SHIFT Agency PR Blog and PR News

19 Sep 2014

Setting Yourself Up for Networking Success

DwightSchruteCelebratinggif

Networking is an invaluable tool in the PR and marketing industries and beyond these days. Whether you’re job hunting, looking to generate new business leads or simply trying to assert yourself in your respective city or industry, networking is a key part of the process.

But let’s face it, while networking is no doubt important, often times we don’t take it as seriously as we probably should. I’ll admit it: this was totally me until a few years ago. I was your typical young professional pressed for time and would show up to events with little to no preparation or any idea of what I sought to gain from them. I figured I’d be set with a few business cards and a natural ability to “wing it”. Sound familiar?

It took a few years of networking to realize its value and buy into committing to it regularly. Especially after coming to SHIFT, where networking is a priority for young professionals and industry veterans alike, I’ve come to realize that networking is also a whole lot easier and more effective if you take the time to set yourself up for success.

Networking isn’t only about showing up to the event. That’s the obvious part. Networking is a process. You’ve got to have a game plan for before, during and after the event. Keep these 10 tips in mind in your personal approach to networking. Taking them seriously will go a long way personally and professionally.

Get your calendar in order. Does your company have a networking calendar? If so, take advantage of it. Regardless, start making a list of professional societies, industry organizations and local groups that sponsor events. Are you a member of your local college alumni chapter? They often organize events outside of game watches that you can benefit from professionally.

Register and round up the troops. After you’ve got your calendar set, register for your various events. Many companies will reimburse you for attending, so take advantage of this perk if it’s offered. Also make a point to ask around the office and your personal network to see who’ll be attending. There’s power in numbers, folks, and this helps motivate you to attend too. Outside of your coworkers, ask a friend or two to join. This could be a personal friend or an industry colleague who you’ve been meaning to meet up with but haven’t found the time. Some events also publish their registrants online, so doing some professional stalking never hurts either.

Set goals for yourself. This may be one of the most overlooked aspects of networking. After registering, think about what you’re looking to gain from the event. Is it seeking out new connections? Finding leads for a new job or potential “in” at the company hosting the event? Stepping out of your comfort zone and practicing that all-important elevator pitch? Whatever your end game, make sure you’ve established it because it will set the tone for your conversation and questions and also allow you to measure your progress when all’s said and done.

Dress for success. Check your invite to get a feel for the dress code. Not listed? Ask around to see what others are wearing. If worse comes to worse, trust your gut and error on the side of wearing whatever makes you feel professionally comfortable. I was at a recent event where a guy in a suit stood out among a crowd of jean-clad professionals. In talking with him, he noted, “I just like to look nice.” So do you and own it… as long as “doing you” doesn’t involve rocking cutoffs or a mini skirt.

Divide and conquer. We often find ourselves in the company of friends and colleagues at networking events, but remember the whole point of networking is to network. This is one occasion where it’s cool to ditch your friends. At another recent event I attended, the hosts actively encouraged (if not forced) us to mingle with people we didn’t know and would literally break up any conversations in which you were doing otherwise. This made everyone feel all the more free to strike up conversations with strangers, which is how we should approach every event.

Keep the conversation natural, authentic and balanced. You’ve practiced your elevator pitch, so remember to deliver it naturally and not like a memorized script. What you’ve mentioned about your background and current role will spark other questions, so readily answer them and do so truthfully — failing to be yourself will catch up with you quickly in today’s digital world. Don’t forget to remain interested and ask questions that keep the conversation balanced and flowing. If you’re concerned with how to begin or continue a conversation, try this helpful list of networking conversation starters.

Don’t overdo it. This should go without saying, but don’t lose sight of the need to be professional at these events. At the end of the day, you’re representing your company, which is almost always conveniently located right there on your name tag. If there’s alcohol served at the event, pace yourself. The same is true for food. You don’t want to make it look like the only reason you’re there is for the free food and booze. Professionalism also involves being positive and honorable, so avoid complaining about your current company and throwing your boss or colleagues under the bus. You’re looking to leave a good impression, folks!

Hand out those business cards. You’ve (hopefully) remembered your business cards, so don’t end a conversation without handing them out. I’ve been in a few situations where I’ve exchanged contact information over cell phone, but a business card is indispensable in that it’s a tangible reminder of you and the need to follow up afterwards. This reminds me: unless you’re exchanging contact information, stay off your phone during events!

Follow up. Congrats! You’ve come home with a pile of business cards. You’re welcome to admire them, but don’t let them just sit there. In the day or two after the event, follow up with these new connections over email, LinkedIn and Twitter. You’ve put all the time and effort into getting those business cards, so why let them go to waste? You never know when you’ll need to leverage these connections down the road.

Reflect. In the same light as actively setting goals for each networking event, take the time to reflect back on your experiences. Ask yourself important questions like: What did I learn? Who did I meet? Did I accomplish my goals? If so, in what ways? Is it worth attending an event by this group in the future? Answering these questions will help you continue crafting your approach to networking moving forward.

Keeping these tips top of mind will help you find the success you desire when it comes to networking. They will also help make networking less daunting, more effective and a far more beneficial experience for you overall.

Furthermore, you’ll never know who you’ll meet at these events. You might land that perfect professional contact or find a new best friend. And if you’re like me, maybe you’ll even score some free guitar lessons.

Do you have a tip to add to the list? Share them with us here!

Zach Burrus
Marketing Analyst

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

18 Sep 2014

The Working Mom: Balancing a PR Career & Being a New Mom

Being a parent, not to mention a new parent, is hard. Things like colic, teething and your child’s first broken bone, can leave you feeling exhausted and helpless – and that is all before you step foot in the office.

I recently read Arik Hanson’s blog post that questions whether or not PR agencies are setting new parents up to fail. It’s a great question, and seeing as I have a 14-month-old at home, I felt I was in a good position to respond.

How could you leave this cute face?!

Jena and her adorable son, Luke

After a beautiful, crazy, whirlwind of a maternity leave, I returned back to my role as a senior account manager at SHIFT. It was extremely bittersweet. For three months, I was my son’s everything – morning, noon and night – and as much as I knew I would miss him like crazy (and napping during his naptime), I was ready to grow in the career I had worked so hard to create.

The stress of a working parent is real. The client demands never go away and you frequently feel stretched in ways you never thought possible. Adding a baby to the mix that you want to rush home to at the end of the day doesn’t help. But there is one thing I can confidently say:

SHIFT Communications welcomed me back with open arms, and has given me the flexibility to feel like I can make it all work and be a pretty great, working mom. Here is how I did it, and what you should consider to make the transition smooth:

Both before and after having your child, evaluate the role you want to play at your workplace.

It is hard to determine a game plan before your bundle of joy arrives, but it’s important to start thinking about ways to successfully transition back into the working world and strike the best work-life balance. Are you a night owl? Is your morning commute over an hour, even before factoring in a daycare drop off? Once you’ve taken into account your routine, and the routine of your baby (or lack thereof), it might make sense to discuss a schedule that allows you to come in to work early and leave early, to better meet the needs of your family.

Work with your Agency to further define that role and set up flex hours and/or work from home days in order to make it happen.

Having open and honest conversations about your dedication to the Agency while still maintaining a strong presence at home will pay off in the long run. If you are able to, make reasonable requests about how your role pre-baby can be altered to make everyone happy (both in the office and at home) and what that plan of attack looks like. It is important to create a strategy that outlines how your team can prepare for your new role and responsibilities and what that means for others to ensure clients are happy and work is completed.

Work with your team to ensure you’re able to fulfill your duties both to them and to your family. 

Some options that PR agencies should evaluate for working parents include flexible schedules (7am-4pm), work-from-home days and 4-day work weeks. Technology like Microsoft’s Yammer and video conferencing capabilities also make it possible for employees to work virtually anywhere. Offering the right tools and being open to a non-traditional work week makes it possible for parents to eat dinner with their kids or make it to a little league game while covering all client deliverables.

There are always going to be the days or weeks that you feel like you can’t make everyone happy and that one side of the pendulum isn’t getting the love it should. You are not a superhero. You are a parent, and a PR practitioner, and agencies like SHIFT are changing with the times and are making it easier for individuals to grow and excel in both roles.

Jena Rossi
Senior Account Manager

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

17 Sep 2014

How to Build An Audience for Your New Blog

6301169147_7beedf5cc8_z

“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around, does it make a sound?”

The same could be asked about a blog: If a blog is written but has no readers, does it exist at all? Without readers, no one is listening and nothing will come as a result – no leads, no traffic.

Don’t let your blog fall into the cobwebs of your website. Give the following a little TLC to help encourage people to read.

Content

Content creation can be one of the hardest things to plan when you first begin blogging. If you want readers, and you want those readers to keep coming back to your blog as a trusted resource, it can’t be all about you. It’s all too easy to write about yourself and your company in a favorable light– it’s your blog after all. But the key to keep readers coming back for more is to provide value.

Provide value to your readers and keep the sales pitches to a minimum. Your readers are already on your website to read the blog. Let them explore and they’ll come to you when they’re ready. (Of course, there are strategies to give them a gentle nudge every now and then, but we’ll cover that further down in the post.)

SEO

You can no longer stuff your blog content with keywords and phrases and magically watch your website fly to the top of Google’s rankings. The search giant has done a pretty solid job of weeding out spam content for the betterment of everyone involved. Good content now gets the bump it deserves. So what does that mean for your new blog? Implement SEO best practices (start here) and avoid tactics that will get your site on Google’s bad side.

Sharing

Once your content is established and SEO is in check, the next step is to share. Get your blog in front of the right audience. Not sure who your audience is? Check your social networks and Google Analytics. Facebook and Twitter have great audience insight and analytics tools that can show you which fans are engaging with your brand in addition to a post-level analysis of impressions and engagements. Google Analytics can provide demographic and location data about your site visitors. Use this information to cater your posts and content to your audience.

If you’re still struggling to gain readership, consider syndication and amplification opportunities. By using paid advertising, you can target a specific audience to boost readership and gain followers.

Starting a blog is the first step, but getting readers is just as important. Start with these tactics, and you’ll be on your way to increased readership in no time!

Tori Sabourin
Marketing Coordinator

Download our new eBook, PAID EARNED OWNED SHARED

16 Sep 2014

Getting Coverage as a B2B Startup

Extra! Extra! Read about your startup.

Being a startup comes with many challenges: developing, funding, getting users .. the list goes on. When you’re a B2B startup, you face those same challenges and the realization that your packaging may not always be as shiny as that new dating app or ride sharing service. But as we all know, B2B startups can be successful. And while you’re out there working toward that success, it’s important to spread the word about what you’re doing and how you’re thinking. Outside of creating your own content, you will want to be engaging with reporters as appropriate. Though they no longer serve as the one gatekeeper between you and your audience, the media is still a powerful source of credibility in a world where a new company blossoms into life every day. Here are a few ways to get in front of the media as a B2B startup:

Launch. This one is common sense for everyone. Have you officially launched yet? Do people know you’re there? Of course, you have to be sure that your product or service is 100% ready to go. You wouldn’t want to launch too early and risk negative press because some loose ends weren’t tied up. Once you are ready to go, a launch can be a big driver of media coverage a) if you have something worth talking about and b) if you prepare correctly. We covered some tips to help prepare for a big announcement; scroll through that checklist. And once you’re ready, start reaching out to reporters who cover your industry. Introduce yourself, give a quick bit about what you do; if they’re interested, set up interviews in advance of your launch day with the goal of coverage coinciding with your launch. If your product is a real game changer, they will write. If nothing else, you’ll have started to build relationships with reporters who you can work with in the future.

Work the trades. Everyone dreams of a media hit in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but sometimes it’s just as beneficial to start where your core audience is: the trades. There are trade publications for all types of industries, from cloud computing to cyber security to telecom and more. More likely than not, they’re always happy to hear from a new player in the game. And the great thing about these publications is that they’re what your core customers will be reading. People who are serious about their industry will be the ones checking out these sites and magazines on a regular basis. Trade publications may not have the luster of a mainstream business pub, but they should not be tossed aside.

Invite reporters over. If you’re proud of what you’re working on and proud of the team working on it, invite the media to stop by and take a tour. Now, if you’re working from four blank walls, it might not be the right move to make. But if you have a cool space where you’re constantly creating and building new things, inviting a reporter to stop by and check out the digs is a good opportunity to give more insight into what you’re working on and where all the magic happens.

Participate in startup competitions. Startup competitions, like TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlfield or Hatch Pitch, offer the opportunity to pitch your company and ideas in front of a live audience, often times in front of judges who are also venture capitalists. Media are also frequently in attendance, especially if it’s at an event like Disrupt or SXSW. It offers you a chance to get on their radar (not to mention the VCs as well.) There are a ton of them out there. Find a few that best fit your startup and apply!

Gather some competitor intel. Unless you’re the stubborn startup CEO who constantly declares they have no competitors; you probably in fact do have a few competitors.  Do some research into where they’re being covered in the media and the reporters that are covering them. These indicate opportunities where you could be building relationships and getting coverage as well. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be losing ground to a competitor because they’re grabbing eyeballs in spots where you could be too.

There you have it. A few ways to get some media love around your startup. Always remember to do your research and make sure you’re reaching out to the right reporter with something worth their time. You don’t want to burn bridges before they’re even built.

Amanda Grinavich
Senior Marketing Analyst

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

15 Sep 2014

Public Relations Metrics Are Like Apples for Pie

Apple pie, ready for baking
Photo Credit: Benny Mazur

As part of the AMEC Measurement Week, I’ve been asked to prepare some quick thoughts on how to explain PR metrics to stakeholders and executives. Rather than get highly technical, I thought I’d share a story about apple pie. Imagine that there were two grandparents and a grand-daughter named Mary that made and sold apple pie at a roadside stand. This pie was made from fresh Granny Smith and Gala apples grown and picked by Grandpa, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and honey, baked to a golden crisp by Grandma, and sold by Mary at the stand.

Question for you: whose responsibility is it to sell pies? Who should be measured by sales of pies? The little girl, right? Her job is to look cute and sell pies.

Whose responsibility is it to make delicious pie? Grandma.

Whose responsibility is it to grow and pick the juiciest, sweetest apples? Grandpa.

So let me ask you this: should you hold Grandpa accountable for Mary’s sales? Maybe Mary was too busy texting on her Apple Watch to notice when potential customers came by. Maybe Grandma was an ex-hippie who had too many mind-altering experiences in the 1960s and she routinely used salt instead of sugar because she got confused. Should we hold Grandpa accountable for Grandma’s salty apple pies?

The answer is no. Here’s who should be held accountable for what:

  • Grandpa should be held accountable for juicy, ripe apples.
  • Grandma should be held accountable for delicious apple pie.
  • Mary should be held accountable for pie sales.

Now, if Grandpa grew rotten, disgusting apples, then Grandma couldn’t bake pie, and Mary couldn’t sell pie. So Grandpa’s work isn’t without value or quantifiable measurement. It’s important. No one wants pie made of rotten apples. It’s just that we have to measure Grandpa on the quality of his work and its output, and no further.

Do you see where this is going? The job of effective public relations is to create and strengthen relationships with your audience. New audiences and loyal audiences are our business. They are our apples.

The job of effective marketing is to convince the eligible portion of that audience to consider doing business with us. Marketing’s primary output is lead generation. Leads are marketing pie.

The job of effective sales is to convert leads into customers. Sales’ primary output is revenue. This is broadly true across many different industries and kinds of business. It’s almost universal.

So to answer the question of what PR should be measured by, it’s about our ability to generate the right audiences. In the same way that you wouldn’t hold Grandpa accountable for Mary’s selling skills, you shouldn’t hold PR accountable for the skills of your sales team. You absolutely should hold PR accountable for generating the right audiences that are highly engaged, so that marketing can do its job of creating leads from it, and sales can sell to those leads. If PR is generating the wrong audience, it’s creating the equivalent of rotten apples.

How would you measure and quantify that? Let’s say Mary’s pie costs $100, and everything she does converts at a rate of 10%. It’s really good pie.

funnelexample.002

Mary needs 10 people to stop by the roadside stand in order to get 1 person to buy a pie. Those are Mary’s leads. Each lead is therefore worth approximately $10, because 1 sale is worth $100, and 9 out of 10 people don’t want apple pie. In order to get 10 people to stop by the stand, Mary needs her PR firm to create enough news and buzz to get 100 people to be aware that she’s selling pie. Thus, the value of every person the PR firm truly reaches in an engaged way – and we’re not talking media impressions here, more like website visitors – is worth $1.

That’s how we can start to measure PR in a way that’s meaningful, while still limiting our measurement to what we as PR professionals have control over.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Download our new eBook, PAID EARNED OWNED SHARED

12 Sep 2014

Budding PR Pros: Push Yourself To Keep Growing

At a recent staff meeting in SHIFT’s Boston office, our VP of Marketing said to us all with a grin, “When you feel like you’ve learned everything there is out there to learn, that’s when your career is over.”

It may have been tossed out casually on a Friday, but it’s absolutely true. At some point during your first year working at an agency, something will “click” and you’ll know you’ve finally hit your stride. But this isn’t the time to sit back and watch things roll. It’s the time to challenge yourself in new ways, test new limits and taste new experiences.

Ms. Frizzle

Be curious, inquisitive and experimental.

With the technology tools available to PR pros updating and evolving every day, letting yourself get too comfortable with your current toolkit is like asking to get left in the dust. Never stop experimenting.

Get your hands on new things. Poke and prod at them. Sign up for trial versions of new services. Play around with new features rolled out on your software platforms and social media networks. For every handful of mediocre ones you try, you’ll find one that’s awesome.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Remember how you set goals for yourself during your first few months? It’s time to reexamine those goals and set new ones, because you’re not a total beginner any more.

What part of your work makes you feel nervous? What do you suck at? What gets in the way of you doing better work? There’s your new challenge. It can be anything, from “I’m scared stiff of pitching by phone” to “I write terrible press releases.” Keep it top of mind every day and jump on every chance to work at it.

Become knowledgeable on your clients and their industries.

It can take months of reading industry news to understand what makes your client compelling. When you finally “get it,” you’ll be able to spot industry trends, instinctively see where your client fits in and jump on opportunities that never crossed your radar before. It’s invigorating, and you’ll produce better work while having a blast at the same time.

Dive in. Live and breathe what’s happening in your client’s industry. You might find that it’s fascinating.

Expand your relationships.

In an industry built on being connected, growing isn’t just about what you do in the office. Yes, I’m talking about networking! Start attending events to build your confidence and connect with interesting people. Your agency probably has an internal calendar of local events. If not, there are still plenty of resources to get you started: your coworkers, PRSA and EventBrite to name a few.

There’s a common misconception among PR newbies that networking is an extension of the workday. Sure, you need to maintain professionalism, but networking is a fun chance to chat with people who share your interests (often over food and drink). Some could become friends, collaborators, business partners or clients in the future.

Accept imperfection.

For all of this to work, you have to take some risks. That means making a few mistakes, with the understanding that it’s okay if something doesn’t turn out perfectly as long as you learn from it. How can you challenge yourself to grow if you’re so terrified of messing up that you can’t take a step forward?

Failure, mistakes and imperfection all sound like negatives, but they are part of the process of professional growth – in other words, you need them. So ask yourself: “What’s the worst that can happen if I try this?” If the consequences are within reason, then you already have your answer.

Your first year of agency life is as good a time as any to start pushing yourself to grow in all of these various ways. This post gave you some advice on where to start, but don’t stop there. The most important thing is to never stop looking for places to grow. Always ask yourself, “What’s next?”

JJ Samp
Marketing Analyst

Be Ballsy. Work at SHIFT. Apply now!

 

 

11 Sep 2014

Apple Watch, Apple Pay and Communicators

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few days, you’ve heard all about Apple’s new product launch announcing Apple Watch, iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus) and Apple Pay to the world. You’ve read the specs, seen the new design and probably checked your mobile plan for upgrade availability. Here at SHIFT, we always like to explore how new technology ties into what we do everyday. We looked at what new technologies are incorporated into Apple’s products and what those updates mean for marketers and communicators.

Bigger screen. More screen time.

Adobe released its latest Mobile Benchmark Report on Monday, offering insights into the mobile marketing landscape and how consumers are doing so much more on mobile devices these days. It found consumers prefer to browse on phones with 5” or larger screens, while browsing on 4” devices fell by 11% YoY. With Apple iPhones driving 54% of smartphone traffic, it should come at no surprise that the tech giant developed a larger screened phone, the iPhone 6 Plus.

1

iBeacons and geo-targeting become mainstream

Adobe found that 18% of mobile marketers already use Apple iBeacons and 49% are already using geo-targeting to deliver content based on device position. At the time of the survey, 36% of marketers not already using iBeacons said they planned to use the technology in the next 12 months. With the release of the Apple Watch, we’re betting that number will grow by more than double as consumers are even more digitally attached wherever they go.

2

Personalized messaging on the rise

The Adobe report also found that mobile content sharing over the last year has shifted toward personalized messaging and away from public sharing. Email continues to dominate other modes of communication when sharing online content like digital magazine articles (think Flipboard), but sharing via iMessage has had the most dramatic increase, up 259% YoY.

3

Next Steps for Communicators

This week’s announcements paired with Adobe CMO’s research have demonstrated a shift in consumer behavior that marketers simply cannot ignore: mobile convergence into the real world is going to be the dominant trend over the next few years. iBeacons and other geo-targeting technologies have given marketers, and especially retail marketers, the chance to track conversions in the real world as they are happening in the store.

As Apple loyalists jump at the chance to own another piece of Apple hardware, marketers now have the opportunity to send content, be it ads or company information at an industry event, directly to users as they walk into a store or past a conference booth.

Apple Pay and other near-field communication (NFC) payment systems are also a sign of what’s to come, giving marketers the chance to capitalize on the opportunity to incorporate these technologies into marketing and business strategies. Early adoption will help your company stay ahead of the curve, making conversions and purchases easier on the consumer as well as making tracking and measuring more valuable to any marketing and communications team.

This one change helps marketers determine what they’ve been trying to figure out for years now: how to merge online conversation and offline purchases. Here’s an example: A consumer is served a mobile ad with a coupon while walking near your retail store. They click on the ad and browse your website, finding a product they’d like to buy with your mobile coupon. Maybe they use their mobile device to check out product reviews on Yelp or Amazon, or check-in with social contacts to see if anyone has had experience with that particular product (earned media and personalized messaging!). They then walk into the store and make the purchase with their Apple Pay-enabled device. As a marketer or communicator, you can track the purchase decision throughout the entire conversion process, on the spot.

While the idea of wearables was once a thing of the future – something only seen in the likes of science-fiction movies – it’s now a reality. Marketers and communicators are encouraged to embrace the trend and incorporate these technologies into your business strategies. Where do you see your place in this near future?

Tori Sabourin
Marketing Coordinator

Download our new eBook, PAID EARNED OWNED SHARED

10 Sep 2014

Now What? How to Stay Top-of-Mind Post-Launch

Congratulations! You just had your first big launch. It was exciting and exhausting all wrapped into one. You got some great press, gained a few followers and sold some products.

You launched ... now what?So… now what?

(Cue the crickets.)

A launch can be a great moment for a company. The harder part is maintaining that momentum after it’s come and gone. For some companies that can be easy. But for others – especially those just starting out – it can be quite the challenge.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your company top-of-mind following a launch:

Keep a steady media relations program. Media relations is a core part of any PR program, and in this case having a steady, ongoing media effort will help you remain a part of the conversation. This doesn’t mean hounding reporters every chance you get. Quite the opposite. Seek out opportunities to build relationships with reporters or to become regular contributors to a publication (Inc., for example, has ongoing contributors). Don’t just think about top tier (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.), but also consider trade publications that cover your industry.

What should you be pitching them exactly? Well, if you find yourself with no immediate announcements following your launch, consider ways to make news. Original research is always a great way to uncover industry insights and generate buzz. Or, consider discussing stellar customer case studies as they arise. Above all, make sure that you’re sharing something fresh and thought provoking. No one wants to read about a topic that’s already been rehashed a bunch of times.

Stay in the content game. Owned media can be a powerful tool when it comes to giving people a reason to keep revisiting your site. Do a quick audit of what owned properties make sense for you – a blog, social media, etc. — and then put together a content calendar that will keep the content flowing on a regular basis. Whether you’re engaging in Twitter chats or publishing a new report, you’ll want to keep your audiences engaged. Give them a reason to keep coming back.

Flex your event muscles. One of the best ways to stay top-of-mind is to make an impression. And what better way to do that than in person? I know that’s a crazy concept in today’s web-based world, but connecting with others in real life can make just as much of a lasting impression. Look for conferences or events within your industry that you can submit to speak at. This positions you as a thought leader and also gives you the chance to mingle with those who are most likely to be your customers (helloooo bottom line). Outside of conferences, networking events in your area are also great opportunities to explore. Make yourself present and be an active member of your industry.

There are a number of ways to maintain momentum after launch. Find what works best for your audience and map out a PR plan that will help ensure you’re always a part of the conversation.

Amanda Grinavich
Senior Marketing Analyst

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

09 Sep 2014

What PR Metrics You Shouldn’t Measure

We speak often of the different metrics that you can measure in public relations and marketing. In our obsession with what to measure, one question we don’t often ask is what we shouldn’t measure. The answer might surprise you: there are lots of things you shouldn’t measure, at least not with the same level of intensity and focus. Not all metrics are created equal.

Project 365 #90: 310314 Made To Measure

First and foremost, we shouldn’t intensely measure things we have no control over. If you’re a public relations professional, measuring lead generation is out of your purview. Measuring sales is largely disconnected from public relations. What you do have control over is which publications and influencers you reach out to, whether or not they run your story, and the audience you generate or retain for your company or client.

I often cite as an example that you could run an amazing awareness campaign about a coffee shop that gets tremendous coverage, but if the coffee shop is closed, all that attention won’t generate sales. Failing to be open isn’t your fault as a PR practitioner, and your efforts generated the result that the business wanted: more attention, awareness, and action taken. It’s just that the rest of the business process fell apart.

Second and somewhat controversially, don’t bother measuring what you don’t intend to act on. Every metric is implicitly paired with an action or series of actions you can take. New followers on Twitter can be greeted and welcomed. New website visitors can be presented with great content. If you don’t plan on taking any of those actions, then why waste time, energy, and resources measuring things that you won’t change? Marketing writer Seth Godin put it very well: what’s the point of checking the scale if you have no plans to change your weight or health?

Third and finally, don’t measure things that don’t actually measure anything. This applies to measures and metrics that ultimately either have misleading meanings, such as ad value equivalence, or metrics that don’t have meaning, such as passive impressions. We’ve talked at length about both metrics and why they’re ultimately unimpactful; in both cases, there are almost certainly better, more meaningful metrics available.

Take a hard look at everything you’re measuring and see if you’ve got metrics that meet any of these three categories. If you do, immediately begin the search for better, more impactful metrics. Your marketing communications strategy will thank you.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Download our new eBook, PAID EARNED OWNED SHARED

08 Sep 2014

SHIFTern Tips and Takeaways

shifterns

Here at SHIFT, we’ve been fortunate to have one kick @$$ intern class after another across our three offices. Our SHIFTerns, as we affectionately call them, go above and beyond what is expected of your typical intern – it’s not all about sending packages or stocking snack closets.

We see SHIFTerns as valuable employees, if not future industry leaders, and treat them as such. They not only fulfill meaningful, real-world duties within their respective teams, but routinely step up and ask shrewd questions during Sip ‘n’ Learns and offer constructive feedback during agency brainstorms.

Our SHIFTerns are given many opportunities to shine, and they consistently deliver. This was evident with the PR plan that our Boston SHIFTerns pitched as part of their summer project. Our intern coordinators and others around the office (myself included) were blown away by their work.

And while summer may be nearly over, our SHIFTerns’ work is not, as six of them are staying on board to continue their internships this fall. After an insightful recent conversation with a few of them about their experiences thus far, I was inspired to have the group share their greatest insights on the agency blog. Here, all six present their biggest takeaway from the summer along with one key tip, which interns and industry pros alike would be wise to keep in mind as we move forward into the fall.

Maysie Childs, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: Ask a lot of questions and drink a lot of coffee. Never be afraid to ask questions. Think it over and see if you can find the answer on your own first. If you can’t, don’t worry! Asking questions is something we were born to do. Chances are that the people on your team or sitting next to you had the same ones at some point. The important thing is not to have to ask the same question twice. Once you learn the answer from someone, remember to have enough respect for them not to forget it.

Tip: Don’t ever be scared to try something new. Help will be there if you need it. During your internship, chances are you will be asked to do things that you haven’t done before and might not be totally comfortable with. That’s a good thing! Make sure you remain open to new opportunities even if they aren’t given to you by a team member. An internship is all about growing and challenging yourself. You can’t do that if you stick to what you know. If you push yourself and go the extra mile, you will learn more about yourself and the industry.

Natasha Fee, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: When you’re working on a project, it really helps if you understand how it fits into your team’s big-picture goals. Data entry becomes much more interesting when you understand what your team is doing with that information and how it helps the client.

Tip: Sit in on as many meetings as possible and volunteer for projects from different parts of the Agency. It’s a great way to expand your experiences, see all the different aspects of PR and meet other people from around the office. Also, every time you’re given an assignment, make sure you ask when it needs to be completed. It will make it easier to plan out your week and get your projects in on time.

Meaghan Murphy, SHIFT NYC

Takeaway: Always make yourself available. As an intern, it sometimes felt like I had a million projects to complete with no end in sight. However, sometimes I found that I had finished everything and had nothing to do. Instead of checking Facebook or Twitter to pass the time, I would reach out to account coordinators to see if they needed help with anything. By doing this, not only was I proving to be a valuable resource, but I would often be given the opportunity to work on something I had never done before as well, such as putting together a monthly report or drafting a client email. This is something I will definitely continue to do even after my internship ends.

Tip: Make a to-do list! Not only is this a great way to stay organized, but it also helped me prioritize and keep track of all of my projects, deadlines and responsibilities. I would handwrite a to-do list each morning because I loved being able to physically cross off something I had accomplished. Bad handwriting? Type up a list and print it out! At the end of the day, try to have as many, if not all, of your to-do’s crossed off.

Joe Offenhauser, SHIFT SF

Takeaway: Being an intern isn’t always the easiest job in the world. Learning any set of skills for the first time can feel challenging, and even daunting, sometimes. You want to do great work, but this annoying thing called lack of experience keeps getting in the way. My greatest takeaway from my own internship is also my number one tip for future SHIFTerns and other interns alike: double-check, but don’t second guess.

Tip: Be prepared for the inevitable (but avoidable!) sloppy little errors that will occur during your internship. But don’t let the fear of making big mistakes (SHIFT happens!) keep you from producing your best work. Realize that neither you nor your work will ever be perfect all the time, especially as an intern. So believe in yourself, and trust in the skills that got you here in the first place. Be ready to catch your own silly mistakes so your superiors don’t have to; then, learn from them. And when the opportunity comes to really show your skills, believe in yourself and knock that project out of the park. Just make sure you double-check for spelling and grammar first.

Carissa Ryan, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: Getting out of your cube and meeting people is important! Sitting in a cube all day can be a little boring. Even if you get a lot of work done, you’re missing out on camaraderie and potential networking opportunities. At SHIFT, people have all sorts of different backgrounds and skill sets, and I learn from them constantly.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to talk to your supervisors. My family was visiting from Germany, and I was hesitant about taking time off. I talked it over with my supervisors, and they let me take time off to spend with them. If you don’t ask for something, the answer is always going to be ‘no’, don’t be afraid to discuss opportunities or issues with them!

Parker Winslow, SHIFT Boston

Takeaway: Reliability is invaluable. Help make the jobs of your team members easier. If your team can consistently count on you to get something accomplished in a timely manner, you’ll be successful. Also try to own something, like social media, for example. Find an area where you can provide value and have team members look to you.

Tip: Listen. Talking and sharing your ideas is important and valuable, especially if you stay current with industry-relevant news. But listening is the best way to absorb insights from your team and learn from their experience.

Zach Burrus
Marketing Analyst

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR