HB Agency’s Julia Bucchianeri Wins Striker Award at the 47th Annual Bell Ringer Awards Ceremony

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Newton, MA – June 12, 2015 Julia Bucchianeri, senior account executive at HB Agency, was honored with the Striker Award at the 47th Annual Bell Ringer Awards Ceremony hosted by The Publicity Club of New England.

The Striker Award recognizes one public relations professional who has demonstrated a love of the PR field, a dedication to their career and a superior work ethic. Bucchianeri is receiving this esteemed honor for demonstrating excellence in PR strategy and tactics, managing clients and staff, creativity, PR program implementation and results documentation, as well as superior written and interpersonal communication skills and professionalism.

Bucchianeri stood out from the list of nominees this year by showcasing her active leadership role across multiple accounts; creating new business opportunities; enhancing HB’s company culture and positive work environment; sharing her PR knowledge with others outside of the office walls; and giving back to the community through mission-driven initiatives.

“Since she started at HB, Julia has been hungry: first, to learn PR, and since, putting smart, creative ideas into action for clients and keeping the agency focused on the value of culture and community. She has also been instrumental in establishing HB as the go-to agency for energy and sustainability organizations,” said Mark O’Toole, managing director, public relations & content marketing at HB. “Julia has made a cultural impact on the organization by not only turning HB into a dog-friendly environment, but also encouraging the agency’s involvement in public service work with local organizations, including CitySprouts. We’re lucky to have her as a key member of our team.”

HB also took home a Silver Bell for the organizational identity communications campaign it developed for Greentown Labs, the nation’s largest cleantech incubator. The campaign included elements of earned and owned media, as well as graphic design, internal communications and media relations.

For more information about this year’s Bell Ringers, please visit www.pubclub.org.

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About HB Agency

Founded in 1999 as a business-to-business integrated marketing agency, HB’s public relations and creative services have earned national recognition through Bell Ringer Awards from the Publicity Club of New England, Telly Awards, Communitas Awards, Content Marketing Institute and a Summit Marketing Effectiveness SIA Award. To learn more about HB’s branding, marketing and public relations expertise, please visit hbagency.wpengine.com, or call 781-893-0053.

HB Agency
Molly Delaney
mdelaney@www.hbagency.com
781-893-0053

Boston Does More with Less

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Love or hate Boston, we have bragging rights for a reason and a new win to celebrate — we’re the most energy-efficient big city in the nation thanks to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The report covers various aspects from local government to transportation and community initiatives. You can view Boston’s scorecard here to see the total ranking breakdown.

What’s contributed to this major energy win for Boston?

  • Last year, Mayor Walsh released the Greenovate Boston 2014 Climate Action Plan Update, celebrating the city’s progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, and to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

  • The nation’s oldest ballpark and home of our beloved Red Sox gained another title this year: the largest organic rooftop garden in the majors. Not only does it provide fresh, organic vegetables, the garden also reduces energy costs by insulating the building below it and will be a ‘teaching tool’ for area children about healthy eating and the local environment.

  • Greater Boston is doing its part too. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone launched a GreenTech program to meet the city’s ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. As part of this program, Somerville is engaging members of its community to help mold the city’s energy future. Last month Understory, a startup based out of Greentown Labs, joined the GreenTech program, providing the city of Somerville with its solar-powered weather stations as part of a pilot program.

Other major cities are now looking at Boston as a model for energy efficiency. Places like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver aren’t that far behind us.

How does your city rank? If you’re Oklahoma City, you’re using way too much energy. Here’s an idea to help the environment: you could start cutting back on all the styrofoam cups, Sonic.

image via RealityTVGIFs

image via RealityTVGIFs

Sip & Share: DH

Lisa Cargill, PR powerhouse and our IPREX partner, shares her proudest professional moment, what makes DH unique, and describes one especially important initiative that she’s worked on getting off the ground in Spokane, Washington (oh, and her favorite beverage of course). 

HB Agency: How long have you been at DH?

LC: This is my thirteenth year! No two days have been the same here. That’s one of the things I love most about my job.

HB: What types of clients do you typically work with?

LC: We have clients in just about every sector, as we are a generalist firm. I especially enjoy working with healthcare clients, public health in particular; so many of my projects are in that space.

HB: Describe DH in 5 words or less.

LC: Talented team ready to help

HB: What makes DH unique?

LC: DH is such an awesome place to work. We’re a team of zealots. The key word in Webster’s definition of the word zealot is “fanatical” – we love what we do and we love our clients. Their goals become ours and we won’t stop until we achieve success. We never compromise and the entrepreneurial mindset our company was founded on 20 years ago is alive and well today.

One of the things that’s funny about our culture is over the years we’ve developed our own language for communicating internally. When we hire someone I always feel for them because it’s like learning a foreign language. Three of my personal favorites:

  • “I’ve got hot snakes” – urgent issues lurking in your email
  • “I’m digging out” – back in the office and buried in to-dos
  • “It’s gonna be a rip snorter” – really crazy day/week/month ahead

In fact, a lot of funny stuff can be overheard at DH. Check it out on Twitter @overheardatDH.

HB: What has been your proudest PR moment at DH?

LC: Earning my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a highlight for sure. It pushed me to grow as a PR practitioner and helped me demonstrate my knowledge, skills and abilities in a formal way. It was an opportunity to prove to myself (and others) what I was capable of in the PR world. I became so passionate about the process that I now chair the local APR program and guide other APR hopefuls through the process.

HB: We’ve heard about your work with Give Real Change. What was the genesis of this campaign and what was (or still is) its impact on the community?

LC: Like so many urban cores across the country, downtown Spokane, WA experiences chronic panhandling. The Give Real Change campaign was born from the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) and City of Spokane’s belief that in the most basic sense, panhandling is a supply and demand issue. Past experience and research here showed nearly all chronic panhandlers have housing and food despite what their signs claim, and they use spare change to fuel alcohol and drug addictions.

In short, we set out to encourage people to stop giving money to panhandlers and instead donate to local organizations making a measurable difference in the community. This would not only wane the supply and thus the demand, but would ensure two important outcomes: panhandlers needing support to overcome addiction or other chronic issues would be forced to seek it at local service providers like House of Charity and others (who are no where near capacity) and the dollars from compassionate community members would be put to good use to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people – meeting the givers’ real intent.

HB: What did you and the DH team do to get this campaign off the ground?

LC: These are just some of the tactics used in the campaign strategy:

  • Partnered with Catholic Charities who connected us with former panhandlers who acted as spokespeople and talked about the realities of where the money goes, how much they made on the streets, and the deception that runs rampant
  • Tools for employers to educate employees who work in the downtown core because they’re often the biggest givers
  • Posters at local businesses, eateries and shopping venues to raise general awareness
  • Bill stuffers in City utility bills to reach a broader audience who live near downtown and frequent it for restaurants, shopping and entertainment
  • A CrowdSwell webpage and app to make giving to charities fast and easy

As expected, the campaign was met with some criticism from people who felt the DSP and City were not being compassionate toward people in need and/or were telling people where to donate their hard-earned money. Criticism is never easy, but it’s why I believe your heart has to be in the work you do. We knew the realities and what the research shows so we had no reason to waiver and if anything, it pushed us to spread the word even more.

Our client was very happy with the campaign, but as we all know, behavior change takes time.  Now that the assets are developed, ongoing pushes will be initiated as funding allows. This effort continues to be just one of the ways the DSP and City are improving beautiful downtown Spokane.

HB: Finally, what’s your drink of choice and why?

LC: No frills. No gimmicks. Just plain, iced, black tea. It meets my three criteria: tasty, less sugar than soda, and enough caffeine to help me function. Mmm.

Lisa at DH (1)

DH is a public relations, advertising and branding agency in Spokane, Washington. They build multi-disciplinary programs that communicate complex ideas in simple, compelling ways. At the heart of everything they do is a strategy built on a company’s market, opportunities and where it can move the needle. Their team is grounded in multi-disciplinary work and campaigns. Please visit www.wearedh.com to learn more or connect with DH on Facebook and Twitter.

HUBgrown: Q&A with Julia Paino, Vodia Ventures

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Native Bostonian and Vodia Ventures associate Julia Paino shares what she looks for when investing in startups, and how the investor community in Boston is evolving into a more socially-conscious movement.

Julia Paino HeadshotHB: How did you join the VC world?

JP:I grew up in Concord, MA with a family of entrepreneurs – I’ve always been fascinated with the startup environment. My father is a successful entrepreneur within the food industry, and I developed an interest in that space from a young age. The world of entrepreneurship was always very appealing to me, but I was particularly interested in individuals/teams that had tremendous drive and passion, but lacked the means to finance their vision.

At the same time, I have always been extremely interested in sustainability. Before venture capital, I followed my affinity for wildlife and the outdoors, which led me to working on assignment in Alaska with National Geographic. While the work there was amazing – I flew in sea planes every day and photographed the wildlife – I really felt a big part of me, and a big part of who I had become, was centered on this entrepreneurial spirit. I felt that this was something that I needed to develop further, and I knew I had many skills and resources that I could contribute towards this line of work.

Additionally, I had interned at Vodia Capital during college, and had built out a sustainability index during my time there. When the venture capital arm of Vodia Capital was created, I found this was the perfect way to bridge my passions and immerse myself in the startup environment.

HB: What makes Boston a hub for entrepreneurship?

JP: I think Boston has become an entrepreneurial hub because of the innovative culture largely built by the universities in this city. We have some of the best universities in the world – Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Boston University – all of these institutions have incredible entrepreneurial programs. This along with resources such as shared workspaces, incubators, and accelerator programs make Boston an attractive city for innovation.

HB: What do you look for in a company when investing?

JP: [Vodia Ventures], invests in early-stage companies. We look for a concrete idea that is well-developed and thought out. More importantly, we look for a team that is solid and cohesive. We rarely invest in a single entrepreneur – we find that going at it alone is extremely difficult and oftentimes, it fails. If you meet a team with an impressive idea, but a lack of cohesion, nine times out of ten that idea will fail.

HB: What is the biggest mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

JP: One of the most prevalent mistakes I encounter is the over-emphasis on financials. What I mean by that is entrepreneurs who are pitching us on a company or idea often say, “If we only capture 5 percent of the market…” This type of specific prediction is a red flag for us because, in reality, ideas pivot, things change and new competitors emerge. You can’t predict the exact numbers.

Instead, a more targeted way of approaching this subject is sharing concrete evidence of a corporation’s or customer’s interest in the product/idea, or specific demand in the market. Illustrating the demand is more productive for startups, rather than an unrealistic goal of success.

HB: What is your advice to companies looking to grow and impact the Boston entrepreneurial community?

JP: I would say it is absolutely imperative to understand the competitive landscape. Everyone wants to believe that their product is superior, and that they have differentiated themselves from others within the market. It’s important that the entrepreneur can speak to the specifics of other products on the market and exactly why their product is different. They need to be able to identify a current demand in the marketplace and prove that a gap exists. It’s critical to show that you understand the environment that you are penetrating in order to prove to your investors that you can compete intelligently.

HB: What changes are you seeing in Boston’s investor community?

JP: Boston, in particular, is a special place. During my time with Vodia Ventures, I have absolutely seen a shift from the “first the money, then the impact” mentality to a more mindful strategy of investing. In the industry today, there’s this movement of high net worth millennials who are exhibiting a completely different perspective and interest in what they are looking to invest in. What I’m seeing now is a wave of impactful investors – millennials looking to invest their money in ways that both generate outstanding returns and contribute in a way that affect our world positively – especially in Boston. It’s exciting to see in such an innovative city, and I’m fascinated by this community of young individuals with a shared passion for affecting change in the local economy, and the larger society.

Seeing the Unseen: A guide to understanding media

The Muppets only show us what's in the frame, but understanding their genius is seeing what otherwise goes unseen.

The Muppets only show us what’s in the frame, but understanding their genius means seeing what otherwise goes unseen.

When it comes to media, what we don’t see matters as much as what appears. Of course, how do you know what you don’t see?

Every journalist leaves some great quotes and details behind in order to create a good story. It doesn’t mean they leave out relevant facts, it just means they need to cut in order to clarify. Plus, they rarely tell you the origin of a story. Did it come from their own experience? Did a PR person pitch it? Was this an editor’s suggestion? Did they start reporting on something else and stumble across this gem?

This matters because it better helps us in PR learn how to bring journalists stories that matter to them. Just because someone writes a story about coffee doesn’t mean they’re interested in other coffee-related stories. How they came to write that article and what engaged them about that particular story is often more important than the subject. PR people often forget this and will begin emailing reporters with pitches that don’t match their area of expertise or passion.

The easiest place to understand this is in the world of photography. Today, people take pictures as a quick process in which we snap almost without thought. But true photography is something entirely different. During a recent interview, Photographer Tom Zimberoff brought that differentiation to light by pointing out “photographs, which are 2 dimensional objects which you can hold in your hand and admire with completely different aesthetic qualities than you see on a computer screen.” He also said that Instragram is to photography as texting is to prose.

For many photographers, however, the work has a huge editing component. They take an idea, snap the shutter, select only the images worth using, modify them in some way to better tell the story, then only show their best work. This is true whether you’re talking about carefully staged art photography or more journalistic “decisive moment” photography.

Ansel Adams wrote three seminal works that break the photographic process into distinct areas: The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. While the idea of a “negative” has been replaced with a digital file, the three-step execution remains. What you do with the camera is distinct from the images you capture that are distinct from the product finally produced. Of course, the modification can go too far, as it has recently in some journalistic circles.

One of the most amazing moments in my own photography education was viewing the contact sheets produced by Diane Arbus. I had been experimenting with a camera similar to hers and would have the occasional misfire or an out-of-focus shot. These frustrated me as I wanted every image to turn into gold. That is, until I saw her contact sheets and found the same errors. I learned that she would often spend a day or more shooting but only deemed a few images as worthy of printing.

One if Diane Arbus' most famous photographs.

One of Diane Arbus’ most famous photographs.

Among her more famous works is one of a set of twins, an image that inspired such iconic film moments as the twins in The Shining. The father of those twins once commented that he felt it was a lousy picture of his daughters. But that wasn’t Arbus’ point. She liked capturing something off in her images, which is why she loved photographing nudist colonies and what subjects who she termed “freaks.” To her, the twins were part of that narrative: the odd ends of society.

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But if you look at her contact sheets you can almost see the “notes” she’s taking as she’s creating the narrative. She has a series of photographs with twins, all standing next to one another dressed alike (she came to a gathering of twins specifically to get two kids who looked alike). Each set of twins was photographed a number of times in different locations and focal lengths.

Then she took all these images, found the one that came closest to the story she wanted to tell, and that image went on to become famous. We have a better sense of what she was trying to say by looking at what she didn’t say.

The same goes for reporters. As PR people, we can learn a lot about a reporter by looking at their other stories, following their social presence, and even reading other quotes or articles written by the people who are interviewed. All that data begins to tell us what’s missing and can help us as we pitch reporters new stories.

By knowing what’s missing, we can know how to fill in blanks and better understand what’s valuable to different journalists.

Measuring PR Performance Against Budget – An IPREX Conversation

sip_share_logo_finalYears ago a public company CEO told me: “I hate PR. I  know we need it, but I never know if it’s worth the money. I don’t know if it’s doing well. I don’t know how much I should pay. Yet I know we have to have it.” I was shocked because I had a deep conviction about the short- and long-term value of good PR. Yet over the years I have met many other business leaders who felt the same way. Sales are easy to measure. PR, not so much.

 

That has shifted with social media and easily-destroyed reputations, and an increasing number of executive teams see PR as a necessary part of building and maintaining a strong reputation while making deposits into the “bank of goodwill,” as one IPREX partner notes below. Yet they still have trouble measuring PR’s value.

 

At the IPREX annual meeting in Berlin, I asked a few of our colleagues from various regions and countries how they measure PR performance against budgets. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that performance metrics vary dramatically according to company, marketing manager and campaign. In a business where the only certainty is what you give — the effort and creativity devoted to building awareness or shifting audience perception — there’s a wide range of ways to look at what you get in return.

 

Michael Fineman, President, Fineman PR, San Francisco
First, it’s critical to benchmark campaign goals at the very beginning and obsessively measure and report on the agency’s progress specific to these goals.

 

Second, there is the intangible element. We all know when our client is doing well. When that’s the case, a campaign or program can fall short of its goals and there can still be a sense of success. This can be enough to keep a relationship healthy and moving forward, and obviously adjusting for better results. Conversely, if a client’s business is struggling or failing, it might make no difference if the agency meets or exceeds program goals — the relationship is at risk.

 

Kathy Tunheim, Principal & CEO, Tunheim, Minneapolis
It’s all about taking responsibility for being understood. That is what we help our clients to do, and we know we need to hold ourselves to the same metrics.  So value is achieved – and measuredas a combination of our level of effort and the difference we made in our clients’ business.  If we spend lots of effort but don’t impact their results, that is low performance.  The goal, of course, is high impact with optimal effort:  Score!! 

 

Casper Jenster, EMEA Director, IPREX, The Netherlands
We often will look at the level of effort and help our client understand what this should have cost with other firms or, based on results, if they bought advertising for that kind of space. They often don’t realize the value of what they get. Also, it’s important to note that level of effort is clear and easy to quantify, but results are not always predictable in our business. Sometimes they can be disappointed, even though there was great effort put into a program.

 

Nick Vehr, President, Vehr Communications, Cincinnati
We measure against expectations and report regularly for most clients. Our goal is to initiate a conversation with each client engagement/project focused on the client objective. When it is increased sales or market share growth, we look at how we influenced leads understanding that we cannot close sales — the client’s sales team must do this. Some of the metrics we use include:
  • Ouputs: the work we do/things we produce (content, plans, posts, white papers, etc.).
  • Outtakes: attitude change in target audiences as a result of outputs generated. This often requires original research for which not all clients are willing to pay.
  • Outcomes: desired target audience action (inquiries, leads, sales, etc., which typically become the client’s responsibility).
John Scheibel, CEO and Mary Scheibel, Founder and Principal, Trefoil Group, Milwaukee, WI
John: “You need to work with the client to find metrics that tie as closely to the client’s income statement as possible. And if you wait until the end of an initiative or campaign to do this, it’s too late.”

 

Mary: It’s important to counsel companies who are transitioning from sales-centric to marketing-centric cultures. When they are just beginning to invest in marketing and public relations, they often invest just enough money to be dissatisfied.”

Helga Tomtschick, Managing Partner, Lang & Tomaschtik Communications, Austria
One of the key metrics is the CEO’s personal satisfaction. The client CEO needs to feel like PR is an insurance policy. Whether there is a crisis or difficulty, whether there is good news or bad, the PR agency is there to help. If the client CEO understands that his marketing team and agency feel responsible  for his or her well-being, then the relationship will be strong.

 

John Williams, CEO, Mason Williams Communications, London
We have an agency mantra – Did It Make Any Difference? (DIMAD). We use this as a measure against all activity. We work really closely with all our clients to understand what results THEY want and, in our case, it is usually sales or influence of one kind or another. All communicators need to understand that a nice big piece of media coverage is great, but if it doesn’t make any difference to the parameters against which the activity is judged by their client the only benefit is to the ego.

 

Andrei Mylroie, Partner, DH, Spokane, WA
One of the things we’ve seen over the past five years is marketing and communications being viewed as a core business strategy for many of our clients. This is a big shift from the past, where it was viewed by many organizations as a more tactical service or department. Along with this shift we’re measuring differently as well. So it’s not just reach, frequency, ad equivalency, etc., but we’re tracking reputation, consumer sentiment and business outcomes in far more holistic ways.

 

Alyn Edwards, Partner, Peak Communications, Vancouver, Canada
Unfortunately scope-creep is part of our industry, and in media relations we are always trying to do more for the same budget. We often have to measure by number of impressions, and while it’s not the only measure, it’s a pretty strong one. For some clients, such as in real estate, the sales effect can be quickly measured.

More importantly, clients need to understand that PR is making deposits in the bank of goodwill. When you make those deposits in the bank of goodwill, which is commonly called your reputation, this will:

  • help sales
  • help recruitment
  • help with instant recall
  • and help dramatically in times of crisis.

We have had clients with significant food recalls, but their decades of deposits in the bank of goodwill have helped them through it. What is the ROI for having a good reputation? It’s unending.

 

The Tom Brady Suspension To-Do List

Dear Tom,Tom Brady

We know it’s been a rough week for you and the Patriots. As it stands, you’re looking at a pretty lengthy time-out when the season starts. And since you won’t even be allowed into the stadium to watch, you’re going to have a mountain of free time. What’s a multi-millionaire quarterback to do?

Well, here at HB we know a thing or two about being under pressure, so we pulled together ideas for you to pass the time and keep yourself pumped up during your suspension. And don’t get too deflated at the prospect of not playing for a few games – have a read of our thoughts and get a gauge on your interest.

Let’s start with the obvious: the PR lessons from Deflategate. Our Spring 2015 Intern (and native New Yorker) Ryan Yuffe had some thoughts about how the team could recover from the scandal. It might be time to revisit these – perhaps before the bosses decide to write another 20,000 word rebuttal.

Maybe you’re so disillusioned by the entire affair that you’re considering a career change. Chuck Tanowitz’s thoughts on your old resume might help when you’re refreshing that CV. Your brand has changed a little bit, Tom – you might want to focus a little more on the four Super Bowl rings rather than on the golf club experience.

If you’re thinking of kicking back and remembering the good times with a replay of this year’s Super Bowl, might we suggest including the commercial breaks? They’re usually just as enjoyable as the football (more so if you were a Seahawks fan at Super Bowl XLIX), and this year Julia Bucchianeri reckons we saw some pretty amazing shifts in Super Bowl marketing.

Spring is in the air, Tom and some fresh air could do you some good. Especially if you’re not playing for a while. Why not do some gardening, or volunteer work, or both? We tried our hand with the crew from City Sprouts, and it was a great chance to dig in and do some good. Plus, you might run into your buddies from the Patriots locker room – I heard they’re on gardening leave!

I jest, Tom. I imagine you’re sick of all the attention, and feel like getting out of the country for a while. We can help there, too. If you ask Catherine Ahearn, she’ll probably suggest London, where she spent a whirlwind few days earlier this year with our IPREX colleagues. But if Blighty doesn’t suit you, we can get recommendations from almost anywhere else, thanks to our huge network of IPREX partners in more than 30 countries.

If you just can’t keep your head out of the game, and want to mentor your replacement, we have something to help there, too. Why don’t you share my 6 tips for joining a new team with Jimmy Garoppolo to make sure he’s as ready as can be? (Pro tip: I think Gronk would make a GREAT Patriots Buddy.)

So there are a few ideas to consider during your time off. But Tom, if you’re really not into any of these ideas you can always intern with us this summer. We love it here, and that’s not a load of hot air – here’s a Buzzfeed post outlining just how cool it can be to work at HB.

Yours, with tongue firmly in cheek,

Alex Jafarzadeh

Newly converted fan of the New York Jets,
and stubbornly persistent football* fanatic.

*alright, soccer.

HB Agency’s International Partner Network, IPREX, Selects Michael T. Schröder as New Global President

Newton, MA – May 12, 2015 Michael T Schröder, managing director of ORCA Affairs based in Berlin, has been elected Global President of IPREX, the global network of communication agencies.

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“I see this presidency as a great challenge and honor. But, after working with Ketchum, ABC/EURO RSCG and Hill & Knowlton for 15 years before founding my own agency, it feels like a very natural development,” said Schröder.

“I really look forward to leading a communication network in which partnership, cooperation and collegiality, rather than margins and profit pressure, characterize our client service.”

Schröder succeeds John Scheibel, CEO of Trefoil Group in Milwaukee, whose two-year term ended at the network’s Annual Meeting in Berlin, May 7-9.

“My executive colleagues from over 70 partners worldwide are entrepreneurs in the classical sense, defined by a deep understanding of the realities, opportunities and challenges faced by companies in regional, national and international markets. The constant sharing of this knowledge seems to me to be the most important intellectual resource that we can provide to our clients. It is worth far more than the network positioning cliché ‘think global, act local’!”

HB Agency is the New England-based member for IPREX, collaborating with partners on marketing and PR best practices, business opportunities, especially within B2B markets, and peer advisory issues.

For more information about IPREX, please visit www.iprex.com. Read HB’s newest blog series, Sip and Share, which features interviews with IPREX partners.

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About IPREX

IPREX is a $250 million network of communication agencies, with 1,800 staff and 120 offices worldwide working across the spectrum of industry sectors and practice disciplines.

About HB Agency

Founded in 1999 as a business-to-business integrated marketing agency, HB’s public relations and creative services have earned national recognition through Bell Ringer Awards from the Publicity Club of New England, Telly Awards, Communitas Awards, Content Marketing Institute and a Summit Marketing Effectiveness SIA Award. To learn more about HB’s branding, marketing and public relations expertise, please visit hbagency.wpengine.com, or call 781-893-0053.

 

Get Out and Create.

While walking around Harvard Square during MayFair, I happened upon a slew of artists drawing on the pavement. Normally, I would just appreciate the art and continue walking. This time, I wanted in. The sun was out, a live band was playing and it had been too long since I had created spontaneous art.

“Hi, I was wondering if you have to register for this…?”

“Well, we still have a few squares open, would you like to make some art?”

“Yes please!”

“Great, here’s a new set of chalk. Have fun!”

girl gazing at giraffe

MayFair | Harvard Square

An impromptu act of creativity sparks inspiration that leaves you craving more.

That is why I decided to go to IDEO for their SASU // Creative Madness event. SASU stands for Saturday and Sunday, those glorious days when you are free to do whatever you want. IDEO employees use SASU time to break out of design funks and invent in a “judgement-free” environment.

As part of ArtWeek Boston, IDEO invited creatives to participate in SASU. We blocked out a few hours during the work day to explore their office, eat lunch and create. IDEO came up with a silly prompt and it was up to attendees to do something with it.

SASU Prompt Example

SASU Prompt Example

 

So here’s the prompt: Mr. Steven is on a walk in the woods when he suddenly develops the desire to eat everything around him. He spends the next few years concocting a pill that allows people to consume anything from the woods within a 24 hour period. Mr. Steven now needs to fill his grocery store with food products that people can eat with this pill.

We spent the next hour crafting “meals” out of branches, moss, flowers, roots and the like. “George Washington Elixir,” “Gourmet Sorbet” and “Ham-bark-er” were among the final products. Here is my “All-Natural Stuffed Log.”

Log stuffed with greenery

Desi’s All-Natural Stuffed Log

This proves IDEO’s stance that “there is always a design opportunity in the materials around you.” Employees uses the term “design fluidity” to explain the state you want to be in when creating. It is important to continually work those creative muscles because keeping yourself on your toes allows you to get to those wild, unique ideas.

 

Jump into Robotics Innovation

RobotLast week I attended MassTLC’s Robotics Summit. A morning event that gathered the robotics industry’s leading thinkers, makers and investors. Speakers and panelists discussed the current state of the industry, challenges faced and opportunities on the horizon. Let me tell you, if I took anything away from the event it’s that the robotics industry is smokin’ hott, super cool and changing the world.

The general public needs to stop worrying about drones killing us, robots taking our jobs and self-driving cars causing more damage than good.

Robots are here to help, not hurt, society. We already see how they’re increasing efficiencies across industries, aiding in national security, helping students learn and offering mobility to those with disabilities. From robots in the home and advances in AI, to automation and rehabilitation, the opportunities are endless.

So what’s the biggest challenge then? Moving away from a linear model of innovation.

Well, that’s one of the challenges according to the event’s keynote speaker, Kaigham Gabriel, president and CEO of Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA.

Gabriel questioned the audience about innovation:

  • “Why does it need to take 20 years?”
  • “Why do you need a roadmap?”

It doesn’t and you don’t. Gabriel explained that the biggest creative leaps come from the best jumpers.

Jumpers like Tye Brady, a distinguished member of the technical staff at Draper Laboratories and Steve Paschall, a senior systems engineer and spacecraft GNC engineer at the Lab. Brady and Paschall developed GENIE, an autonomous guidance, navigation and control avionics system that’s capable of autonomous precision planetary landings with real-time trajectory planning and hazard avoidance maneuvers. In layman’s terms: a real life rocketship that can actually set a target, land on it and avoid hazardous objects.

This is actually rocket science.

Brady and Paschall are rocket scientists who have a passion for their craft.They give new meaning to breakthrough innovations and Gabriel discussed some of the elements that made their project a success:

  • Bold goals
  • A fixed duration for the project — timelines inspire the most creative and focused work
  • Industry-leading project leaders, mostly performers — the people actually executing the work
  • An organizational infrastructure that supports speed and agility during projects

The interesting thing about innovation is that it’s not selective. You don’t have to work at a startup to spark innovation. You don’t have to be at a big corporation or venture-backed company to develop the latest innovation that will change an industry. You just need to change your perception of what’s possible.

If you’d like to know more about the event, check out MassTLC’s blog that includes key takeaways. Better yet, if you’re a eager to become more involved with the Massachusetts robotics community, be sure to keep tabs on MassRobotics — an amazing organization promoting robotics innovation throughout the Commonwealth.