SHIFT Agency PR Blog and PR News

25 Nov 2014

How to stop watering the sidewalk

At a recent MITX event, I heard a wonderful expression as it relates to marketing and public relations: watering the sidewalk.

Sailor inspects a sprinkler on the flight deck

Think about the connotations of this phrase. You’ve got all of the infrastructure: sprinklers, underground water, electricity, a lawn you want to keep nice, probably some electronics to control the timing. You’ve done all of the hard work to keep your lawn looking great. Yet because of something relatively simple – where the sprinkler is aimed – you’re being completely unproductive. Grass isn’t ever going to grow on the sidewalk, nor would you want it to.

This is the greatest fear of every CMO I’ve ever met, that their marketing and communications programs are watering the sidewalk. You’ve spent thousands or maybe even millions of dollars on marketing automation systems, CRM software, email marketing, public relations, advertising, and more, and yet the results are not there. Worst of all, you can’t figure out why – and the reason why may be because of something simple: you’re watering the sidewalk with your marketing and communications efforts.

How do you avoid continuing to make this mistake? How do you focus your efforts where they will be most effective in the months to come, especially when it comes to your marketing and communications strategy? Here’s one simple (but not easy) tip that you should do as soon as practically possible:

Ask your best customers.

Open up your CRM and find the 10 customers who are most like the customers you want to have. Maybe they’re super-profitable for your business. Maybe they’re absolutely amazing whenever they call into customer service. Maybe they give back as much as they buy. Maybe they’ve been with you since the beginning of your business. Maybe they evangelize for you without being asked. Whatever constitutes your idea of “best customer”, gather up a list of 10 of them.

Then ask them:

  • When you’re looking for news to help grow your business, what specific publications, media, or sites do you frequent?
  • When you’re looking for business-growing advice, what conferences and events do you go to?
  • When you go in search of people to learn from, who do you follow on social media?
  • When you’re seeking to stay up to date about how to grow your business, what email newsletters do you subscribe to?

While there is no single magic bullet that guarantees you will stop watering the sidewalk, asking your best customers where they learn and spend their time is a great start. You may learn about email newsletters that you should consider contributing to or sponsoring. You may find out about publications that your PR agency or team can pitch your stories to. You may find that your customers’ top followed-people in social media have many followers who would be great customers, so you can start to build an influencer engagement program.

Most important, you’ll know where you shouldn’t be focusing heavy amounts of marketing and communications effort because your best customers aren’t there. You’ll stop watering the sidewalk.

All of this begins with the simple act of asking your best customers where they spend their scarce time, and then determining what you can do to be in those same places. Ask!

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

24 Nov 2014

How to Use Analytics to Build Your 2015 Marketing Plan

As marketers, PR professionals, and advertisers begin to wind down the year (save for those in retail who are firing on all cylinders right now), one of the top things you’ll focus on in 2014 is reviewing the numbers. There will be countless Powerpoint slide decks of charts, graphs, graphs of charts, charts of graphs, and bullet points galore. However, all of this data processing may not necessarily lead to any insights or any strategic changes; in many cases, we’ll be publishing massive quantities of shelfware that will go unseen.

How do you avoid this problem? How do you make all of that analysis effort and time worthwhile? How do you use the data to make changes in your business and marketing that are meaningful in 2015?

Let’s give you a strategy that’s centered around three questions that are the core of the Marketing DAIS:

  • What happened?
  • Why?
  • Can this be repeated?

When you’re looking at the data for 2014 in order to formulate ideas for 2015, start by looking for outliers. Look for unusual events that are worth noting, spikes in your data that clearly stand out. Here’s an example from web analytics:

Audience_Overview_-_Google_Analytics

Look at those four standout events that are above and beyond normal traffic. What caused those events? Are they things that were coincidental, are they things that were real-time marketing (and thus cannot be relied on to occur again), or are they things that you have control over and thus can revisit or build upon?

If I dig into this particular chart, those spikes were caused by 4 big media hits. The first was our Top 50 Most Overused Words in Press Releases for 2013. That’s repeatable, and we’ll be revisiting that again this coming year. The second was a Super Bowl ad. That’s repeatable in theory, but it was the result of a mistake that didn’t generate any tangible business results, so we won’t repeat that. The third spike is from our Facebook Page Cost Calculator. That’s worth revisiting and upgrading, especially in the wake of the latest Facebook algorithm changes. The fourth spike was from Scott Monty joining the company, which is not a repeatable event, and thus we can’t count on it in the coming year or add it to our playbook.

Now we have an idea of what’s repeatable and what’s not, which can help to plan our editorial calendar, content marketing, public relations program, and paid media plans.

Here’s another example using Twitter analytics and statistics:

Christopher_Penn_Twitter_Statistics_-_Twitter_Counter

Again, ask the same three questions:

  • What happened?
  • Why?
  • Can this be repeated?

When I look at the spike of retweets that occurred on November 10, I found that it was relating to a piece of real-time news that I had retweeted. You can’t bank on that news re-occurring again, so we relegate it to “nice to have, but not forecastable”. On the other hand, the spike in retweets that occurred a few days earlier was around a blog post titled “Everything is Measurable in PR“. That’s an indicator that the post topic might be a hot topic worth building on in future posts.

Suppose you’re trying to formulate a 2015 SEO strategy. Look at the top terms in your search queries:

Queries_-_Google_Analytics

Ask the same three questions:

  • What happened?
  • Why?
  • Can this be repeated?

We can see what happened. Are those terms you meant to be ranking for? Are they part and parcel of your content marketing strategy? If you didn’t actively create content around these, why did they happen? If you did create content around these terms and they’re driving traffic to your site, consider doubling down on those topics to see if you can repeat the successes you’ve had.

As you look to your data from 2014 and look ahead at the road to 2015, bring the Marketing DAIS to your investigation. You’ll extract more useful analyses, insights, and strategic changes than just pouring lots of data on your desk and hoping it speaks to you. Start by investigating your outliers to find out what can be repeated and what can’t, and build on that for your 2015 marketing plan!

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Work at SHIFT

21 Nov 2014

Don’t Quit Facebook Yet

don't abandon facebook

Earlier this week Forrester analyst Nate Elliott released another one of his bi-annual  “Facebook is failing marketers” reports that takes aim squarely at Twitter and Facebook when it comes to marketing tactics. In our experience, these so-called reports have been overly broad generalizations with questionable advice and based on sampling, statistical and analytical foibles, according to statisticians.

Last week, Facebook announced that beginning in January of 2015, it will be cracking down on purely promotional content coming from brands; with limited real estate in the News Feed, Facebook realizes that people want meaningful content, not sales-y product pushing.

In an incendiary blog post, Forrester falsely claimed that “Facebook has finally killed organic reach,” in an effort to gain publicity for its report. It worked, as a number of outlets – including the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company – picked up on it. The report noted the flagging organic reach of Facebook posts, which has been a real concern, but the latest move by Facebook certainly does not kill organic reach. It simply penalizes brands that are using Facebook incorrectly.

While this may seem extreme, it’s been required because of so many brands posting promotional content; i.e. Facebook isn’t failing marketers – marketers have been failing Facebook.

When content aligns with what consumers want to see, organic reach can go through the roof. And then, material that is proven to be contextually relevant organically can be promoted with paid media to expose it to an even wider audience – something we recommend and help execute for our clients at SHIFT.

Forrester’s report, “Social Relationship Strategies That Work,” warns brands away from Facebook and Twitter, based partly on its survey results in which Forrester asked 4,529 online adults, “In which of the following ways to you keep in touch with brands that you like or that you purchase from regularly?”

Forrester_brands

While the report suggests putting more effort into your own website and email (owned media), it also suggests giving up Facebook (rented media) – or at least not making Facebook the center of your marketing efforts. Looking at the above numbers, one might wonder why a brand would want a mailing list, mobile app or SMS.

At SHIFT, we’re fully committed to an integrated approach that includes multiple aspects of communications and marketing and the digital and social media that connect them. To completely ignore any segment – particularly a significant one – is to have an incomplete strategy.

We share Forrester’s notion that a web presence must have more social integration to make it effective and that you should exert as much control as you can over your own properties. Here are our recommendations:

Understand your audience

It’s absolutely critical to know who you’re reaching or who you want to reach, as well as the platforms on which they spend their time. Having a fine-tuned analytics backend (such as Google Analytics or Omniture) baked into your site is a first step to understanding where they’re coming from. It’s equally as important to be up to speed with the various changes that Google makes that affect search results to your site as well.

The Forrester report notes that a branded community is a better solution because a Sony Playstation microsite gained 4.5 million pageviews (an outdated metric, perhaps?). However, they don’t manage to explain exactly where those views came from. A quick glance shows that Sony Playstation’s Facebook page has over 4.7 million likes. Were those Facebook fans partially responsible for the eyeballs on the site? Perhaps. But a comprehensive audit would be more telling.

Focus on quality content

You’re not going to get eyeballs (if that indeed is your metric of choice) if you don’t know what people want. Whether you’re posting on Facebook, your website or a branded community, content matters. Storytelling, emotional connection with your readers or viewers and the ability to develop relationships with them over time are the hallmarks of the progressive marketer. Yes, you’ll want to customize that content for the unique audiences on each platform, but without a story that matters to them, you’ll be dissatisfied with every platform you’re on.

This whole “dump Facebook” mantra is a red herring. It’s a tendency to throw Facebook under the bus because of poor quality content created by marketers. Facebook is constantly developing products and tweaking the News Feed to benefit users, and marketers hold some accountability in that formula as well. If the lazy brands want to reuse content from other sites, post it and run away without engaging or gleaning insights from the data, then they deserve the paltry results they get.

 Understand your goals

No single site or platform is a panacea; each has its own purpose, just as a press release, launch event and Sunday circular have their uses. The tools and platforms you select should match your needs, whether it’s brand building, awareness, reputation, lead generation or sales. For most companies, social networks have been much better at assisting with the upper funnel – awareness and brand communications. But if done correctly with the right content and other integrated owned properties, they can be shown to work.

Integration counts

In our experience, using each platform in a silo will yield limited results. If you know what you’re doing and can derive insights from your data, you can achieve a greater outcome. For example, combining your email database with Facebook or Twitter for more targeted audience opportunities will result in fewer wasted marketing dollars. An audit of all of your activities – online and offline, paid, earned and owned media –  is a powerful way to glean data and develop insights that can lead to more intelligent ways to assign your resources.

As with everything, moderation is key. Knowing what you’re trying to achieve and who you need to reach is a first step in developing a comprehensive and integrated strategy in paid, earned, owned and rented media.

Scott Monty
EVP, Strategy

Work at SHIFT

Photo credit: mysocialgameplan

20 Nov 2014

The Future of Marketing: Mark Schaefer on Wearables, Augmented Reality and Ignition

Blog_Graphic_v3

Back in September, we attended the FutureM and INBOUND Conferences in Boston. As you might expect at an event called “Future of Marketing,” we spent a lot of time talking about, well, the future of marketing.

We had a chance to interview some of the top thinkers driving innovation and transformation in the marketing world, and get their perspective on the Big Question: what IS the future of marketing?

Without further ado, we bring you part one of SHIFT’S “Future of Marketing” Video Series: Mark Schaefer.

WHO is Mark Schaefer and WHY should you care?

  • Mark is a social media marketing blogger, educator and consultant.
  • His blog {grow} is a fantastic resource for marketers and anyone running a business.
  • He’s a best-selling author – check out Return On Influence, Born to Blog, Tao of Twitter, and Social Media Explained.
  • He’s been a marketer from the moment he came out of the womb. Trufax.
  • Find him online at BusinessesGrow.com and @MarkWSchaefer.

Future of Marketing Takeaways:

  • We’re entering a time where the Internet will surround us like the air that we breathe, in which the boundaries that limit us today will cease to exist.
  • It’s not just about great content – it’s about great content that ignites.
  • Social media realities are changing, and companies must be open-minded about exploring alternatives to “basic” channels like Facebook.
  • Every aspect of how we engage online will be transformed in a profound way by augmented reality. It will change how we connect, how we discover, how we entertain, how we learn, and more.
  • Marketing leaders must understand technology and data enough to ask the right questions in order to use tech & data

Agree? Disagree? Think we’re all nuts? Leave your thoughts below!

19 Nov 2014

Snapchat 101: A Brand Primer

This blog post will disappear in 10 … 9 … 8 …

Just kiddDoes your brand Snapchat?ing.

But would that really be so weird now that “disappearing” has become cool? Ask Snapchat. Ask Instagram. Ask Facebook’s Slingshot. (Is that still a thing?)

Snapchat, the app we all love to hate, introduced us to the world of temporary sharing; it’s no longer just a shiny toy that has yet to be figured out. Brands are diving in and taking advantage of the different experience that Snapchat offers. Let’s take a look back at the Snapchat brand journey, shall we?

September 2011: Snapchat was released to the public. “Why would we want to send something that disappears in 10 seconds?” asked everyone that wasn’t into sending NSFW photos. We downloaded the app anyway, and before we knew it, we were hooked. At this time, Snapchat was solely consumer-user friendly. At Jamba Juice? Snap it. At a parade? Here comes a 10-second video. Was there a huge point to it? No. But it catered to our culture of sharing (or as some would say, over-sharing), and if we want to share 10-second glimpses into our lives, then we’ll do it!

Through this initial phase, brands were sort of left on the sidelines. It was a watch-and-see mentality. There wasn’t really a way to fit in. Then slowly brands like Taco Bell began to experiment. With a username, anyone can add whomever they’d like to their account. The tricky issue from the brand side was that in order to send snaps to their fans, they’d have to individually select each person that added them. It wasn’t exactly easy …

October 2013. … Until Snapchat Stories. Right as we got used to things disappearing in 10 seconds, Snapchat introduced Stories. Stories was an extended version of your standard snaps – allowing users to build snaps on top of each other to form, well, a story. It was visible for 24 hours before disappearing. You didn’t send a Story to an individual; they were posted for everyone who has you on their contact list to see. Aka this was the jackpot for brands. Finally there was a simple way for them to interact with everyone who wanted to interact with them. On top of that, Snapchat provides the number of viewers of your Stories, which is helpful in a world where we’re always trying to figure out ways to measure our social efforts.

October 2014. Like all things online, it was only a matter of time before Snapchat added advertising capabilities. In October 2014, the first ads began to show up in users’ ‘Recent Updates’. Users have the option to watch them or ignore them and, like Stories, they disappear after 24 hours. It’s still too early to gauge how well Snapchat ads are doing, but it’s yet another way brands can use the platform. (And rumor has it, Snapchat’s introduction of Snapcash on Monday could provide even more data for future advertisers on the platform.)

Brands That Get It
If you’re an active reader of this blog, you know by now that two things I hold dear to my heart are Beyoncé and Taco Bell. Taco Bell absolutely kills it on social, and that includes Snapchat. They were one of the earliest users of the platform, and they consistently come up with creative videos and images to engage fans. I mean, whoever is running their Snapchat account has some serious art skills. On top of that, they don’t use it as a one-way communication tool. They encourage fans to send them snaps about particular things, and then they include those Snaps in their Stories for everyone to see.

Taco Bell Owns on Snapchat

Sports teams and leagues have also embraced Snapchat. The NHL, the New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Penguins are among those trying it. They give fans a glimpse into behind-the-scenes looks at their favorite sports and teams, including new merchandise, quick player snaps and more.

And in the fashion world, one of the earliest brands to use Snapchat – and one of my favorite examples – was Rebecca Minkoff. The designer debuted her Spring 2014 collection on Snapchat, minutes before it appeared on the runway, making Snapchat followers feel like VIPs.

Why Should Your Brand Be on Snapchat?
If you represent a brand and are still wondering whether or not Snapchat is something you should be involved on, I would revert to this age-old advice: if your audience is there, you should be there. If you are a consumer-focused company (versus, say, B2B) with a younger target demographic, I say go for it. That’s not to say B2B brands can’t find useful ways to be on Snapchat, but make sure it’s right for you before you spend time on it.

I would argue that perhaps the biggest benefit for brands on Snapchat is the ability to create a more intimate experience with fans. When you open a Snapchat, it feels like it was sent directly to you – even if it’s within a Story that can be seen by thousands. That one-on-one feeling is pretty cool. You can preview new products, give behind-the-scenes looks at your company – and overall, just make your biggest fans feel like VIPs.

What’s the best way you’ve seen a brand use Snapchat?

Amanda Grinavich
Senior Marketing Analyst

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

18 Nov 2014

How Snowden Changed Security Communications for the C-Level

security

SHIFT has had the pleasure of representing a variety of security vendors (both public and startup) over the years, and we’ve noticed a significant change in the market temperature over the past 12 months. The very nature of security, its definition and importance to every enterprise and global markets, has fundamentally changed. Through concurrent trends such as social network advertising, the rise of mobile and increasing consumer breaches along with events like Snowden/NSA, individuals are now aware of the value of their data and are expecting corporations to be held accountable.

Our eBook, “Security: Out of the Server Room and into the Board Room” sets the conversation on why this change has been so rapid, its impact on the function of corporate communications and suggestions for where to start to ensure you’re prepared for the inevitable.

The recent Target breach and CEO termination further shows that Boards of Directors are aware of how a security gap can lead to wide and negative corporate impact. Brands need to consider security not as “insurance” or an IT issue, but a fundamental strategic initiative that requires C-Level vigilance and crisis communications planning like never before. Whether it’s financial data or core IP, manufacturing line production data or your SaaS portal for sales lead information – in the end, it’s all data that’s at risk.

It’s time for brands of all sizes to reorient their definitions of security and risk and begin planning for the day when digital risk is a regular line item during the Board of Directors’ monthly meeting.

This serves as a quick glimpse into the ever-changing security landscape and its impact on the communications industry. For more expert tips and takeaways, download the full eBook.

Derek Lyons
Vice President

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17 Nov 2014

Three Signs You Should Invest in Measurement Tools

measurement tools

Whether you work at an agency or with the in-house PR team, there will always be upper-level management or clients asking you why you do what you do, how it impacts the business and how you can show results. We talk a lot about measuring PR on this blog and as a reader, you know that not all PR tactics directly impact the bottom line.

If you don’t already have measurement tools and dashboards in place, these questions commonly asked by clients and brand management alike can be a good indicator that it’s well past time to get started. Gathering data in advance of these questions will be important to give them the answers they’re looking for. Here are a few of those questions you’re likely to hear if you don’t have a measurement plan:

“What is the real impact of a media hit?”

Earning media – which is the coverage you obtain through effective public relations efforts – has in the past been notoriously difficult to measure. While a media hit will increase a brand’s reputation and bring it top of mind for consumers, it will also increase a brand’s website traffic, SEO ranking, and a host of other measures.

When media impressions aren’t enough, measurement tools like OpenSiteExplorer from Moz can help demonstrate the impact of that media hit on the client’s website search ranking and the number of external links back to said website. These external links from the publication itself and any other websites, blogs or forums that syndicate or reference the original article will show the marketing and communications team that a simple “hit” actually goes beyond a link in it’s impact. More links mean more traffic… and if the website converts, it means more sales.

“Where does our brand rank among our strongest competitors?”

When a client asks where their brand “ranks” against competitors, they are often referencing ‘share of voice’ (SOV). Share of voice is one of the most misleading, misunderstood forms of measurement in the public relations field. When you’re asked about share of voice, it really means that you need to demonstrate a much bigger picture of what impact public relations is having. Why is share of voice so misunderstood? It’s meaningless on the infinite dial, and it’s missing the bigger picture.

If you’re being asked about share of voice, think about the metrics you’re presenting and consider adding some new dimensions to your metrics, some new perspectives such as conversations, engagement, and sharing behaviors.

“Why should we bother with social media when we get nothing out of it?”

This is a tricky question. The answer will depend heavily on the industry and where the brand’s audience resides. With access to measurement tools like Google Analytics, we can see how much traffic is being directed to the brand’s website from social networks – Google does the heavy lifting for you. Check out the chart below. Google Analytics automatically separates social traffic (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) from other referrers like organic search or paid ads.

1

All three of these questions hint that the right metrics aren’t being seen by your stakeholders. Measurement tools give you the quantitative data you need to answer any of the above questions and many more if you have the knowledge to use them. Don’t think of the tools as just another piece of software or another program you need to take the time to learn. They exist to help you and if you take the time to dig into the data they provide, can make measuring your own KPI or goals a whole lot easier. For a more in-depth look at ways to measure, be sure to check out this measurement series:

Tori Sabourin
Marketing Analyst

Photo Credit: Tim Sheerman-Chase via Compfight cc

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

14 Nov 2014

Is Your Startup Ready for PR?

Every startup needs PR.*

*Eventually.

There’s no question about whether your startup needs PR (because yes, it does.) The better question to ask is, “Does my startup need PR right now?”.

PR?

PR is an investment that has huge payoffs if done right. But initiating PR efforts when the essential ingredients for success are missing is a big waste of time and money. And when you’re a startup without a lot of resources to spare, waste can spell disaster.

So how can you know if your startup is ready for PR? I chatted with SHIFT Vice President Karl Scholz, whose experience advising startups makes him a go-to resource for all things startup-related ‘round these parts. His answers largely informed the meat of this post.

Startups, consider these questions:

Why do I want PR? What do I hope to accomplish through PR?

If your answer is to “sell more product” or “drive sales,” well, PR alone isn’t going to do that. Remember, the primary goal of PR is not to generate leads or revenue. Though PR can contribute to leads/revenue, that’s mainly the realm of marketing and sales. PR’s core responsibility in the marketing mix is to promote awareness and build audiences that you can then market and sell to.

funnel

Once your company begins to understand the role of PR, you’re getting much closer to PR-ready.

Do I have a quality product/service readily available or coming soon?

No beating around the bush here: if you don’t have a quality product either available or on the way, not even the best PR in the world can help you.

But let’s assume your product is amazing. Even if it isn’t available yet, you can still benefit from PR. In fact, pre-launch PR can make or break a new company, product or service coming to market.

Are my founders/top execs on board?

No reporter wants to talk to marketing people. They want the real startup story from the mouths of the ones who had the gumption to turn their ideas into a business.

If you’re going to invest in PR, at least one exec – preferably the CEO or a founder – must be willing and able to dedicate time to being a company spokesperson. The bread and butter of PR is earned media coverage, but without a credible spokesperson, you’ve made getting coverage a lot harder. 

Do I know what I want to say six months from now? 

Gone are the days when a single announcement provided months of momentum. Today, you must be ready to deliver a steady stream of news and timely story angles that can sustain your media presence over time.

After all, your audience is inundated with news every day. In a world where people move on to the next headline in the blink of an eye, you need a plan to nurture your company story arc for many months. If you blow everything on one announcement and then go quiet, you risk losing everything you just invested in.

This is especially true for startups. You may have heard of you, but no one else has! Be prepared to maintain a steady drumbeat of news so that the third or fourth time someone hears your name, they’ll start to pay attention. Company momentum, funding, new/updated products, compelling research, and events are all fair game for news announcements!

Well, are you ready?

Knowing what it takes to make the most of your PR investment puts you leaps and bounds ahead of many companies who dive into PR programs without a clue. Go you!

Once you have all the ingredients you need, then there’s no time to lose! Whether you start off with homegrown efforts or hire an agency, it’s high time to get the good word out.

JJ Samp
Marketing Analyst

Work at SHIFT

13 Nov 2014

Pre-Launch PR: How to Rev Up Momentum Before the Big Day

A lot of effort goes into launching a product or service. It takes hours of planning to get it right. We all know this much. But what about the “calm” before the storm? How can you use that time to drum up momentum for your launch without taking away from the big day itself?

WPre-Launch Momentumhether you’re a start-up getting ready to introduce yourself to the industry or a well-established brand unveiling a new chapter, there are several ways to draw early interest to help bolster your launch.

Above all things, you have to be present. Sounds simple enough, right? But you’d be surprised to know how many brands get awfully quiet when they’re not in the middle of announcing something new. The reality is that it’s really hard to suddenly flip a switch and have people be all over your news if you haven’t been engaged prior to that. (Of course, that may not be the case if you’re a household name, but chances are you became a household name because you were ongoingly present in the first place.)

What exactly does it mean to be ‘present’? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition. One way to be present is to be active on social. It’s a great place to start and presents an easy forum to be engaged in relevant conversations that are happening in your space with users, influencers and members of the media. Using appropriate hashtags or having your CEO or CTO jump into a Twitter Chat are additional ways that make it easier for people who are interested to find you.

Being present can also mean creating content your target audience finds valuable, whether that’s in the form of blog posts, white papers, eBooks or more. Content is way for you to present your ideas in your own words. Show why you’re different and how you think. We probably overuse the term ‘thought leader’ at this point, but it is a great way to show that leadership.

Build on that thought leadership with an active media relations program. Whether you’re contributing articles or speaking with reporters on ideas that haven’t been over-tread on. Building those relationships with the media will only help you when the day of your launch comes. They’ll know who you are and what represent, versus popping up out of thin air.

Another idea? Partner up. Consider establishing a partnership with a brand that fits your upcoming product or service. If you already have some great partners, look for ways to bring them into the mix leading up to the launch. This is a larger business decision beyond PR and marketing, but if it makes sense for your company, it can be a great way to generate awareness. One example that comes to mind is Instacart’s parternship with Whole Foods. Instacart is a grocery delivery startup that has been slowly rolling out to cities across the U.S. They recently announced that Whole Foods was signing on to be a part of their service; users could now order from WFM through the app and have it delivered to their door. It garnered a new level of exposure which will make their future city launches that much more successful. People are often times more willing to buy into a company that is validated by another brand they already trust.

One last point to consider in your pre-launch PR planning is to think of some out-of-the-ordinary tactics. SHIFT’s client Mohu, a consumer electronics manufacturer of indoor antennas (hello cord cutters), comes to mind. Mohu decided to create Kickstarter campaign to launch their new product, Channels. The campaign, while being a core part of their actual launch, also helped serve as a way to garner attention before it was publicly available. It was wildly successful, raising their goal of $35,000 in two days and selling more than 1,000 units in 45 days. It helped establish that early interest and was a unique way to go about the process.

If you have a launch on the horizon, start gearing up now. Be engaged. Be present. Be known. Being successful at each of those will help drive momentum toward a successful launch.

Amanda Grinavich
Senior Marketing Analyst

Work at SHIFT

12 Nov 2014

SHIFT Shares: Websites to Help You Stay Smart

I’m constantly in awe of my coworkers. They’re some of the smartest people I know, and spending 9+ hours a day with them is a constant reminder of that.

Here at SHIFT, smart isn’t one of our seven values for nothing. While we pride ourselves on our industry savvy, we also have a vested interest in what’s going on in this world. It’s not every workplace that you can be talking bylines or B2B strategy one minute and Beyoncé or Tom Brady the next – needless to say, the water cooler/kegerator conversation never fails to impress.

jj reading

So how do we stay so smart? Well, we read, a lot. It’s a big part of our dedicated, connected culture and a daily requirement for teams like mine.

Since I’m always looking for new websites to add to my Feedly and Flipboard, I recently asked around to see what my fellow SHIFTers are reading to keep their mental chops firmly flexed. As you can see, the responses ranged from Bloomberg to BuzzFeed.

Check them out below and start building up your knowledge base. Your brain (and coworkers like me) will thank you!

When you want all the latest around the industry.

When you’re looking for more on the marketing side.

When you want to hear from a few SHIFTers.

When you want to know what’s happening in the world.

When you want to tap into your creative side.

When you want to step up your business savvy.

When you want to get your tech on.

When you want a daily newsletter for the morning commute.

When your brain needs a break.

When your brain REALLY needs a break.

Zach Burrus
Marketing Analyst

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