of advice in “Give a crap. Don’t give a f*ck:”

“Care deeply about your personal values and live them fully in this world. Don’t get caught up in worrying about other people’s checklists to tell you what good work means to you.”

In short, I concentrate on my values, goals, and work and what it means to me. I can see how this will result in better work, as well as increased success and happiness.

Just do it

So I’ve scheduled time, have a platform statement, and purpose for my work. How do I actually accomplish something? Now I arrive at commitment and concentration.

Christopher Penn, Vice President of Shift Communications, recently shared his thoughts in “How I get more stuff done:”

“Today, I manage almost exclusively by my calendar. I block off time for each task that needs doing, and during those times, I do those things and nothing else. Client work gets repeating windows as needed, and everything else gets time as needed. The secret is this: during those time periods, one and only one thing gets attention, nothing else.”

The big change here is in the workflow – Penn doesn’t allow his email to guide his day, but his calendar. During key time blocks, Penn’s attention and focus reside with one task which he is able to accomplish through commitment and concentration.

Chris Brogan, CEO & President of Human Business Works, shares a similar example to folks who need to get more done:

“Shutting out the craziness of other people’s lives for a while will empower my own choices. Knowing what matters to me and my day and also to those who I serve is a great first set of instructions to consider.”

The craziness that Brogan speaks of is that daily clutter – nonsensical and empty posts on social media, an unimportant clip on YouTube, or a pesky email clamoring for immediate help.

Get happy

Through understanding, planning, purpose, and commitment, we can all better focus and become more productive – and happier – human beings. By removing the junk from our lives, we don’t require all that Ikea storage – as beautiful as it is – to guide our purpose, values, and goals.

Clear your stuff, book some time, and crush your work. Your smile will thank you.

Posted in Culture, Design, Hart-Boillot, Writing | 3 Comments

What happened to my big-screen TV?

BIg screen television

The big-screen, flat-panel television: an in-home entertainment game changer. More pixels and high-definition signals created amazing, high-quality images for television shows and movies. These TVs became commonplace in many homes where bigger is better. Larger dimensions create a better experience when watching a sporting event, concert, or movie. Size matters.

So what happened to all that real estate?

Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, news and sports stations have added scrolling tickers to their broadcast. At the time, this seemed strange – but now it’s expected. On that terrible day in American history, we were able to follow multiple stories at the same time: the live broadcast and updates from those at ground zero.

In the 10+ years that followed, users have received their news less from broadcast television and more from web sites and social tools – the so-called “second screen.” Someone watching television will simultaneously access their phone or tablet for additional information. These changes led to the biggest shift in high-def TV.

Information, not size

Television broadcasts are shifting away from “the most pixels make the best picture.” Instead, televisions are using that extra space for more information. What was once a beautiful 42″ display has now been reduced to 2/3 of its size because of graphics, charts, and information.

Take the third presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The broadcast cared less about showing as much of the candidates as possible and more of the “pulse of the nation” – something typically found on Twitter and other social tools. Less face time, more information.


In a world of second screens, does it make sense for television broadcasts to fill precious pixels with information found elsewhere? The television industry is already considered to be behind the rest of the technological world (why are cable boxes and their interfaces terribly designed?).

For the smart networks, they’re relying on mobile web sites or apps to deliver secondary information to the user. A perfect example: Conan on TBS. Their iPad “sync” app does precisely that – during a broadcast, you can sync your iPad in order to follow along with the show, in real time, with secondary information. In this example, TBS can use as many pixels as possible towards their comedy bits and beautiful celebrities while their audience still shares in the experience of additional data and information.

The lesson: use the tools as they were intended. Keep it simple and rely on compatible strategies to deliver additional information to the user or viewer. It makes for a better experience – and a better use for your television!

Posted in Culture, Design, Social Media, Video | 1 Comment

The Five-Year Plan

Recently, I celebrated my five-year HB anniversary. The time flew by and it’s fair to say, I’m not the same person I was five years ago. So much has changed in my life and HB has changed as well. Five years ago, I was childless, working in an HB office with window AC units, along with seven other Hart Boilloter’s on 760 Main Street in Waltham. Now I have two children, our office is Newton and HB has 16 employees. HB has been good to me and it’s a great place to work—filled with intelligent, creative, and wonderful people.

The infographic below shows a brief look at what I’ve experienced at HB over the past five-years.

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HB Intern-Palooza!


Hi y’all! My name is Richard Alvarez and I’m the San Antonio PR intern. I’m a senior at the University of Texas at San Antonio majoring in Public Relations with a Minor in business administration.

This post is co-authored by Richard Alvarez and Caitlin Gribbons. 

As graduating seniors, we couldn’t be more excited to spend our last semester interning at HB. With over 2,000 miles between the San Antonio and Boston offices, HB has built a sense of community that made us feel truly welcomed and connected.

Want to know a bit more? Read on and find out what interests us.

Q: What should we know about you? Describe yourself in 50 words or less

  • Richard: I’m actively involved in a fraternity (Phi Mu Alpha). I’m the oldest of six kids. I detest any form of math. I was on the MTV show RoomRaiders. I hate avocados, sour cream, and olives. I have an unhealthy obsession with Celine Dion.
  • Caitlin: My family means the world to me. I love to travel; in the last year I have visited: Florence, Cabo, Jamaica, and B.V.I. Joining a sorority was my best decision in college. I love to cook and I’m quite the artist even though I go to business school!

Q: What is your favorite college course and why?

  • Richard: I have two. First was International Films because it opened my eyes to so many different types of films and genres. My second favorite was Campaigns, which explored real PR campaigns that both succeeded and failed.
  • Caitlin: My current Project Class for Rue La La, a fabulous Boston based company that offers private sales every day at 11 a.m.—exciting right? I not only enjoy listening to my professor’s British Accent but love that the class combines analytics with creativity.

My name is Caitlin Gribbons and I’m the Boston intern (the Best City Around). I'm currently a senior at Bentley University majoring in Marketing with a Minor in Information Design Corporate Communication and Psychology.

Q: Why are you interested in Public Relations?

  • Richard: PR interests me because I enjoy writing and I love talking to people. I have been a waiter for 10 years and talking to the customers and meeting new people is one of the things that excites me about my job every day.
  • Caitlin: Agency-life may not include designer clothes and hitting the hottest clubs with my three best friends as portrayed by PR exec Samantha Jones in Sex in the City, but it does encompass a fast paced and ever-changing environment, intellectual freedom, and some of the smartest, most energetic and dynamic people around.

Q: What has your experience at HB been like?

  • Richard: From day one, HB welcomed me with open arms. I have learned so much more from sitting in on client calls and creating daily PR reports than I would have from just reading a text book. The camaraderie and sense of family has definitely been evident since I’ve joined.
  • Caitlin: Interning for HB has truly been eye opening. I now realize that who you work with can truly make or break an agency’s corporate culture. HBers are: smart, energetic, caring, and creative individuals who are passionate about their clients. They made every day of my internship enjoyable and a true learning experience.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • Richard: I honestly don’t know where I see myself. The only thing for sure is that I want to be happy in whatever I’m doing and enjoying life with my dog Charcol.
  • Caitlin: I hope to be living in downtown Boston and working as an Account Director at a well known Advertising Agency or Marketing Firm. I can also see myself going back to school to get my MBA…there is always more to learn!

Interested in an internship at HB? Contact us to learn more.

Posted in Culture, Hart-Boillot | Leave a comment


In celebration of tomorrow’s leap day, all of us at HB thought about what we would like to do with this extra day.

We asked around the office – what’s on your leap list? Is there a project you’ve been putting off or something creative you have yet to try because you just can’t get around to it?

Here’s what a few HBers shared:

“I would like to write a short story, an activity that helps develop a skill while also quenching my thirst for creation.” – NB & JH

“With the extra 24 hours, I intend to clean my desk. Not just neaten up the stacks of papers, folders and unread magazines… I mean really clean my desk. If it hasn’t been touched in a year, I’ll throw it out. If it pertains to activities older than a year, I’ll throw it out. Now… my Rolodex… what to do about my Rolodex?! Keep it or toss it? That is the question!” – KH

“I want a day to read and delete old emails, do the tasks listed on the Post-It notes lettering my desk and start March 1 with an empty to-do list.” – MO

“If I had a free 24 hours with no obligations, I would sit outside and paint. I use to do this frequently, but no longer have the time to do so. It’s so relaxing to sit under the sun with a cool breeze blowing while laying a fresh coat of paint on a canvas.” – AJ

Now that we’ve shared some items on our leap list, HB wants to know – what’s on yours?

This Wednesday, February 29th, HB will provide half-hour marketing sessions in-person, via skype, or on the phone for anyone who would like free public relations, marketing and branding consulting.

Availability is limited so please email or call 781-893-0053 to schedule your appointment today.


Posted in Culture, Fun Facts, Hart-Boillot, Work | Leave a comment

Renting vs. owning: A shift in content consumption

A recent Google+ post from Jeremiah Owyang read:

“You for rent: I can rent your HOUSE with AirBnB. I can rent your CAR with GetAround. I can rent your TIME and EXPERTISE with taskrabbit, crowdflower. What else can we rent in the future? What’s left?”

Owyang focuses on a shift in user behavior over the past couple of years: people no longer require ownership of their content – just access to it.

That’s a long cry from Steve Jobs’s discussion surrounding the iTunes Music Store in 2007:

“People want to own their music.”

Only six years later, Apple now offers iTunes Match which allows users to stream their music from any device, assuming it’s purchased through iTunes or resides on a home machine. Similarly, Spotify offers a seemingly-endless supply of music to its customers for a monthly subscription fee.

On the tube

RentLikewise, the television and movie models are shifting their business model from ownership to rental. Companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon provide content consumption without taking up precious space on your hard drive.

Even production companies are joining the fun. Without “ownership” of a cable box, folks can watch many of their favorite shows via a web site or app. The episodes no longer reside on a machine; rather, users stream content over the internet with relatively little setup.

On the horizon

Back to Owyang. What’s next? Magazines have slowly joined the movement, offering digital subscriptions – but mainly when the customer already receives a print version of the publication.

Instead of content, it’s commodities and services that are sure to see an uptick in “rentals.” Could there be a subscription-fee model for airfare? Or how about automobile maintenance? Will the book industry move to this model to service the millions of Kindles, Nooks, and iPads across the globe?

What do you think will come next in this world of renting?

Posted in Books, Business, Culture, Video, Web/Tech | 1 Comment

An Extra Day

An Extra Day the HB WayWhat would you do with more time? 

While many of us desperately wish for exactly that, finding time is more a myth than reality. While discussing the upcoming “Leap Day,” the HB team brainstormed the concept of a “leap list.” What would you do with an extra day? What if you could focus on what your marketing needs to do instead of what you need to move off your to-do list?

That’s what we’re offering: a one-day event on Leap Day, February 29, designed to help companies in and around our Boston headquarters and San Antonio office address their business challenges and how marketing can help with members of the HB team.

On February 29, HB will provide free, half hour marketing consultations for any company, in-person or via phone, helping them with their marketing and communications challenges, mapping out next steps for growth through marketing and generating creative ideas for influencing their audiences.

To participate, simply connect with HB via this blog, by phone or by our Leap Day email address and schedule time to share with our team.

What’s on your “leap list?” Feel free to spread the word about HB Agency’s complimentary services on February 29th. If you want to schedule time, drop us a note at, or call us at 781.893.0053 and we’ll see you on Leap Day.

Also, watch this space for more information on HB’s Leap Day schedule, including Google+ Hangouts on integrating video and interactive into your marketing program.

Spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #xtradaytheHBway, and follow HB on Twitter at @hb_agency.

Posted in Business, Culture, Hart-Boillot | 2 Comments

Going backwards to go forwards


When I was a wee Justin, my friends’ summer camp offered incredible games of ultimate Frisbee. One of the Frisbee commandments stated, “you gotta go backwards before you can go forwards.”

The reasoning: often, you had to pass the Frisbee to someone behind you before you could pass it down the field for a score.

Passing the new business Frisbee

So how does this apply to new business development? Often, we struggle to offer free consulting to our prospects. It doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. Why should we invest hours, creative development, and travel into a company who pays us nothing?

In business development, we sometimes have to go backwards. The reward could result in a much larger payoff… but how can we know?

The right time and the wrong time

This is where we rely on our instincts. Which prospects deserve a small, medium, or large up-front investment? Should we throw our Frisbee backwards for the possibility of a larger score?

In the end, an up-front investment makes sense where the prospect’s goals and our skill set creates a good match.

How do you use your new business Frisbee?

Posted in Business, Culture, Hart-Boillot | Leave a comment