13 PR Types Who Should be On the Naughty List for 2013

Santa's Naughty or Nice List

PR people often get criticized, ridiculed and looked down upon, sometimes for no reason. But there are times when we definitely deserve it. That’s right PR people, there are a few of you giving the rest of us a bad name with your naughty behavior. In fact, 13 types of PR professionals earned a spot on the Naughty List this year.

1. The Email Blaster – Reporters hate this and so should you. Sending out one generic email to a large number of reporters comes off as impersonal, lazy and, frankly, ineffective. It’s not that there isn’t a time or place for an email blast – there is. However, if this is how you primarily interact with journalists, congratulations! You just booked a one way ticket to PR purgatory. With a simple copy/paste and a touch of personalization, you can change how reporters perceive you.

2. The Scaredy Cat – In PR, at one point or another you have to go with your gut and take a risk. This could be as simple as how to deal with a client issue when the boss isn’t around or taking a gamble on a risky pitch. Boldness, confidence and instincts are all a part of PR. As PR pros mature, hiding from taking charge won’t work.

3. The Repeat Offender – Yes, we are all guilty of emailing reporters more than once if they don’t respond. However, it is crucial to not send the same email over and over again. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved and makes PR people look lazy, unprofessional and annoying. If you need an answer, write a new email each time or call. Matt Rosoff, editorial director for CITEworld gives insight as to what can happen if you do this (hint, blacklists do exist).

4. The Buzzword Person – Hey buzz word guy, no reporter, client or PR person wants to “circle back with you,” “reinvent the wheel,” or “grab the low-hanging fruit.” Can we cut this out of our language? While we’re at it, can we take out the words, “robust,” “optimize,” and “social media guru.” I’m just trying to “call out” the unnecessary jargon we use that makes people’s eyes glaze over. “Moving forward,” please make sure to add this to your “action items.” If you disagree, feel free to “reach out” and we can “touch base” about it later. If this doesn’t sound reasonable, please check out Yahoo Columnist and former NYT writer David Pogue’s response to PR pitches.

5. The Anti-Double Checker – These people call reporters by the wrong name in a pitch or don’t think to check what beat they cover. Perhaps they misspell or mispronounce the client’s CEO’s name. Come on guys, it’s hard to get much worse than this. Just ask ReadWrite reporter Dan Rowinski who still gets pitches from PR people calling his employer ReadWriteWeb, which changed its name in 2012. A simple double-check can solve this problem. Everyone messes up, but make sure to learn from it. Better yet, read your materials out loud, maybe even to another person. Not taking the time to do things right can make or break a relationship.

6. The Lazy Man’s Media List/Agenda Compiler – These documents are part of a PR agency’s life blood, so they have to be up to snuff. No one wants to open a media list and find wrong emails/numbers, misspelled names or out-of date publications. Sending an unfinished or sloppy agenda to a client makes your agency look unprofessional. Finally, you personally end up looking bad and have wasted everyone’s time. If you are chosen to put a document together, make sure to do it right.

7. The Clueless Pitcher/Researcher – In the same vein as number six, this naughty person doesn’t do their research. Whether it’s reaching out to reporters or doing research on publications, a PR person should always know the basics: how a journalist like to contacted, beat, style, etc. This chain of tweets between TechCrunch Writer Alex Wilhelm, founding partner, CEO of Knock Twice Mike Barash, TechCrunch Writer Ryan Lawler and author April Peveteaux demonstrates what a PR person needs to look for when pitching reporters. In terms of publications, don’t pitch a byline to a publication that doesn’t take bylines. If you know a certain magazine doesn’t cover product launches, then don’t pitch them a launch! With a little common sense and quick information check, this person can end up on the Nice List if they try.

8. The Long Pitcher – My favorite word in PR is brevity. Lengthy emails are not as appreciated as you think. From the reporters I have talked to, most hate long, intricate missives. The best thing you can do is get to the point as fast as you can. If they want the story they will take it no matter how detailed the pitch, but they need to be able to understand what you are pitching in the first place. If you can’t get to your point in the first few sentences, the pitch isn’t worth sending. Again, David Pogue can shed a little light on this very common problem.

9. The Email Bitcher— This is a very naughty PR person. If a reporter does not respond, most of the time it means they don’t want it. It is in poor form to go back to said reporter and complain about how they should check their messages more. Journalists have lives, as well as having hundreds of other PR people hounding them every day. Sending a complaint email makes a PR pro look immature and unprofessional. This is a great way to not only get on the Naughty list, but a reporter’s blacklist as well.

10. The Mis-Opportunist – This PR person does not take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. They miss out on being able to meet and talk to clients, reporters, other PR people and potential new business without realizing it. There is so much potential to network and make new connections at events or conferences that to not take advantage of this can be detrimental to a PR person’s career. Even though it can be difficult to start conversations with strangers, the benefits will surprise you.

11. The PR “Pro” Who Doesn’t Understand Their Client – A PR person that doesn’t get what their client does will not make it in this industry. We act as the mouthpiece for our clients, translating their stories for journalists and other influencers. We need to know their market, technology and competition as well as they know themselves. Understanding a client product or service can be difficult; reach out to a supervisor if you have problems. At the end of the day, the person who doesn’t understand their clients doesn’t get, or keep, a job.

12. The “Too Cool for School” PR person – They think they are the coolest thing on two feet – they have the contacts, the knowledge and don’t think they need anyone else’s advice. In their eyes, they are better than everyone else. Unfortunately for them, PR is constantly changing and there will always be something new to learn or a new person to meet. Just because someone has a close relationship with a famous reporter doesn’t make them the best PR person. We all have contacts and we should all strive to continually build our reputations.

13. The Script Reader – Nothing is more cringe-worthy than listening to a PR person sound like they are pitching from a script (which they probably are if they sound like that!) One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from reporters is how PR people don’t get to the point, won’t let the reporter answer and sound mechanical. There is no harm in sounding like a human; it might even be appreciated. Don’t be scared to engage with reporters, they don’t bite. Make sure to give the journalist the opportunity to respond too – rambling off a spiel sounds rehearsed, and a reporter will stop listening after a few seconds. Many times a PR pro has only one shot, so make sure it’s a bull’s-eye.

If you know a PR professional doing these things, please place a lump of coal on their desks. It’s tiring hearing from reporters how much we can stink. I propose that this holiday season we give all reporters the gift of flawless PR.

#Thankful at HB

Turkeys are thankful... if you don't eat them

Here at HB we think it’s pretty awesome to work in such an innovative, creative, collaborative, and ever-changing industry. Everyday we’re privy to cutting-edge design, inspiring content creation and technologies that are literally changing the world. With Thanksgiving only a couple of weeks away, members of the HB team wanted to reflect on what they’re most thankful for about their job this holiday season.

Allison O'Quin
Allison O’Quin: Patient, sweet, funny, & witty colleagues, my reverse commute, and responsive reporters I don’t have to stalk to get an answer. #Thankful

Amanda Jayachandran
Amanda Jayachandran: #Thankful to sit next to @hb_agency‘s talented, creative people that are crazy fun too.

Brette Querzoli
Brette Querzoli: I’m #thankful for our bosses that push our teams to be the best. Oh, and our fridge full of beer.

Catherine Ahearn
Catherine Ahearn: #Thankful to work at an agency that cares to know what I’m thankful for, @hb_agency

Christine Tesseo
Christine Tesseo: My clients: they could work with another agency but they chose HB and I am so grateful. #thankful

Chuck Tanowitz
Chuck Tanowitz: #Thankful that manual typewriters, whiteout faxes and reel-to-reel tapes are in the past, but bicycles & good coffee remain relevant.

Julia Bucchianeri
Julia Bucchianeri: This year I’m #thankful to work with colleagues who appreciate & encourage creativity, big ideas and teamwork.

Justin Hastings
Justin Hastings: Incredibly #grateful for the opportunity to solve challenges through design and bring wonder to a customer experience.

Katherine Eckenfels
Katherine Eckenfels: Thankful to be part of a team of professionals who love what they do, care about each other, and encourage impromptu dance parties. #thankful

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart: #Thankful to be surrounded by laughter, talent and amazing people – clients, partners and HBers.

Mark O'Toole
Mark O’Toole: The wealth of knowledge, collaboration and smarts among our #IPREX partners inspires me. #thankful

Matt Gustavsen
Matt Gustavsen: This Thanksgiving, I am #thankful for being part of a team which reinvents itself all the time to stay relevant in a competitive industry.

Molly Delaney
Molly Delaney: I’m #thankful for my creative coworkers, @twitter for keeping me up-to-date on news, @BuzzFeed when I need a laugh & friendly reporters.

Nicolas Boillot
Nicolas Boillot: #Cleantech, #medicaltech, #hightech offer opportunities for doing well while doing good. #thankful at @hb_agency.

Perrin McCormick
Perrin McCormick: Creative minds. Yoga pant Friday. Search engines. #thankful

Ruth Bazinet
Ruth Bazinet: Thankful for journalists who still see value in answering their phones. #thankful

Todd Van Hoosear
Todd Van Hoosear: I am #thankful for the very smart PR, creative and marketing professionals I’m surrounded by every day!

What are you thankful for this year? Tweet at us @hb_agency to share!

What Scares Me About PR

What scares me about PR

PR challenges that should scare the industry

PR is changing. I spend a lot of time talking to anyone who will listen – my team, clients, prospects, strangers at cocktail parties, Twitter friends – about how and why. I believe a shakeout is coming and firms that cannot deliver on the new needs of their clients will fall behind.

Does the industry need a unified voice about how PR should be practiced, professionals should be trained, results measured, and ethics defined? Is that even possible? While there is no single approach to this “new” PR, consistent conversation points continually arise.

The debates are healthy I suppose, but if I had any ability to be objective about PR, the dissonance would strike me as seeing an industry that (still) does not know what it is and what it can accomplish. While I know this isn’t true given the smart people, innovative firms and great PR programs I see, that there is even recurring discourse about the themes below scares me. Read below to see what keeps me up at night, and keep reading to find out what’s really scary.

PR is dead. Guess what? This week, I read an article proclaiming PR is dead. Again. Really?

Public relations is an estimated $11 billion business in the U.S. – just agency numbers, no in-house corp comm numbers included – $8 billion in the U.K. and significant in many countries around the world. There are 7,000 PR firms in the Unites States. 7,000! That averages out to 140 firms per state.

There is significant spend on PR, more PR professionals than journalists, thousands of firms, including big, publicly traded companies that must keep shareholders satisfied, and the industry is dead? It scares me that this perspective continually rises. Then again, there is constant noise that marketing is also dead, along with SEO, and content and social media. That’s a lot of dead.

Google makes press release distribution irrelevant. As maligned as it may be, the press release remains a trusty corporate communications asset. Algorithm changes by Google have had an impact on links in releases distributed via wire services and how the search engine views them. So what? This is not the death knell of the press release.

Releases are still an effective storytelling device, and as clients repeatedly tell us, provide credibility to their companies. I’m cool with that. Honestly, there’s hardly a journalist today who eagerly anticipates a press release before coming up with an article idea. If there are journalists out there waiting for releases, please let me know; I’ll start a list.

For my friends at wire services, however, I am scared. They’ve built healthy businesses, first on getting releases into newsrooms, and more recently by driving website traffic and helping stuff Google Alerts. What’s next for the wire service, and what impact will their challenges have on press releases? Even disclosure and earnings reports can happen through media other than wire services now.  Less SEO boost and an unengaged journalist audience does not make for a great outcome.

There is no creativity in PR. How do you define creativity? Is it a great pitch letter or turn-of-phrase in a speech? At HB, we advocate that businesses must act like media companies. While this concept encompasses the distribution, creation and consumption of content – and building community around the content – we believe the content must be visual, or at least supported by visual elements. But this does not happen consistently enough in PR, and leads people to think that there’s no creativity. Even if it’s a post for a corporate blog, create a square image that communicates the story through the graphics. Ignoring the power we have to communicate through multimedia assets is scary… and an opportunity for those of us who keep the creative juices flowing and earn the media hits as a reward.   

Who owns social media? Why does this industry make such strenuous arguments over ownership? Does it matter? Social media and community-building – more often than not moving in-house these days – is not about ownership. It’s about story and process and companywide philosophy on how to embrace social and community within an organization. “Owning” such a, well, social component of marketing is not good practice, and the debates over ownership scare me.

What about a great idea? I suppose this scares me the most. Great ideas rock. The right idea can be supported by PR, marketing, digital, social, whatever. That idea can power an entire company’s brand platform, infuse every piece of everything that it does. The best ideas don’t fall neatly into one aspect of marketing or another; they move an organization ahead powerfully because the idea is powerful. Nor, as Paul Gillin once wrote, do they necessarily have ROI. So what’s scary about a great idea?

This is: who funds it?

Marketing budgets are often still compartmentalized. PR gets this much, branding this much, etc. Buyer behavior is scary. It’s not the buyer’s fault, as PR and other marketing disciplines have worked so hard to create their own silos. Buyers are only doing what we trained them to do for years, ignoring the sea changes that were coming. And that was not buying the big idea in many cases.

It’s not as bleak as I make it out to be, of course. The PR industry is doing just fine. At HB, we find some prospects get it when we talk about helping them become media companies and others don’t, and some can fund it and some cannot. That’s OK. There are choices out there. 7,000 of them!

To overcome my fears, I take comfort in knowing that:

  • PR is alive and well, and done differently at different firms.
  • Press release must tell the company story, and search results do not dictate the entirety of a PR program; the best firms know how to address search and where it fits in a program’s content.
  • Creativity is subjective – clients and prospects – and their audiences – know the right creative for them when they see it.
  • Social media is part of the fabric of progressive companies.
  • Buyers are listening more to idea-driven marketing, and we will see change – slowly – in how marketing and PR initiatives are funded.

Do you want to talk about something really scary? Clowns. We all know they’re scary.

Catch HB and a group of other great companies this Thursday at FutureM as we tackle these issues and more. We’re speaking on the topic: PR is Marketing’s Future. Join me and talented professionals from The Holmes Report, Digiday, Connelly Partners, allen & gerritsen and Springpad. It won’t be scary.

What scares you about PR?

13 Not-so-frightening Facts About the New HB Team

Fresh Ground

In case you missed it, HB has acquired Fresh Ground, a public relations and social media agency. So what should you know about the newest additions to the HB team?

  1. In less than her first 4 months of PR, Brette Querzoli landed her first client a TV interview with Live From the Couch, CBS New York.
  2. In addition to running Fresh Ground with his partner, Todd Van Hoosear founded the Social Media Club Boston, is a fellow with the Society for New Communications Research and teaches PR and social media at Boston University.
  3. Ruth Bazinet is a self taught guitarist and song writer, and has played local Boston venues.
  4. Chuck Tanowitz was once a body double for Tom Brokaw.
  5. Brette Querzoli is a vegetarian who cooks meat for friends and family (and she’s good at it — ask them).
  6. Todd Van Hoosear has been called a doppelganger to celebrities including Judge Reinhold, Danny Kaye, Ryan Stiles and even Steve McQueen. You be the judge.
  7. Ruth Bazinet’s space art has been published in outlets including Harvard Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic Kids, and Nature.com.
  8. Fresh Ground was named after Chuck Tanowitz’s coffee obsession. During one search for coffee in Seattle, Chuck met a bus driver who told the passengers that if they didn’t pay as they were getting off the bus, he would tie them to the seat and sing all 21 verses of “There are no drivers like bus drivers,” and then began to sing. A few minutes later a woman got on and declared that she had quit smoking, the whole bus cheered.
  9. Ruth Bazinet was inspired to pursue a career in public relations after meeting Helen Thomas at the White House.
  10. Chuck Tanowitz bikes to work regularly, but the new office means his commute dropped from 8 miles each way to 1.
  11. Brette Querzoli celebrates shark week religiously, and with a lot of Photoshop help.
  12. Ruth Bazinet once hired a PR intern through Twitter, having never met her. She was dazzling, even scoring a Wall Street Journal hit during her time working with Ruth.
  13. Despite these quirks, or perhaps because of them, the Fresh Ground team is getting along swimmingly with the HB team.

P.S. Happy Friday the 13th!

Our Favorite Storytellers

Our favorite storytellers

Storytelling is an amazing art form that becomes part of people’s lives at an early age, and one to which our exposure never stops. We grow up with our parents reading us fairy tales, listening to music, and watching television where we are exposed to characters from all walks of life, real or imagined.

Crafting compelling and memorable stories is also an essential part of business, something we are passionate about at HB. This month’s installment of Blog the 13th features HBers sharing their favorite storytellers of all time.

“My favorite storyteller is Shawn Ryan, creator of ‘The Shield.’ For seven seasons, Ryan and his team of writers captivated me with their portrayal of a morally ambiguous police force led by Michael Chiklis’s character, Vic Mackey. The writers utilized characters’ decisions to create moments of extreme tension, resulting in a gripping story.” – Justin Hastings, Interactive Strategist

“As a jaded and cynical graduate student, I went to Stuart Dybek’s reading of ‘We Didn’t,’ a short story featured in one of the volumes of Best American Short Stories. Then I got dragged to dinner with him, more because I didn’t want to be left out than because my colleagues and professors invited me. The reading had been good, I grudgingly had to admit. But the dinner was brilliant, as Dybek, warm and humble and funny, expertly wove tales in and out of each other while apparently having casual conversation. That night I fell in love with storytelling even as I realized that I would never rise to Dybek’s level of mastery.” – Nicolas Boillot, CEO

George Lucas didn’t just write a story, he spent years creating a world that no one had ever seen. He wrote and revised with persistence and determination to make his thoughts come to life. And he created an infamous villain that most fans of the movie love—a task not easy to accomplish.” – Matt Gustavsen, Creative Strategist

“My favorite storyteller is Maya Angelou and one of my favorite quotes from her is, ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give.’ Maya is a renaissance woman. She is passionate but purposeful in her writing and more often than not, her writings (and talks) transcend generations, genders, races, ethnicities. Her wisdom gives me pause and makes me think how I can share what I know and give more, and often.” – Kathryn Quirk, Engagement Marketing Consultant

Bill Bryson’s sense of humor, adventures and descriptive writing that paints detailed pictures keep me reading his work.” – Christine Tesseo, Creative Strategist

Jhumpa Lahiri, author of the Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies, Unaccustomed Earth and others writes novels and short stories that are vivid, emotional, real and raw. Each of her stories creates a unique, self-contained world. I become completely engrossed when I read her work.” – Amanda Jayachandran, Creative Strategist

“For me, it’s Frank McCourt. I loved reading Angela’s Ashes but it seemed that it was taking me a long time to read it. Suddenly I realized that it was taking me longer because his writing was so descriptive that as I was reading I was picturing everything in my mind, causing me to slow down. It’s always good to slow down a bit.” – Alicia Gallo, Human Resources and Office Manager

Dr. Seuss, an American writer, poet and cartoonist may be known for children’s books but he’s a classic, timeless storyteller nonetheless. He taught us about life, courage and determination through imagination, rhyme and colors. The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who!, The Grinch and Green Eggs and Ham are masterpieces that have influenced decades of readers and will continue to have an impact on generations to come. Dr. Seuss, a Massachusetts native, effortlessly encourages all readers to follow their dreams with passion and conviction, after all, ‘be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.’” – Julia Bucchianeri, Assistant Account Executive  

Author Richard Russo doesn’t just create characters, he molds complicated personalities that play a leading role in his storytelling method. My favorite Russo book? Empire Falls.” – Perrin McCormick, Account Director

“My favorite storyteller is singer/songwriter Kenny Chesney. To be a great songwriter you must be able to tell a story through your music, which the country music star has clearly mastered with hit after hit. Whether it’s about having fun on the beach or about longing for lost love, each one of Kenny Chesney’s songs tells a story that draws his audience in and keeps them listening.” – Rebecca Lueth, PR Intern

“There’s nobody quite like Woody Allen. Allen’s films are poignant, witty, smart, and always make me think outside the box or smile or both. It’s great that even though he’s achieved commercial success that he hasn’t let it hinder his creative process. He doesn’t come out with a new movie every six months. Allen takes his time to craft his story and then tells it elegantly through directing and producing.” – Allison O’Quin, Account Coordinator

Raymond Chandler is underrated and under-respected as one of the great American storytellers. Sure, he wrote about crime and fell into the ‘pulp fiction’ genre of writers, but The Long Goodbye, Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely are national treasures and masterpieces. His word choices, compact writing style and ability to capture a time and place so clearly motivated me to write more and to write better. When the late Robert Parker tried to complete an unfinished Chandler novel called Poodle Springs, the words failed to capture the characters and settings in the memorable way that Chandler could, not because Parker couldn’t mimic the words, but he couldn’t mimic the story. Go read some great detective fiction, and recognize Chandler for the artist that he was.” – Mark O’Toole, Managing Director, PR & Content Marketing

So who’s your favorite storyteller? Tweet us @hb_agency to share!

Massachusetts: Crushing it in Clean Tech

Blog the 13th: Massachusetts and clean-tech

As a leader in education, innovation, science (and sports), it’s no surprise that Massachusetts is ahead in clean energy advancements. President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan notes over 2,700 renewable energy projects in Massachusetts since 2009, generating enough energy to power more than 150,000 homes throughout the state. In other words, Massachusetts will accomplish its goal of generating 15 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

HB understands the importance of clean energy innovation and we’re proud to call Massachusetts our home. We believe our home state deserves a virtual round of applause for the strides it’s making as a leader in solar, wind and geothermal energy. In honor of our “Blog the 13th Series,” here are 13 ways Massachusetts leads the clean energy wave.

Big things happening in the Bay State

1. Massachusetts was recently ranked No. 2 in the nation as a leader in clean technology industries. That’s behind a state with nearly six times the Massachusetts population. Look out California, we’re coming for you!

2. According to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) 2012 Clean Energy Report, the Commonwealth now has approximately 71,523 clean energy employees: researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and thought-leaders. Hats off to all of these folks bringing Massachusetts into the future of energy!

3. Greenovate Boston, a city-wide movement led by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, encourages all Bostonians to collectively reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The organization shows how simple it is to reduce an individual carbon footprint. For example, if every person in Boston made a small lifestyle change like using cold water when doing laundry, the city would collectively reduce carbon pollution in the air by up to 240 million pounds over the next ten years.

Get Your Shine On, Massachusetts  

4. We’re knocking solar power innovation out of the park…literally. Did you know that America’s most beloved baseball stadium, the one we’re lucky enough to have in our own back yard, not only produces some of the (sometimes) best baseball we’ve seen in years but solar energy, too? It’s true; Fenway Park is the only stadium in the United States heating its water with solar energy. We love that dirty water…just not in our stadiums!

5. According to MassCEC, as of July 2013 Massachusetts reached a statewide total of 281 megawatts of solar electricity — enough to power 42,106 houses. That’s like taking 29,116 cars off the road. Imagine how much easier it would be to drive through Boston with less congestion!

6. Just last month, Boston was fortunate to be one of only three locations in the United States to host the world’s largest solar-powered boat at Fan Pier. PlanetSolar, the only boat to circumnavigate the globe on solar power, spent its time in the city as an ambassador of solar energy. Through various events with swissnex Boston, the PlanetSolar team presented the boat’s practical application and the enormous potential of solar power.

7. In 2007, Massachusetts implemented a state mandate to install 250 megawatts of solar energy by 2017. Under Governor Deval Patrick’s leadership, the state has achieved this goal four years early. Since 2007, the state has steadily increased its solar power capacity including a large jump from 2011 to 2012 with an increase from 42.5 megawatts to 135.8 megawatts of power.

Take that, Windy City

8. Cape Cod, one of Massachusetts’ many treasures, has become known for more than its beautiful beaches and ground-breaking research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Cape Wind, America’s largest offshore wind farm, is a project in development by Energy Management Inc., a Massachusetts-based energy company. The project will be located in the center of Nantucket Sound with 130 wind turbines. Cape Wind is expected to produce an average of 174 megawatts of wind power — almost 75% of the electricity needed to power Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2013.

9. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) has developed a number of wind energy projects throughout the Greater Boston area. It recently installed a 1.5 megawatt turbine at its Charlestown facility and two 600 kilowatt turbines at Deer Island. The energy generated by these wind turbines will save MWRA rate payers $600,000 a year in energy costs.

10. Boston is home to the nation’s first wind blade testing center. MassCEC’s Wind Technology Testing Center (WTTC) offers the latest blade testing and prototype development to propel Massachusetts as the leader in developing next-generation offshore wind turbine technologies.

Solar heat beneath your feet

11. Geothermal power, a process which generates electricity from solar energy stored within the earth, is utilized throughout Boston. According to Greenovate Boston, Boston University and Boston Architectural College use geothermal power for its buildings and say the investment will pay off in energy savings within 7-10 years.

Funding for the Future

12. According to the President’s Climate Action Plan, “the 2014 Fiscal Year Budget continues the President’s commitment to keeping the United States at the forefront of clean energy research, development, and deployment by increasing funding for clean energy technology across all agencies by 30 percent, to approximately $7.9 billion.” Massachusetts has set an aggressive goal for 80 percent of its electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2050. Based on our performance to date, it will be much earlier. We may even see another Red Sox World Series win before that!

The Opportunities are Endless

13. Not only is Massachusetts paving the way with clean energy generation, we also have several companies with products that recover and save energy. Take for instance Airxchange, an industry leader in energy recovery ventilation with its patented wheel technology that reduces energy requirements for conditioning outdoor air by 70 percent. Or, when thinking of installing your next large-scale lighting system, consider Digital Lumens. With its patented technologies, Digital Lumens Intelligent Lighting Systems save between 75-90 percent of lighting energy that traditional light sources require.

Are you in Massachusetts? What innovations have you noticed in the clean tech world? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below or via Twitter @hb_agency.

Automatic toilet roulette and other event lessons

Beware the toilet stalls

This month’s Blog the 13 post is on the subject of trade shows and event marketing. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve worked on, seen or participated in countless events developing strategies, building audiences, creating experiences, and generally making live and digital events sticky, memorable and profitable for our clients. I could bore you with statistics, strategies and tactics but you can Google that kind of data. As I thought about what to write, one thing kept coming to the surface…the day it happened. 

Orange County Convention Center: I’m helping run a major event for a client and HB is deeply involved in making the experience happen. To give you an idea of what was expected, on day one I was responsible for escorting major sponsors to VIP areas, adjusting and creating signage for way-finding, contributing to critical decisions related to fire marshal issues, tearing down a room and re-setting it with the help of 20+ Freeman employees minutes before a presentation, and assisting in all measures of attendee happiness. In addition, I was recruited as a rope puller for Cirque Du Soleil and yelled at repeatedly by an angry man named Yuri, “Pull! Pull! Pull!,” so that his performer would fly through the air over a bar at an evening party.

It’s day two and there are 10,000+ of the nicest IT, storage and data center professionals you’ll ever meet parading through the halls to attend technical sessions. In between sessions, the halls and particularly the bathrooms are overwhelmed. I don’t want to be crude so let’s just say that the men’s “facilities” are being punished to the breaking point. And I have to go. Badly.

I begin to search out a relatively clean, uninhabited loo. I walk a few hundred yards. No luck. A few hundred more. No luck. The OCCC in Orlando is absolutely enormous so I set my sights on a completely different area maybe a mile away. As I walk, I encounter fewer and fewer people until I find myself alone, standing in front of a bathroom, praying I’ve found glory. I step inside and the minty freshness and twinkling porcelain is like a mirage but welcomingly real. I open a stall to my liking, slip in and… Then it happens.

I’m on the pot for only a moment when something goes wrong. A sound I’m familiar with has suddenly and without notice shocked my senses. Surely it’s only a sensitive automatic flusher. But no, it’s much, much more than that. A high-pressure violent torrent of water has erupted beneath me sending a vortex of fluid upward between my legs, over the rim from every angle, and in a nano-second covers me from waist to toe.

I kick the stall door open, fumbling to my feet I find myself in the center of the bathroom, my pants at the floor. Of the fifteen or so stalls, I’ve chosen the one with a disdain for common decency and an anger rooted in years of punishing conferences. I’m in shock, drenched, and naked with one thing on my mind… What the fuck just happened?

I pull my pants and myself together. I wash my hands because that’s what you do, even when you’ve just waded belt deep into toilet water. As I walk another half mile to my hotel, I try to ignore the stares and odd looks as much as the squishing sound my shoes make as I stride. I enter the lobby, hop in an elevator alone, thankfully, and exit at my floor. How nice, the cleaners are in my room… somehow they know to just leave immediately.

The story pretty much ends there. I throw out my shoes, pants, shirt, etc. I return to work to a slew of questions… “Where’d you go?” and “Were you wearing something different earlier?” I tell the story over lunch and people are laughing to tears. To this day, I’m reminded occasionally by those present to beware of automatic toilets.

Conclusion: If you’re involved in an event of any kind, expect the unexpected. Avoid automatic toilets. Bring a few pairs of comfortable shoes, a sense of humor, willingness to do whatever it takes to make the event a success, and hopefully you don’t fall victim to bad luck.

People Like Pictures, So Start Pinning

Blog the 13thImages are powerful tools that can be incredibly useful and advantageous in marketing. We see more and more brands leveraging this power through various social media outlets. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide companies with engaging and personalized tools to optimize customer interaction. And there’s Pinterest, an image-sharing, graphics-oriented, ecommerce-enabled social platform.

People really like pictures, so here at HB we’ve stepped up our Pinterest game. Here are the top 13 tips and facts we want to share with you before you start a Pinterest page for your business.

Pinterest Tips

How has your company used Pinterest to engage customers? Do you have any tips to share? We would love to hear them.

13 Ways to Adjust Your Content Marketing Dial

If you are like me, every year you set good intentions with regard to your health (you know the drill: eat right, exercise, and drink water). What happens? Life gets in way. But don’t give up. While the calendar might read March, it isn’t too late to make changes.

blog13_march

It’s 2013 and HB is blogging the 13th. We recommend using the 13th of each month as a trigger to assess, reset, and change direction if necessary. I can’t help with your health commitments, but there’s always time to adjust your content marketing dial. Share, debate, and add to these 13 ways to keep your content fresh.

  1. Be bold. I routinely hit my Sunday spin class, but struggle to try new moves. Explore creative and unconventional approaches this month. Take an action today that will motivate you to get outside your comfort zone.
  2. Use authentic stories. What shows success? A success story. Go beyond publishing a quote on your web site. Provide your customers an easy-to-engage outlet to profess and help share their love for your brand.
  3. Less about you. Successful thought leadership programs position you as an expert in an area that supports your key product or service. Rather than tout specific features and benefits, the cogs in your content marketing wheel must communicate that you are an industry leader that prospects and customers want to work with, stat.
  4. Color outside the lines. Between our professional and personal lives we all have an extensive network of contacts. Find a smart, useful way to pull more of your personal contacts into your business world.
  5. Invest in mobile. Period.
  6. Know your reach. Do you truly understand the catalysts that influence your customers’ purchasing decisions at every stage of the experience life cycle? Establish touch points from discovery through engagement to create mavens for your brand.
  7. Set metrics. I aim for eight glasses of water a day. Having a specific number in mind helps me envision the end. Keep a close eye on what works and what doesn’t and course correct with light speed.
  8. Know the answer to “why?” Be certain that your customers truly understand why your product or service is relevant to them, and tailor your messaging to fit each audience. Go deeper than the “it’ll protect your bottom line” pitch. How will a prospect’s decision to go with your solution change his/her life?
  9. Check out the competition. Seeing the cool things that others do at the gym gets me going. Don’t plan on mimicking the competition, but keep an eye on those ahead of you, and behind, to understand where you fall in the industry landscape. Studying the competition enables you to identify opportunity gaps that may work to your advantage.
  10. Be habit-forming. Research shows that new habits take two to three weeks to form. Give yourself the flexibility and time to build profitable habits.
  11. Get a buddy. In my weight-loss efforts I often seek group support via my network of friends and family. Consult a colleague or your team to provide an additional layer of clarity to your strategy.
  12. Build the muscle. One trip to the gym won’t give you big guns. It takes time to get it right. Make a commitment to working on your marketing muscle every day.
  13. Fill in the blank. This list is just a start. Tweet your #13 to me at @perrinmcc.

To be 13 again…

Floating Cars

In honor of 2013, HB is introducing “Blog the 13th.” That’s right! On the 13th of every month, we’ll share a special post with you (we promise it’s not as scary as Friday the 13th).

I recently sat down with my 13 year-old son, Johnathan, to get his perspective on technology. I was looking for some riveting, insightful and potentially surprising answers about what he likes, expects, and desires from technology. I was “shocked” at the complexity and detail of his answers… well, I guess I wasn’t terribly surprised, so I went to my 15 year-old daughter, Jane, for backup.

Q: What do you find the most engaging and contagious technology?

John: Cell phone. Why? Talk to friends and play games. And go on social networks… I guess. What social networks? Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They’re kind of addicting.

Riveting.

Jane: Twitter. Why? It has so many updates and I can follow people that I want (it’s selective) and they can follow me without me HAVING to follow them. Everyone uses it. What do you use it for? Basic life updates and sometimes texting in real time back and forth. I don’t do it that much because I don’t want to flood the twitter feed.

Q: If you had an app that could do anything, what would it do?

John: I don’t know.

Captivating.

Jane: It would learn everything about me and give me advice about anything I ask it. Totally personal to me.

Q: What do you think technology will do for you in 10 years?

John: I think it will be faster, lighter and more mobile. What do you mean? Smaller. I don’t know… floating cars.

Floating cars?

Jane: I think technology will be used even more in schools and throughout our lives. Touch screens and connected technologies to control everything in the house, my car, my life… from anywhere at any time.

Q: What would you do without technology?

John: Basketball. No, I mean what would you do without “technology”? Basketball.

Oh boy.

Jane: I grew up with technology so I have no idea what it would be like without it… read more. Play more board and card games. Have to find more ancient ways of communication. It would be less social because everyone would be less connected. Technology gives me access to other people’s lives.

“Ancient technologies”? I feel old.

These kids have far less wonderment about technology than people who didn’t have it growing up. It’s simply an ordinary part of their lives. Does that commonplace attitude forecast more innovation or less? As Jane says, we’re moving to a world where everything – and everyone – is connected. What will the world look like then? How will communications look? Will our books and libraries and keys to open doors and more everyday life staples become “ancient”? Is the future really “floating cars”? Maybe. Regardless, technology is an ever-changing, captivating and awesome part of our lives.