Archive for the 'Slice of SHIFT' Category



SHIFT Globe Trotter: Alex Brooks – Tenga Un Buen Viaje!

I spent the first week of November in Spain. It was my first time there, so the natural choice would have been to visit some combination of Madrid and Barcelona. But since Gordon, my boyfriend/travel companion, had already been to both cities, we opted to go to Seville instead. It was an absolutely fantastic choice.

There are plenty of reasons to love Seville—its Mediterranean climate offers a welcome reprieve from New England falls and winters; it’s a very walk-able city and not too big, so it’s easy to master the layout and have a decent sense of where you are [even for the directionally challenged, like me]; though it feels like the dollar will never catch up to the Euro, Seville is actually quite budget-friendly: a glass of wine is one or two Euro, tapas restaurants are affordable and delicious, and some of the main attractions are actually free (there was no charge at the museum when we were there). But for a history nerd like me, the best part was exploring in-depth the things that textbooks mention in passing.

I could talk all day about what to do and see in Seville (as, I imagine, could Christina Feeney, who studied abroad there during college!), but if you ever find yourself there, here is a quick list of my favorite things to do/see.

Bon Voyage! Or as they say in Spain, ¡tenga un buen viaje!

  • Real Alcazar – Seville’s royal palaces, which the king and queen still use when they visit the city. This is an example of a complex that has been built and added to over centuries, and incorporates old Moorish structures. They don’t offer tours with an actual guide, so definitely read up on the palace before you go so you understand what you’re seeing.
  • Cathedral – The largest cathedral in Europe. It was built on the foundations of a mosque, and aspects of the mosque, the courtyard in particular, are still part of the cathedral. Columbus’ tomb is here.
  • Museo de Bellas Artes – The museum is actually an old convent which is architecturally lovely. There is lots of Renaissance, Baroque and Medieval Christian art, but there’s also more modern work on display. The chapel of the convent is unbelievably gorgeous and is now covered in fabulous Murillo paintings—he was a native of Seville.
  • Archive of the Indies – Columbus’ journey was Spain’s foray into New World exploration, and for years Seville was the hub of New World trade because its river was a protected port. In the late 1700s it was decided that Spain needed to archive every text, letter and decree concerning New World trade and exploration, and they made the old merchant exchange the Archive of the Indies. Letters from all those explorers you learn about in grade school – Magellan, Cortes, Cabeza de Vaca, Ponce de Leon – are on display.
  • Parque Maria Luisa – Seville’s version of Central Park. One of the things we didn’t get a chance to do was rent bikes, which would be a great way to see the city, but I also think that it would be a great way to explore the park’s enchanting gardens, pathways and buildings. Absolutely spend a few hours here, picnicking and unwinding after a morning of sightseeing.
  • The Alhambra – You have to see it to believe it. The Alhambra is in Granada, which is about a three hour train from Seville, but it’s a doable day trip and completely worth it. A highlight is seeing the exact spot where Isabel gave Columbus the funds for his voyage to America, about a week after the Alhambra fell to her and Ferdinand. Our guide told us that it’s Europe’s second most frequented tourist site, after the Vatican. Just be careful of the overly-aggressive, fortune-telling gypsies who basically tackle you when you leave. Apparently Gordon and I will be blessed with only sons.

SHIFT Takes Field Trip to ABC’s “7Live”

By: Daisy Kong

At the San Francisco office this week, a few lucky SHIFTers went on a cool field trip to check out the local ABC affiliate’s new TV show, “7Live.” Unlike most afternoon talk shows, it’s broadcasted live in front of a studio audience and covers breaking news, technology and popular culture. Hosted by Brian Copeland, the show also features on-air correspondents, Jennifer Jolly and Lizzie Bermudez.

What was especially neat and refreshing about 7Live was how social media was used throughout the show. Brian, the host, kicks off the show by introducing the big stories of the day and immediately asks viewers at home to share their thoughts on Facebook (see show’s FB fan page here) and Twitter (see handle here). As the comments and tweets start to roll in, Jennifer and Lizzie share and discuss the most interesting ones on the show.

Additionally, the show makes it a point to ask for commentary from their Voice Box aka their live studio audience.  Our very own Jessica was selected to sound off on whether it should be legal to deny employment to the overweight and obese.

Speaking for myself, this was a great opportunity for SHIFTers (especially the junior staff) to see first-hand how a news show is produced and taped for TV. More often than not, most PR folks won’t get this kind of exposure to broadcast until they need to staff a studio interview for their clients. SHIFT – thanks for letting us get this experience under our belts!

Molding the Future

*This post comes to you from Senior Account Manager and rock star, Amanda Munroe (@ABMBoston)…

Mentor – noun \ˈmen-ˌtȯr, -tər\ a : a trusted counselor or guide b : tutor, coach

In Greek mythology, Mentor was the friend and trusted counselor of Odysseus (legendary king and hero of Homer’s Odyssey). Given their relationship, Mentor was assigned the enormous responsibility of raising Odysseus’s son when he was away fighting in Troy. Naturally, Mentor formed a near-paternal bond with the child, and, as a result, the personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning a “father-like teacher.”

Thankfully, in business, mentors aren’t necessarily called upon to raise someone’s child for 20 years (phew!). Yet, they serve a vital role and can help fuel personal and professional growth. In PR, mentors can help make sense of the insanity, share real-world experiences and lessons learned, and push you out of your comfort zone so you can become the PR pro you want to be.

When I started working at SHIFT more than six years ago, I was excited to start my first job at an agency. I had always considered myself a good writer, having majored in journalism, and thought my time management skills were top-notch, the result of always working two (or three) jobs in high school and college. I had no idea what I was in for. Within a month, I thought I made a terrible mistake and didn’t think I was cut out for the fast-paced and perfection-driven world of agency life. I was failing every day – making errors both small (missing internal deadlines) and monumental (sending a sensitive document to the wrong client). I was ready to call it quits.

But then I talked to a senior staff member and she changed everything. She told me to take a deep breath and said that everyone feels that way their first few months. She gave me real-world tips and tricks to help me manage my time and pay attention to detail. Once I mastered those, she pushed me to think bigger –let me know that speaking up in client meetings was the best way to impress a client and position myself as a rock star to my boss. When I was nervous about networking, she told me to get over it and reinforced how it would help me with my job. A couple of years later, when I was taking the job way too seriously, she reminded me that it was just PR – no lives would be lost if a client had more than a few edits to my press release. To this day, I still consider her a mentor and one of my closest friends.

I obviously stayed at SHIFT and worked my way up into a management position. Soon, I found myself being asked by other SHIFTers to be their mentor. Me? What words of wisdom did I possibly have, I wondered. But once I talked to the ACs and AEs looking for guidance, I realized they weren’t asking for pearls but, instead, the same thing I needed six years ago. They wanted to know how they could impress their managers and clients. How to break through a publication that never accepts a pitch or covers a certain company. How to get ahead when, sometimes, you feel like you can’t possibly do enough. It’s rewarding to give them advice and then see them come into my office, all smiles, when they’ve accomplished their goal. Because of them, I’ve pushed myself to do better in my own job too.

At SHIFT, we’ve recently revamped our Mentor Program and I’m excited to lead this task. The mentor/mentee relationship offers rewards for both and benefits the individuals, as well as the Company. When rolling out the new program, we encouraged mentees to look for mentors that are people they aspire to be like and trust, but aren’t going to just tell them what they want to hear. I know that worked wonders for me.

Do you have a mentor? How has the relationship impacted you?

Piñatas, Margaritas and Taco Trucks: Oh my!

By Annie Meenan (@anniemeenan) and Kate (@Katester421)

Over the past several weeks, SHIFT’s San Francisco social committee was hard at work planning the annual summer outing. Devising the perfect theme was crucial, but since communication is our specialty the real challenge was keeping it a secret from the eavesdropping ears of other SHIFTers. August 26 came quicker than expected and staffers began to arrive at Crissy Fields (a beautiful park right on the San Francisco bay) for a fun- (and fiesta-) filled day of team bonding.

Our “summer” outing took an ironic turn as the weather, which had been mid-90s all week suddenly dropped to the mid-50s – but nothing like a little wind to encourage team bonding in its purest form (huddling together and drinking margaritas to stay warm). Our spot was decked out with everything “fiesta”, from piñatas to mariachis to sombreros.

Around noon, we spotted the main attraction in the distance, as a taco truck was slowly making its way toward our picnic area. The thrilled SHIFTers ran toward the truck and eagerly waited for their warm quesadillas, burritos and tacos in the chilly weather.

A few friendly competitions spiced things up, as pin the mustache on the mariachi man, bocce ball and a piñata (filled with candy, gift cards and vacation day passes) became the focus. Lastly, a round of get-to-know-your-coworkers revealed some interested tidbits about the SHIFT staff (highlights included a cousin of Potsie’s from Happy Days and two people who have mastered the legendary worm dance move – check out the priceless video below for proof).

Just when we thought things were winding down, a surprise round of “find the iPhone” unexpectedly demonstrated teamwork at its finest when intern, Katherine, realized her phone had been accidently taken out with the garbage by someone (*coughcough* Kris Konietzko). With the iPhone bravely rescued from the depths of the trash by SHIFT’s very own VP of Marketing, Parry Headrick, the exhausted (and slightly buzzed) SHIFTers began to head home.

But before you think our outing was just fun and games (and taco trucks), we feel it is necessary to point out the skills we brushed up on during the day:

Bonding: Huddling together for warmth.

Open communication: Sharing those “skeletons in your closet” with co-workers.

Encouragement: Cheering along your colleagues as they “swing” their way to gift cards and snooze bars.

Teamwork: Joining forces to save an iPhone from a 30 foot trash can.

Hi, I’m KT McGraw and I’m a PR Geek

The summer before my senior year in college, I had the pleasure to intern with a powerful female lobbyist in New York.  She was sharp, well-connected, tapped into the system and respected in a world full of dull pant suits.  She was the first professional woman who I had the opportunity to get close to and to this day she remains a symbol of what in my mind it takes to be a successful woman in an often male-dominated political/business arena – superior intellect, a trusted network and an air of over confidence.

I graduated from college in 2002 as a poetry major and art history minor.  Soon after I realized that the chances of me making money writing poetry were similar to that of me becoming the first female President.  With that in mind, I decided to take my chances with a foray into the world of politics.  I loved the idea of politics, the systematic appeal and downright passion involved in the process.  What I didn’t like was that I was surrounded predominantly by males with few female role models to turn to for guidance.  More often than not, I found myself actually trying to dress and behave in a more masculine fashion in an effort to be seen as an equal.  No one told me to behave this way; I just identified two types of women that exuded success: 1) women who were atypically aggressive, or 2) women who seemed more apt to use their sexuality to climb the ladder.  A former point guard, the aggressive approach seemed more natural.  Still, I was confronted on more than one occasion with the harsh reality that politics was a man’s world where women had to fight the good fight on multiple occasions in order to enter what I deemed, “The Club.”

As I bridged the gap from politics to PR over those first few years, I was still confronted on more than one occasion with the realities of a former world where only men were allowed certain niceties.  In fact, next to the building where I held my second job post-college stood a “Club” that had only started allowing women to enter their facility in 1988.  I was eight years-old then.  Now 30, I recently found myself yearning for a “club” of my own and have found just that in Girls in Tech – a social network enterprise focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of like-minded, professional, intelligent and influential women in technology.

Today, I work predominantly with tech-focused businesses ranging from burgeoning start-ups to established public companies.  From SaaS to location intelligence and cloud computing, I’ve come a long way from the hallowed halls of political institutions to the land of female-dominated communications.  Now, I’m slowly but surely noticing the influx of women entrepreneurs and CEOs and CTOs and see that real change and work place equality is undoubtedly on the horizon.  What I still worry about is how long this same type of gender shakeout will take in the world of technology. 

There’s been plenty of news, particularly as of late, in relation to why this female gap remains in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.  And while I won’t get too deep in the weeds of issues such as gender differences (risk averse, lack of self promotion, etc.), I will give you a broader view as to the role Girls in Tech Boston (GiT) is playing in this effort to help drive female participation in the field of technology.  In addition to supporting local groups such a The Science Club for Girls, GiT Boston offers bi-monthly professional networking opportunities and educational series such as our upcoming panel discussion in conjunctions with Mass Challenge and local women entrepreneurs.

I like the little bit of “geek” in me that I’ve grown over the last few years as I’ve been exposed to various technologies through tailored publicity programs.  More so, I like how I’ve been able to find and connect with others with this same geek-a-tude and affinity for things such as robots.

Moving forward, I think the efforts of GiT will pay dividends toward increasing the ratio of women in technology.  From fostering positive experiences with younger generations to helping current women in the IT space connect with the resources and backing they need in order to be successful, it’s clear to me that this two-pronged approach has the potential to help mitigate the “glass ceiling” syndrome.

Are you a geek in the PR space or in the world of IT?  If so, we’d love to hear from you!  In no more than two sentences, tell us what makes you geek-tastic.  In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye out for hot news coming out of the Women Who Tech conference that convenes on September 15.

Stay geeky; stay proud.

Team Building: It Takes More than Just Trust Falls

By Matt Trocchio (@trochman)

Agency life has many factors to it:  multiple clients, multiple deadlines and multiple personalities working together.  If a team isn’t built properly the latter can be a detriment to all the others.  Well, how do you help strengthen the team without reducing yourself to old school methods?  Simple, find ways to get to know one another without it being ‘forced.’

At SHIFT Boston, we have been fortunate enough to participate in many activities that have helped with this.  There have been days spent volunteering together (such as with GBFB) and nights battling together on sports teams.  Right now, our softball team is in the start of its post-season.

Although our regular season record of 1 win, 11 losses may not showcase it, the season has been a real winner.  Each week the team carpools to different fields across the greater Boston area, pours their hearts onto the field, and from time-to-time enjoys a frosty beverage.

How does this sort of activity help an Agency? Well, it will at the very least:

  • Build Trust – Any team sport will ultimately come down to trust.  You have to trust that someone is going to do their best to ensure that everyone is safe and has a good time.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen SHIFTers come to the aid of another on the field to A) make sure they are ok after a play or B) have their back if another team is trying to get physical.
  • Build Confidence – Some call me “Dad” on the field, but there is nothing wrong with a little bit of cheering.  When someone can feel good about striking out on the diamond, they really won’t be as bothered if a pitch falls flat in the office.  Dust yourself off and try again.  You know you can do it.
  • Build Friendships – You may not all be BFFs, but I’d be shocked if you could sit on a bench, share laughs and drinks for a few innings and still not like each other somewhat.  Many of us will go out after games and share a drink or a bite to eat.  Although there will always be the aspect of ‘work’ in an office, it certainly doesn’t feel that way when you like the people sitting around you.

Now what do you do if you’re in a large company that can’t all play on the same team?  Well, these ‘internets’ I keep hearing about are a wonderful thing.  Share your fun!  Our softball team creates post-game press releases that recap the misadventures of our team and share them across the company so SF and NYC can get to know their ridiculous Boston counterparts.  We also post photos to Facebook and occasionally have folks on the bench tweeting out what’s going on.

I’ve had the pleasure of being Captain of our team for the last three years, and although the record may fluctuate, the outcome is always the same – everyone has fun and grows closer.  Wish us luck for the remainder of the summer and I hope to see you on the field next year.

Boston Salsa (and Dip) Showdown

By Amanda Guisbond, (@agbond)

This past Thursday, July 22, the Boston office of SHIFT Communications (@SHIFTComm) held an in-office happy hour and salsa (and dip) competition. SHIFTers came out in full force with an array of inspiring salsas, dips and chips, including pineapple salsa, avocado and cucumber dip, HOT pineapple ginger salsa, southwestern style hummus, and BBQ chicken dip.

In true SHIFT style, awards were handed out to the most ambitious chefs. Christina Feeney (@CFeeney) took home the “Should Be on a Menu” title for her grilled pineapple and mango salsa; Mike Fearon (@mdfearon) won “Spiciest” salsa for his flaming hot pineapple ginger salsa, and Ciri Haugh (@chaugh) won for “Best Overall” for her guacamole.

Thankfully, Ciri was kind enough to share her talents with the Slice team – here is a recipe for the winning guacamole in case you’d like to bring some to your own Showdown.

Ciri’s “Championship” Guacamole
Ingredients:

3 Ripe Haas Avocados
2 Jalapenos
½ Red Onion
2 Roma Tomatoes
1 Clove of Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Lime juice
Fresh Cilantro

Instructions:

Half, peel and seed avocados then mash them into a bowl. Dice jalapenos, red onion, roma tomatoes, cilantro and garlic and mix with avocados. Add salt, pepper, lime juice to taste. Note: Don’t prepare the guacamole until right before serving it (Abby learned this the hard way – sorry, Abby). Avocados oxygenate and will turn brown if left out too long.

Any suggestions for the next in-office happy hour? In addition to salsa and dips, the Boston office has held a cookie bake-off in past. Other ideas??

SHIFT Watercooler

By Team Slice

Check out what SHIFTers were talking about around the watercooler (or “bubbler” as some in our Boston office might say) this week:

Mary S (@marys213) was reading about Wal-Mart’s plans to roll out an electronic ID tag system in order to track clothing and ensure better inventory controls.

Danielle M (@dmancano) really wants the hanging faux fireplace on DailyGrommet.com, a SHIFT client.

Katie D (@kdespres) was reading “Facebook hits 500 million users,” courtesy of Julianne Pepitone (@julpepitone) of CNNmoney.com.

Lauren G (@lgainor) was referred to a new study showing that Americans are moodiest on Thursdays and happiest on Sundays.

Andrew W (@LetsPercolate) was captivated by the Economist article on why some major media brands (including the Beatles and Harry Potter) have yet to embrace digital.

Britt R (@brAb27) is currently submitting a tip to The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur on how businesses can reduce their carbon footprint.

Amanda G (@agbond) was memorizing line items from the New York Times version of the watercooler, “The 10 Things to Talk About This Weekend.”

A Slice of SHIFT – Cara Foley

Think you know Cara Ambrose Foley?  Think again.  Read on to learn a little more about this BC Grad, Kennedy enthusiast and Chinese food lover.

Name:

Cara Foley

Title:

Senior Account Executive

Twitter:

@CARAFOLEY

SHIFT office:

Boston

Client focus/title: Consumer, Security, B2B or Admin:

B2B! Currently, my clients focus on engineering, healthcare IT, and security.

Hometown:

Cohasset, Massachusetts

What is the best part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is meeting face-to-face with clients. In the day-to-day craziness of updating the weekly, pitching reporters, drafting a byline, etc., etc., etc., it can sometimes be challenging to keep the bigger picture at the forefront.

I love to be able to hear straight from the executive team, the sales force, the office manger, whoever, how they see, in ways large and small, the impact of the SHIFT’s hard work.

In my last role at a consulting company, I was constantly exposed to different types of companies – in various industries, of all sizes, and each with their own separate culture – and that’s something I continue to enjoy in my current role at SHIFT.

What is your PR shining moment?

I’ve been lucky enough to be on one of my current accounts since day one of my SHIFT career. Less than two years ago, the team was brokering introductions for the Company with the security trades, and, in the last couple of months alone, they’ve received a number of top-tier inbound inquiries from business publications. It’s rewarding to know that you had a direct hand in helping a Company take their awareness to the next level.

What brought you to SHIFT?

Mary Sullivan! In early 2008, I had decided I wanted to make a career change and Mary and I had a mutual friend who put us in touch. I sent Mary my resume to pass along, and, within a few weeks, I was sitting in the cube across from her.

Whose Tweets/Blog could you not do without?

@ariannahuff for entertainment and politics updates. I also love mrs-o.org, a blog started by a BC grad that follows Michelle Obama’s fashion choices.

A Slice of SHIFT – Reshma Fernandes

From Bombay to Boston to NYC! Check out how Reshma made the journey from India to SHIFT.

Name: Reshma Fernandes

Twitter: @reshma

SHIFT office: NYC

Client focus/title: Consumer, Senior Account Executive

I’m part of the consumer team and my clients are pretty diverse, ranging from consumer tech software and gadgets to an upscale travel resort.

Hometown:

I was born in Bombay, India but for now I call NYC home.

What is the best part of your job?

Being surrounded by sma–ht people [I lived in Boston for 4 years!]. From the clients I interact with on a daily basis to colleagues, reporters, bloggers, it’s great to work with a smart, challenging, fun bunch of people that push you to do your best. No day is ever the same and I can honestly say I learn something new everyday.

What is your PR shining moment?

I’ve made the transition from doing PR in Bombay and Dubai to B2B and now consumer tech at SHIFT, so it’s hard to find a shining moment! I’d say predicting what your client wants and delivering it before you’re asked – every time that happens it’s the best day of my week.

What brought you to SHIFT?

I was newly minted from grad school, had just arrived in Boston and eager to get started on my PR career. Sure I spent my time networking and doing research online but it was actually Todd’s blog that brought me to SHIFT’s Web site. It was great to get a feel for the agency through Todd’s voice on PR-Squared, so I decided to apply.

Whose Tweets/Blog could you not do without?

The best part of my day is I get to read blogs and follow Tweeps whose work I have a natural interest in. So anything travel related from the Practical Traveler blog on the New York Times to Walletpop.com for anything personal finance is interesting and fun. I use Twitter to stay in the know, keep up with the industry and to stay alert for developing stories that can impact my clients. I’m by no means a Twitter addict but for anything PR or marketing related, I usually check out the latest tweets from @briansolis, @sgetgood, @skydiver and of course @badpitch!



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