Archive for December, 2009

Final Word of the Decade

IStock_000009178126XSmallThe exiting decade has been crazy at best.  Two wars, two recessions.  A major shake-up in the political landscape.  Reality TV (bad).  Social Media (good).

The personal front has been equally tumultuous.  I moved from Boston to San Francisco — and back — and now plan on a return to the Bay Area in 2010.  I lost my mom.  My wife lost her dad.  Our kids became teenagers.  I joined some good friends in starting a new company from the wreckage of our former agency.  Dreamt-up the Social Media Release and Social Media Newsroom concepts.  Opened a NYC office in the midst of a raging recession.  Rescued dozens of stray dogs.

Wild times.  Messy times.

Having had the benefit of being born in 1969 (another wild, messy time!), each decade on the calendar comes to represent a pretty distinct time of my life, e.g., the 90’s were “My twenties,” the 00’s were “My thirties.”

Entering my forties along with the new “10’s” decade, I am enthusiastic and full of energy.  I’m a man on a mission.  The chip on my shoulder, to do good things as an agency owner and as a man, has only grown “chippier.”

I hope you feel the same way.

Shoulders back, chin up, people – take the stairs two at a time – charge forward into this fresh new decade.  We’ve earned it.

Happy New Year!

Can't Have Too Many Mentors

This is a guest post by Meredith Robertson, one of SHIFT’s Account Managers in Boston.  Meredith’s been with us for 5 years, and in that time — for various good reasons — has had 5 different managers.  That’s a record at our shop.  Some folks would be disgruntled by all the change, yet Meredith has thrived.  I asked her to reflect on her experience…

IStock_000009004916XSmallLet’s face it – if you’re in the field of PR/marketing, you handle a whole lot ‘o variety on any given day.  It’s what keeps things interesting, challenging, fun.  Having experienced agency life for the last five years at SHIFT, I’m certainly no stranger to it myself.  From address management software to personalized photo books, CAD medical devices to IP software protection tools, I’ve had a wealth of PR experience in a relatively short amount of time.

Guiding me along the way, I’ve been fortunate enough to work directly with almost all of the Agency’s VPs, each of whom is a veteran PR guru in their own right.  Truth be told, it’s uncommon to have this level of exposure to so many different managers in the early stages of your career.  However, SHIFT’s culture is flexible enough to welcome internal management moves like this, and I’m all the better for it.

Of course there’s certainly something to be said for working 1:1 with one mentor, if you will, from the start of your career.  You have the chance to establish a solid foundation and build up a rapport as you work toward the common goal of developing into the best damn PR rock star around.  Period.

Still, when it comes to professional development, the “less is more” credo doesn’t apply in my book.  You wouldn’t necessarily pitch two reporters with the same angle, nor would you give your clients the same counsel on a similar issue.  Variety.  Perspective.  It’s what separates the PR flacks from the PR pros.

Think about it: we spend so much of our time helping elevate clients’ thoughts, missions, goals and objectives – we thrive on it.  But at the end of the day, you’re doing yourself a disservice (and in the long run, your clients) if you don’t give your own development the same time and attention.  From SHIFT’s perspective, as well as my own, we have each shown that investment every step of the way.

Of course, the concept of multiple mentors isn’t a new one.  In fact, according to this article, Rhoda Weiss, former CEO of PRSA, believes having numerous internal, as well as external, resources to guide you on your career path is a vital step in making the journey from PR novice to PR leader.

I couldn’t agree with Rhoda more.  To date, every VP I’ve had the pleasure of working with at SHIFT has brought a completely different perspective to the table.  And if the mark of a true PR pro is the ability to bring a variety of perspectives together and turn them into something that resonates with both mainstream press and analysts, as well as bloggers and social media mavens alike, then perhaps the road to PR enlightenment is best traveled with friends – and lots of ‘em.

What have your mentors taught you?

2010 Predictions for Communications

This is a guest post by Lou Hoffman, CEO of one of our competitors, the Hoffman Agency.  Lou blogs at Ishmael’s Corner.

Why allow a competitor to use my space?  Why not?  It’s a new world.  We can claw & pound away on the battlefield and still be friends in the blogosphere.  Also, he asked nicely.

CarnacIn the spirit of Johnny Carson’s alter ego Carnac the Magnificent, here’s my tongue-in-cheek look into the communications crystal ball for 2010.

A Federal Trade Commission Investigation Will Evolve into Bloggergate

This year saw the FTC lay down guidelines that require bloggers to disclose if they receive money or products in exchange for writing reviews. I predict Bloggergate surfaces next year with company X ratting out company Y – $405 receipt from Morton’s serves as the smoking gun; those fine burgundies aren’t cheap – bringing the FTC’s fist down with a vengeance. Meanwhile, sidestepping the issue, a set of mommybloggers form a cartel to unload products and other sundry swag to a middleman know as “Deep Pockets,” who secures 30 cents on the dollar via eBay.

Social Media Will Backfire on a Political Candidate

Since candidate Obama parlayed and the work of digital agency Blue State into a stay at the White House, every political candidate has embraced social media as the new black. “Hey, I can raise money without kissing another a baby or shaking another hand. Cool.” Unfortunately, like desktop publishing in the early days, social media in the wrong hands can go Dennis Hopper bad. Expect to see a feud with the spouse going public via Facebook and Twitter and pictures galore. The candidate gets trounced at election time while the spouse ends up on Larry King.

Michael Arrington Will Be Humble on April 1, 2010

No, really. Hear me out on this one. I think Michael has the guts to pull this one off. It’s the perfect contrarian play.

Journalists Will Pitch PR

The ever contracting traditional media leaves a number of journalists concluding “I’m not going to answer to the man; I’m going to be the man,” resulting in a zillion new blog properties. Once the euphoria of running the show dies down, then comes the realization that “congrats” e-mails don’t put supper on the table. To build out their ecosystems, these journalists try to pitch communication pros with strong social media followings and bomb. PR veterans Todd Defren and Brian Solis end up doing a webinar for journos on the importance of reading their stuff and tailoring the pitch accordingly.

Side note: The seed for this prediction came from Tom Foremski’s post “What Happens When PR People Have More Traffic Than The Reporters.”

The Master’s Golf Tournament Will Trigger Another Slew of Articles on
Nine-iron Tiger

Oh, the sweet irony as Augusta National serves as the backdrop for another round of tawdry stories on Tiger. Remember, this is the same place that banned CBS announcer Gary McCord for referring to the course as being as slick as bikini wax. You can figure the Master’s in early April delivers the right forum and time for the media to revisit Brand Tiger with charts illustrating the decline of his endorsement dollars. Of course, this also means every PR type and his mom weighs in with recommendations on how to rehab Tiger’s image while IMG opts to crowdsource through a micro-site called

The Number of Social Media Monitoring Tools Will Crack 500

Virtually every Ph.D. student who can say “algorithm” and chew gum at the same time devotes their thesis to building a social media monitoring tool. Each is convinced he or she has cracked the code on the best way to capture every word, visual and action that transpires in this alternative universe called social media. These 500+ companies scamper to find a PR agency, creating a dotcom-like boom for the PR industry.

The Worst News Release of the Year Will Go To a Maker of Audio Semiconductors

Pressured by management who grew up on the Intel Inside campaign, the VP of PR for a semiconductor company which makes audio chips struggles to find a way into the mainstream media. After researching the biggest public events in the history of the U.S., the sleuthing turns up Elvis’s death and the anniversary of Elvis’s death in the top 25. Connecting the dots (or seemingly so), he packages the announcement of a new audio chip set as the Michael Jackson Limited Edition, timing distribution of the news release on June 25, 2010, the anniversary of Michael’s passing. Not good.

The Communications Profession Will Gain the Spotlight, Thanks to a Best Seller

The heads of corporate communications for AIG, Goldman Sachs and General Motors form a club affectionately dubbed the MOB Squad for “Merchants of Bailout.” Christopher Buckley gets wind of the arrangement and sues for copyright infringement, alleging resemblance to his best-selling novel, “Thank You for Smoking.” After posturing from the attorneys – the headline “Bailout Brothers Seek Solace While Author Wants Bucks” is rich – both sides make nice. A book deal soon follows in spite of internal squabbling about who gets to play Nick Taylor.

0422_lou_hoffmanI’ll leave you with this:

At the end of 2007, Forbes columnist David Dreman penned the piece, “Seize the Day.” After pontificating on the credit crisis, he wrote these words of advice:

“The safest plays are among the big banks.”

I can’t do worse.

Here’s wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous 2010.

Happy Holidays from SHIFT Communications

Happy Holidays from all your friends at SHIFT!

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Been a wild year.  Here’s hoping to a li’l peace and prosperity in the new decade!

"Selecting An Agency for Social Marketing"

IStock_000010412132XSmallFrom SHIFT’s newsroom:

SHIFT Communications announced today it received recognition in a September 30, 2009, Forrester Research report called “Selecting An Agency For Social Marketing.

Written by Forrester Research Analyst Sean Corcoran, the report examines “the basic steps interactive marketers should follow for picking the right agency in this new space.”

Key passage from the report:

“Agencies can bring added scale and expertise. Social media is a commitment, and it requires manpower to interact with thousands of fans, tweets, comments, and more.”

“Rather than leaving it to the interns, agencies can help provide added scale from people with expertise in the space. SHIFT Communications, a PR agency that has developed a specialty in social media, has made a point to train many of its people in social media so its clients can trust it to interact with their customers and audience across several touchpoints.”

“Agencies like SHIFT understand the implications of the conversations online and how to manage them, especially if they go negative.”

Due to Forrester’s understandably strict guidelines for report citations, I need to leave it at that. But for the record, we are very grateful for the kind words.

Show some social media love would ya?

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