Archive for the 'San Francisco Office' Category

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!


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


“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


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

SXSW: What I Learned Navigating Through Nerd-topia

By @rockegan

Every March for the past 20 years, movie buffs, music connoisseurs and tech nerds have taken over Austin, Texas. To some, the 20,000 extra people swarming the streets would be overwhelming. If you look past the lines, crowds and lack of sleep, however, you begin to realize that you are in a world where being called a “geek” or “nerd” is cool and everybody surrounding speaks the same language as you, and that language is Tech. What you experience for that week is nothing that you have ever experienced before or will ever experience again.

South By Southwest (SXSW) is focused on developing and expanding on innovative ideas for new products and services and because the main focus is technology, no two years are the same. With the rapidity at which the tech world advances, the things that were important this year may be considered archaic by next March.

According to the conference website, “SXSW’s original goal was to create an event that would act as a tool for creative people and the companies they work with to develop their careers, to bring together people from a wide area to meet and share ideas.”

Walking through the trade show in the Austin Convention Center, I stopped at booth after booth and asked for a quick pitch of whatever the company was marketing. Although I was somewhat overwhelmed, a lot of the things that people presented to me blew my mind. I kept finding myself thinking, “Oh my gosh, Client X would love this!” or “This would be totally great for Client Y’s next launch party.”

As I pushed my way through the crowds, waited in endless lines for free food (like’s bacon truck where I tried pickles wrapped in bacon) and did my best to meet all the people around me at any given time I realized something. Even though just about every single booth had some sort of swag, the companies that did the best with regards to being noticed were those that really knew how to reach their demographics. Sure, they may have handed out a sticker or a pin (or five), but what really caught my attention was when a representative from the company would ask me a question and alter their sales pitch to cater to my specific interests/needs.

Even though I flew back to San Francisco with a severe lack of sleep, three new canvas bags for my groceries, a foldable water bottle for my purse and about 23 branded t-shirts (why do they even make SXSW shirts to sell? If you just walk into the Convention Center you get a lifetime’s supply for free!), some of the companies I remember most (even just two days out) are the ones that I walked away from with only a business card and a handshake.

Check out the slide show to see some of the pictures I snapped while making my way through the streets of Austin:

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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!

Intern 101 with Mich Wells

Starring @itsamich, Produced by @MadelineWillman

SHIFT San Francisco’s Mich Wells gives some great intern advice all while having fun! Hear about what she loves about SHIFT, what’s she has learned so far and the two tips she has for incoming interns – she also dances with Cowboy Todd, leaps through the halls, flirts with Edward Cullen and more –  so check it out:

SHIFT First Impressions: Meet Aaron Heinrich, San Francisco’s Managing Director

Two months to the date; that’s how long it’s been since I first started at SHIFT. So with 60 days and counting under my belt, I was asked to provide my initial impressions.  

I’ll start with the fact that so far I haven’t ticked anyone off…that I know of. Not that I’m prone to do so, but one never knows.  And the only thing that’s come close to getting my knickers twisted is the one (okay maybe two) times  I’ve tried to do something on my laptop and it told me I didn’t have enough authority. Bob, I just want to change the time zone on my calendar!

I haven’t always had such great starts in my “storied” career. Twice, I’ve started jobs where on day one my inner voice said, “Run, Forrest, Run!” I didn’t pay attention and ended up living La Vida Loca. I promised myself I wouldn’t make it three.  

What has impressed me most here is the genuinely welcome, open and collaborative nature that has greeted me daily since I first walked in the door. I’ve worked at other places that had a person or two whose sole purpose seemed to be to rub people the wrong way. But they were typically hidden from view like the gimp in Pulp Fiction, only to be brought out when someone needed to be “taken care of.” I certainly haven’t seen anyone like that here. 

What I have seen are creative, conscientious, hard-working people who welcome the new, celebrate each other’s wins, and react to individual team losses as a whole. There’s a camaraderie here that is hard to replicate, but worth the effort to preserve.

Most importantly, everyone seems to be having fun. I’ve worked in places where an entire office, from management to interns, took themselves so seriously they had to be reminded that “laugh” was five letters not four. 

Will I still be so enamored if I’m asked to look back 12 months from now? I hope so. All I know is that I’m not compelled to run, life’s not too crazy, and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to be doing when 12/06/12 rolls around.  In the meantime, keep the rubber on the road and your head above the pavement. 

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