Guest post by Parry Headrick, vp of sales & marketing at SHIFT…
Today, Todd Defren grudgingly let me blog about an honor bestowed upon him by PRWeek. He’s too shy to toot his own horn. You see, just 3 months shy of his 40th birthday – right at the buzzer – Todd was named one of PRWeek’s “40 under 40” (subscription req’d).
At first the staff deduced this meant “under 40 inches tall,” since math is every PR person’s weak suit, and because Todd isn’t exactly a basketball legend. Turns out he’s been recognized by the PR industry’s bellwether pub, PRWeek, as one of the nation’s most intriguing, successful leaders under 40 years old.
Todd was born on St. Patty’s day in 1969. A crude version of the computer mouse had just been invented, and the Arpanet would materialize just as Todd was cutting his first teeth. It’s fitting, then, that many years (and a lovely wife and two kids of his own) later he would start one of the PR world’s first Internet Practices at SHIFT’s predecessor agency in Boston.
Of course, the dot.com bubble ballooned and popped, and about five years ago Todd gambled big when he started SHIFT Communications with his colleagues — knuckles white on his computer mouse as he closed his eyes and transferred his life’s savings. This is a guy who started his post-college career on the welfare rolls, so you can bet he was scared stiff.
It was a risk worth taking. PRWeek took note of how Todd helped grow SHIFT from nearly nothing in 2003 to well over $10 million in revenues in 2007, attracting clients along the way such as RealNetworks, Jim Beam, BearingPoint, Oakley, Shimano, Johnson & Johnson, Travelocity, Novell, and Akamai. And those are just some of the marquee names. A heaping helping of startup companies, as can be seen in today’s announcement of 9 new clients, have also benefitted from Todd’s advice.
There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to Todd, as regular readers of this blog know. With his help, SHIFT has become an important voice in the social media and PR realms, garnering the American Business Awards’ coveted “Agency of the Year” in 2007 and The Holmes Report’s “New Media Agency of the Year” SABRE Award in 2008. His tireless efforts to make PR less about publicity and more about relationships, led him to invent the Social Media Release and the Social Media Newsroom templates; to help with the start-up of the Social Media Club; and so on.
Todd is doubtless squirming in his chair as he reads this, but it’s well-deserved embarrassment. As somebody who has worked side-by-side with Todd for nearly a decade, I can tell you PRWeek’s honor is well-deserved.
So drop him a quick note of congrats if you feel like it. Just don’t ask him if he can dunk.