Insights about “public relations”

10 / 01 / 2014

Borshoff celebrates 30th anniversary

Leading advertising and PR agency reaches major milestone

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis-based advertising and public relations agency, Borshoff, celebrates 30 years in business this month, honoring its longevity and recognition as a women-owned business. Founding Principal Myra Borshoff Cook built Borshoff on a foundation of exceptional media relations and crisis communications services, and its offerings have multiplied to include advertising, branding, video, motion graphics and digital design solutions. Today, the agency is owned and operated by Susan Matthews, Jennifer Dzwonar and Karen Alter.

“We take a strategic and fully integrated approach to every client opportunity,” said Susan Matthews, managing principal.

While Borshoff’s work spans continents, a good portion of its 70-plus clients is based in Indiana and the Midwest. Mayor Greg Ballard proclaimed Oct. 9 “Borshoff Day,” noting Borshoff and its employees are deeply committed to the betterment of the City of Indianapolis through professional and volunteer work with initiatives such as Velocity, the 2020 Plan, Great Places 2020, Monument Circle, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Indy Do Day and more. Senior Principal Erik Johnson, now retired, continues to be a champion for community involvement through his board leadership and volunteering. “Our employees serve on dozens of boards and committees, and Borshoff has been a United Way of Central Indiana Company That Cares for two decades, which makes us especially proud,” said Johnson.

“Client longevity speaks volumes about the relationships we keep,” said Jennifer Dzwonar, principal. “Some of our clients have been with us for more than two decades. And good partnerships bring good work, including this year’s award-winning campaigns for OmniSource, Evansville Water and Sewer Utility and Rose Hulman’s Homework Hotline.”

“Our roots in public relations have served us well in how we approach any communications opportunity,” noted Karen Alter, principal. “We foster a collaborative, creative culture where we bring the right minds together to deliver a solid strategy, which makes a positive impact for our clients. The solution might be a grassroots initiative, a multi-faceted advertising strategy or a social media campaign.”

Over the years Borshoff has attracted and retained top talent, a key factor in its ongoing success. The agency provides its employees with an inspiring work environment where they can grow personally while providing high quality work for clients that gets results.

“We’ve created a caring culture, where we balance hard work and personal growth. We developed a ‘Bring Your Baby to Work’ program 14 years ago, we offer multiple professional development opportunities, and we strive for a healthy environment because we know that great customer service starts with engaged employees who love to come to work and are passionate about what they do,” Matthews said.

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About Borshoff

Borshoff is an Indianapolis-based advertising and public relations agency whose professionals deliver results through strategic, creative solutions. Founded in 1984, the agency’s 57 employees work with more than 70 clients in a variety of industries. Borshoff is a partner in IPREX, an international partnership of independent communications firms. In 2014, Borshoff was again named a Best Place to Work by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

9 / 29 / 2014

The Power of Quiet in Communications

katherine-blogHow can you be an introvert and work in public relations? It turns out, introverted qualities can actually be a perfect match for life as a professional communicator.

I recently read a book that made me realize I am not as weird as I originally thought. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, is a beautifully written and researched book that lays out the myths and realities about introverted personalities.

The first thing I learned was the true difference between being shy and being introverted. Shyness is about the fear of social judgment and humiliation. But introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. As Susan Cain describes it:

Introverts feel “just right” with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book. Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes and cranking up the stereo.

Of course, humans are complex beings, so these characteristics rarely hold up 100% of the time. Introverts can and do enjoy a good party every now and then, and extroverts do, in fact, take time to read!

Unfortunately, however, American culture considers introversion to be a problem to overcome, and many of our key institutions – schools, corporations, government – are designed for extroverts.

We’ve all experienced the trend toward collaborative work spaces, an insistence on group brainstorming and self-help books that push us to “come out of our shell.” But the reality is that introverts bring richness and depth to the world that we ignore or push down at our own peril. Consider these findings from Cain’s research:

  • The best ideas don’t necessarily come from gregarious groupthink but rather from the creativity and productivity that come out of solitude. Without introverts, the world would not have the theory of gravity, The Cat in the Hat, or Google.
  • Introverted leaders who lead teams made up of extroverts often find greater success than extroverted leaders. “Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions,” Cain says.
  • There’s never been a correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. You don’t have to go far (read: any number of politicians can serve as an example) to know that the loudest, most eloquent person is not necessarily the smartest.
  • Every major world religion is built on the idea that you have to go into the wilderness to receive the revelation. Without solitude and time for reflection, we would not have the teachings of Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed.

So what do we do with our newfound appreciation for introverts? Cain suggests two simple action steps that can help us strike the right balance.

First, we must stop the madness of constant group work. In my role as a communicator, I recognize and appreciate the value that my entire team brings to our client work. But I also know that no truly brilliant idea was ever formed by committee. People need time to think on their own, and collaboration should follow after that.

Second, we must go to the wilderness. All of us are overstimulated by technology, multitasking and constant chatter from every channel that surrounds us. For introverts, this barrage can be debilitating. We shouldn’t feel guilty for the time we take to reset, and our extroverted colleagues and friends could find the same benefit from a little down time.

Regardless of where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, recognize your own tendencies and appreciate those in your life who are different from you. As Cain put it,

“Today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts – which means that we’ve lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of all Americans are introverts.”

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

8 / 21 / 2014

Are you selling garlic toothpaste?

blog_garlic-toothpasteA client once asked me to help them determine whether they were marketing “garlic toothpaste.” I’d never thought of it this way, but I can’t think of a better way to pose the question: Are you marketing a product people aren’t going to buy?

How would you answer this question? No matter the industry (consumer, non-profit, services, etc.), everyone is selling something.

If your answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” I’m going to recommend you divert some of your precious advertising or public relations budget to finding out.

You’re probably thinking, “Wait, the marketing agency guy is going to recommend I reduce my budget?”

That’s right, because it just might make my job easier if you’re dedicating those dollars to getting your product and brand experience (not your logo) right. Of course, you may have a healthy research budget or can borrow from someone else’s line and can leave your marketing budget untouched. Either way, it’s important to learn about your product through the consumer’s eyes, and your agency may be equipped to help.

If your product and its delivery mechanism (just as important) aren’t right, there’s a chance your marketing is exacerbating your challenges. Promoting a product that’s not right is not only counterproductive, it can be downright damaging to an entire brand. If people try your product and don’t like it, they likely won’t be back, no matter what you do. And, if they decide to share their experience with their friends, you’ll have an even higher hill to climb.

Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. How many times per week do you see posts on your Facebook wall asking for some sort of a recommendation? What would people say about your product if asked? Better yet, would they actively promote you to their friends?

For example, I tried a new restaurant for lunch the other day and liked it. When I got back to the office, I felt inclined to tell some people about it. Translation: free marketing for them.

On the flip side, I was at a local festival and tried a beer from a new brewery in town. It was the only beer I’ve ever willingly dumped out. I won’t be back, and I’ll likely dissuade anyone I’m around from ordering one of their beers in the future. And while I’m not the ultimate beer judge, I wonder if the brewery thought it was putting its best foot forward.

So, how do you figure out whether you’re selling the right thing?

Start with listening to your customers, which will likely require investing in some research. You have to figure out what your customer really wants and how they want it delivered to them. Don’t just pay attention to what they’re saying. Examine their actions too. You know which one speaks louder. And, take a look at your organization’s Facebook page comments. You’ll find clues there too.

There’s a common tendency for organizations to have a “let’s get to work, and we’ll figure it out as we go” mentality. But if you don’t take time to learn about your customer, can you really be sure you’re not marketing “garlic toothpaste?”

Sometimes what your customers are telling you is tough to swallow, but if you really listen and are brave enough to make changes, you’ll be better for it. I’ve never navigated a customer study with a client where I didn’t feel we were set up for success once the product updates had been implemented.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

8 / 07 / 2014

Borshoff named to PR News’ “Top Places to Work” for third year

Borshoff is proud to be the only Indianapolis-based agency to be named to this year’s Top Places to Work in PR list, by PR News. This is the third year in a row that Borshoff, a leading advertising and public relations agency, has been recognized with this national honor.

PR News selects companies annually for the ranking, based on applicants’ answers to questions about workplace culture, opportunities for advancement, mentoring programs, diversity and more. The list recognizes honorees for paving the way in the communications and PR industry through innovative solutions.

“We’re humbled that PR News recognizes the efforts Borshoff makes to create an encouraging and rewarding work environment,” said Susan Matthews, managing principal at Borshoff. “From our signature Bring Your Baby to Work program to our thought leadership initiative that empowers employees to express their individual voices, we strive to offer a workplace that motivates our professionals to produce excellent results for our clients.”

Borshoff promotes professional development, supporting employees’ memberships in professional affinity groups and funding industry training opportunities. The agency is also a generous supporter of community causes and gives employees opportunities to support such organizations as United Way of Central Indiana, Herron School of Art, the Ronald McDonald House, the Indiana Sports Corporation and more.

“Many of us across the globe look at Borshoff’s practices as the ‘Gold Standard’ to which we measure our progress in the domains of human capital acquisition, development and engagement,” said John Scheibel, CEO of Trefoil Group and global president of IPREX, an international network of communications firms. “They are generous in sharing their best practices with our partner agencies.”

Borshoff will learn of its ranking within the list of Top Places to Work in PR during a special awards luncheon at the Grand Hyatt in New York on September 16. For a complete list of this year’s PR News Top Places to Work in PR, visit

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Borshoff is an Indianapolis-based advertising and public relations agency whose professionals deliver results through strategic, creative solutions. Founded in 1984, the agency’s 56 employees work with more than 70 clients in a variety of industries. Borshoff is a member of IPREX, an international partnership of independent firms.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

5 / 02 / 2014

Indiana Chamber names Borshoff ‘Best Place to Work’

Borshoff has been named one of the year’s “Best Places to Work in Indiana” by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Borshoff is among 100 companies statewide to be recognized with this honor.

Borshoff was one of 41 companies recognized at an awards dinner last night in the Small Companies category.

“We are thrilled to be a Best Place to Work in Indiana,” said Borshoff Managing Principal Susan Matthews. “Providing our clients with high-quality service is critical to our mission, and we are able to do that by attracting talented individuals to our team. We are committed to a vibrant work environment where every employee grows professionally and makes critical contributions every day.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce selects companies annually for this honor, and applicants must submit employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys focused on workplace culture, opportunities for advancement, communication, diversity and benefits. The Best Companies Group, which handles the selection process, oversees similar programs in 23 other states.

According to a release issued by the Indiana Chamber, “This year saw the most number of applicants ever for the program,” said Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “We have a lot of great employers in Indiana that are providing a productive, employee-friendly work environment that also leads to success for the organization.”

Among features contributing to Borshoff’s standing as a Best Place to Work is the company’s “Bring Your Baby to Work” program, which allows a new parent to return to work, sharing office space with his or her child between the age of six weeks and six months. In addition, Borshoff promotes professional development, encouraging and paying for employees’ memberships in professional affinity groups and for industry training opportunities.

For a complete list of this year’s Best Places to Work in Indiana, visit

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Borshoff is an Indianapolis-based advertising and public relations agency whose professionals deliver results through strategic, creative solutions. Founded in 1984, the agency’s 54 employees work with more than 70 clients in a variety of industries. Borshoff is a partner in IPREX, an international partnership of independent communications firms.


The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

3 / 03 / 2014

Boot Camp, the Borshoff Way

diversitybc_formatted for blogBoot Camp. Though the name sounds a little intimidating, our Diversity Internship Boot Camp was such a treat to the students and to us, as hosts. The Boot Camp was part of Borshoff’s diversity initiative, which helps our agency create and maintain a diverse workplace where we embrace each other’s differences including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, lifestyle, age, disability, religion and culture. We believe everyone is important and brings value to the agency.

The purpose of Boot Camp was to teach students about internship opportunities at Borshoff, equip them with the knowledge they need to develop as standout interns, and grow our pool of qualified minority internship candidates. We had the privilege of hosting students – mostly freshmen and sophomores – from Butler University, Franklin College, Indiana University, IUPUI and UIndy. Thirteen students committed half of their Saturday to talk about public relations, communications and design. Several members of the Borshoff team shared advice on how to be standout interns, and the students responded with enthusiasm and insightful questions as we explored effective writing, resume and portfolio tips, social media pitfalls, career paths and other topics.

To help students get the most out of Boot Camp, we enlisted outside help as well. A few of the community’s brightest and most talented communicators – Gene Ford, IU Health; Danielle Neveles, Eli Lilly and Company; Jae Park, Interface; and Gene Rodriguez, WellPoint – shared their internship experiences, professional journeys and career advice. The students’ wide eyes, rapid-fire questions and “ah-ha” expressions were indicators that our panelists hit the mark! And when the panel discussion was over, the students lined up to keep the conversation going.

It was so inspiring to watch the students eagerly soak up information that could one day shape their futures. It made me feel great to play a small role in their journey. And I look forward to doing it again next year!

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

2 / 10 / 2014

Habits of Productive People

habitsA colleague sent around this infographic of 35 Habits of Highly Productive People. As with most of these types of things, I found that I do some of these things very well (manage anxiety; if you don’t write it down, record it; treat time as money), and other things not so much (define your fashion uniform; routinize your diet; take naps).

Lists such as these are reassuring when you see many things you do regularly – and they give credence to what you do naturally. Other parts of the list are disheartening because you think, “I would never do that.” For me, the elements in the latter category are those that require doing the same thing day after day. In any given week, I wear a variety of clothing types, eat a variety of foods, and work on a variety of projects. It’s why I’ve loved my career in PR/Advertising, and the dress code is one of many reasons I could never be POTUS.

The infographic also reminds me that what’s highly productive in one field or walk of life is highly unproductive in another. For example, “Tune out the news, nothing important happens most of the time.” Um, I work in PR, interacting with the media every day, so this is like telling a chemist, “Stop using chemicals, they’re dangerous.”

Many of the items, however, are helpful in any industry: “Notice the 80/20 rule. Which 20 percent of work produces 80 percent of result?” Prioritization is critical to productivity. It doesn’t mean we can ignore the less productive work, but getting the big stuff done reaps more results, which is the ultimate goal of any job.

Speaking of 80/20, I would say I possess 80% of the habits shown on this infographic, and may be just fine with that.

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

10 / 28 / 2013

Words of “Content Frenzy” wisdom

jydnycI attended an outstanding Critical Issues Forum on “Content Frenzy” sponsored by the Council of PR Firms in NYC on October 24. About 300 professionals from large and small PR firms around the nation heard from a slew of experts on how to handle the current mania around strong digital content driving ideas and brands.

Here are a dozen quotes I picked up during the conference.

  1. Harvard Business Review: Everyone’s a thought leader now. Not sure how that’s possible.”
  2. BuzzFeed: If everyone is flooding the world with content, no one is winning.
  3. News Corp: Brands driving content in our publications isn’t our biggest problem now. Privacy is a much bigger issue for all of us.
  4. Q: How important is the short, snackable content for Harvard Business Review? A: Pretty significant. We choose and craft content that will play in short form while remaining high quality.
  5. News Corp: Most newsrooms are run on “tummy compass” or gut. Editors say “what our readers want is…” But it’s actually been months since they spoke with a reader. We need more real data and social feedback driving journalism.
  6. Forbes: We received a great content piece from a telecomm company – as if it were written by a good journalist. Then their agency called and said, “Wait, we need more marketing messages in that piece, don’t use it.” Forbes and all good PR people say, “Ugh.”
  7. BuzzMachine: Screw big data, you sometimes need small data! Does this potential customer live in my market?
  8. Forbes: Rather than starting with a product claim or message, start with a universal truth.
  9. SAP: The answer to “How do I create a viral video?” is “shut up.” There’s no good answer to a bad question.
  10. Altimeter Group: Data shows that text-based content (white papers, articles) is not the way to go. Multi-media, video, infographics are it for the future.  But storytelling still rules – must tell it in new ways – Vine, etc.
  11. SAP: The word “campaign” can be a success-killer because it sounds as if there’s a beginning and an end to our efforts – that there are certain tools that must be produced, checked off, etc.
  12. Funny or Die: Good improv clubs are like good PR: they’re focused on what people are thinking about or what they should be thinking about.


The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

5 / 07 / 2012

Giving a rock-star interview

Media training is one of the many services we offer at Borshoff. In these sessions, we teach valuable information to prepare people for giving rock-star interviews. We provide an in-depth look at today’s media landscape, the do’s and don’ts when caught in a crisis, and tools to ensure you come across calm and collected on camera, radio or in a print article.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you have the opportunity to conduct a media interview:

  • Be yourself – humorous, relaxed and knowledgeable.
  • Epitomize the company – act as you want others to see/know your company/organization.
  • Concentrate on the interviewee – looking at notes too much indicates that the reporter or interview wasn’t important enough for you to prepare in advance.
  • Smile slightly all the time on camera – a slight smile won’t really look like a smile; you’ll look confident and relaxed. If you don’t smile slightly, you will look like you are frowning.
  • Make eye contact – focus on the reporter, not the camera.
  • Speak with more energy and range and louder than usual – if you’re nervous, you are likely to speak softer and flatter than usual. Try not to speak faster than your natural place.

These will ensure you give a great interview and don’t leave thinking, “I wish I had remembered to…”

The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

3 / 01 / 2012

Planning your next event can be a piece of cake

In college, I spent one semester as the social chair for my fraternity.  My main responsibility was coordinating a homecoming mixer and planning the annual fall formal. Each was a disaster.

It didn’t really bother me because I thought those 12 weeks would be my first and only foray into event planning. At that point in my education I thought public relations was only about crisis communication and media relations. I was way off.


The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.

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