SHIFT Agency PR Blog and PR News

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?”


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

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Photo credit: mysocialgameplan

20 Nov 2014

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


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 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

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18 Nov 2014

How Snowden Changed Security Communications for the C-Level


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.


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

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14 Nov 2014

Is Your Startup Ready for PR?

Every startup needs PR.*


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 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.


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

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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

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

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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11 Nov 2014

Beginner’s Guide to Blogging 6/10: The Telephone

Blogging isn’t going out of style any time soon; with the ascent of content marketing, blogging, podcasting and video are on the minds of marketers and PR professionals all the time. In this 10-part Beginner’s Guide to Blogging series, we’re going to explore what makes a blog great and give you some structures and frameworks to help make blogging easier. Take from it what works and leave behind what doesn’t work!


The Telephone

The Telephone is one of the more unusual blogging structures, named after the children’s game, in which kids sit around and pass information via whispers in a circle.


In a Telephone post, you never overtly state the objective. You simply write around it. This style of post is especially useful for political campaigns where you want to publish a series of talking points that highlight an opponent’s weakness without overtly naming the opponent. For marketers and PR professionals, the same is true; the Telephone lets you lay out all of the reasons not to buy from competitors without overtly stating, “Don’t buy from X.”


Let’s return to our archetypical coffee shop to demonstrate how the Telephone might work. Let’s say there’s a competing coffee shop in town that brings in pre-roasted beans and sells an inexpensive but reasonable cup of coffee in a styrofoam cup. Our fictional shop, Todd and Jim’s Coffee Emporium, roasts and grinds on-site and sells coffee in recycled paper cups at a premium price.

Opening Salvo: Not every cup of coffee is the same. Yes, fundamentally, coffee is the process of dissolving solids from the roasted pit of the coffee cherry into water, but there are so many ways that a cup of coffee can go wrong.

Whisper 1: Coffee beans, once roasted, have a very short lifespan. The chemicals that give coffee its wonderful flavor degrade within a week, and become undrinkable inside of a month. If your coffee is made with pre-roasted beans, you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting around, losing flavor without you.

Whisper 2: Much has been said about paper vs. styrofoam when it comes to coffee cup waste. Even though styrofoam cups are cheap, they take centuries to degrade in a landfill – and there’s enough trash in the world, don’t you think?

Whisper 3: There’s an old axiom: fast, cheap, good: choose any two. If you chase after the cheapest cup of coffee, what are you trading in exchange for a few coins per day? Do you want your coffee served promptly? Do you want service with a smile at a place that will remember your name – and how you like your coffee? If cheap matters most, you’ll have to give up one of these two choices.

Conclusion: Todd and Jim’s Coffee Emporium roasts on-site, giving you maximum flavor in every guilt-free cup. Toss your cup in the recycling bin when you’re done and you’ll keep one more piece of trash out of the landfill – and our baristas will thank you by name when you do, because we pay them enough to care.

Use Cases

The Telephone is a blog post structure that you should use when you need to avoid mentioning a competitor, but highlight problems that competitor doesn’t solve. It’s especially useful for challenger brands who want to challenge the status quo without giving any more overt attention to their dominant competitor.

The Telephone is predicated on your customers caring about those problems, and it can be a very tricky blog structure to pull off with class and good taste. It’s very easy to cross the line into mean-spiritedness, so use your best judgement when writing with it and make sure others in your marketing or communications team or agency have a chance to read it and offer counsel.

In the next blog post in this series, we’ll paint some pictures together with words.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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10 Nov 2014

Data doesn’t have to be scary

Big data is a buzzword thrown around in every industry. Companies of all shapes and sizes collect data that can be used to make strategic decisions at every level. Wal-Mart completes one million customer transactions every hour, and with them comes 2.5 petabytes of data. That’s the equivalent of the amount of books in America’s Library of Congress…167 times over!

The data available to PR professionals and marketers today has the potential to answer so many questions, but the problem is: lots of people don’t know what to do with the data they have.

Collecting and analyzing data doesn’t have to mean combing through pages upon pages of spreadsheets. Data is everywhere, and in every industry you have access to lots of it – so let’s see if we can make it less scary to approach and show you the value of the information that you hold.

Social Media Data

Facebook’s Audience Insights provide brand pages with information about their audience, best performing content and other engagement details in a central location. You can use the data provided in Facebook’s Audience Insights to better inform paid advertising targeting and drive content decisions by creating more of the kinds of content your audience likes. In the example below, Facebook Insights shows that posts with a photo typically reach the most users and has higher engagement than simple status posts or posts with just a link. In this scenario, the page should continue to post photos to garner the most engagement from its audience.


Twitter also recently released its own Analytics dashboard to all users. The tool gives you a detailed timeline of impressions and engagement rates for every Tweet, as well as follower trends and demographics. By looking at the ‘Top Interests’ of your followers, you can see what else they are interested in, giving you opportunities for cross-promotions or partnerships. Think outside the box and connect two seemingly unrelated interests of your followers together! Take @SHIFTcomm followers’ Top Interests, for example. Comedic movies and TV shows are of interest to our followers, but not really related to marketing or PR explicitly. We could use this information to inform a blog post, giving insights into social media use during fall premiers.


Google Analytics

If you have access to your Google Analytics account, you’re in luck! There are a few quick things you can easily find to amp up any content strategy. (PR pros, want a deeper dive? Check out our guide to Google Analytics for PR.)

Google Analytics can give you detailed demographics for all the visitors to your site. Again, use this information to inform content decisions! Create content for your audience. The Referrals section can show you where traffic is coming from (i.e., tells you when someone clicks on your site from a Facebook page or from a Google search). This data can help you find promotion opportunities or even indicate where you could spend an advertising budget.

Don’t let the abundance of data available today scare you. Embrace it! It can inform, guide and drive your strategy if you know where to look.

Tori Sabourin
Marketing Analyst


Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR