Posts Tagged 'Public relations'

Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages: What’s the big fuss?

The social media world has been abuzz since last week’s official launch of Facebook Timeline for all brand pages. Timeline has been available for personal users for a few months, and while it’s been optional, it’ll ultimately be the only choice for people and brands alike. I’m now accustomed to seeing the new look on my friends’ pages: huge cover photos of sunsets, babies or pets (I’m guilty of at least two. See for yourself.), but how will Timeline actually transform a brand’s presence on Facebook? After speaking with reps from the site, taking an online webinar and reading up on all of the official Facebook documents, I’ve come to the conclusion that Timeline can enrich a consumer’s view of a brand. How can it do this? By creating a page where consumers might spend more time and by allowing brands to seem more human.


Personal uses of Cover photos are often sunsets, babies or pets.

Here are some details about how Timeline works:

Cover Photo vs. Profile Picture

The new cover photo seems like a simple concept. It’s like a profile picture, but bigger. But Facebook claims that it’s more than that – and they may be right. The suggested use of this space is for an image that captures the essence of your brand. Not a logo, not a promotional photo, not just text. The cover photo is the soul of the brand page, and should convey the soul of the brand. On the other hand, the profile picture should convey the facts: the logo, the label, etc. Facebook chose a few brands as guinea pigs for Timeline. Among them were Coca-Cola and Manchester United and not surprisingly, their pages look great (I’m guessing their sizable Facebook advertising budgets didn’t hurt). The Manchester United page is the perfect example of the Cover Photo vs. Profile pic discrepancy. Their profile pic is just the Manchester United logo. And yet their cover photo is of an emotional, uplifting photo of the victorious team, evoking immediate emotion from any user. Even from me!

What it means for brands: Emotion sells.


Manchester United gets it right with an emotion provoking cover photo

Pinning Your Posts

Another new feature for Timeline is the ability for brands to “pin” a post to the top of the page for up to 7 days. This is all about the first impression – any user landing on a brand page will see exactly what the brand wants them to see. The days are over when negative customer feedback live at the top of the Facebook Brand Page wall. This gives more power to the brand over all headlining content on their page. And while users are still encouraged to post on brand pages, Facebook has introduced a new option for consumers to privately message brands. This should cut down on some of the customer service type questions that are often prominently displayed on Facebook walls. Barack Obama’s profile is a great example of keeping the positive message up top, including user photos of reasons why they support Obama, positive videos and quotes from the President himself.

What it means for brands: Choose your pins wisely. They’re the introduction line in your consumer conversation, and you now have the power to control it.


Obama pins positive posts. And check out his great cover photo.

Views and Apps

Here’s a big change: Brands can no longer select a landing page for their users to view first. Everyone will land to the brand’s Timeline. The only way for users to go straight to an application is through a paid media buy. Facebook has also changed up the way applications are displayed – they’ve said goodbye to the text links on the left side of the page and opted for pretty thumbnails at the top of the page, right next to the Photo and Like images. Brands will be able to move the thumbnails around, displaying which applications get top priority, although the Photo and Like thumbnails are stationary. This results in a nicer presentation, but a more top-heavy page, where users will need to scroll down below the fold to get to the real meat of the page.

What it means for brands: Brands can no longer dictate for users to arrive on welcome pages, “like to enter” tabs or apps. So, create thumbnails to make your apps pop.


On to the main course: And here’s where brands can really show their personalities. The milestone function allows brands to chronologically add in the opening day of their business, the day they made your first dollar, when they expanded globally, etc… The actual timeline on the Timeline allows brands to expose their history to their users. Do consumers care? Brands are tasked with injecting their milestones with fun, interesting facts – otherwise the Timeline will fall flat. Starbucks started their Timeline with opening their first store in 1971, and for a company that has grown so quickly – it’s a fun read. Obama also gets this right. His milestone posts bring us back to the 1970s with fun facts such as: “Obama gets his first job working the counter at Baskin-Robbins” or “Obama moves in with his grandparents in Hawaii”. But then there’s Coca-Cola. Their first milestone on their Timeline is the company’s start in 1886. A brand with such a long, rich history should be fascinating to read about. But do consumers have time to scroll though their entire history? I’m not so sure. Especially since the Timeline functionality is still very sluggish. Once we see improvements with the speed, it might become a more attractive read.

What it means for brands: Keep this section short and sweet, with punchy and interesting facts. Brands want users to find your brand charming and inspiring, not just read a history text book.


Coke’s milestones take us back to pre-Facebook times in 1886.

There’s no question – Timeline is pretty. And it will allow brands to speak to users in a whole new way. I just hope that Facebook doesn’t lose sight of the importance of the consumer to brand and consumer/consumer conversations, both of which seem to take a back seat with this new look. If the goal is to make brands seem more human, then human consumer engagement should still be a top priority. But as we’ve seen with Facebook in the past, there’s certainly more change to come.

Why Authoring a Blog May Be My (And Your) Best Career Move

By @JohnCassillo

If you’re in public relations, chances are you write. A lot. Yet, I’d bet many of us try to check out from one of our most common daily activities once we leave the office. If you were a biologist, it’s probably unlikely you’d be doing lab work on your weekend, so why would (should) PR folks be expected to take pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – when they don’t really have to? Well, included below are some of my own rationalizations for spending three-to-four extra hours per night writing… about college football:

  1. Entering the minds of the reporters you’re pitching – If you’re wondering what the reporter on the other end of the phone could potentially find interesting, blogging’s one good way (of many) to get additional insight. Whether you post just once per week, or every day, blogging puts you into the editorial mindset and allows you to see the news you’re pitching much differently.
  2. Gaining valuable editing experience – If you’re just starting out in your career, it’s unlikely you’ve done a lot of copy editing. But if you run a blog, you become your own editor and develop a more critical eye toward your own writing. Say you happen to join (or start) a blog staff, now you get to develop editing skills for other styles of writing beyond your own, too.
  3. Become more accustomed to urgent deadlines – Writing at night, the deadline is usually when I’m too exhausted to think anymore, but by placing sleep as a deadline, I’ve increased the speed at which I write things so more posts get done. This also applies to point number-two.
  4. Building a portfolio – Junior-level staffers may not have the most extensive experience writing client materials, so the best way to grow your portfolio early-on is blogging. Coming out of college a few years ago, nearly every interviewer asked if I had writing samples or a blog. Rather than some senior class projects (or as younger professionals, a pitch or two), I had a URL full of work to hand over. The fact that you enjoy the subject you’re writing about will also shine through, and allow readers (be they managers, clients or prospective employers) to see your best work.
  5. Crafting a voice – An important part of writing for yourself, or your clients, is creating an appropriate voice. By setting the tone on your blog early, it establishes a personality and brand which visitors will start to associate with both the site and you. Sounds an awful lot like our jobs, doesn’t it?
  6. Developing relationships through social channels – Clients are pushing more and more for active, respected social channels, so why not develop your own experiences in this regard, with relation to your blog? Take a look at what space your blog inhabits (sports, music, food – whatever it may be) and build relationships with influencers through blog commentary, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Knowing the ins and outs of how to get content and opinions shared around the web makes you look great to your clients and managers, and allows for better results for your team.

If you already have a blog, congrats! You’re probably doing most of these things naturally. If not, there are plenty of easy ways to get started. Just think up a topic you like, and post as little as once every week-or-so to an aptly-named Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger site (of course there are other services as well). This all may seem daunting at first, but in the long-run, your quality-of-writing and future-self will thank you.

Inside the SHIFT Studio: Leslie Grant

1. Name:

Leslie Grant

2. Hometown:

Lemoore, CA

3. Where did you go to college:

UC Santa Barbara

4.  How long have you worked at SHIFT:

  One year

5. Use four words to describe yourself:

Optimistic (sometimes overly), ambivert (it’s the Gemini), easy-going (always along for the ride), dreamer (fancy spin on ADD :))

6.  What made you enter the PR industry:

I wanted to find a career that was social, creative, innovative and different from day-to-day. After doing my homework, I took a chance on PR and it has yet to disappoint.

7.  When you Google yourself, what’s the first thing that pops up:

Google+ telling me to complete my Google+ profile. How convenient!

8. What blogs or Web sites do you read every day:

Mashable and People are my go-to resources for all things social media and celeb – Twitter helps me weed through the rest of the clutter.

9. If there was a cocktail created just for you, what would you name it:

The Chatty Cathy – a few of those suckers and I’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen (beware).

10. Tell us something unexpected/surprising about you:

My great grandmother and her family originally sailed to San Francisco by way of Tahiti – her name was Ella Elisa Hedwig Tetuanui Terroro Hinatua Kramer Brown… seriously. Obviously, I got the Western European genes (hence the general disbelief).

11. What do you feel is your greatest personal success in PR thus far?

Securing a feature story in Fast Company! Excited for more to come!

The Power of Pinterest: Why Everyone Should Join the Pin-sanity

By Donna Ho (@donnatho)

So what’s with all the hype around Pinterest? As cliché as it sounds, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely heard of the virtual pin board and social photo sharing website. Or you’ve been asked just a few too many times, “Are you on Pinterest?”

While it may have initially been an online spot for food lovers and wedding hopefuls, the site has become much more as a number of brands, businesses, and influencers have joined the Pin-sanity. The site was recently named one of the top 10 websites within the Hitwise Social Networks with nearly 11 million total visits in a week. And according to a study by Shareaholic, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.

Everyday People Pin

Just a few months ago, I was that person who didn’t get it. Why was this virtual pin board so cool? After taking another poke around the site, I quickly became a Pin-somniac. What’s not to love about bookmarking and organizing you favorite photos and feeling creative? Being able to click through images to other interesting links made the site even more addicting and exciting, which brings to me to why others are catching on to the social media network trend.

Brands Pin

As brands have become comfortable with Facebook and Twitter and are learning the ins and outs of Google+, they are now adding Pinterest to their social media repertoire. The ability to pin and share photos through links helps drive traffic and therefore, increase visibility and sales. A marketer’s dream, right? Chobani and Mashable are just a few examples of some who are successfully pinning their own product/content. Marketers are even thinking outside the box, using Pinterest for contests, adding a Pin-It buttons to their site and using hashtags.

Brands are not only using the site to promote their own product, but create a brand personality online that will engage users.

Take for example, InStyle Magazine created a board for a Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, in which its 4,000+ followers most likely re-pinned, liked and purchased these products.

Influencers Pin

Just like Twitter and Facebook, people follow personal brands and enjoy seeing what their favorite guru’s inspiration. Fashion Director for Marie Claire, Nina Garcia, an expert in the fashion trend, for example, is very active in the Pin world with more than 240,000 followers interested in the upcoming seasonal fashion.

Whether you’re using the social network to spark ideas for your clients or for your own personal enjoyment, Pinterest is a fun and easy-to-use social tool that I believe has the power to stick around for a while. Although the site’s user base is mostly female, I have a feeling the guys won’t be too far behind to catch onto the trend. Are you convinced of the pin-sation?

Social Media Week New York

Last week New York City’s streets were filled with social savvy SHIFTers jetting from one panel to another for New York’s Social Media Week.  Below SHIFT’s own Reshma Fernandes (@reshma) shares a few insights into one of the panels she attended:

Can We Tweet Yet? Social Media in Financial Services – hosted by Actiance on 12/15 (Joanna Belbey) @belbey

Key takeaways

  • Social media deployment is a lot more successful when all the internal stakeholders from HR to legal to security departments are at the table at the beginning of the decision making process
  • The Regulators treat social media the same way as any other client communication so record keeping is of paramount importance
  • Put together a social media policy – every employee that represents your brand should undergo training on social media do’s and don’ts since finance is heavily regulated



The Real Winner of Super Bowl 2012: Social Media

By Dave Finn (@DFinn0711)

We all know how quickly social media has changed the way information is shared and consumed. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all the rest transcend boundaries and are now used as key outlets for foreign governments, Major League Soccer teams, media publications, school districts and everything in between. Simply put, social media provides individuals and organizations a microphone that projects their voices across the globe.

The host committee of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis is the latest example of an organization using social media to consolidate and project its voice and the information it has to share. Raidious, an Indy-based digital marketing firm, has put together a team to manage all Super Bowl-related social media activity. With at least 70,000 fans in town to watch Giants-Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium yesterday and thousands more in the area to enjoy Super Bowl Week festivities, the team’s mission was simple: get the important event information out efficiently.

This was Indianapolis’ first crack at hosting a Super Bowl – and as far as I know, Indy isn’t a popular tourist attraction – so it’s likely that most visitors to the city knew absolutely nothing about it.

That’s where the social media team came in.

In addition to monitoring key words and trends contained in the countless number of Super Bowl game-related tweets, the team used social media platforms to share parking, ticket, event and facility information as well as directions to restaurants and bars, complete with drink deals.

Downtown Indianapolis’ layout is very condensed, so traffic was a nightmare all week. But the social media team didn’t let that fall through the cracks. On Friday, @SuperBowl2012, the team’s official Twitter handle, responded to an Indianapolite (Indianapolan? Indianapoler?) complaining about the gridlock:

Because of the social media team’s efforts, visitors to the capitol of Indiana experienced one-stop shopping for all relevant logistical information – and that’s the key. This brand new effort by the Indianapolis host committee demonstrates social media’s ability to unify a variety of different information in one place. The people running Super Bowl XLVI’s festivities certainly had a lot to say, but social media platforms afforded them one voice with which to say it.

With so much to do and see for fans during Super Bowl Week, this new age task force did its best to minimize aggravation and maximize the enjoyment of one of America’s biggest spectacles. They did it by using social media.

By many accounts, Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis was a huge success. And to think we’ve barely talked about the football game.

Google’s Search Plus your World: Why bother with SEO when all you need is Google+?

By Madeline Willman (@MadelineWillman)

A few months back, Google came out with its Google+ brand pages and SHIFTer, Kristi Eells, wrote a post about why healthcare companies should care. Kristi explained that at the time, “creating a Google+ page will not carry weight over companies without a profile…” However, on Jan. 10, this all changed when Google released its biggest change with “Search Plus your World,” a feature that integrates Google+ pages into users’ search results.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land wrote an extensive article explaining how Google’s Search Plus your World works. Here’s what you need to know:

Search Plus your World allows users with Google accounts to search ‘globally’ or ‘personally.’ When you are logged into your Google+ account you will see posts and pictures from your Google+ profile and from those in your circle. For example, when I search for SHIFT Communications, five personal results within my Google+ page and circles show up that mention “SHIFT Communications.”

When logged into Google+, Search Plus your World will automatically be turned on, but you can opt-out by clicking a toggle:

However, even when opted out of Search Plus your World and not logged into Google+, Google still shows Google+ pages before Twitter and Facebook pages when searching a particular topic. For example when searching for “music” Google provides Britney Spears and Mariah Carey’s Google+ pages on the left hand side. One may question why some of the biggest pop stars in the world like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber don’t show up: They don’t have Google+ pages.

This proves that if you want to have a better chance of showing up in Google’s results, a Google+ page is in order.

The change has shocked the tech community with backlash from influencers like MG Siegler who noted, “Google is using Search to propel their social network. They might say it’s not a social network since it’s a part of Google, but no one is going to buy that. They were late to the game in social and this is the best ca
tch up strategy ever.”

There are also multiple anti-trust and privacy discussions, but even though there has been ongoing controversy over Search Plus your World; it doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon. Google is the king of search with 64 percent of the market share (according to comScore’s December findings) and if Google is making it a priority, brands probably should too.

Regardless if Google is doing the right thing or not, the fact is: Google+ pages show up in search results before Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin results – if you want your company to have a better chance at staying at the top of search results you should think about getting on board and building out a Google+ profile.

Read Search Engine Watch’s Jason Cormier’s take on the issue in his article, Why Your Business Needs to Be on Google+ Now and check out how to build a Google+ page below:

Is This the Beginning of the End for CES?

By Katie Tully (@K_Tully)

The first CES was held in New York City in 1967 as a spin-off from the Chicago Music Show, which until then had served as the main event for exhibiting consumer electronics. Today, CES is one of the world’s most famous trade shows, featuring the top names in tech and innovation, even drawing in A-list celebrities.

So the question is: How did CES go from 17,500 attendees and 100 exhibitors to more than 153,000 attendees and 3,100 exhibitors?

The first thing to note is that CES has always managed to draw in the newest, fastest and most innovative technology; starting with the VCR in 1970, the camcorder in 1981, the XBOX in 2001 and the hottest tablets in 2011. This has been the key for CES’s outstanding growth – launching the top products that consumers are dying to get their hands on. The reality is that consumer electronics have become an integral part of our daily lives, ultimately providing some of the most interesting, exciting and compelling news.

When all this excitement is boiled down to one show every winter in Las Vegas, it’s almost unbelievable that celebrities haven’t always been on the top of the attendee list. Let’s be honest – just being in Vegas in January is enough to make you drop everything for a week, right?

So somewhere between compact discs and satellite radio, the attention expanded from tech experts and columnist to everyday people and famous names.  And when you have Justin Timberlake endorsing MySpace and Snooki live tweeting from the conference hall about her bedazzled line of headphones, it’s pretty difficult to avoid getting sucked in.

As we look ahead to CES in the future, many of us can’t help but wonder if it will turn into another SXSW where no stone is left unturned and the real focus of the show disappears in all the noise. Is CES becoming too big for its own good?

Maybe Apple’s refusal to attend has been the right move all along.


By Leslie Grant


Nearly one year ago, I made the decision to take a chance on you. At the time, I was living in sunny San Diego working a career in marketing and needed a change. So you’re probably wondering, why you? I mean, you weren’t exactly convenient. To be perfectly honest, I really just needed to get my foot in a door, any door – even if that meant moving across the state for an internship.

Lucky for me, I learned rather quickly (at least once I figured out that awkward mustaches weren’t actually a normal thing around here – thanks, Movember) that you were a pretty good door to have opened.

Over the course of a year, you have taught me everything there is to know and love about life as a 20-something living in SF – from wine tasting in Sonoma to summer Fridays, ice skating in Union Square and team bonding sessions at Sapphire (you know, the cheap dive bar down the street where fellow SHIFTers are known by first name) – I’ve learned that the key to happiness and success in the world of PR is good company and the occasional happy hour.

Oh, and then there’s the work part (how could I forget). I must say, you sure do know how to pick ‘em. Not only are SHIFTers super creative and dedicated PR rockstars, they are also eager to show the newbies how PR is really done. The opportunities to expand my knowledge of the industry and grow in my career have been endless and I’m constantly impressed by everyone’s hard work and most of all, passion.

Looking ahead, I’m excited for many more opportunities to learn and grow in the industry and for all of the fun activities that you have in store. I feel lucky to be a part of the SHIFT experience and can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.

Until next time,


The Best PR Advice I’ve Ever Received

Between managing different clients, media relationships and now social media channels, PR can be a delicate balancing act and a crash course in how to be efficient while still keeping a smile on your face. We recently polled a few of the SHIFT-ers to see what the best PR advice they have ever received was  – check out their thoughts below!


“Act like a duck…stay calm, cool and collected on the surface (to clients, the media, team members, etc.) even if you’re paddling like crazy under water (i.e., drowning in work load, working with clients, etc.).” – KT McGraw


“‘Be authentic. That’s the only way you’ll sustain any success in this industry.’ – Geoff Livingston, the Principal of Livingston Communications at the time and my first internship. I’ve taken this advice to heart every day of my PR career. Geoff solidified in me that your moral code never needs to go out the window when you’re representing a client.” – Andrew Waber


“The best PR advice I ever received was also some pretty good life advice!  A former boss asked me to send her some information and I did, but neglected to include an upfront recommendation.  My boss started firing back questions until we both got to my own opinion about the information.  She then said ‘That’s what I was looking for!  Remember to take risks.  It’s OK if sometimes you make a mistake, but I want you to tell me what you think about something, what your opinion is, what’s your recommendation.  I’m paying you for your BRAIN, lady.’  To this day I think, my team mates and leads aren’t looking to me to be an administrative robot, they’re looking for my creativity, point of view and expertise – my BRAIN.  It’s something I think about whenever I’m writing a press release, crafting a pitch or taking part in a brainstorm.” – Amanda Guisbond


“PR is not brain surgery. When you get worked up about a deadline or stress about an error, just remember people’s lives in are not in our hands. Hiccups or challenges will work out, or it can wait until tomorrow. Breathe a little easier now.” – Ciri Haugh


“An AE once told me that a subject line should be no longer than eight words, because “it’s a ‘line’ for a reason. No one reads an email if the subject line is a novel.” – Sarah Bergeron


“Think of every way possible to make your client’s life easier. When you start thinking like this, the creativity just follows.” – Mallory Cloutier


“‘Go for it!’ – Sofiya Cabalquinto, at the time Media Relations Manager at the Boston Museum of Science. This was in relation to an admittedly wild idea I had for a promotion for an upcoming black holes exhibit. The result was the creation of a “Black Hole Burger” at the famous Eagle’s Deli in Brighton, MA that simulated the voracious (and eventually slowing) appetite of black holes and an event to debut the concoction. I drove the creation and much of the publicity for the event, which gave me some much appreciated on the ground experience.” – Andrew Waber


“I always come back to… ‘Always SMILE!’” – Erin Albright


What’s the best PR advice you have ever received? Let us know – we would love to hear your thoughts!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers