Posts Tagged 'SHIFT'

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.

 

Inside the SHIFT Studio: Alex Brooks

@abrooksshiftcom

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: People.com

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.”


Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages: What’s the big fuss?

The social media world has been abuzz since last week’s official launch of Facebook Timeline for all brand pages. Timeline has been available for personal users for a few months, and while it’s been optional, it’ll ultimately be the only choice for people and brands alike. I’m now accustomed to seeing the new look on my friends’ pages: huge cover photos of sunsets, babies or pets (I’m guilty of at least two. See for yourself.), but how will Timeline actually transform a brand’s presence on Facebook? After speaking with reps from the site, taking an online webinar and reading up on all of the official Facebook documents, I’ve come to the conclusion that Timeline can enrich a consumer’s view of a brand. How can it do this? By creating a page where consumers might spend more time and by allowing brands to seem more human.

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Personal uses of Cover photos are often sunsets, babies or pets.

Here are some details about how Timeline works:

Cover Photo vs. Profile Picture

The new cover photo seems like a simple concept. It’s like a profile picture, but bigger. But Facebook claims that it’s more than that – and they may be right. The suggested use of this space is for an image that captures the essence of your brand. Not a logo, not a promotional photo, not just text. The cover photo is the soul of the brand page, and should convey the soul of the brand. On the other hand, the profile picture should convey the facts: the logo, the label, etc. Facebook chose a few brands as guinea pigs for Timeline. Among them were Coca-Cola and Manchester United and not surprisingly, their pages look great (I’m guessing their sizable Facebook advertising budgets didn’t hurt). The Manchester United page is the perfect example of the Cover Photo vs. Profile pic discrepancy. Their profile pic is just the Manchester United logo. And yet their cover photo is of an emotional, uplifting photo of the victorious team, evoking immediate emotion from any user. Even from me!

What it means for brands: Emotion sells.

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Manchester United gets it right with an emotion provoking cover photo

Pinning Your Posts

Another new feature for Timeline is the ability for brands to “pin” a post to the top of the page for up to 7 days. This is all about the first impression – any user landing on a brand page will see exactly what the brand wants them to see. The days are over when negative customer feedback live at the top of the Facebook Brand Page wall. This gives more power to the brand over all headlining content on their page. And while users are still encouraged to post on brand pages, Facebook has introduced a new option for consumers to privately message brands. This should cut down on some of the customer service type questions that are often prominently displayed on Facebook walls. Barack Obama’s profile is a great example of keeping the positive message up top, including user photos of reasons why they support Obama, positive videos and quotes from the President himself.

What it means for brands: Choose your pins wisely. They’re the introduction line in your consumer conversation, and you now have the power to control it.

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Obama pins positive posts. And check out his great cover photo.

Views and Apps

Here’s a big change: Brands can no longer select a landing page for their users to view first. Everyone will land to the brand’s Timeline. The only way for users to go straight to an application is through a paid media buy. Facebook has also changed up the way applications are displayed – they’ve said goodbye to the text links on the left side of the page and opted for pretty thumbnails at the top of the page, right next to the Photo and Like images. Brands will be able to move the thumbnails around, displaying which applications get top priority, although the Photo and Like thumbnails are stationary. This results in a nicer presentation, but a more top-heavy page, where users will need to scroll down below the fold to get to the real meat of the page.

What it means for brands: Brands can no longer dictate for users to arrive on welcome pages, “like to enter” tabs or apps. So, create thumbnails to make your apps pop.

Milestones

On to the main course: And here’s where brands can really show their personalities. The milestone function allows brands to chronologically add in the opening day of their business, the day they made your first dollar, when they expanded globally, etc… The actual timeline on the Timeline allows brands to expose their history to their users. Do consumers care? Brands are tasked with injecting their milestones with fun, interesting facts – otherwise the Timeline will fall flat. Starbucks started their Timeline with opening their first store in 1971, and for a company that has grown so quickly – it’s a fun read. Obama also gets this right. His milestone posts bring us back to the 1970s with fun facts such as: “Obama gets his first job working the counter at Baskin-Robbins” or “Obama moves in with his grandparents in Hawaii”. But then there’s Coca-Cola. Their first milestone on their Timeline is the company’s start in 1886. A brand with such a long, rich history should be fascinating to read about. But do consumers have time to scroll though their entire history? I’m not so sure. Especially since the Timeline functionality is still very sluggish. Once we see improvements with the speed, it might become a more attractive read.

What it means for brands: Keep this section short and sweet, with punchy and interesting facts. Brands want users to find your brand charming and inspiring, not just read a history text book.

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Coke’s milestones take us back to pre-Facebook times in 1886.

There’s no question – Timeline is pretty. And it will allow brands to speak to users in a whole new way. I just hope that Facebook doesn’t lose sight of the importance of the consumer to brand and consumer/consumer conversations, both of which seem to take a back seat with this new look. If the goal is to make brands seem more human, then human consumer engagement should still be a top priority. But as we’ve seen with Facebook in the past, there’s certainly more change to come.

The Real Winner of Super Bowl 2012: Social Media

By Dave Finn (@DFinn0711)

We all know how quickly social media has changed the way information is shared and consumed. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all the rest transcend boundaries and are now used as key outlets for foreign governments, Major League Soccer teams, media publications, school districts and everything in between. Simply put, social media provides individuals and organizations a microphone that projects their voices across the globe.

The host committee of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis is the latest example of an organization using social media to consolidate and project its voice and the information it has to share. Raidious, an Indy-based digital marketing firm, has put together a team to manage all Super Bowl-related social media activity. With at least 70,000 fans in town to watch Giants-Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium yesterday and thousands more in the area to enjoy Super Bowl Week festivities, the team’s mission was simple: get the important event information out efficiently.

This was Indianapolis’ first crack at hosting a Super Bowl – and as far as I know, Indy isn’t a popular tourist attraction – so it’s likely that most visitors to the city knew absolutely nothing about it.

That’s where the social media team came in.

In addition to monitoring key words and trends contained in the countless number of Super Bowl game-related tweets, the team used social media platforms to share parking, ticket, event and facility information as well as directions to restaurants and bars, complete with drink deals.

Downtown Indianapolis’ layout is very condensed, so traffic was a nightmare all week. But the social media team didn’t let that fall through the cracks. On Friday, @SuperBowl2012, the team’s official Twitter handle, responded to an Indianapolite (Indianapolan? Indianapoler?) complaining about the gridlock:

Because of the social media team’s efforts, visitors to the capitol of Indiana experienced one-stop shopping for all relevant logistical information – and that’s the key. This brand new effort by the Indianapolis host committee demonstrates social media’s ability to unify a variety of different information in one place. The people running Super Bowl XLVI’s festivities certainly had a lot to say, but social media platforms afforded them one voice with which to say it.

With so much to do and see for fans during Super Bowl Week, this new age task force did its best to minimize aggravation and maximize the enjoyment of one of America’s biggest spectacles. They did it by using social media.

By many accounts, Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis was a huge success. And to think we’ve barely talked about the football game.

Google’s Search Plus your World: Why bother with SEO when all you need is Google+?

By Madeline Willman (@MadelineWillman)

A few months back, Google came out with its Google+ brand pages and SHIFTer, Kristi Eells, wrote a post about why healthcare companies should care. Kristi explained that at the time, “creating a Google+ page will not carry weight over companies without a profile…” However, on Jan. 10, this all changed when Google released its biggest change with “Search Plus your World,” a feature that integrates Google+ pages into users’ search results.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land wrote an extensive article explaining how Google’s Search Plus your World works. Here’s what you need to know:

Search Plus your World allows users with Google accounts to search ‘globally’ or ‘personally.’ When you are logged into your Google+ account you will see posts and pictures from your Google+ profile and from those in your circle. For example, when I search for SHIFT Communications, five personal results within my Google+ page and circles show up that mention “SHIFT Communications.”

When logged into Google+, Search Plus your World will automatically be turned on, but you can opt-out by clicking a toggle:

However, even when opted out of Search Plus your World and not logged into Google+, Google still shows Google+ pages before Twitter and Facebook pages when searching a particular topic. For example when searching for “music” Google provides Britney Spears and Mariah Carey’s Google+ pages on the left hand side. One may question why some of the biggest pop stars in the world like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber don’t show up: They don’t have Google+ pages.

This proves that if you want to have a better chance of showing up in Google’s results, a Google+ page is in order.

The change has shocked the tech community with backlash from influencers like MG Siegler who noted, “Google is using Search to propel their social network. They might say it’s not a social network since it’s a part of Google, but no one is going to buy that. They were late to the game in social and this is the best ca
tch up strategy ever.”

There are also multiple anti-trust and privacy discussions, but even though there has been ongoing controversy over Search Plus your World; it doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon. Google is the king of search with 64 percent of the market share (according to comScore’s December findings) and if Google is making it a priority, brands probably should too.

Regardless if Google is doing the right thing or not, the fact is: Google+ pages show up in search results before Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin results – if you want your company to have a better chance at staying at the top of search results you should think about getting on board and building out a Google+ profile.

Read Search Engine Watch’s Jason Cormier’s take on the issue in his article, Why Your Business Needs to Be on Google+ Now and check out how to build a Google+ page below:

Why the Giants are going to win the Super Bowl

Giants Will Win Fourth Super Bowl in Franchise History

Eli Manning

After four straight convincing wins, the New York Giants are in the NFC Championship Game. And of the four teams still alive in the NFL playoffs, they have the best chance to win Super Bowl XLVI.

It’s easy to forget that on December 18, they were 7-7 and had just gotten embarrassed at home by the last place Washington Redskins. Statistically, the Giants were near the bottom of the league in total defense and were last in the NFL in rushing. With two games left on the schedule, their postseason hopes were on life support.

Yet in only a month’s time, the Giants have not only turned into the sport’s hottest team, but they have become the most balanced team in the league. Led by Pro Bowl quarterback Eli Manning and receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, the aerial attack is still as dangerous as it’s been all year, but the late-season emergence of a disciplined defense with the NFL’s best pass rush and an effective running game has been the difference between missing the playoffs and contending for a championship.

On offense, the Giants are simply difficult to defend. When they come out in three-receiver sets with Cruz, Nicks, and Mario Manningham, they can throw the ball down the field or keep it on the ground with Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs, which opens up play action. In theory, the Giants can execute a full gameplan using one formation, making it tough for defenders to know what’s coming.

Flip to the other side of the ball, and the Giants can do what most teams in the NFL can’t – they get to the quarterback with only a four-man rush. At times, they can get pressure with Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka and don’t have to send linebackers and defensive backs on blitzes. That means opposing quarterbacks have only a few seconds to throw the ball – into full coverage – before the pass rush gets there. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, the probable MVP, can tell you that’s hard to do.

The Giants have peaked at the right time, are versatile enough to win any type of football game, and have an elite quarterback in Manning, who set an NFL record this season with 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Sorry San Francisco and Boston (and SHIFT-less Baltimore), but it’s the Giants’ Super Bowl title to lose. 

Super Bowl 46

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.