Archive for the 'Slice of SHIFT' Category

Why SHIFT Clients Rule: Pizza, Cookies & Praise

By Amanda Guisbond, @agbond

A couple of very important things happened this week at SHIFT’s Offices in Newton:

First, there was an unexpected delivery of baked goods.

Second, there was a just-as-unexpected delivery of Chicago deep-dish pizzas.

Why, you may be asking, were these considered significant events?  No, not because us SHIFT-ers LOVE free food (and we do) but because both were edible “kudos” from different clients wanting to congratulate their SHIFT account teams on a job well done.

First up the Rapid7 PR team delivered some INCREDIBLE media results as part of a rapid response pitching opportunity, resulting in coverage in the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Reuters (just to name a few).  As a “thank you” Rapid7 sent the SHIFT team a basket of cookies and brownies.  Mmmm!

The next day, the HIMSS PR team received a shipment of four individual Chicago deep-dish pizzas from their beloved client contact in – you guessed it – Chicago.  There was no specific reason for the delivery, per se, except that HIMSS wanted to recognize “all the great work” the team had accomplished over the past year and in lieu of being able to take everyone out to lunch in Boston.  Awww…

It’s no surprise – heh – that this kind of recognition makes our day as PR representatives!  When clients go the extra mile to make us pause and reflect on the great work we’re doing together it only inspires us to want to kick even more butt on behalf of our partners-in-crime.

Thank you to Rapid7, HIMSS and all of our clients who appreciate, encourage and support us and our PR efforts – and understand the fastest way to our hearts is through our stomachs!

Thank you Rapid7 for the basket of cookies and brownies!

Thanks to our Chicago HIMSS contact for the Chicago deep-dish pizzas! What a surprise!

Inside the SHIFT Studio: Alex Brooks


1. Name:

Alex Brooks

2. Hometown:

Dallas, TX. As we say, American by birth, Texan by the grace of God.

3. Where did you go to college?

Williams College– go Ephs!

4.  How long have you worked at SHIFT:

 3.5 years

5. Use four words to describe yourself:

Witty, loyal, old soul

6.  What made you enter the PR industry:

I graduated from college in 2008, right when the recession was starting. I was an art history major, but cast a wide net in my job search since there wasn’t much available, and pursued opportunities in marketing as well as the art world. SHIFT hired me as an intern and then as an AC about a month and a half later. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to start my career at a company where I’ve learned so much and worked with fantastic people.

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

Ridiculously enough, when you Google “Alexandra Brooks,” the first search result is the website of a psychic who shares my name. Apparently, she is a Healer who works with Pink Light, a gentle healing light that resonates to the energies of love, harmony, and peace (verbiage taken from her website – I can’t make that stuff up). As I tend to embrace an “insert sarcasm here” credo, this coincidence is pretty epic.

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

Real News: WSJ, NYT

Fake News:

10-Minute Break: Amy Atlas’ blog, Sweet Designs (she’s a dessert stylist)

Every Friday: Charles Krauthammer’s weekly column in Washington Post

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

My ideal cocktail already exists – the French 75 (champagne, gin, lemon juice, and sugar). What can I say? I love my bubbles. Also love the classic cocktail nostalgia; I can see Coco Chanel knocking these back in Paris.

10. Tell us something unexpected/surprising about you:

My dad’s Jewish and my mom’s Catholic. I was converted to Judaism as a baby. One of my mom’s relatives, Andre Bessette, was canonized in October 2010. That makes half my genes Chosen and the other half saintly. In the words of Bill Murray (aka Carl Spackler), “So I got that going for me, which is nice.”

Airplanes and Beyonce – The Things SHIFT is Thankful for

By Puneet Sandhu (@puneet86)

Ladies and gentlemen, SHIFT Communications’ favorite time of the year – the holiday season – has officially arrived! In celebration, all three SHIFT offices held their annual Halloween/SHIFTgiving feasts last week (get a taste of them here, no pun intended) wherein everyone managed to defeat their seemingly bottomless appetites with indecent amounts of food. (And when I say “indecent,” I mean INDECENT.)

Since then, we’ve also emerged victorious from the resulting food coma, and are now preparing for round #2 of unabashed gluttony with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day. But before we pack up for the week and head home, we wanted to pause and reflect on the things that have our hearts aflutter with gratitude this holiday season. Below are some of the things on SHIFTers’ minds this Thanksgiving.

  • Zach Servideo (@zachservideo) in Boston: I’m thankful for all of the good people in my life, especially my best friends (who just so happen to be my roommates). I’ve needed to call on them a lot this year to help out my family with a big move, and they step it up every time I need them – no questions asked. I’m lucky to live with four of these friends, all of whom I’ve known since I was 3 years old. They are an extension of my family.
  • Annie Perkins in Boston: I am thankful that my son is out of harm’s way and will be home safe with his family for the holidays. (Readers: Annie’s son, Ben, who was serving in Somalia, has just made it home to Jacksonville, FL!)
  •  Nicole Kruse (@NKruseNYC) in New York: I’m most thankful for airplanes because they make it possible for me to spend the holidays with my friends and family in California that I love and miss!
  •  Amanda Grinavich (@AGrinavich) in Boston: I am thankful for my family, friends and a job that I love. They all equal stability, and that’s something I’m certainly blessed to have at this time. I am also thankful for Beyonce because she’s fierce, and inspires the hell out of me. (Fun fact: Amanda has a “Fierce Wall” up on her cube, featuring Beyonce and others who help remind her to channel her inner fierceness)
  •  Berenise Solorio (@Bsolorio) in San Francisco: Aside from being thankful for the obvious—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, oh and time with family (of course! ;])—I am beyond thankful for getting hired on as an Account Coordinator at SHIFT’s SF office. I’m honored to start my career at a firm with incredibly talented people!
  •  Alexandra Brooks (@abrooksshiftcomm) in New York: J.CREW. Kidding! I am thankful that my father is in better health than ever four years after his heart transplant.
  •  Justine Routhier (@JMassRouthier) in Boston: I’m thankful for 100-calorie snacks! Why? Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to fit into my wedding dress. (FYI, readers – Justine is SHIFT’s newest newly-wed, having been married only a month ago!)
  •  Catherine Goerz in San Francisco: I am thankful for beautiful November weather in San Francisco. It might be cold and foggy in summer, but the fall is gorgeous and warm (ish). (Goes without saying Cathy, the NY and Boston peeps are JEALOUS.)
  • Jennifer Eastman (@eastmanj) in New York: I am thankful for all the SHIFT bakers, chefs and mixologists. My pants, on the other hand, are not as thankful.
  • Kristen Zukowski in Boston: I am thankful that with tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes and even snow in October, my friends and family are all well. It really makes you think about how the world, in particular your own world, can change in a moment’s time!
  •  Cathy Summers (@csumm) in San Francisco: I get to work with some of my favorite people in the world, which makes work seem a little less like, well, you know, work. 🙂

And our personal favorite…

  •  Danielle Mancano (@dmancano) – Padded bras and Crest White Strips.

How to Be Your Office DJ

By Danielle Coe, John Cassillo and Kate Guarente

Bandwidth beware: the influx of streaming music and video services like Spotify, MOG, Hype Machine,, YouTube and Vimeo has made it possible to listen to music all the time, anytime. Whether you have one headphone in or you’re blasting it on a Friday afternoon for the whole office, music adds to the creative atmosphere at work. We have shared below a handful of playlists that will pump you up, focus you in, and help you wind down with your colleagues. Have a listen, and let us know what you listen to!

Top Music of 2011:

Congratulations, you just made it to the final round of a new business pitch. You’re pumped, but now you’re looking at a 24 hour turnaround for another pitch deck. The following songs have already won music lovers’ hearts this year, and it’s time they motivate you to win that new business heart, too. Attention-grabbing, thrilling and sometimes a bit brash, each song sets the tone for what should be a great year to come for you and your clients.

“Otis” – Jay-Z & Kanye West

“I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” – Wavves

“Vomit” – Girls

“The Great Pan Is Dead” – Cold Cave

“Calgary” – Bon Iver

“New Beat” – Toro y Moi

“The Look” – Metronomy

“I Stand Alone” – Theophilus London

“How Deep is Your Love?” – The Rapture

“Wildfire (feat. Little Dragon)” – SBTRKT


Turn off your instant messenger, block your Gmail, and forget about Mashable for an hour. If you’re writing up a pitch about the cloud, this list is your go-to. With steady, relaxed beats and little to no distracting lyrics, these songs can focus you even on the loudest of afternoons.  Though some might also lead you to daydreaming, so careful where your ears tread!

The Wilhelm Scream” – James Blake

“Eyes Be Closed” – Washed Out

“National Anthem” – Radiohead

“Two Weeks” – Grizzly Bear

“One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Girlfriend)” – Wilco

“Someone Great” – LCD Soundsystem

808pm At The Beach” – Fred Falke

“Wildcat” – Ratatat

“Take My Soul” – Thievery Corporation

“Chinatown” – Wild Nothing

Monday Morning Oldies:

No one’s in the mood for some loud, annoying pop song by the latest “IT” girl singing about self-esteem on a Monday morning. At times like these, it’s all about those classics you, and everyone else, already knows and loves. Trust us, there’s a reason these songs have been popular for at least the last 25 years.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Elton John and Kiki Dee

“Another One Bites the Dust”—Queen

“Will You Be There” – Michael Jackson

“You Can’t Hurry Love” – The Supremes

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” – The Beatles

“Danger Zone” – Kenny Loggins

“You Make My Dreams” – Hall & Oates

“Shout” – The Isley Brothers

 “Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond


You know the song that, no matter how many times you play it, your coworkers will light up and say “oh! I love this song!” These are the ones you can play on a Tuesday, leave your desk for a client call, and come back and people are still jamming. Make sure you have at least a few (or all) of the tracks below handy if someone designates you resident DJ on a busy day.

“Unless It’s Kicks” – Okkervil River

“Bloodbuzz Ohio” – The National

“Giving Up the Gun” – Vampire Weekend

“Reptilia” – The Strokes

“Month of May” – Arcade Fire

“Shooting Stars” – Bag Raiders

“Je Veux Te Voir” – Yelle

“Lights & Music” – Cut Copy

“Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People

“Superstylin” – Groove Armada

Impress on an Afternoon:

Sometimes there are those days when you’ve volunteered as resident DJ but you feel you’ve exhausted Mike Snow and Robyn and need something fresh. These songs will perk up your colleagues’ ears and eventually someone will ping you, asking “who is this?” Consider this one a little bit of a brag list.

 “It Gets Your Body Movin’” – Suckers

“Brother Sport” – Animal Collective

“The Rat” – The Walkmen

“Round and Round” – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

“Heroes and Villains” – The Beach Boys”

“Stillness is the Move” – Dirty Projectors

“Heartbeats” – The Knife

“Tripped and Fell in Love” – YACHT

“Two Dancers (ii)” – Wild Beasts (Jon Hopkins Remix)

“Midnight City” – M83

What are your favorite songs to listen to while at work?

Enter at Your Own Risk: SHIFTers at Work in the Kitchen

By Annie Meenan

This year, SHIFT SF decided to break our Halloween tradition of carving pumpkins to celebrate with a good ol’ fashioned bake-off. Why? Well, because what better way to celebrate the holiday than with an overload of baked goods chased down with some spiked cider and pumpkin ale.

Our “Fall Festivus” kicked off right in time for happy hour and the troops eagerly marched into our transformed conference room to find a table filled with baked goods. From homemade pumpkin cookies and muffins to Kahlua-infused cupcakes, there was no shortage of sugary treats. Hungry SHIFTers piled up plates full of every sweet imaginable to ensure they got a taste of everything. Soon, it was time to cast our ballots for the best dessert.

It was a tough competition, but in the end there could only be one winner. The dancing skeleton trophy prize ultimately went to SHIFT newbie and all-star intern, Michelle “Mich” Wells. Her “Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Balls of Glory” won by a landslide. Lucky for you, Mich was willing to share her secret recipe, so you can try it for yourself! Check it out below.

The Goods

  • 1 package dark chocolate cake mix
  • ¼ cup special dark powdered cocoa
  • ~ 1 cup peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co’s White Chocolate Wonderful – peanut butter mixed with sweet white chocolate – recommended)
  • 1 1/3 cups of water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of butter
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 – 1½ cups peanut butter chips
  • 1 container (16 ounces) of chocolate frosting
  • 1 package chocolate bark coating mix
  • Sea salt
  • 9” x 13” nonstick baking pan
  • Cookie sheet
  • Wax paper

How to Make the Magic Happen

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat the baking pan in canola oil spray just to ensure none of the cake was left behind.

Mix together the dry cake mix along with the cocoa powder. Then, stir in water, eggs, vegetable oil and butter. Spread that goodness in the baking pan, put it in the oven for 35 minutes and let cool to room temperature. (Tip: if you stick a toothpick in the middle of the cake, and no residue is on it when you pull it out, it is ready!)

Once it’s cool, crumble the cake into large mixing bowl. Stir in your frosting, peanut butter and peanut butter chips by hand. Put some sea salt in at this stage to taste – keep in mind you will be sprinkling more on top at the end of the process. Then, shape the batter into one inch balls. Place each ball on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate overnight or freeze them until firm.

Next, melt the chocolate bark coating pieces according to package instructions. Dip the cake balls into the melted chocolate and let them set on the cookie sheet (make sure your cake balls are firm – if they aren’t, they are going to fall apart in the melted chocolate resulting in less cake, which would be a major travesty). While the chocolate coating is drying, sprinkle sea salt on top of the cake balls so it dries into the coating. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Remember, you can make this treat with any cake recipe, and change it up with white or dark chocolate coating, sprinkles, drizzled chocolate on top, etc.

Inside the SHIFT Studio: Andrew Waber

  1. Name: Andrew Waber
  2. Hometown: Philadelphia
  3. Where did you go to college? Bentley University
  4. How long have you worked at SHIFT? 2 years on November 16!
  5. Use four words to describe yourself. The Zen in Simplicity
  6. What made you enter the PR industry? I love people and honesty, and both are inherent parts of good public relations.
  7. When you Google yourself, what’s the first thing that pops up? My Twitter profile (under the name @LetsPercolate)
  8. What blogs or Web sites do you read everyday? CNN, Mashable and ESPN
  9. If there was a cocktail created just for you, what would you name it? Ragged Plaid (I’m a big grunge and Neil Young fan! My cocktail would somehow express this.)
  10. Tell us something unexpected/surprising about you. I am an Adirondack 46-r, meaning I’ve climbed all 46 peaks in the Adirondack mountain range over 4,000 ft.  If/when I get the chance, I’d love to complete my second round.


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,


Inside the SHIFT Studio: Jen Burns

  1. Name: Jennifer Burns
  2. Hometown: Sterling, MA
  3. Where did you go to college: Syracuse University
  4. How long have you worked at SHIFT: Almost 5 years
  5. Use four words to describe yourself: Sarcastic, confident, caring and efficient (according to my husband.
  6. What made you enter the PR industry: I loved writing, but didn’t want to be a journalist. I did some research and thought PR was a good fit for my skill set.
  7. When you Google yourself, what’s the first thing that pops up: Jennifer Burns is an author and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia – her Website pops up.
  8. What blogs or Web sites do you read every day: CNN, MSN,, Slate magazine, I scan a lot of different sites throughout the day.
  9. If there was a cocktail created just for you, what would you name it: The best glass of wine in the world.
  10. Tell us something unexpected/surprising about you: I wrote an 80-page story in the 3rd grade called The Space Race, but my babysitter borrowed it to read it and lost it on the bus. I have had writer’s block ever since.
  11. What do you feel is your greatest personal success in PR thus far? Happy clients you can use as references for new clients! It means all the work you do, from press hits, to plans to counsel is appreciated and effective.


Inside the SHIFT Studio: Amanda Grinavich

  1. Name:  Amanda Grinavich (@agrinavich)
  2. Hometown:  Born in Houston, raised right outside of Scranton, PA
  3. Where did you go to college?  Boston University
  4. How long have you worked at SHIFT?  I did two tours as an intern (Summer of ’09 and spring of ’10) before being hired in the beginning of April 2010!
  5. Use four words to describe yourself:  Red-headed (an adjective in itself, trust me), independent, ambitious, loyal
  6. What made you enter the PR industry?  The ability to write, be creative and build relationships with people. It combined everything I was looking for in a career.
  7. When you Google yourself, what’s the first thing that pops up?  My Twitter page!
  8. What blogs or Web sites do you read every day?  I have over 200 RSS feeds, so I read quite a bit. My favorites are: the New York Times, Politico, Seth Godin’s blog, Lifehacker, Mashable, Deadspin, Puck Daddy and, TechCrunch.
  9. If there was a cocktail created just for you, what would you name it?  The Firecracker
  10. Tell us something unexpected/surprising about you.  I geek out on hockey like no other.

What Are YOU Doing to Give Back?

By Katie McGraw (@katiemcgraw24)

As a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day.  The bills that need to be paid, the headaches that need addressing, the latest win, or the latest loss.  Still, companies like SHIFT Communications, are finding ways to devote time and resources despite the fact that many businesses have been asked to do more with less.

President Obama once said, “Make no mistake: Our destiny as Americans is tied up with one another.”  With this in mind and with the national push to take part in spurring positive change, more companies are looking at corporate social responsibility as a necessity rather than a choice.

In late 2010, SHIFT engaged in their very own commitment to change by making a concerted effort to devote more time and resources to our Social Good Taskforce.  The SG Taskforce did some thorough research to determine how the company’s time and resources could be leveraged to give back.  In line with this effort, we kicked off the holiday season with a clothing and supply drive to benefit Cradles for Crayons.

Cradles for Crayons (C2C) is a Brighton, MA-based nonprofit organization that provides in-need children with the essentials to feel safe, warm, ready to learn and valued.   According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, there are more than 305,000 Massachusetts children ages 0-12 living in low-income and homeless situations.  To help curb this staggering statistic, Cradles to Crayons partners with social-service organizations in the Boston-area to connect communities in need with resources — new or gently used items in good condition.  While our first effort consisted in the gathering of supplies, we are also working to more actively engage with C2C during an onsite visit this Spring!

There are many benefits to volunteering from a business perspective.  It can provide increased community visibility to improving an organization’s overall brand, but there’s also something to be said for the value as it relates to the people within the company.

SHIFT’s Social Good Taskforce is led by Jen Burns, account manager with the company.  When asked what she believed was the greatest benefit of community engagement from an employee perspective, Jen offered the following:

“We work hard and play hard at SHIFT, so it made sense to tap into this energy to benefit our local community.  As a mother, I realize how fortunate I am to have a safe home for my child, clothes to keep him warm, and food to keep his belly full.  It’s truly heartbreaking to know there are children in our own community who are not as lucky.  SHIFT’s volunteer efforts ensure we are all taking an active role in helping to bring about change and instill hope.  Cradles to Crayons is a great organization, and we look forward to partnering with them in the future to help those kids in our community that need it most.”

Recently, SHIFT employees across all three offices jointly raised funds to support the American Red Cross’ efforts to aid Japan.  The company matched all employee donations and SHIFT raised a total of $2,400.

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