Archive for the 'Public Relations' Category

SHIFTers Show Their Wonder Women Status at #WWBos

Last Thursday, I attended the Wonder Women of Boston event with some wonderful SHIFT ladies; Jena Rossi, Kim Diesel, Kristina Scuoteguazza and Liz Segran. Taking place at the Back Bay Social Club, the event brought together Boston women of all ages, in an array of industries.  It was a great turnout, and event attendees were able to mingle and network with other impressive women from around the area.

Main topic/purpose of event:

The purpose of this event was to meet amazing business women from the Boston area and make connections within various industries and fields.

One key takeaway:

Women in Boston are impressive. Every woman we spoke to was ambitious, successful and driven. There are some truly amazing people and organizations in Boston, and who knows, they might even be looking for PR support some day.

One turnoff:

Lack of food! This event started at 6:00p.m. and the few appetizers that were served were devoured almost immediately by us hungry working women.

Audience makeup:

Women of all ages were in attendance at this event – from students, to young professionals, to well-established business women.

Location (bar, restaurant etc):

Back Bay Social Club is a restaurant located on Boylston Street in Boston. The event took place in its lower level function room.

Follow ups/contacts:

The SHIFT team met several interesting women at the event last night and looks forward to connecting with them again soon. Maybe even scope out a few future SHIFT interns from the collection of students that were in attendance!

Would you attend this event again?

Yes, we would attend this event again.

Hashtag of event:

#WWBos

 

Pitching in a Summer of “Big News:” Cutting Through the Noise When Other Stories Seem More Important

It’s not even August and we’ve had enough headline news this summer to last several months. It all started with the Facebook IPO in May, which was followed by events such as SCOTUS’ healthcare ruling, the Diamond Jubilee, buzz around the Olympics, and the Marissa Mayer news. Oh yeah, we’re also in an election year.

News junkies might rejoice at this continual cycle of “big news,” but I don’t think I’m the only PR person who’s felt like they need a giant, “woe is me” cocktail. After all, when reporters are totally focused on the latest major story, and that story doesn’t involve your client, how can you cut through the noise to get the media’s attention?

I asked my colleagues to share the pitching tips and tricks that have helped them get through this summer. So stop drowning your sorrows and read on for some great insight on meeting coverage metrics and keeping your clients happy when it seems that reporters just don’t want to talk to you.

  • Make the big news YOUR news. Is there a way to tie your client to the big story that everyone’s writing about? Can one of your executives provide relevant commentary, or make projections about the larger industry outlook? Things like healthcare, the election, and even the Olympics are ongoing stories that will be covered again and again, and reporters are going to want new people to talk to and new story angles. So be creative. That said, do pay attention to what reporters are saying on Twitter, Facebook, and their blogs. You don’t want to be “that person” who offers expert commentary just after a reporter tweets that he doesn’t want any insight on the individual mandate.
  • Make new friends, but keep the old. If you aren’t making headway with your media friendlies, now is the perfect time to expand your contact list. Spend some time researching new contacts at your key outlets—is there a rookie reporter who seems to be getting the “leftover” (i.e. non-big news) assignments? Contributors or bloggers who have the flexibility to write about whatever they want? Also, don’t limit your research to just new contacts—be on the lookout for new outlets, too, whether it’s print pubs, newsletters, or blogs. Once you give yourself some time to see what else (and who else) is out there, you won’t feel like you’re beating a dead horse when your go-to contacts aren’t picking up the phone.
  • Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. One of the teams in our NY office had a client launch that essentially coincided with the Facebook IPO. They originally planned to do an NYC media tour with one of the executives, but the only CEO on anyone’s radar was Mark Zuckerberg. What to do? Accept that this strategy simply wasn’t going to work. Rather than push against an unmovable wall, the team focused on tactics that would create momentum, such as pitching relevant targets for launch coverage that weren’t preoccupied with Facebook. The team ultimately secured more than 22 million impressions in just 3 weeks, resulting from coverage in regional print/broadcast media, local search, and business outlets.

The Space Between: Digital and Traditional PR Look Really Similar These Days

By Dave Levy, @levydr

I have at least one or two media contacts with whom I rarely, if ever, email. It’s not that I’m not doing my job; it’s that whenever I have a pitch or want to soft-sound a story idea, I have to shrink the thought into way-less than 160 characters so I can direct message them on Twitter.

It will not surprise you to learn that most of these “Tweet First” contacts are bloggers. A few years ago, blogger engagement was a separate category from traditional media activities. In fact, during the growth of digital PR back six or seven years ago, we had two distinct teams with their own tasks related to either traditional pitching or blogger engagement. I was working in the latter camp, and by way of talking to people who blog, and who were some of the first on Twitter, it was kind of a natural progression to stop emailing each other and then just tweet.

Blogging looks a lot more like mainstream news these days (or mainstream news looks more like blogging, that’s a chicken or egg post for another day). Along with that, the space between what I’ve been doing in my career around online news sources and what colleagues who have filled more traditional media roles has gotten really, really small. Sure, my leading example here talked about how bloggers and I talked through Twitter direct messaging. But it isn’t only bloggers who rely on Twitter for everything from news to getting leads from sources. There are even reporters who have grown in their careers to join traditional outlets by way of being active online bloggers (and, again, plenty of writers who once wrote for large organizations have jumped to independent, online outlets).

When I got into this business, it felt different to be talking to a blogger, but maybe it shouldn’t have. I don’t know if I’m ruining some big secret, but there really isn’t that much that’s different in terms of what we do when we reach out to an online-only reporter. Journalists and bloggers alike are writing stories, and sometimes we as PR professionals have – or think we have – a tip that will help them create content. Ultimately, we have to take the time to get to know the writer, what they consider relevant and the best ways to reach them. That process doesn’t change on the basis of reaching out to either a blogger or a traditional journalist.

As a final bit of homework, I’ll challenge you to think about what pitching a story in a direct message is like. It’s really, really good practice to take your pitch and try and get all the important parts into less than a sentence. If you can do that, you’ll have a better sense of your story and what you are trying to say – no matter who you are reaching out to.

 

Landing a Kick A$$ PR Internship

Internships can be some of the toughest jobs for which to interview – your experience is limited; you’re new at interviewing; and let’s face it…you’re trying to land a job in one of the most challenging job markets out there.

I’ve been managing the intern program here at SHIFT NYC, and let me tell you…I’ve seen A LOT of resumes – some good, some bad, but very few make me think, “Damn. I want this person working for me!” I’m now here to help you…so keep reading and I hope this post will teach you a thing or two about interviewing for a PR internship!

Making Your Resume Stand Out: Your cover letter and resume are the first things I see – why should I email you to set up an interview and not the other 500 people? I’m going to assume the obvious (proper proofing, formatting, etc…) goes without saying, so here are a couple things to think about when pulling the ‘ol resume together:

  • Include things from your past experience that can be applied to this new internship. I’d rather see that you helped manage a Twitter handle for your school’s athletic department than read about the waitress job you had three years ago. If it takes an extra bullet or two, I say “bring it on!”
  • Highlight positive accolades, promotions, surpassed goals. If someone else thinks you are great too, I want to know!
  • What makes you different? PR is all about creativity and well, in the words of our fearless leader, Todd Defren, being a little ballsy. Have you climbed a mountain? Won a spelling bee? Played a competitive sport? We don’t expect your list of professional accomplishments to rival Bill Gates’ – we just want to know who you are as a person. What makes you tick?

Congrats! You’ve been called in for an interview. You should be thinking, “OK, this is my chance to sell myself – time to show them why they should pick me!” PR is sales…if you can’t sell yourself, how can you sell your clients?

  • RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! I cannot emphasize this enough. I want to hear that you know who SHIFT is. Heck, we’re the DIGITAL/SOCIAL MEDIA AGENCY OF THE YEAR! And we sure don’t make that fact hard to find. Read our website, read Todd’s blog and tell me what you make of it all!
  • Be on time. It still amazes me that in this competitive job market, people can still be 5 minutes late. Leave yourself an extra HOUR if you need to and park yourself in a coffee shop near the office to ensure you’re not late.

“Hi, I’m Talia!” (hand reaches out to shake yours). Firm handshakes people – we’re professionals! A floppy hand lacks confidence and PR is all about being confident.

The Interview:

  • Use your resume as a guide, not a script. I can read – I don’t need you to read me your resume bullet by bullet. Focus on your accomplishments and most importantly, what they taught you and how you plan to apply those experiences to your role at SHIFT.
  • Showcase your research. You took the time to get to know SHIFT, so tell me what you think. A question I always ask is, “Why SHIFT? How did you decide you want to work here?” I will tell you right now…telling me you just Googled PR firms in NYC will get your resume a ticket to the bottom of my trash can.
  • Ask me questions. Yes, you are the one being interviewed… but you should also want to know about the agency – the things you don’t find on the Internet. Find out what the job entails; ask about the office culture; heck, ask why I decided on SHIFT! The questions show you have a vested interest in both your internship and your professional career.

Wow. Great interview – I want you to come work with me. Please, I’m begging you…send a thank you note…it can be an email, written note, whatever suits your fancy, but please acknowledge that I, and most likely some of my colleagues, took time out of our busy days to meet with you. Even a couple quick sentences go a long way.

Hope all you eager intern candidates out there found this helpful! And please, if any readers have other helpful tips please feel free to share. Look forward to seeing some kick a$$ resumes and meeting some ballsy future SHIFTERS!

 

Not One, Not Two, but SEVEN Bells Toll for SHIFT!

SHIFTers have had a lot to be proud of this year – whether it’s being named Digital/Social Agency of the Year by the Holmes Report, winning Bulldog Media Relations Awards for excellence in media and publicity campaigns, or bringing in amazing new people and clients on the daily, 2012 is off to a killer start.

Last night, we added SEVEN Publicity Club of New England Bell Ringer Awards to the list, including:

  • Gold award: Best National Print Feature
  • Silver awards: Best Product/Service High-Tech Campaign; Best Business-to-Business Product/Service Campaign; Best Response to Breaking News
  • Bronze awards: Best Clean Energy/Green Technology Product/Service Launch Campaign; Best Social Media Campaign

In addition, Senior Account Executive Kate Binette was named the 2012 Young PR Professional of the Year, known as the Striker Award.

Since we’re all about our people and giving you an inside look at SHIFT, here’s the scoop from the folks who represented SHIFT at last night’s awards:

  • Kate Binette, Senior Account Executive (@katebinette) – It was great to catch up with former colleagues that I hadn’t seen in a while.  Last night reminded me how tight-knit the PR community in Boston is, and it was exciting to engage in some friendly competition and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.  But I have to say, I think the SHIFT table takes the cake for fun!
  • Jena Rossi, Account Manger (@jenarossi) – I was really proud to be a part of the Boston PR community last night at the Bell Ringer Awards.  In addition to taking home some impressive awards for our awesome agency, we were also able to give back to an important organization, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
  • Dominic Weeks, Account Manager (@dominicweeks) – My favorite moment was seeing Kate Binette collect her Striker award.  Having seen her in action with clients, prospects, colleagues, and reporters, I can testify that she’s a class act, so it’s great to see the New England Pub Club judges get it so right!
  • Zach Servideo, Account Manager (@zachservideo) – Last night got me thinking – the annual Bell Ringer event represents so much more than individual accomplishments.  The Bell Ringers are a yearly reminder that the local PR scene is dominated by a core group of talented, familiar names and faces.  While we all may “compete” for coverage, this dynamic group shares in the same goal – to grow and improve the Greater Boston and New England business communities.
  • Kelly Kane, Account Manager (@kellykane) – My favorite part of the night was a tie between bonding with awesome colleagues during the event and taking home the Gold Bell for National Print Feature!
  • Danielle Mancano, Account Manager (@dmancano) – My favorite part of the Bell Ringer Award ceremony was spending time with my Boston colleagues, who I rarely get to see…and looking at David Wade’s HANDSOME FACE!
  • Catherine Allen, Vice President (@catherineallen) – You know, winning isn’t everything.  But it feels damn good.  We mixed and mingled, enjoyed dinner amongst friends, laughed at the @davidwade commentary and toasted each other on another great year.  Cheers!!
  • Todd Defren, Principal (@tdefren) – I am proud, of course, of the hard work that went into bringing home the awards last night.  But when it comes down to it, the company was what made last night really great.

Congrats to all of the winners last night, and big thanks to the Publicity Club of New England for a great event.  Until next year!

SHIFTers with their awards.

 

Media Q&A with Real Simple’s Amy Bleier Long

Over the last few weeks, the brilliant Tumblr blog, “99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One,” has captivated us, entertained us, and yes, sometimes gotten us through the day. Some of the best posts are humorous observations of the relationship between PR professionals and media – refer to exhibits a, b, and c. Of course, in real life, no one wants to be an angry elf mid-meltdown, even though he gets to rock a sweet fur collar (see exhibit a). So, to help us avoid making any of Tumblr’s “PR vs. media” scenarios a reality, I asked one of our editor friends to provide some insight on how she likes to work with PR folks, and what we should keep in mind throughout the pitch process, from initial outreach to final fact check.

SHIFT’s Overstock.com team has had the good fortune to work closely with Amy Bleier Long, assistant market editor at Real Simple, on several occasions this year. She is sadly leaving the publication this Friday, but the thoughts she’s shared below are fantastic reminders about how to build mutually beneficial media relationships. After all, if we’ve learned anything from Dwight Schrute, you never know when you could get shunned. Hopefully, these insights will help you avoid it.

As an editor at a women’s lifestyle glossy, what is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to the PR community?

I am going to offer two pet peeves, if I can. First is lack of communication. Sometimes we ask a PR person to help us secure a product or get more information for us and we don’t hear from them for a long time. Then, too late for a meeting or run-through, we hear from them with either no explanation for the delay or they tell us they were waiting for their client to respond. I worked (briefly) in PR so I know that a lot of times, it’s a matter of getting information from your client. But we appreciate when you let us know that, let us know that you know we’re on a deadline but you are on it and haven’t forgotten. Or if you find out a product we’ve requested is unavailable, we appreciate you going the extra mile and looking for an alternative, but let us know you’re doing that – because otherwise we might think we’re getting something we need, when we’re really not. And, if you’re the only person that works on an account and you’re going to be unreachable – please put an out of office message up so we know!

Second to that is probably when someone gives the impression (or flat out states) that we can have a product by a certain time for a shoot and then right before the shoot all of a sudden cannot come up with the product. We go through several layers of approval on products to shoot, and when a PR person tells me something is available and that we can have it in time for a shoot, we start counting on that item, and sometimes base other items around it. So if, at the last minute, we can’t get that item anymore, it really throws off our planning. At best, it means we have to scramble to replace that item; at worst, it could ruin a planned shot.

Do you have many or few relationships with PR folks – i.e. people you go to again and again for product ideas or story angles? How were those relationships established?  

I would say I have built many strong relationships with PR people that I go back to again and again for products or information, or to pick their brains on a story I might be working on. Mainly those relationships have been developed by working with these people over the last several years and having the experience always be pleasant. The people I work with the most are quick, responsive, and come through with products 90% of the time or more, even with very short notice. It helps, of course, when their products are really well-designed and match our magazine’s aesthetic. And also, no matter how many times I’ve worked with certain companies, they always remain grateful for the support, which isn’t a requirement, but it is really nice to know that they appreciate our relationship, too.

What do you find is the best way to get to know about the topics you write about each month? Outreach to friends in PR? Individual research? What can PR people do to make the research process easier?

I don’t write much, I mostly do the market work, but every once in a while I will reach out to my PR contacts to see if they know someone else in the industry who might be a good person (in terms of expertise on a specific topic) to talk to about ideas, inspiration, or a specific story topic.

A lot of media contacts dislike phone calls from PR reps (vs. receiving email inquires). At glossies, would you say that’s the general sentiment? If so, what should PR folks keep in mind when writing email pitches to increase our odds of getting a response?

I feel similarly in that I prefer email to the phone, though some things just need to be done on the phone. One reason I prefer email is because it gives me a written record of products requested, status, and any pricing or details so later, if I’m told something different, I can go back and question/confirm it. I hope this doesn’t sound terrible – I think the main reason editors seem to prefer email is that people get to the point quicker. Everyone is so busy and I think with email, people just get right down to it, which frankly, I prefer. When pitching, please be sure you’re targeting me appropriately. Take two seconds to confirm what department I work in. I know my title can be vague, and when I started at Real Simple, I think some of the listing companies put me on the wrong pitch lists (i.e. fashion or food), but I get an enormous number of emails that are not for my area at all. And also, if you’ve sent me an email about a product or story idea, please, please do not call me literally 5 minutes later to see if I got the email. I probably did but am either in the middle of something or it doesn’t apply. If I see something that is right for the magazine, I will definitely respond, or I will tell you which department to contact if I’m not the right person.

 

SHIFT Communications Wins Digital/Social Agency of the Year

Yesterday was an exciting day at SHIFT Communications – the Holmes Group named SHIFT the 2012 Digital/Social Agency of the Year and it is such an honor! SHIFT was up against some stiff competition beating out the likes of Edelman, Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick for the prestigious award. We’ve worked hard to help pave the digital/social path for PR and it’s so great to see the hard work pay off. To demonstrate SHIFT’s appreciation and excitement, we’ve polled all three offices to find out how some SHIFTers reacted to the news:

“I literally shouted … okay, I almost freakin’ cried … when I first heard this news. I am so proud and happy for my hard-working, fun-lovin’ colleagues at SHIFT Communications!”

-Todd Defren, Principal

Boston:

“When you’re surrounded by so many smart people every day, you can sometimes take it for granted. But this is one of those moments that makes you say ‘wow, I work for a market leader – I’m a part of a game-changing company.’ Words can’t even describe the sense of pride I feel today in being a member of the SHIFT family. Congrats to the entire team!”

Zach Servideo, Account Manager

“I was thrilled to hear we won this prestigious award! All PR people know social is growing in importance all the time, but SHIFT is at the forefront of integrating it into each and every program we run.”

Julie Staadecker, Account Manager

“At a time when every PR/marketing/communications agency is clamoring to devise the newest and best social media strategies for their clients, it is a HUGE honor to be dubbed THE agency for social and digital by the industry standard aka The Holmes Report.  Add to that the fact that SHIFT is a midsize agency that consistently competes with the Goliath PR firms of the world on digital account work, and you’ve got one happy, scrappy bunch of social media enthusiasts.  The coolest part to me about the award – and indicative of SHIFT culture – is that I know it only fuels all of us to continue to push the envelope on digital further. The best is yet to come…”

Amanda Guisbond, Senior Account Executive

“When I joined SHIFT just over a year ago, I already had the impression that it was a social media heavyweight. Since then, I’ve learned so much about how companies should use social media to communicate with their key stakeholders.  Everybody at SHIFT is interested, engaged and, most importantly, curious about this issue.  We’re still dealing with a lot of unknowns and best practice is evolving.  When a SHIFTer isn’t certain about how a social media situation might play out, they’re honest enough to admit it and dedicated enough to make sure they find out!”

Dominic Weeks, Account Manager

San Francisco:

“Hearing the news just made me realize once again that I am so lucky to work here. I am very fortunate to work with such incredible talent and proud of the work we’ve accomplished.”

Matt Nagel, Senior Account Executive

“F#$% yeah!”

-Aaron Heinrich, Firm Director

“Ballah! Our clients have always seen us as one of the best digital/social agencies in this business — how fantastic to receive industry recognition from Holmes Group! And how else to spread the news? Across every social media platform linked to my name…of course. :)”

-Kristine Lee, Account Manager

New York City:

“We’re fortunate enough to have smart, forward-thinking clients who allow us to take chances with digital media. Our clients have come to rely on campaigns and programs that combine traditional and social PR activities, instead of acting as separate entities. This is where SHIFT has found its strength, and it’s fantastic to be recognized for it. “

Danielle Mancano, Senior Account Manager

“In the last year or so, I’ve noticed such a shift in the type of counsel our clients value most, and that’s our advice on digital and social strategy. As an agency we’ve been working hard to give the best advice and ideas possible, and it’s cool to see that those efforts have had an impact.”

Alexandra Brooks, Account Executive

“#Winning!”

Justine Navaja, Account Director

“I’m so proud to be part of agency that continuously delivers fantastic client work and is recognized for our growth in digital/social. GO SHIFT!”

Donna Ho, Account Coordinator


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