Archive for the 'Networking' Category

PR is critical to sales – A look at Pub Club NE’s Master’s Institute discussion

By Catherine Allen (@catherineallen)

The winter chill and snow that hit New England recently didn’t keep the warm crowd away from the Publicity Club of New England’s first Masters’ Institute program of the season.  The focus of the session, “Dissecting the Process of Tying Public Relations to Sales,” was too important to miss.

The passionate panel included moderator Kate MacKinnon of AT&T, and panelists Suzanne Locke of Dassault Systemes, Bernd Leger of Rapid7, Stacey Santo of Rue La La and Laura Tomasetti of 360 Public Relations.

There were three highlights that we came away with.

  •  Audience – The panelists addressed the ability of PR to build an audience.  After all, if you haven’t built an audience you have no one to sell to, or no one to build brand loyalty with.  PR can help become the pathway to purchase, especially as consumers (in B2B, B2C and professional service markets) begin their research on the Web where online articles and social media content become gold for SEO.
  •  Sales – A few panelists talked about the need for PR and social media education across the executive level.  They agreed that if you’re “at the table,” so to speak, then you will hear all the best information to use in PR, align objectives, and educate on what PR can and can’t do.  To take it a step further, some PR pros in the room shared their experiences of attending sales pitches, or helping to create sales decks, as well.  They found it invaluable to hear the sales pitch, hear the lingo and hear the pushback.  They felt it better prepped them for the next PR push.
  •  Measurement – Yes, it’s important to measure.  But first, everyone must agree on the objective, so you know what to measure.  It can also be helpful to isolate PR for certain marketing pushes – so you can truly tell the return of PR vs. an integrated marketing-PR-ad spend program.  The panelists also highlighted the importance of “knowing your numbers” at all times, to be ready to answer questions from the C-suite as needed, and to keep your PR/social teams honest with the progress.

Smiles appeared around the room on one of the final topic of the morning: “What happens if we win?” 

 It’s a great place to be – to have planned a successful PR program or campaign, and been able to measure flawlessly and support sales or another objective.  One panelist said, “We don’t just get the word out, we support the business holistically.”  And another, “PR has been critical to opening doors for sales.”  The rewards of success for these panelists have taken many forms, from increased headcount, to having the success presented to a company’s board and earning that recognition, to earning a higher budget or the incremental dollars to explore new PR opportunities for increased visibility for their company or organization.

And that’s a beautiful thing.  Here’s to your success!

Speaker Spotlight Series with Rue La La: The Value of 210,470 Facebook Likes

By Sarah Borup ( @SarahBorup)

Rue La La’s fan base is nothing to turn your nose up at. With 210,470 Facebook likes and 23,149 followers on Twitter, they’re doing okay. But, what happens when you put those numbers into context?

Competitors HauteLook, with 70,820 Twitter followers and 388,655 Facebook likes, and Gilt Group, with 136,568 followers and 342,673 likes, come out on top – if numbers alone is your metric.

Tuesday night, a few of us Beantown SHIFTers listened in on Millennial Branding’s Speaker Spotlight Series as Stacey Santo and Colin Hynes acknowledged the numbers game, and reminded us about that good ‘ol truism: quality over quantity. Mary Sullivan (@marys213) left thinking,

“What really became clear was that Rue La La gets social media. It recognizes and understands that having engaged fans is more valuable than having a large number of fans. As PR pros, I know we constantly stress this to our clients, but it’s nice to hear it from the brand perspective.” 

I couldn’t agree more. As a company self-proclaimed as not only using social, but being social, Stacey and Colin had a few more words of wisdom to share.

  • Curation – Branding is about curating a lifestyle. For Rue La La, this translates to making shopping easier and more interesting, and life more stylish.

PR Takeaway: The brand is powerful across all industries, including tech and B2B. Content being shared, conversations carried on and everything in between create a company lifestyle. All PR activities should map back to those pillars, as well as the life the company wants to lead.

  •  Social ROI – Clear objectives lay the foundation for ROI. Rue has an additional customer service Twitter handle, measured on how fast they reply and resolve customers’ issues.

PR Takeaway:  Without a clear vision of what a social channel is being used to accomplish, there’s no chance at quantification. This was a great reminder that numbers aren’t the only metric. Sentiment and engagement count, big time.

  •  Audiences – Knowing your audiences and keeping them happy is at the heart of business, hence Rue’s monthly member focus groups. User experience is a concentration for companies across the board.  

 PR Takeaway:  We have so many audiences in a single day – clients, coworkers, reporters, bloggers, Twitter followers, so on and so forth. While we don’t hold focus groups, we know how to best give the experience our audiences want when interacting with us.

  • Change – Industry change is lightning fast and competitors introduce new things…often.  Another SHIFT PR gal, Linda Battaglia (@LBattaglia), listened closely as Stacey said, “competition makes you stronger and better, and keeps everyone moving forward.”  In Linda’s words, “She put a positive spin on having competition – pretty motivating!”

PR Takeaway:  Learning is continuous, and it happens through curiosity, formal training, experiences and sometimes morphing competitors’ success and making it your own.

All in all, we walked away with new ideas and validations on old ones, as well many reminders that a company must do what works for them. It’s about wearing many hats, but only if you can wear them all well.

SHIFT and Media Bistro: The Conversation Continues

Media Bistro is the go-to source for jobs and recruiting for media professionals in journalism, on-line content, book publishing, TV, radio, PR, graphic design, photography, and advertising.

Media Bistro also throws kick-ass networking events.

August’s Media Bistro “Cocktails in Boston” event at Middlesex Lounge in Central Square (Cambridge, MA) was no different. It was filled with all sorts of media industry pros — PR veterans (young and old), social media junkies, novelists, freelance writers, journalists, photojournalists, creative designers, etc. The best way to summarize this event is to provide a quick rundown of just a few of the relationships I established there…

Melissa Pocek, “The Ring Leader” (@MelissaPocek) — Melissa Pocek hosted the event. Event attendees were clearly a dynamic mix of long-time Media Bistro members, first-time attendees and, of course, “friends of Melissa.” Melissa is a regular contributor to Boston media. Her journalism has covered national issues, local events, and professional profiles. For those unfamiliar with Melissa’s work, she’s a freelance writer focusing on topics ranging from health/wellness and fashion/lifestyle to budget/cheap living and food/wine. Learn more about Melissa by visiting her website — Melissa Pocek: A Collection of Writings.

Matthew Sandel, “The Novelist” — I had to throw this guy in here. He’s one of those mysterious novelists you’d only find at a Media Bistro event. He has been working on a comic novel for 5+ years and readily admits to suffering from what we all can relate to — frequent writer’s block. Cool take away from this conversation came when we were discussing climate change, renewables, etc. and Matthew informed me that President Reagan decided to remove the solar panels that President Carter had installed. Looking up the incident today, apparently Regan’s “people” thought that solar was a forward-thinking joke. Surprised I haven’t read more about this given the renewed focus on solar in recent years (or perhaps the documentation is out there and I’m just the jerk who didn’t take notice until now). For a full history lesson on the matter, check out The Forgotten History Blog. One last note on Matthew: he didn’t have a business card and promised to email me — at which point he made me promise I’d email him back (apparently he had his networking heart broken in the past). I’m happy to report we have since exchanges emails and plan to grab coffee next month. Matthew, if you’re listening, I hope this experience has restored your faith in Boston’s networking subculture that I so love… 🙂

Manya Chylinski, “The Freelancer” — Manya is the president and founder of Alley424 Communications. She is an experienced corporate communications writer focusing on a variety of topics including high tech, higher education and financial services, among others. If your clients are looking to hire a freelancer, Manya is a great option. For more information on her work, including her portfolio, visit On a side note, Manya and I are a photogenic pair as you can see in the picture accompanying this blog post (courtesy of @lauraimkamp, who we’ll get to later on).

Manya “The Freelancer” with Zach "The Conversation"

Georgy Cohen, “The Other Freelancer” — (@radiofreegeorgy) – A Somerville resident like myself, Georgy is an accomplished freelancer. She also serves as the manager of web content and strategy at Tufts University. Georgy is also the founder of Meet Content, a startup focused on helping higher education institutions create and sustain web content that engages and retains audiences. Check out Georgy’s personal website.

“The Emerson Grads” — Toward the end of the event, I met a charming group of Emerson College graduates who all have been working with great success in the journalism field since graduating in 2010. Finding myself caught up in this college reunion of sorts was my good fortune as these young women invited me in to their engaging conversation about digital media, the evolving online media landscape and the growing backlash against the overwhelmingly transparent nature of social sharing. The latter is not intended to suggest transparency is a bad thing, but more an acknowledgment that there is an increasing need for closed, privately-controlled online social communities. Here’s a quick rundown of my new Emerson alum friends:

  • @lauraimkamp – This girl does it all: photographer, writer, freelance multimedia journalist. In fact, she was the official photographer for this week’s event. The photo accompanying this blog post is courtesy of Laura. For a better understanding of all that this girl brings to the table, check out her personal website.
  • @kalannigan – Like myself, Katie is a true Somerville die-hard. She formerly wrote for the Somerville Patch and is currently an editorial secretary at’s Frontline. Check out her blog.
  • @MeenaGanesan – Another jack-of-all-trades in the media world, Meena is a weekend web producer at WHDH-TV.
  • @Nicolette_O – An impressive multimedia journalist, Nicolette is an insurance reporter at The Standard in Boston, which is New England’s leading weekly insurance publication.
  • @kailanikm – Kailani, an all-purpose journalist, was hired by the Boston Globe to help anchor the new editorial staff at Check out her personal website.

Let that last bullet serve as a reminder to everyone that this fall the Boston Globe will be divided into two parts, the free and the subscriber-focused In fact, for a better understanding of the reasoning behind the split, check out the recent Nieman Journalism Lab blog post — “Boston Globe creates a Twitter board for the newsroom.”

Last, I would like to give a shout out to a couple long-time industry friends I ran into at the event — social media branding guru @JeffCutler and my former Schwartz Communications colleague @ctanowitz. If you’re not familiar with Jeff, check out his website: Also, check out all the cool things Chuck is working on at his PR and social media shop — Fresh Ground.

So many more friends (new and old) to call out, but I’ll save that for my next networking event recap. Thanks for allowing me to steal the Slice stage for a bit. Have a wonderful day!

All the best,

Zach “The Conversation” Servideo (@ZachServideo)

Social Media IMPACT with Pub Club NE & PRSA Boston

By Kate Binette (@katebinette)

With more than 1,147,000 Twitter followers and about 1,410,000 Facebook fans between them, the panelists at a recent Publicity Club of New England and PRSA Boston event had much to offer in terms of social media strategies and tactics.  Earlier this month, Amanda Guisbond (@agbond) and I headed downtown to hear Christi McNeill of Southwest Airlines, Peter Panagopoulos from WGBH and Elaine Driscoll of the Boston Police Department speak on all things social.  They shared interesting and unique insights into their social media programs and provided great tips and tricks for PR pros executing social programs for their clients.

Mike Volpe, CMO of fellow Boston company HubSpot, moderated the panel and kicked off the night with a few surprising social media facts:

  • People are now spending more time on social media than on email, with more than 100 million tweets pushed through each day and one out of every eight minutes on the Internet spent on Facebook.
  • The average person views over 2,700 Web pages per month.
  • 40 percent of B2B companies and 60 percent of their B2C counterparts have secured clients on Facebook.

It’s obvious that the social sphere is still continuing to grow, and with B2C and B2B companies making business connections through Facebook, a social presence is increasingly important for all of our clients.  But what are the tried and true tactics that hold up across industries?  Here’s the quick and dirty from the panelists:

  • Use social media to set the tone for traditional media.  Social media should be a supplement to traditional outreach and vice versa.  Elaine explained that when news hit about Osama Bin Laden’s death, the BPD’s quick execution on Twitter helped set the tone for local media conversation.  The Department also filmed a 30-second statement from the commissioner explaining that there was no threat to the city of Boston.  Every news station in the city referred to the BPD’s tweet and used their video, limiting hype and keeping the public’s reaction under control.  Similarly, quick action from Christi and the rest of the Southwest Airlines social team on the company blog and Facebook and Twitter pages helped alleviate calls from the media in the wake of the Company’s most recent plane crisis. 
  • Find a monitoring schedule that works – and keep the approval process short.  Monitoring 24/7 is a challenge, but it’s important to keep track of tweets, Facebook posts and events in the news that require a response.  At the BPD, a few quick internal conversations revealed that several 911 operators had a personal interest in social media.  The all-day, every-day access provided by the operators, combined with a nimble approval process, ensure quick action and response.  Christi’s team stays in touch and divides and conquers – communication is key!
  • Stay in touch with influencers, and stick to what works to reach them.  Christi found that catering to aviation bloggers and inviting them to Southwest Airlines’ media day helped broaden their reach beyond the airline’s traditional customer base and engage a niche group of aviation enthusiasts.  Peter explained that WGBH strives to give the people what they want – despite efforts to promote more interactive content on the Antiques Roadshow Facebook page, tune-in messages and appraisals see the most engagement from fans and keep them coming back for more.

To sum up the night, the panel shared their top tips for a successful social media strategy – in 140 characters or less, of course:

  • Have fun, and be relevant. – Christi
  • Inform, and be thoughtful.  – Peter
  • Don’t overtweet, and always be relevant. – Elaine

What do you think are the most important parts of a relevant, successful social media campaign?

It’s all about who you know.

By Molly B. Koch

Now there’s a true statement.  When it comes to networking, SHIFT has hit the ground running in 2011.  Our account staff across the country have been attending interesting networking and professional development events.  Here in Boston, these meet-ups range from CMO Breakfast Club Series (including presentations from innovative companies like Zip Car, Aetna and Jet Blue) to the BostInnovation 2.0 Launch Party held at Ned Devine’s.  Whether it’s a Mobile Monday meet-up or a night at Red Sky with the Boston Celtic’s media Guru, Peter Stringer, SHIFT is there to mingle and network.  The company supports this activity too by reimbursing attendance fees –just another perk of being a SHIFTer.

As exciting as these meet-ups may be, it’s really all about what you take away from an event.  I’ve had the privilege to attend a variety of events and have come to some conclusions as to what makes attending these meet & greets worth-their-while for me as an employee of SHIFT.  Firstly, (before I even set-foot in an event) I do my homework.  I research the types of industries and people who plan on attending the event.  Secondly, I determine what relative experience SHIFT has in the fields of individuals/companies attending.  It’s equally important for me to not only generate excitement at an event about SHIFT, but to find common ground with an individual as to how we can help each other – the goal of networking.  You wouldn’t take a test without studying beforehand; to me, the same rules apply for attending an event so I can enjoy myself and make meaningful connections.

Once mentally-prepared for an event it’s all about your delivery and execution – your ability to connect with others and your ability to represent your company.  Here is my check list for any event:

  • Professional attire – I don’t care if it’s a smelly dive bar or the Microsoft NERD center, dress to impress.  My grandfather always said “better overdressed than underdressed.”
  • Handshake & eye contact – ‘nough said.
  • Confidence is key! There really isn’t anything more intimidating than walking into a room full of strangers all engaged in conversation and being completely and totally alone.  (I’ve been there).  Take a moment to separate yourself from, well, yourself.  Imagine your personal brand and how you can represent your company.  Bottom line – if you don’t think of it as awkward – it won’t be awkward.
  • Basic manners – If you are walking into the middle of a conversation, a simple “I’m so sorry for interrupting, but I just wanted to quickly introduce myself…” is enough to break the ice and jump into a conversation.
  • Fake it until you make it – Smile and act like you’re having a good time (even if you’re feeling uncomfortable at first)…nobody wants to talk to Debbie Downer sitting in the corner.
  • Keep your objectives in mind – You’re there to network, not to chow-down on the finger food.  Exchange business cards, generate buzz and be sure to follow-up.

These six networking tips work for me.  What works best for you?

All the Right Moves and All the Right Places

By Kristina Dorne (@kristinadorne)

Let’s face it.  Putting yourself out there is tough.  Some people are better at it than others, but everyone finds it challenging.  With that said, networking is an incredibly effective way to find a new job, grow your industry circle and expand your business.  This rings especially true for a city like Boston, in which everyone feels interconnected. 

The best way to get started in your networking journey is to determine what you’re looking to gain from the experience.  Are you looking for a new job?  Are you looking to mingle with other PR professionals and share best practices?  Or, are you looking to find some new leads?  The good news is that there are a wide variety of organizations to consider.

The Publicity Club of New England is an excellent organization that attracts the best and brightest in the industry.  The “Pub Club” was an invaluable resource for me during my job search.  I still make an effort to attend as many of their events as possible.  The club’s programs run the gamut from a presentation skills workshop to a recent panel discussion among some of the area’s top television assignment editors on how to secure television coverage in a major market. 

PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) is another fantastic organization that attracts top notch presenters and attendees.  PRSA has chapters around the country and offers up a wide assortment of programs.  A recent Boston annual meeting was held at the Boston Globe headquarters.  In addition, members are able to specify the subject matters in which they are interested and will receive targeted publications. 

Last, but not least, I recommend that everyone utilize their undergraduate or graduate alumni associations or find fellow alums on LinkedIn.  More often than not, this is one of the best ways to go.  I have found that established professionals are almost always willing to share their expertise and offer up savvy advice.

For more networking advice, check out this YouTube video for tips: How to Network

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