Toyota Accelerates PR With SHIFT Communications


A few weeks ago I hinted cryptically that I’d have big news to share. Did I say “big?”  I meant BIG.  Here’s the official language from today’s press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwire – Feb 14, 2013) – SHIFT Communications today announced that Toyota has selected the award-winning firm as its primary PR agency in the Northeast Region, which includes New York, New England, Washington, D.C., and the mid-Atlantic states. The firm will also play a lead role in strategic planning for the brand; driving earned media nationally with mainstream and social media outlets; and highlighting the motor company’s philanthropic and community relations programs.

SHIFT was selected following a competitive agency review conducted by Toyota’s corporate communications team. The account will be serviced out of SHIFT’s San Francisco office, with regional support from its Boston and New York offices.

“Throughout our agency selection process, the SHIFT team impressed us with their innovative thinking, creativity and responsiveness,” said Steven Curtis, corporate manager, corporate communications at Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “SHIFT clearly understands the new PR model of earned, owned and paid media and we’re excited to begin our partnership.”

“Toyota is a brand with deep roots in innovation,” said Todd Defren, CEO of SHIFT Communications. “That forward-thinking mindset is incredibly synergistic with SHIFT’s approach and we look forward to working closely with the team at Toyota to bring that same level of innovation to its communications.”

I can think of no sweeter Valentine’s Day gift for the staff at SHIFT.  Let’s face it, as a mid-sized agency we tend to be the underdog when presented with such opportunities, so victories like this are a validation of the hard work our team puts in each day to make sure we deserve to bring home the laurels now and then.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the leadership in Toyota’s communications team for their trust, advocacy and partnership. It’s already been a great ride and I am incredibly optimistic about what we can do together!

Posted on: February 14, 2013 at 9:16 am By Todd Defren
11 Responses to “Toyota Accelerates PR With SHIFT Communications”


  • JesSICA KIM says:

    Hello! A few weeks late but, congratulations on your new client/campaign with Toyota! As a PR student who has studied a lot of their communication strategies–often times, even their lack of–I think this new relationship will definitely be beneficial for Toyota. With the flack Toyota has received in the past for their crises I don’t think they had the complete strategy for crisis communication and didn’t adequately follow through with (re)branding to affirm the public. I’m excited to see the enhancements Shift will bring to Toyota and their communication department.

  • I must have been at the bottom of an incredibly deep hole with no wi-fi, Todd. Congratulations! This is a HUGE win for SHIFT!

  • Bluemann says:

    Fair enought… gongrats!!!

  • Congratulations, Todd. A HUGE win!!!

  • Congrats! That’s huge news and we’ll add it to our PR & Marketing Wins, Moves & Other News column on Cision Blog, if it’s OK with you. What a nice way to start the year!


  • Claire says:

    Hey Todd:

    Congrats on your big win. Toyota certainly picked the right place. I hope one of your strategies includes helping their dealers with media training and messaging. They desperately need it!

    Best, Claire

  • Eric Snow (@PTC_PR1) says:

    Congrats on the big win. As a reformed agency man, I know how tough those battles can be.

    I give you credit for announcing on a Thursday, but am I the only one who sees irony in the format of your press release?

    I firmly admire your team’s thought leadership on the future of communications. That said, would love to see you practice a bit more of what you preach.

    Eric Snow

    • Todd Defren says:

      Heh. Fair enough Eric. We don’t do enough releases to make innovation for innovation’s sake on this front particularly worthwhile to us. While we are huge believers in innovation, the recommendations we make tend to be for clients vs. ourselves. We’re getting better in many ways on many fronts, but I *also* believe in getting the news out for its own sake. You think I’d want to wait another week to disclose this news, just to tart up a release? ;)

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