Posts Tagged 'relationship building'

The Best PR Advice I’ve Ever Received

Between managing different clients, media relationships and now social media channels, PR can be a delicate balancing act and a crash course in how to be efficient while still keeping a smile on your face. We recently polled a few of the SHIFT-ers to see what the best PR advice they have ever received was  – check out their thoughts below!


“Act like a duck…stay calm, cool and collected on the surface (to clients, the media, team members, etc.) even if you’re paddling like crazy under water (i.e., drowning in work load, working with clients, etc.).” – KT McGraw


“‘Be authentic. That’s the only way you’ll sustain any success in this industry.’ – Geoff Livingston, the Principal of Livingston Communications at the time and my first internship. I’ve taken this advice to heart every day of my PR career. Geoff solidified in me that your moral code never needs to go out the window when you’re representing a client.” – Andrew Waber


“The best PR advice I ever received was also some pretty good life advice!  A former boss asked me to send her some information and I did, but neglected to include an upfront recommendation.  My boss started firing back questions until we both got to my own opinion about the information.  She then said ‘That’s what I was looking for!  Remember to take risks.  It’s OK if sometimes you make a mistake, but I want you to tell me what you think about something, what your opinion is, what’s your recommendation.  I’m paying you for your BRAIN, lady.’  To this day I think, my team mates and leads aren’t looking to me to be an administrative robot, they’re looking for my creativity, point of view and expertise – my BRAIN.  It’s something I think about whenever I’m writing a press release, crafting a pitch or taking part in a brainstorm.” – Amanda Guisbond


“PR is not brain surgery. When you get worked up about a deadline or stress about an error, just remember people’s lives in are not in our hands. Hiccups or challenges will work out, or it can wait until tomorrow. Breathe a little easier now.” – Ciri Haugh


“An AE once told me that a subject line should be no longer than eight words, because “it’s a ‘line’ for a reason. No one reads an email if the subject line is a novel.” – Sarah Bergeron


“Think of every way possible to make your client’s life easier. When you start thinking like this, the creativity just follows.” – Mallory Cloutier


“‘Go for it!’ – Sofiya Cabalquinto, at the time Media Relations Manager at the Boston Museum of Science. This was in relation to an admittedly wild idea I had for a promotion for an upcoming black holes exhibit. The result was the creation of a “Black Hole Burger” at the famous Eagle’s Deli in Brighton, MA that simulated the voracious (and eventually slowing) appetite of black holes and an event to debut the concoction. I drove the creation and much of the publicity for the event, which gave me some much appreciated on the ground experience.” – Andrew Waber


“I always come back to… ‘Always SMILE!’” – Erin Albright


What’s the best PR advice you have ever received? Let us know – we would love to hear your thoughts!

Pressing the Press: Meet Alex Williams, SiliconAngle

By Daniella Klopocki (@bellatweetz)

Alex Williams has been a high-profile media contact for my clients since I first joined SHIFT. While most of you know him from his days at ReadWriteWeb, he’s at a new gig and loving his editor role at SiliconAngle. I’ve worked with Alex before and saw this as the perfect opportunity to congratulate him on his new job as well as get to know the man whose name has been posted on my desk (on coveted media contacts list) for almost a year.

Below you’ll find bits of our phone conversation that will not only give you a glimpse into what he’s working on now, but also an idea of how he’s combining his love for sports with the technology he’s passionate about.

Twitter handle: @alexwilliams

Alex Williams, SilconAngleHow did you get into journalism?

When I was in college—back in the mid ‘80s—I spent a year in France studying. While I was there I also had the opportunity to play baseball for a French team. We ended up playing all over Europe.  My buddy and I wrote about it and tried to sell the story to the New York Times, which didn’t exactly pan out but it really sparked my interest in writing. Back in America, I started writing about the University of Denver soccer team which evolved into covering sports. From there I applied to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and off I went into the world of newspaper reporting.   

Why tech specifically?

When I started in journalism we wrote at work stations and there was a PC at the first job I had—it was a luxury (we even had a modem!). It was around 1994 when I started looking at what else I could do as a journalist. A friend of mine was  involved in the Woodstock ‘94 concert and developed an “experience” at the event where he created 3D virtual reality rides—it was cutting-edge stuff back then. As a result he got a bunch of tech companies (including Apple) to come and asked if I would be the reporter on-the-ground with Apple. We recorded video footage and edited it, digitizing it for the jumbotron. At the time, they called it a “digital newspaper.” After that I started working for AOL and helped them develop their news portal. That was where I got started in the tech world.

As an editor at SiliconAngle, what are your main responsibilities?

I launched ServicesAngle recently. We’re also looking to build up and launch a series of different vertical initiatives too.

What was one of your favorite stories that you’ve worked on?    

I did a profile on CSC and I enjoyed it because it gave me a deeper view into the services solutions world from the perspective of a company that been providing traditional solutions for a long time. Now they’re becoming a services provider in a more modern sense by offering cloud services, and they’re teaming with VMware. I like the cloud story from the managed services perspective. I covered the VMware launch of their latest iteration on their virtualization technology. That was especially fun because we do a lot of video. We did this post-event roundup that was basically commentating the event. Our primary goal is to do in-depth coverage of the technology market. We see theCube as being like the ESPN of Tech news, on the ground covering technology companies through our video coverage

What do you want PR professionals to know?

We’re really hungry to cover news. Reach out to us. I’m interested in stories with cloud services angles. I’m also interested in new technologies that are meeting legacy technologies.

What are your main “pet peeves” when working with PR people?

There are a number of things…

–          Asking for a briefing without telling me what it’s about. That’s really frustrating. Our time is so limited, so tell me as much as possible!

–          ALL CAPS in the title is annoying.

–          Cold-calling.

–          Assuming in the pitch that I’ll cover the news. This is especially bad if the pitch is salesy. Example: “We look forward to talking with you on [date].”

What do you think about pitching over social media? Love it or hate it?

You may want to say “@alexwilliams saw you were tweeting about [this], here’s another angle on it….” That’s alright, but it all comes down to context. Occasionally I get DMs—in that case it’s better that I know you or else that’s awkward. If I get to know you it changes the whole story.

What are your hobbies and interests when you’re not at work?

I’m a classic guy whose kids are growing. My son is 15 years old and my daughter is 17 years old. As for my hobbies, they consist of what I can fit in my schedule. To get some exercise, I ride my bike. I actually got rid of my car for about five years. I also enjoy cooking and going to the movies.

Alex also shared that he’d like to visit Poland—his wife is Polish. That about did it for me!

Dziękuję (thank you) for the great call Alex!

Public Relations – A Business of Relationships

By Jenn Eastman

When I first graduated college, I was dead set against going into any kind of sales position.  For some reason, I had preconceived notions that I wasn’t cut out for the sales world—despite lacking any kind of experience.  The obvious (ahem, or not so obvious) second choice was of course PR.

Six years later and I’m starting to realize just how wrong I really was.  The key to sales is usually less about selling and more about relationship building.  Turns out, PR is pretty similar.  There is of course the obvious—our job is to sell our clients to editors across all different kinds of publications.  It requires creative angles, research and a lot of time on the phone.  To a certain extent, you do have to be good at finding unique trends and story ideas—but you could also craft the most novel pitch idea in the world and still not get a reply.

One of the most crucial parts of “selling” any pitch idea or getting good coverage is based on the relationships you build.  I’d heard this many times over but wasn’t really convinced until I saw it starting to come to fruition.  A little over a year ago, I was pitching an editor at Real Simple—she was interested in a few clients but they weren’t a fit for anything immediate that she was working on.  Instead of trying to cram the information about my clients down her throat every other week, I asked her to grab coffee—I wanted to hear about what things she was working on, how she likes to best receive information and how we, as a PR agency, could be most useful to her.

The coffee meeting was very insightful and I was able to introduce her to a broader spectrum of clients across the agency.  Even better, she now had a face to my name, and I could get her the information, in the way she wanted it, that best suited her needs.  The meeting opened up the door to more opportunities—as a result of the relationship, I was able to get a client featured not once, but twice, in the publication’s holiday gift guide.  In addition, it was selected by the editor to appear in a segment they were producing for The Today Show.

Similarly, I came across a freelancer who covered all kinds of home décor trends for various blogs and publications, and asked her to meet up for a quick coffee.  We had a great conversation and she got some good ideas for Good Housekeeping—a publication she had just started to work with.  As it turns out, she ended up being hired full time at the publication shortly after and we were able to work on a number of opportunities together.  It’s resulted three print opportunities and more in the works—and because not everything is a fit for her, she’s happy to pass things along to other editors internally.

At the end of the day, real success in PR truly does come from the relationships you create and foster—it’s a business of relationships.  So while all this time I thought I wasn’t cut out for sales and was avoiding it, turns out I was quite wrong—we’re not so different after all.

There’s PR in Everything

By Jany Xu

[Originally posted on]

Instead of going out on Saturday night, I opted to join a discuss group called the Club of Rome. It’s a forum that meets every once in a while (we haven’t set the pace yet), and everyone brings food, drinks and ideas.

The topic for this weekend was “Is it okay to intervene and disregard a nation’s sovereignty in order to help its citizens during a national disaster or political situation, i.e. genocide?” We used the [not so] recent Burmese cyclone, and the Junta’s rejection to foreign aid as the premise. Should the U.S. have simply crossed into Burmese air space/waters to delivers supplies? What could the U.N. have done?

There’s so much to be said, and I won’t give a complete synopsis of points debated. But about an hour in, I suggested whether or not to accept aid had everything to do with messaging.

The Junta were skeptical of U.S. intentions, since we took our sweet time offering aid during the Sri Lanka tsumani. In another example, China gladly took aid from other nations during the earthquake. The forum speculated that they probably could have handled matters themselves but wanted to seem open and welcoming, especially with the Olympics looming. Similar situation with the U.S. and Katrina. India offered aid but was rejected by the U.S. Forgive me for not fact checking. Did the U.S. say no because it didn’t make logistical sense to send Indian aid workers, who didn’t know the infrastructure of U.S. relief, OR was it because the U.S. simply had too much pride? “We’re the leading country in the world. Why would we possibly need help?”

Intentions masked in layers of political secrecy leave other nations to speculate, often wrongly, about why country A chose action B. The G77 (made up of over 120 developing nations) are completely distrusting of the G8 (eight of the leading OECDs) for this reason.


I think they could take a page from social media and the strives that companies like Cisco, Johnson & Johnson and many others are taking to promote trust and relationship-building. If countries were able to sit at the table and find the mutually beneficial solutions, there wouldn’t be a need for veils of secrecy and empty U.N. sanctions. No one can guarantee the actions of other parties, but there’s no point in creating a prisoner’s dilemma.

What if the U.S. simply said, “Hey, we just want to help the people in your country. Yes, we’re interested in building a relationship because we’re interested in trade (oil) and becoming closer allies (since you’re getting too chummy with China). BUT… this is a crisis. Could we put aside the politics, so that your people can get the relief they need? We’ll offer to drop supplies in unmarked crates. Hell, we’ll even stamp the official Junta seal if you want”?

What if we simply drop the U.N. sanctions and threats from the U.S. military bully and just communicated? Sure, it might not work the first time or even the fifth, but the effort would generate mutual understanding and maybe even *gasp* respect.

Call me idealistic, but transparency and communication could do a world of good. Literally.