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SHIFTers Embody Favorite Turkey Day Foods


Ahh, the holiday season is upon us! Last year during Thanksgiving, SHIFTers shared what they were most thankful for – a list that spanned from family and friends, to the likes of Beyonce and… Crest White Strips? No matter what you’re thankful for this year, Thanksgiving is the time to spend with family, reflect on your blessings and – most important of all – relax and be merry! This year we decided to get a little wacky with our Thanksgiving post. See below to check out what Thanksgiving food SHIFTers embody: 

After my Thanksgiving meal, I am definitely the stuffing! – Danielle Mancano

I’m the cranberry sauce…because no one wants me at the table. – Matt Trocchio

I guess you could say I’m the Spaghettio’s because up until I was about 10 years old, that’s all I would eat at Thanksgiving! – Emily Wienberg

I’m the gravy, baby 😉 – Todd Defren

I would absolutely be mashed potatoes. I’m incredibly biased because they’ve been my favorite food since first grade (literally), but no Thanksgiving meal would be complete without them! – Kristi Eells

Pumpkin Pie! Classic, best for last, etc. – Sara Crumley

The wine, obviously! And because the party doesn’t get started until I show up 😉 – Katie Clark

For Thanksgiving, I would be the deviled eggs.  My family is located in Iowa and I haven’t made it back for Thanksgiving for the past 4 years.  In a family of four, the family is unbalanced when I’m gone and I tend to play the peacekeeper when I am present. My one commitment to cooking on Thanksgiving was always making the deviled eggs.  They are not the best item on the menu, but noticeably missed when gone.  My family likes to tell me the deviled eggs do not taste as good when others make them. – Emily Suchomel

Carrot casserole, sweet potatoes, anything orange – gotta represent that red hair! – Emily Adams

I’d be the Sambuca, because I bring the evening up a notch. (Don’t tell me mine is the only family that enjoys the soothing elements of Sambuca after a filling meal…) – Jennifer Usher

Sweet potatoes with that marshmallow topping, because sometimes it can seem like a gimmick on top of a gimmick. – Dave Levy

I’m dessert – my mom’s crumb top apple pie with a side of cannoli and tiramisu. I never loved the turkey growing up and I still look forward to the courses that come before the entree and, most of all, dessert. – Alicia Cerasuolo

What Thanksgiving food are YOU? 🙂

Mixin’ and Minglin’ – How To Plan A Successful Networking Event

By: Erin Santy, @esanty


Last Thursday, we hosted about 75 Bay Area PR pros at PRSA’s monthly mixer in San Francisco at The Office, Churchill’s private bar – big thanks to all who came out to mix and mingle with us! In putting together the event, we were struck by how much the key considerations aligned with what we take into account when planning media or consumer events for clients. Ultimately, there are certain factors that contribute to making an event of any type successful and memorable, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to pull back the curtain a bit and share some inside scoop.

  • It’s All About The Vibe
    • The first step in planning an event is to determine what kind of vibe you’re going for and make sure every subsequent selection falls in line with that. For us, we’re not stuffy hotel ballroom people. We wanted folks to walk away with a sense of what our culture is like – so we picked a place we’d want to hang at if we were doing a SHIFT happy hour. It was a private space with the right mix of standing and seating options and a cozy, hipster feel. The SHIFT team even brought in some extra fun with a shuffleboard table!
  • Location, Location, Location
    • Is your venue centrally located? Nothing kills your turnout more than picking a spot that’s too far off the beaten path. If you want to break outside the neighborhood norm (as we did here – branching beyond the FiDi to shake it up a bit), be sure to pick a spot that’s easy to get to via public transportation and has abundant parking.
  • Standing Out From The Crowd
    • What are you doing to make your event unique and memorable? That’s a huge factor in both your turnout, as well as turnout for future events (if your event doesn’t make an impression, can you expect people to show up for the next one?). For our event, we picked a spot with killer cocktails and hosted an open bar along with Southern-theme treats to balance out the booze. We also did a surprise raffle and gave away a few goodie bags stuffed with local treats (yes, us SHIFTers were jealous that we weren’t eligible to win J)
  • Plan A Flexible Budget
    • Any time you do an event with charges based on consumption (like an open bar), you have to head into it with some budget flexibility to account for overages – nothing ends a party on a lower note than the bar tab running out! Create a plan in advance with your onsite venue event manager to get alerts as you near your budget cap so you can make smart choices about where to best utilize your cushion budget

Keep these golden rules in mind next time you dive into planning an event for any type of crowd to up your game and increase your event’s success factor!


Memorable Moments in TV History through the Eyes of a PR Pro

By Julie Staadecker

The Tiger Woods “cheaters” press conference. OJ’s car chase. Lebron flaking on Cleveland for Miami. Ashlee Simpson lip synching. Ms. South Carolina talking about “US Americans.” All notable, and in some cases comical, televised moments that arguably killed the reputations of people involved. But picking the top 5 PR Moments in TV history is tough. Here are some that stand out for their lasting impacts:

BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

  • The Story: In 2010, BP’s drilling on the Gulf Coast led to an explosion of a sea-floor oil gusher, destroying the area’s ecosystem and economy as well as dealing a crushing blow to the company’s reputation that they’re still working to repair. As we all know, the spill flowed unabated for three months, all of it caught on camera. What also followed the initial explosion was public outcry and hatred aimed at BP. Celebs, environmentalists and every day people publicly blamed BP for the disaster.
  • PR Factor: In an attempt to turn this PR disaster around, BP has since given $20 billion to compensate victims and clean up. Yet despite its best efforts, the public perception of BP is permanently and irrevocably marred, in much part due to the constant stream of televised news and attacks aimed at the company, whose stocks plummeted.

Apple Introduces…Anything

  • The Story: Most of us can probably remember the original commercials for iPods. I was so excited to buy my first edition model and recall iPods becoming a status symbol amongst my friends. At the time, no one knew the giant that “iEverything” would become. It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t have an iPad, iPhone or iPod (or all three!) these days and the buzz for every new Apple product spurs lines out their doors.
  • PR Factor: Besides capitalizing on the cool factor of being the first and possibly the best to market, through top-tier media coverage Apple continues pioneering new developments that they strategically “leak” information on to create PR hype. They reach consumers (particularly early adopters and tech-savvy customers) via televised reviews and exciting, fun ads, helping earn Apple ranking as one of the most buzzed about companies in existence.

 Bill Clinton’s “Sexual Relations”

  • The Story: During President Bill Clinton’s administration, accusations of infidelity with Monica Lewinsky plagued the headlines. While many political figures have been accused of cheating, Clinton originally stated in a televised press conference, “I did not have sexual relations with the woman.”
  • PR Factor: This turned into a PR disaster when the truth about the affair came out, because Americans felt his lie, broadcast across the nation, reached them directly.  Cries for impeachment rang out and despite positive and negative opinions on Clinton’s political decisions, the remainder of his career was marked by the public denial of his indiscretion.

 Katie Couric Kills Sarah Palin’s Career

  • The Story: We’ve seen that a bad interview or debate can crush a politician’s ratings and votes. But the one that stands out for resoundingly smashing someone’s career is Katie Couric’s interview of Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin during the 2008 election.
  • PR Factor: In plain terms, this interview was a PR pros absolute nightmare. All the research, preparation and practice shot straight out the window the moment Sarah Palin began the interview. President Barack Obama and Joe Biden must have been high fiving during this televised discussion as Sarah Palin  showed that she was  naïve to matters of governmental history and public affairs.  And you know you have royally screwed up when SNL makes an awesomely bad skit of the interview.

Natural Disaster Mobilizes TV Viewers

  • The Story: The Japanese tsunami, Brisbane floods, Haiti Earthquake and Hurricane Katrina are among recent natural disasters that rank most publicly covered in the news. TV stations in the US and abroad broadcast shocking images and video of each of these disasters and their victims.
  • PR Factor: While the events were devastating, viewer response was tremendously positive. Hundreds of charities, thousands of volunteers and millions of dollars of donations poured in as direct response to the news coverage. The impact of mobilized help efforts on these disasters show that TV, while criticized for making people lazy, can also be a powerful motivator for change.

Overall learnings from reviewing these moments in TV history? Honesty, transparency and knowledge are key to successful reputation management, especially when it comes to what’s in the public eye. Whether you love or hate TV, there’s no denying that it forms and shapes public opinion and action and can lead to overwhelming PR success or disaster for people and companies featured.

SHIFTers Share in Excitement with Latest ESOP News

By Rachel Huxley-Cohen


Todd couldn’t have said it better. SHIFT Communications has just been acquired by… its employees. By me. By my coworkers. We are all business owners and are sharing in a slice of SHIFT. The ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program) was announced this morning and it proves that SHIFT will always be pushing the boundaries of traditional agency life. SHIFT continues to prove that, at the core, it’s an agency that values all of its employees – not just the senior management team. And that fact alone truly makes SHIFT a unique place to work. It is this values-based attitude that makes employees proud to be a part of the SHIFT family and we could not be more excited for this new chapter in the Company’s history. THANK YOU Jim and Todd – we couldn’t be happier to be in business with you both.

Below are some thoughts from SHIFT employees about the new ESOP and why agencies should be employee owned:

“Clients crave consistent and excellent performance, and that starts and ends with their individual teams. An employee-owned agency provides teams a larger sense of purpose and desire to stay long term, giving them even more incentive to excel and retain clients in year two and beyond. The client in turn can only feel more value coming from that commitment. It’s a virtuous cycle that becomes a win-win for everyone involved.” – Derek Lyons, Vice President

“The same reason any business should be employee-owned: you want those most passionate about the business to own a piece. Who personifies your business more than the hard working men and women coming in early and staying late each day? That said, this sort of program should never be expected – it needs to be earned.  Once an honor like this is placed on the staff, that same passion and hard work will come even further into play. Why? Because those employees are no longer just representing a brand they care about, they are owners representing THEIR Company. I’d say that is a pretty strong motivator.” – Matt Trocchio, Account Director

“Employees seem to be more invested in the company and therefore feel accountable and excited to do their part to better the firm and make it a great place to work.” – Courtney Mead, Account Director

“Employees are a reflection of their company, and in SHIFT’s case, the company is also a reflection of its employees – who are all such a key part of the personality it displays in everything it does. Letting those employees take an ACTUAL ownership stake in the place they’re already so proud of is a natural next step for SHIFT, and a unique display of loyalty and appreciation. Now, when thinking about the company, it’s even more obvious just how much you’re a part of that brand and strategy, and it pushes you to do everything in your power to help in succeed.” – John Cassillo, Account Executive

“Sometimes it can be difficult for junior members of a company to see the impact that their work has on an organization as a whole. With the ESOP, I think it’s clear to everyone how their work affects SHIFT, for better or worse, and that’s a great motivator.” – Alexandra Brooks, Account Executive

“It’s such a great feeling to work for a company that truly values the hard work its employees put in everyday, and the ESOP further demonstrates the confidence our employers have in each and every one of us to continue building upon the success SHIFT has achieved thus far. Talk about motivating!” – Leslie Grant, Account Executive

“Working for a PR firm that is privately owned, and now EMPLOYEE owned is empowering; it also means we can stay ballsy and creative.” – Karen DeVincent, Account Coordinator

“SHIFTers are very lucky to be a part of an agency that truly cares about its employees—so much so that we’ve all been made part owners of the company. This gives everyone a sense of ownership and I can see this helping with employee retention as well as a closer-knit culture. We’re already known as an agency with a kick-ass culture, and this will only better it and make us all more conscious of all aspects of the business.” – Berenise Solorio, Account Coordinator

Never Underestimate the Power of Networking

By Berenise Solorio



“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

This is especially true in the field of public relations. Simply put, networking truly is invaluable. Just how important is networking for us PR folk? I asked director at large for the SF Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) and diversity chair for the New Pros section, Carolina Madrid and here’s what she had to say.

1.       What value have you seen through networking (specifically in PR)?

PR is all about networking. Whether it’s for your own professional development or on behalf of your company or client, connecting with people on personal levels paves the path for work relationships that flourish in a way that’s critical to the PR industry.

2.       Have you found that networking has helped with recruitment to bring in top talent?

Of course. I have never personally worked in recruitment but have seen talent acquisition – especially for more senior positions – happen through organic conversations more often than I’ve seen it happen through cover letters and resumes. During a networking conversation, you are your own resume and cover letter and nothing conveys your professional competence better than yourself.

3.       Were you introduced to new job opportunities through networking?

Absolutely – it’s how I got my current job! To trace the opportunity to its original root, it was college friends from PRSSA that helped secure the position I now hold. Had I not networked at PRSSA events, I wouldn’t know them today nor had their recommendation for my post. Similarly, I have also helped friends land internships or jobs through strong endorsements or encouraging them to attend events where “so and so” would be present.

4.       What would you say are the top 3 benefits to networking?

1) The opportunity to expand and enhance your own professional rolodex;

2) The opportunity to practice your public speaking and people skills; and

3) The opportunity to make long-lasting friendships – you’re naturally inclined to befriend those with similar interests.

5.       How does social media play into networking these days? (Positive/negative?)

Social media will never take the place of connecting with someone face-to-face, but it will – and already has – transformed our ability to identify whom we should be connecting with and build deeper connections. For example, would you have known that a conference-goer in Florida lived in the same city as you had you not checked out their Twitter profile? Social media allows you to define and refine who you want to network with. It also provides an easy way to stay in touch with those connections that matter most (e.g. LinkedIn!)

6.       What advice would you give someone who is just starting a career in PR?

I have only had about four years of PR experience, but already I’ve noticed three core areas that have been invaluable to my success thus far:

Focus on how you can help others: It will always – hands down – get you farther than focusing on how you can benefit from them.

Read, read, read: Read the news, read books, read the back of your shampoo bottle. This will not only keep you abreast of current affairs but improve your writing, which is critical in our field.

Don’t be so afraid of failure: You learn most from mistakes and sticky situations that you’re forced to maneuver out of, so embrace that awkward feeling when you mess up and know that when it’s over, you’ve added one more lesson to your portfolio.

7.       Is there anything else you’d like to share about networking and its importance in our field?

Networking shouldn’t be looked at as something that is done specifically at a professional mixer or conference. You should always be networking and that’s not to say that you should always be selling yourself but rather always trying to establish genuine, kind, friendly relationships with others – even if it’s at a gas station! You never know when you’ll come a valuable connection. And lastly, networking should be fun!

More about Carolina Madrid

Carolina is a PR professional working in corporate practice. She has been involved with PRSA since January 2011, after graduating from college and jumping into the San Francisco PR scene. She was previously involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) at Arizona State University, where she attended two national PRSSA conferences and held the Treasurer position. She became involved with both the student and professional organizations because she recognized the value of being part of an organization devoted to furthering her own profession as well as the industry as a whole. She is now director at large for the San Francisco PRSA chapter as well as the diversity chair for the new professionals section of SF PRSA.

You can follow her on Twitter at: @CarolinaMadrid

Confessions of a PR Intern: How To Spend Your Summer as a SHIFTer

By Lexie Bowser



For the past three months I have interned at SHIFT Communications in Boston, MA. If I were to describe my first day, or month, of work in one word it would be: intimidating. Seeing as this was both my first internship and first experience in PR, I was not sure what to expect. I was frequently dodging terms, such as b-doc, clipping, media list and other various jargon words, while trying to maintain my composure.

However, after learning from my remarkably patient team and the mistakes that I can’t pretend I didn’t make, I started to get the hang of things. I worked on a team whose clients were mainly tech and social tech. Three months ago, I would’ve had no idea what that meant. Even after conducting my own researching and scheduling a briefing session with my team, I wasn’t remotely close to being comfortable with what the clients do. If I had never immersed myself into this internship, I never would have known what phenomenon’s like BYOD and cloud computing were.

Most college students would be fine with never knowing what these tech-y terms mean and I have to admit that I was one of them! But instead of staying in my comfort zone and dealing with concepts and situations that I was familiar with, I was determined to master an entirely new set of skills, which is a critical take away for any intern experience. Whether it’s technology, finance or bio-chemistry, learning about a new space, and becoming comfortable with it, is an imperative life skill.

Before I knew it, I was monitoring for coverage and drafting clients’ tweets like it was second nature. I created and managed media lists, found potential events for clients and performed various administrative tasks. When I was asked to do research on a prospective client, I had the confidence to jump right in. SHIFT fostered an environment for me where I wasn’t scared to ask for help, but I was also assured that I had the ability to do the tasks asked of me.

As the summer comes to a close and I begin gearing up for school, I am realizing the impact this experience has had on me. Instead of being terrified of what the “real” working world has in store for me after graduation, I am excited for the options I can explore. I am so thankful for the opportunity that SHIFT gave me to learn the ins and outs of Public Relations and I can’t stress how much this real-world experience has helped me learn. I will miss being at SHIFT, but I would not have wanted to spend my summer any other way!

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.

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