Fanshawe Alumni Magazine feature
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July 1, 2009
Shortly after graduation, Sherry (Shibley) Bruck (Advertising Art ‘82) took her Fanshawe credentials to New York City where she worked at a variety of boutique design firms before starting her own freelance business in 1987. In 1992, she and her husband founded Harquin Graphics, Inc. We asked her to update us on her career path which has been dramatically changed through technology and the online environment.
By: Sherry (Shibley) Bruck
When I graduated from Fanshawe, the industry was so much different than today. The program emphasis in the early ‘80s was on learning how to paint, how to draw perfect rules with rapideograph pens and hand letter type, how to develop marker techniques and shoot and strip film.
Since then, entire industries have disappeared—typesetters, colour separators, film strippers, mechanical artists, retouchers—all of those jobs are now done by graphic designers using a Mac.
But while the tools have drastically changed, what remains constant is the need for a good idea and sound marketing strategy. No matter what the advertising medium is—from a traditional newspaper ad to a Google adword campaign—the idea has to communicate who you are as an organization and grab the target audience fast. Our clients need to be positioned correctly to compete and cut through the clutter of the Internet. If they aren’t, they’ll get lost in the vast online confusion. This is what we do each day for our clients at Harquin.
So while Fanshawe provided the foundation for my career and business, by no means has the education stopped. Since 1990, the marketing communications business has been in a constant state of change and has required continued learning and reinvention to respond to emerging technology and global competition, even for a small agency like ours.
We keep ourselves lean to take on these challenges; we can’t afford extra overhead especially duing these times. At Harquin, we have a mix of full and part-time staff (10 people) and we also hire on a contract basis contingent on the flow of work and the needs of the client.
Our home base is Westchester, NY, which is nestled between New York City to the south and Connecticut to the northeast. I’ve always liked self-employment. It began with freelance work which allowed me to work from home when our daughters were young. Chelsea was born in 1988, followed by Quinn in 1990.
It was a pretty big step when Fred and I opened Harquin in 1992. We immediately went digital with a network of McIntoshes. Those early start-up years were crazy with many all-nighters learning how to design, typeset, colour correct images, and more on the Mac.
Many nights I would go home at 5 p.m., feed the kids, read stories, and then run back to the office to print off page layouts all night because I had a 9 a.m. meeting. The technology was new and everyone was learning together, even the big agencies. Those who didn’t embrace the computer fumbled their careers.
Since 1992, our agency has been helping educators, hospitals, libraries, government agencies, fundraisers, and businesses find their unique voices. We do this by using creativity to push brands where they've never been before, through any legal means necessary—advertising, design, public relations, interactive, relationship marketing, social networking, promotions, events and whatever other unique approaches will work.
More and more, we are finding that the race to stay relevant is all about being interactive, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and viral marketing. We recently filmed a spot for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) New York’s Children of Promise Program. This would have been just a paid TV ad spot a few years ago, but now it will also be used online; embedded on the website and within e-blasts, and posted on YouTube and FaceBook. The spot can be viewed at http://www.whichoneareyou.org.
A much smaller percentage of what we plan for this campaign is paid display advertising. Most of it will be viral and social networking which is incredibly powerful. The beauty is that online marketing can be measured very quickly, sometimes within minutes.
So for example: if today I invite 100 people to the BBBS cause, almost immediately I can watch the click-throughs on the screen. If we don’t get the response we want, we can change the call to action, copy, images and strategy on the fly.
This approach gives us and our clients immediate and measurable results. It still costs money though, because the online campaigns need to be monitored and managed constantly. But the big advantage is not taking a shot in the dark buying expensive TV or print ads that may not get seen, especially with digital TV and the ability to fast forward through commercials.
While the company has grown up, so have our children. Both Chelsea and Quinn are pursuing creative careers. Chelsea is a communications major at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and Quinn is a Public Relations major at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
I’m not sure how this happened; both girls have both gravitated to this industry even though I never promoted it to them. I’m sure they will be successful as they are both outgoing and very creative. I would love to have them in the business someday. Goodness knows with the rapid change in the media, we can always use new blood!
About Sherry Bruck and Harquin
In 1992, Sherry and her husband, Fred Bruck, founded Harquin and they have since created huge successes for scores of local, regional and national accounts. Sherry raises the bar on every piece of work the agency does, whether it’s for Girl Scouts of the USA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Country Bank, Pace University, Monroe College, Danbury Hospital, Snapple, JPMorganChase, Iona College or the dozens of other clients served.
Under Sherry's leadership, Harquin has won numerous awards and has been featured in Graphic Design USA, The NY Times, the Journal News, Independent Banker, Advancing Philanthropy, and Forbes.com. She has served as an active board member on a number of local business associations. In her free time, Sherry can be found spending time with her family, golfing or gardening.
DID YOU KNOW?
When the full-colour Fanshawe College AlumniNews magazine was first launched 25 issues ago, Sherry Bruck was the graphic designer who volunteered to help us get it started? Thank you so much from the Alumni Association for having such faith in us, Sherry!
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