HB Out and About

We’re a busy bunch here at HB. From breakfasts with Arianna Huffington to after work events at our office to discuss the latest marketing trends, we appreciate a good industry event and have attended quite a few in the past three months. Were you at any of the same events as us? What did you think of them? Share your feedback with us on Twitter at @hb_agency.

We’re scheduled to attend more than a dozen events in the coming months so please let us know if you’ll be there too.

Where we’ve been:

Photo credit: Maryanne Keeney, President, PubClub New England

Photo credit: Maryanne Keeney, President, PubClub New England

April 15 – Justin attended the South Shore Web Collaborative Meetup. He joined fellow web designers and developers on the South Shore to talk shop and, of course, drink beer.

April 10 – Perrin and 499 of her closest friends enjoyed breakfast with Arianna Huffington at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO Breakfast. Promoting her book “Thrive,” Huffington shared gems that Perrin plans to laminate for her cube: “if you’re tired you can’t lead” and “turn off all devices and escort them out of your bedroom.”

April 8 – Allison attended the TechCrunch Boston Meetup where drinks were flowing, attendees networking and tech startups pitched their brilliant ideas.

April 7 – HB Agency hosted the first N2 Corridor Tech Meetup. At the event we heard from Jeff Mesnik, president of Needham-based ContentMX, a content aggregation platform used at HB. He spoke about the Google Conundrum, that is, how to use content as a way to make Google an effective sales and marketing tool. Attendees learned how and why content should be deeply integrated with an organization’s brand, the role that employees can play and why email remains important. In true HB style, we conversed over pizza and beer while making new friends in our neighborhood.

April 7 – Todd spoke at Manhattanville College’s Insights into Leadership Speaker Series, “The Power of Building Content and Community.” The event provided a great discussion about balancing the needs of the content creator with those of their community, and how to measure the success of your social media content creation and engagement efforts.

April 4-6 – As Perrin believes that the best PR professionals think like journalists, she and Catherine spent three days at Boston University School of Communications’ 16th annual narrative journalism conference, “Staying Savvy, Skilled and Solvent in Journalism’s Wired Era.” Keen to learn more about the discussion? Check out #narrativeBU on Twitter.

April 4 – Ruth and Chuck attended the MassTLC Sales and Marketing Summit, “Building a Lean, Self-Perpetuating Marketing Machine.” The theme was Growth Hacking, a practice where marketers are forced to find repeatable buying patterns on a very small budget. In addition to the panels, there was a group of startups that shared their company’s vision.

March 25 – HB Agency hosted PubClub of New England’s #PRMadness Mixer. In true March Madness style, the first of its kind, #PRMadness was an integrated mixer where attendees reviewed and discussed a bracket full of the most eye-catching and successful infographics, headlines, integrated campaigns and videos from the past few years. During the event, attendees voted for the most creative options to determine a champion. See who won here.

March 19 – Catherine and Todd attended a General Assembly class called “Building Brand Relationships Through Storytelling.” The class was led by CEO and founder of Small Army, Jeff Freedman. Attendees gained insight into why and how companies must develop strong relationships with its target audience for business success.

February 28-March 1 – HB Agency co-hosted IPREX’s Global Leadership Conference, “Doing Digital – Being Digital.” At the conference, emerging young leaders from agencies within the IPREX network came to Boston to learn about and discuss inbound marketing, content strategy, B2B communication, social media in a crisis and measurement. More than 40 attendees attended from Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and many other cities around the world. Not only did attendees gain knowledge and insight into our digitally-driven industry, but also developed relationships that will last a lifetime.

February 20 – Catherine went to the Women in Media Mentoring Initiative hosted by the Back Bay Social Club. Often networking events remain contained to the event topic, but this group actually pairs people together as “co-mentors,” which helps extend the conversation.

Where we’re going:

April 24 – Ruth will be at the Betaspring Open House.  Betaspring is a technology startup incubator out of Providence, R.I. Each season they bring on promising companies and help them grow in Betaspring’s fast-paced 12-week program. This event is a showcase of new members and also a chance for attendees to hear updates from Betaspring alums.

April 26 – Ruth will speak about branding and marketing food startups at Hope and Main, a food startup incubator out of Rhode Island.

April 28-29 – Justin, Ian and Adam will be in Boston at An Event Apart with fellow digital practitioners and speakers to learn all things web – code, content, usability and design.

April 30 – Molly and Julia will attend BostInno’s first ever Boston Upfront. This in-depth, all-encompassing look ahead will take a deep dive into what’s next for Boston through three short films with top influencers who are shaping the face of the city.

May 2-9 – Christine and Kevin will be at EMC World in Las Vegas. From pre-show online and offline materials to onsite way-finding and booth graphics, HB works closely with the EMC Events team to bring EMC World to life.

May 4-6 – Chuck will speak about “Taking the Leap: The Whys, Whens, Hows and Whats of M&A Growth”at the 2014 PRSA Counselors Academy Conference in Key West, FL. Designed by the PRSA Counselors Academy Section, this event provides senior-level public relations practitioners, from multinational agencies to independent practitioners, with the tools and techniques to anticipate new trends and opportunities.

May 3 – Julia will attend ProductCamp Boston 2014. At the only full-day unconference for product managers and marketers, she will discuss the latest developments, learn about product marketing, startups and design, and schmooze with other professionals over breakfast and lunch.

May 6 – Mark will once again take part in MITXup, this time at the Quincy Innovation Center. MITXup is a marketing mentorship program that matches pre-screened startups to marketing and communications mentors to help entrepreneurs be successful in telling their story, marketing their business and generally, shouting louder and prouder.

May 7 – Amanda will be at Lesley College to attend a portfolio review for graduating students.

May 7 – Many HBers will be at Greentown Labs for its Grand Opening and 3rd Anniversary Celebration. At the party, Greentown Labs will thank all of its members and supporters – past, present and future – who make Greentown Labs what it is today: the largest hardware-focused, clean tech incubator in the Northeast. HB works directly with Greentown Labs on its marketing initiatives and we’re excited to see what the rest of 2014 brings.

May 15-18 – Nicolas will speak at the IPREX Annual Meeting in Chicago. He will give a talk about the future of marketing and communications, and how agencies should prepare for it.

May 20 – Mark will serve as a judge for the next Master Slam. The topic? Crowdfunding vs. Angel Funding for Early Stage Startups. Competitors with differing viewpoints will argue the eternal startup question in a new take on the traditional storytelling competition.

May 21 – A non-partisan alliance of CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs and investors will meet with political leaders to promote long-term economic growth and prosperity for all in Washington, DC for The Alliance for Business Leadership. If you’re attending, say hello to Nicolas.

May 21 – Julia, Katherine and Molly will attend PRSA Boston’s 3rd Annual Social Media Summit at Bentley University. The event will feature sessions about paid, owned and earned media, content creation and driving engagement.

June 5 – HB is psyched to attend, and partner with, TEDxCambridge, to celebrate the world-class innovation within Cambridge and the impact it is having globally.

Why you should meet us there:

We’re fun (you’ll probably take a selfie with us), we’re good note-takers and tweeters, and we’ll definitely find the bar. Tweet at us @hb_agency if you’re attending one of the events listed above, we’d love to meet you!

Girl Geeking, Not Bra Burning

Last week my eyes were opened to a little world sustained by events called Girl Geek Dinners.

bostongirlgeekAt first, I was intrigued:

Girl? Why, yes.

Geek? On my good days.

Dinner? I eat.

So, I had to go.

The Boston chapter gathered for an evening sponsored by HubSpot and hosted by The Brahmin on Tuesday, December 3rd from 5:30pm-8:30pm EST. In true geek fashion, I arrived on time, or, socially speaking, too early.

Listen, I know we all love to hate networking. But my level of networking averseness extends beyond a phobia of small-talk with strangers. Put me in a room with my closest friends and tell me I have to talk about “what I’m doing right now” or “my interests” and I’m running to the nearest exit.

Which is why I was floored to find myself having actual, unfeigned fun at the Boston Girl Geek Dinner (BGGD). And sure, this may be the point, but lately I’ve attended some events (I won’t name them!) that failed miserably in accomplishing what it is they set out to do.

So why was last week’s BGGD a sold-out hit and why is the organization gaining speed? Well, after speaking to co-organizer Rachel Murray (Green Bee Web Consulting), it appears that it’s BGGD’s fluid (though contained) definition of its target audience and purpose that is making it a growing success.

Events often feel forced because people are told exactly who should attend and what they should be discussing/watching/doing. According to Murray, the target BGGD attendee is, “a woman who wants to interact with other women who love talking about anything from Game of Thrones to where they got their cute sweater.”

Boston and Cambridge are cities filled with new ideas, budding industries and motivated people. “There are networking groups that are focused on tech, those that are involved in startups, those that are tech startup focused, and women’s groups as well,” continued Murray over email. “We’re a bit more niche in that we’re not specifically ‘tech’ nor are we startup-focused, any self-identified female geek is welcome.” In other words, their niche is not having a niche.

I can vouch for this. During my two hours there I met a motley crew of women. One started a freelancing job that very morning. Another had just graduated. While yet others had their hands in multiple start-ups or were CEOs of their own ventures.

Murray put it well when she said, “It’s about bonding over commonalities first. If relationships form from that, then great.”

But all of this leaves me wondering: why does an organization have to be female-only in order to achieve these things? After some thought, I believe the answer may lie less in gender (or feminism) and more in the fact that BGGD has called upon something other than what people “do” to unite them.

“I think it’s important for women to have a safe environment where we can feel no judgment about anything we want to talk about… because it’s really about carving a personal space for us,” reflected Murray.

The “Girl” is what makes it personal; the “Geek” is what made it fun.

Now a global organization that began in London in 2005, Girl Geek Dinners began a Boston chapter in 2008. It started as a series of small dinners planned around Boston and Cambridge then faded away for a bit before picking back up again with an event this past June, sponsored by VMware.

With the help of event platforms such as Eventbrite, Connect and VentureFizz, BGGD has grown organically since June and more companies have reached out to sponsor and host events. A small ticket fee ($5) has been added to promote attendance. All proceeds go to Science Club for Girls, a local organization that helps to educate girls in STEM.

For more information on upcoming events or how to become a sponsor, please visit: http://www.bostongirlgeeks.com/

Millions of People, One Dream

The grand opening of the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium was incredible.

The exhibits of the Red Star Line celebrate and memorialize the location where 2.5 million immigrants left Europe to travel to America between 1873 and 1934. The museum shares the stories of countless travelers and their dreams and aspirations. Some became rich and famous, like Irving Berlin, but all helped lay the foundation for today’s America.

Please enjoy this video of the grand opening celebration.

Defining Communication Excellence

awardimageNext week, I get all dressed up and dust off my “announcer voice” to emcee the Awards Gala that caps a great day-long symposium. The Awards Gala honors the 2013 SNCR Excellence in New Communications Awards Winners. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about all the winners and to see what they have in common. My goal is to build a more complete picture of what exactly is involved in “communications excellence.”

I’ve been a SNCR fan since 2006, when the organization hosted the very first Social Media Club Boston event that I organized. I was impressed then by the caliber of awards winners, and I’m impressed today. Then and now, communication excellence is characterized by:

  1. Storytelling. Excellent communicators know that the key to creating memorable messages and campaigns is to tell a story. They recognize that stories require characters, and that characters require flaws. They embrace their own flaws, and aren’t afraid to point out flaws either.
  2. More listening than talking. Sure, excellent communicators create great messages. But they also spend as much, or more time, listening as they do talking.
  3. Alignment of message, medium and market. Excellent communicators make sure they pick the right message for the right channel that reaches the right community.
  4. Process-driven thinking. Excellent communicators are programmatic thinkers — when constructing their stories, they make sure that each piece of content supports the central story line, but also drives engaged community members further down through the sales funnel. To support content creation, they put a lot of writing and research time in up-front, creating policies, processes and calendars to shape the program over time and be able to respond more quickly when issues or opportunities come up.
  5. As much quant as qual. Good quality content is critical, but excellent communicators as also number crunchers. They understand that great marketing campaigns aren’t created in a vacuum — that testing, measuring and reporting are as important as creative design and well-edited copy when it comes to the success of the program.
  6. A business focus. Speaking of numbers, excellent communicators are multilingual — they speak CEO. They know how their marketing successes translate to business successes.

I know next week’s speakers and award winners have more to add to this, and you probably do too! Feel free to share your thoughts below.

If you want to hear what they have to say first-hand, click here to register and use discount code “Friend25” to get 25% off the event. Reading this before the Witching Hour? Through midnight tonight (October 31st), you can actually use discount code “Halloween” for 35% off!


Future Energy: Shark Tank for the environment

Last week my colleague and I had the pleasure of attending Future Energy, an event hosted by Ultra Light Startups at Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge.  Ultra Light Startups is a community focused on helping technology entrepreneurs establish and grow their businesses.future_energy_v2 (1)

Future Energy is a series of events in Boston, New York City and Silicon Valley that connect energy and cleantech startups with private investors. It’s similar to watching Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank except the investors aren’t rude or flaunting their net worth in your face. And even better, the pitches are from companies with products that could have a positive impact on the environment. We’re not talking about baked goods, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches or jewelry lines as we often see on Shark Tank. At Future Energy, you’re privy to seeing future clean energy technologies that will change the world.

Here’s a brief recap of the startups we learned about, including the top three pitches voted on by attendees.

First place: Cerahelix – the helix-NFM is a ceramic nanofilter that reduces the cost of manufacturing by conserving energy and freshwater resources.

Second place: Raja Systems – offers reliable, low-cost isolated power systems that enable a 50-to-80 percent reduction in OPEX for off-grid hybrid power systems with no hardware added.

Third place: Culture Fuels – a technology developer with an advanced cultivation platform that enables large-scale production of algae for use in producing biofuels, aviation fuels, feed, protein and nutraceuticals.

Other Pitches:

Senergy – a crowd-funded investing platform that finances solar energy projects that instantly achieve stable, real-time grid parity for municipal customers.

Spilvenger – offers low-cost, highly efficient robots that have a self-sustained, accurate automated feedback system that feed on collected spilled oil overseas.

StannTron –developing a novel chemical conversion technology of selective removal of CO2 to make bio-products that will enable widespread adoption of renewable biomass to fulfill much of our chemical, transportation and energy needs.

WattJoule – offers a next-generation flow battery product platform that provides cost effective energy storage to a vast global market.

Zephyr Energy – offers a non-rotating wind energy generator with a low wind speed requirement, compact form factor, safe operation and simple, low-cost design.

Curious about the insightful advice the panel of investors shared with these awesome startups? We captured a few major takeaways from the event.

  1. Does your product/service meet your customers’ needs and address their pain points? You might have the coolest technology on the block, but that doesn’t mean consumers will buy it.
  2. Of course you need to know how to sell your product/service, but you must know who will sell it with you. Anticipating your future channel partners is essential for success.
  3. Hit the bar with your co-founders, have two drinks apiece and discuss what success looks like to each of you. This vision may differ and it is incredibly important to be on the same page with your fellow founders. Also important to note: have two drinks so you speak your mind but no more than two because you may not remember what success looks like the next day.

Have you heard any great advice for cleantech startups? Share your tips with us at @hb_agency.

Two Can't-Miss Cambridge/Somerville Events!

Fresh Ground is sponsoring two events in the Somerville/Cambridge area over the next few days that we’d love to see you at!

I’m very proud to be a featured speaker (well, technically a “drill instructor”) at this Thursday’s New Economy Boot Camp. The event is designed to help business owners and managers find new ways to market smarter –- not just cheaper — using a mix of traditional and social media marketing techniques. These Boot Camps will be held quarterly through out New England. And, you get to see me dressed up in cammies…

Survival Training
How to Execute & Evaluate a Successful Social Media Program
Todd Van Hoosear, Principal, Fresh Ground

SIGN UP TODAY AT www.neweconomybootcamp.com

I’m also proud to be an organizer (and the PR manager) for TEDxSomerville, taking place this Sunday, March 4th! Our own C. Todd Lombardo was featured on Greater Somerville talking about the event! The video is below, in which he explains the history and overview of TED, TEDx and TEDxSomerville.


Hyper-Everything Video

Last Wednesday, the Social Media Club Boston met out in Framingham for the latest in a series of programs we’ve run touching on the intersection of journalism and social media. My business partner Chuck Tanowitz has been very passionate about the subject, so it was only natural to invite him to moderate the program. Here is the video of the program:

Social Media Club Boston June 2011 Journalism Panel: “Hyper Everything”

From the front line to the local coffee shop to the courthouse, journalism faces pressure not only to remain profitable, but to remain relevant. This panel of journalists gives an in-depth discussion of the pressures and possibilities facing the journalism profession today.

Our panelists included:

* Ed Medina (@surfermedina), Director of Multimedia Development, Boston Globe and Boston.com
* Kristin Burnham (@kmburnham), Staff Writer, CIO.com
* Tom Langford (@tom_langford), Reporter, NECN
* Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman), New Media Contributor, NESN.com

The event was sponsored by IDG and Business Wire. Thank you to both for their continued support of the Social Media Club Boston!

What did you think?

After the event, IDG’s Colin Browning interviewed Chuck to dive a little deeper in a few areas. Here is a recording of that interview:


I’m happy to announce that our own Chuck Tanowitz will moderate next Wednesday’s Social Media Club Boston event on “Hyper-Local, Hyper-Social, Hyper-Competitive: The New Journalism,” hosted by IDG and Sponsored by IDG and BusinessWire. As a passionate, engaged and opinionated follower of the profession, not to mention a former journalist, Chuck was a perfect fit for this panel.

From the front line to the local coffee shop to the courthouse, journalism faces pressure not only to remain profitable, but to remain relevant. Join this panel of journalists for an in-depth discussion of the pressures and possibilities facing the journalism profession today.

His panelists will include:

  • Ed Medina (@surfermedina), Director of Multimedia Development, Boston Globe and Boston.com
  • Kristin Burnham (@kmburnham), Staff Writer, CIO.com
  • Tom Langford (@tom_langford), Reporter, NECN
  • Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman), New Media Contributor, NESN.com

Hope to see you there!

Social Media Strategies Summit comes to Boston in September

The Social Media Strategies Summit 2011Fresh Ground is proud to be a media partner of this upcoming event, alongside the Social Media Club Boston!

Following their sold out event in San Francisco with speakers from Facebook, Zappos, Dunkin’ Donuts and much more, GSMI has decided to bring the 2011 Social Media Strategies Summit to the East Coast. They’ve gathered more of the best and brightest speakers in the social media marketing arena to present emerging strategies, tactics and case studies in the successful use of social media. This event reveals how leading brands use social media to consolidate and expand their market share, as well as, gain valuable market data.

Hope to see you there!

Launch Your Website in a Day

I have a few upcoming events I want to call your attention to. The first is a day-long program aimed at people who need to get their web presence in line.

“Create a Killer Web Strategy for Your Business & Launch Your Website in a Day” is taking place on Saturday, May 14, 2011 from 8:30am to 3:30pm, and I will be one of four speakers / workshop facilitators helping out. If you need to build a new site, or are not happy with the messaging, performance or traffic on your existing site, this is the program for you.

The full-day program will help you bring your business strategy to your website. We’ll work with you to determine the most effective design, message, tools and channels to achieve your business goals online. I’m helping with the section on promoting your site and building your community. Hope to see you there!

In this very hands-on program, we’ll translate your strategy into technical features, visual design, copy and audience acquisition channels–then start implementing. Mini-seminars alternate with open work sessions and one-on-one consulting to help you reach your goals.

What You Need: Bring your positioning statement and your laptop. Each registrant receives a hosted website that is set up and ready to be customized. If you have a website already running on a content management system (CMS), you can opt to pick up from where you are and improve its effectiveness.

What You Get: You leave with your business website online and with the practical skills needed for ongoing development. Registration includes lunch and two months of hosting and phone/email support.

Cost: $420 | Drupal.org members (10% discount) $378 | Students with valid ID (20% discount) $336

One Marina Park Drive (near S. Station and Courthouse T stops)
GPS: 55 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 02210