SHIFT Agency PR Blog and PR News

22 May 2015

How to Face Down a Unicorn

It’s now a weekly occurrence.  Headline: “XXX takes on additional funding of YYY Millions, latest to reach Unicorn status.”  I’m challenged to think of an industry where there isn’t at least one of these formerly mystical companies cropping up. 

ready to take on the unicorns?If you’re one of these companies, reaching unicorn status brings many benefits, including:

  • “Halo” of viability – always an asset as a startup with established competitors
  • Large platform to tout competitive differentiation given media’s focus on this phenomenon
  • Public and visible customer validation – reviewing the coverage, most pieces include large customer names. Why?  They are making the exception and want to be associated with cutting edge tech that is well funded vs. usually their usual spurring of smaller startups.

Interestingly, many of these companies will also find themselves on the Exponential Organizations radar.  If you’re unfamiliar, Exponential Organizations are ones that are structured from the ground up to approach challenges with openness and lack of limiting hierarchy, focused on massive scale opportunities, and leverage existing systems and services that limits CAPEX and OPEX (e.g. no hardware via the cloud, or full-time employees like Uber, or residencies like Air BnB).  Given the 10X growth expectation that comes with being defined as an Exponential Organization, we will likely see more of these getting even more funding.  An interesting list based on what’s called an ExQ score can be found here:

It seems a forgone conclusion that unless you are a nimble, virtual startup leveraging a mix of part time workers, the cloud, or both, you’re likely facing or will have to compete against a unicorn someday soon.

Don’t throw your hands up in despair!  There is a dark side to being a unicorn.  With the white hot spotlight comes expectations – from the media, from the investors and from customers.  Are you generating new features of your service or technology fast enough?  What’s your burn rate and how will you make up the overhang from the leverage you took on?  Where are the new customers?  There’s some very detailed pieces the past few months that clearly show how expectations can warp strategy and leave founders on the outside looking in or much worse for wear

So, what’s the playbook against a unicorn?

For startups, one simple strategy is to take the counter position – define the advantages in not being a unicorn.  All that money comes with strings that don’t get pulled on you – you avoid the undue sales pressure; the artificial sales and marketing ramp pressure; the VC overhang that forces you to change direction from your vision.  You can lay out a clear picture of why there is no shame in staying lean, getting customers, and focusing on profitability.  Knowing your risk on valuation, thinking long term, getting the right VC partners who can consult vs. pressure – that sounds like a smart business leader vs. a gold rush entrepreneur.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be pressure – its inherent in startups.  But why complicate it to satisfy someone else’s financial goals?

For public companies, it’s an interesting duality.  Many Fortune 500’s have their own investment arms that are in some instances fueling future unicorns.  In this case you can talk about how you funding innovation without distracting from your core mission.  However the more solid ground is talking about intrapraneurship and internal start up divisions (done well here by Adam Cahan of Yahoo in Fortune.)  Show how your financial bearing can put you in a position to fully develop products and services that integrate with the enterprise and partner ecosystem, nuances a distracted unicorn can’t fully appreciate or explore.  As a public company you have much better access and ability to publicly leverage customers – do it regularly and aggressively.  And if possible show how you’ve weathered storms and are positioned for future growth – John Chambers did just this during his last quarterly earnings call, showcasing despite rumors of its eminent demise Cisco is poised to not just survive, but thrive.

Lastly, there has been a growing discussion in the market at large from public company CEOs about the undue pressure the quarter to quarter reality puts on companies.  This has translated into fewer jobs, less wages and less public engagement, detailed very clearly here by Bruce Bartlett.  Both startups and public companies fit into this narrative – without additional external pressures, businesses might be able to invest more in people and innovation that scales – just not at hyper-internet speed.

To be clear, VC funding isn’t inherently bad at all – quite the opposite in fact.  It’s like most things in life, too much of a good thing can be detrimental to the short and long term health of an organization.  Expectations and growth are good, just not at the cost of the business in question.  It will be interesting to watch and see where the unicorn alumni group is in 2-3 years.  In the meantime, there’s competition to be had!

Derek Lyons
Vice President

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21 May 2015

Come Closer, I Want to Tell You A Story

tell me a story

It’s a great story. I heard in the back of an Uber earlier this week. The stuff of classic silicon valley lore – a woman spends seven years writing down the tidbits of trivia she runs across in her everyday life into a small notebook she keeps with her, because trivia fascinates her as a hobby, and one day she realizes she has accidentally penned the next great trivia game. She finds partners who share her vision of reviving trivia as entertainment, they quit their jobs and devote a year to turning her notebook into a trivia game app. They launch and now hope to become the next big thing in mobile gaming. I hope they make it; I like trivia. I felt inspired by the story, and now I am rooting for them!

I love a good story. I’ve been known to share a few great ones with friends and family, and I’ve even downloaded apps upon hearing a compelling founder’s stories. But I am not unique. In fact, all humans love a good story. We are literally hardwired toward storytelling – a growing body of neuroscience research shows that stories stimulate more of our brains than just facts and figures do, and can even motivate us to change how we act in life. If you want to get someone to listen to you and perhaps even take action, tell them a powerful story. 

Looking to create a social campaign or orchestrate a big launch? What about secure a killer placement? Be a storyteller first. Here’s how:

  • Start with the story elements. Wikipedia defines a story as having the following three elements: a plot, the characters and a narrative point of view. As storytellers, we need to understand and articulate all three of these three elements to develop a powerful story. 
  • Don’t forget the “why?” Address why your audience should care to make the narrative more resonant for them. This is important news your readers will care about. This will save you time and money. This will make you feel something. This will be fun. This will be useful for you. 
  • Build credibility with facts and figures. Every good journalist is trained to know that the facts aren’t the story. But facts and data add much needed credibility and depth to any lead. Americans can’t wait for summer: 90% are looking forward to it. Our product makes complicated things easy to do: It has a feature that none of our competitors have. 
  • Show AND tell. Turns out the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true. Humans process the images 60% faster than we process words. In the era where social often leads for audience interaction with a brand story, paying close attention to images and aligning them to the brand story goes a long way.

So, what’s your next big story? 

Victoria Boed
Vice President

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20 May 2015

Networking is Still King

thumbs up for networkingWe’re a pretty adaptive species. Just 32 years ago, our primary mode of communication was still the landline telephone. Now, we’re barely making phone calls. Texting during work meetings is a norm. K-12 school systems that once prohibited gum chewing now allow cell phone use among their students.

With so many ways to connect with friends, family and strangers, you would think our traditional channels of communication would completely shift in all areas of our personal and professional lives. Yet, 1.83 million U.S. networking events were held in 2012 alone (I imagine that number has grown even more since)– a form of communication so traditional, even the Romans did it in 700 B.C.

The human in all of us longs for belonging (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, anyone?) and increasing priority is placed on interpersonal relationships in today’s search for the recipe for happiness. Don’t miss out on this self-actualizing journey for yourself and crucial tactic for your business. Yes, it requires time and genuine effort, but the return on your investment is well worth the endeavor.

As you network in today’s digital world, keep in mind the following tips to utilize your time (and everyone else’s!) effectively:

Online vs. offline

Should you really pay to attend that networking event and dedicate two hours toward the potential of making a new connection? Is that industry-relevant Twitter chat worth your hour lunch break? Yes and yes. At a recent awards event celebrating the hottest startups in Austin, the keynote speaker, Erik Qualman, gave investment-seeking startups a lesson on the in-person vs. online networking conundrum. There isn’t a choice really, both are vital to your professional success. What matters most is the personal touch – meet someone at a mutual friend’s happy hour? Connect on LinkedIn with a note (and not the pre-populated one). Engage with a thought leader on Twitter? Find an opportunity to meet in-person, or make a point to meet them at that next social media conference you both attend. Traditional networking skills still apply in our virtual world – Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is still a top seller, after all.

Not all events are created equal

For the times you can make the in-person networking events, make sure it is truly a worthwhile opportunity. Not to get all Debbie Downer on you, but there are some seriously dysfunctional networking events out there. To identify which event is best to attend, take note of which events industry leaders attend. Does your local tech reporter prefer one tech meetup over the other 50+ options in town? Same rule applies for online networking: does the social expert you’re constantly retweeting participate in a specific Twitter chat? Start there. Having a clear goal in mind – “I want to meet the CEO of X company at this event” – can also aide in making the most of the chosen networking event. Beware of open-ended “happy hour” events without a clear focus, as well. A happy hour event with industry-specific individuals is one thing, but those “local professionals” events might not be worth wading through the crowd to find that connection you are looking for in a business colleague.

Cultivate your newfound colleagues

No matter the place of connection (virtual or real world), always follow through. This is not a one-and-done process. There is a give and take to relationships, and this approach remains true in the business world. Be a connector. Offer an opportunity. Check-in on your connections from time-to-time so when the day comes that you need them, they feel engaged enough to reciprocate. As Brian Honigman points out, we’re in an economy of favors and performing these gestures creates value for yourself among your network (great examples of digital & offline favors found here and here). One example of this is what Erik Qualman calls “post-it-forward.” Read a great article? Tweet it and tag the author. In need of a guest blogger? Reach out to someone in your network. Better yet, interview a connection as an industry expert.

When it comes down to it, networking is equal parts common sense and thoughtful strategy. Be yourself, smile and be a lifetime learner. With a goal in mind and plenty of dedicated time, networking can make a sizeable impact on both your personal career development and day-to-day business needs.

Jessica Melton
Account Executive

Work at SHIFT

19 May 2015

Quick Tips for Staying on Top Of Today’s Busy News Cycle


As PR pros, it is imperative that we’re always consuming news. Whether it’s monitoring where our clients are being mentioned, or their competitors or general trends – being media savvy makes us great at what we do.

One recent example was a colleague’s reactive pitch on water-saving advice in advance of the Bay Area’s (nowadays, rare) rain storm. By jumping in the news cycle and offering a few tips for viewers to save some of this rain in the middle of the California drought, she was able to lock in a one-minute segment during the 11 p.m. news, reaching a top tier demographic in a key market. This, to me, is the crème de la crème of smart media relations skills.

With all of the agency demands however, it’s tough to stay up on the news in addition to meeting other deadlines. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up so far that have proven helpful:

  • Read the newspaper every morning. Create your own customized Flipboard or listen to NPR during your morning commute. Even if you read or listen to a few key highlights, you’ll take note of new media contacts and it may even get you thinking about ways you can weave your client’s expertise into the news cycle. The example above is a great case in point.
  • Scan the headlines and outlets as well as make note of any key events before you pitch. If there’s a breaking news story that’s all over CNN and the local news, it’s probably best to hit pause on that lifestyle pitch until it dies down. Media won’t read your pitches and may take an annoyed note of your name if you’re ignorantly pitching during a major tragedy. I learned the hard way when pitching a restaurant’s new menu to local lifestyle media – right as the Virginia Tech massacre news was all over TV.
  • Subscribe to breaking news alerts. I subscribe to USA Today’s breaking news alerts, which send notification of any major story immediately – potentially with news you may be able to leverage on a local level for a client. It’s also helpful to keep up on the monthly jobs report, too.

With the evolving digital landscape, there are so many ways for pros to quickly consume news – what are your favorites?

Liz Drew
Account Manager

Photo Credit

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18 May 2015

Travel Tips for Marketers and Communicators

Dublin Airport

Marketers and PR professionals are on the road quite a bit. Customers ask for onsite meetings. Conferences demand speakers. Unless you’ve got the luxury of dealing with only local customers, chances are good you’ll be hopping a few time zones for work’s sake.

Business travel done wrong has far-reaching negative impact. You work less efficiently. Your work quality declines. Your health takes a hit. You may even make mistakes so severe that you lose a customer.

Done right, business travel advances relationships. Your customers are happy for the face time. You might even have the good fortune to build new customer relationships or new business serendipitously. And of course, you even get to see a bit more of the world than you might otherwise.

What’s the difference between traveling well and poorly? Planning. The farther ahead you can plan and think, the better your travels will go.

How do you plan business travel well? Plan based on what you need to ensure success. Here’s a basic checklist of things to plan for.

Identification: Depending on where you’re going, what identification will you need? Some parts of the world require a visa. Some parts of the world require a passport. Even within your own nation, identification needs vary. You can get by in most places in the United States with a driver’s license, but not all the time. Make sure you’ve got the right ID before you travel. An extra pro tip: leave copies of your important documents like health insurance, license, passport, etc. in your photo roll on your smartphone or in an app like Evernote.

Medical/Health: Nothing puts the kibosh on effectiveness faster than injury or illness. Even something as simple as knowing what the local emergency number is matters; in some nations like the UK, it’s 999. In the US, 911. In most of Europe, 112. In the patchwork quilt of health insurance around the United States, what hospital nearest to where you’re traveling will accept your health insurance carrier?

Power: In the device-driven age, power is more essential than ever. Consider buying a portable power strip that can fit inside a handbag, purse, or messenger bag, as well as a power bank. Airplanes with power typically have one outlet shared among several passengers, so a small power strip can be an instant friend-maker and networking opportunity. Power banks can keep increasingly power-hungry devices charged up when plugging into a wall for an hour isn’t an option.

Internet: What connectivity will you have at your destination and on the go? Knowing you’ll have LTE speed (very fast) vs. EDGE network (really slow) will guide what you can and can’t do on the road. For example, being on EDGE or GPRS means the most you’ll be able to do is email and perhaps mobile social networks. Check coverage maps and availability before you leave, and know when you’ll be out of range.

Luggage: Decent luggage makes the difference between painful travel and traveling with relative ease. Pick luggage that can endure the rigors of being checked (highly durable) or is light enough and small enough to be carried on an airplane. Brands such as Osprey, Eagle Creek, and Travelpro all make excellent gear. Look for both a durable, large backpack (which can accommodate up to 3 days’ of clothing easily, plus a laptop) as well as a 22 inch roller bag.

Clothing: You need less than you think. Spend some time on YouTube for every manner of business packing travel hacks, from rolling your clothes to stuffing a suit in a backpack to securing jewelry in plastic wrap. By the time you’re done, you’ll have an arsenal of tricks that will make packing easier, lighter, and more versatile.

These 6 categories make up the bare essentials for planning ahead. In the next post in this series, we’ll share some of our favorite travel hacks.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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15 May 2015

There’s a Ribbon on My Finger

ribbonYou may not see it, but there’s an imaginary ribbon tied around my left index finger. It reminds me to keep client service top of mind.

Recently, my colleague Cathy Summers penned a blog post on when it might be appropriate to fire a client. Admittedly, those instances are few and far between, and are often uncomfortable.

Agencies, too, prefer not to be fired, or have their contract terminated. The truth is – in many cases, a contract might be terminated for the best of reasons. Perhaps your agency’s job was to position that client for acquisition – and you achieved that goal – and the acquiring company already has a great PR firm. Or your agency’s role is to help support a specific one-and-done product launch and you do so expertly.

But sometimes it’s because of poor client service. And that’s a shame. This ribbon on my finger reminds me to keep five client service best practices top of mind and to help our teams to do the same.

  1. Anticipate what the client wants before they want it. If a client asks a question – start to craft your answer. Then think about what their next question will be and answer that too. Anyone can handle execution, or ‘step and fetch’ projects. The true partners anticipate your every need. Like a good relationship, agency contacts can finish their clients’ sentences. They respond with this extra detail because they know it’s helpful – not because they were asked to.
  2. Spend a client budget as if it was your own. Time is money. Are all of today’s activities important and impactful? Are they the best use of each dollar? Be open with clients – with your planned activities and the time and budget you expect them to take, so you can collectively re-assess or re-allocate as needed. You would want the same transparency if it was you.
  3. Sit on the same side of the table. I’m not proud to admit this, but it took years into my agency journey to learn this lesson. Lose the “us” vs “them” mentality. It’s all us – no matter which “side” of the table you’re on. I know it can be hard to keep that in mind when there’s a Friday at 5pm urgent request. But there’s a reason for the request. “They” are not being difficult. “They” need our help. *We* are partners.
  4. Share bad news privately (and quickly) and great news publicly (and just as quickly). While we strive for excellence every day, we all make mistakes. Admit them quickly and share what you’ll do to right the wrong or lessen the impact. This will build trust and understanding. It’s also a great demonstration of character. Along the same lines, when there are wins, congratulate the client on the wins – and celebrate that victory together. Also, look for opportunities to help your client contact shine in front of their peers and managers. Spread the word.
  5. Make true connections at multiple levels. To follow on the last point, it is important to build contacts throughout a client organization. First, you can be a better resource as needs shift and change. Second, you can build more allies to the great work your firm is doing. This is especially important should your client contact or other senior leadership change. Get to know these contacts personally, in person if you can. Then you can better anticipate their needs and support them all long term.

These five points have helped me over the years. If every day we think about how we could be a better partner, then we don’t need to worry about someone else filling that role.

What else might you add to the list?

Catherine Allen
Executive Vice President

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14 May 2015

What’s the New “Norm” for B2B Marketing?

At SHIFT we’re big proponents of data-driven PR. We’re constantly pushing clients and prospects to embrace elements such as Google Analytics, Twitter advertising, measurement beyond pure clicks and the like. Living on the B2B side of the house, I’ve been thrilled by the enthusiasm we’re seeing for deeper understanding on how these elements play into our PR programs and the RFP’s we’re receiving.

That said, it’s easy to feel good when you don’t look outside your own window. I started wondering what some B2B companies were doing marketing-wise outside of my personal high-tech centric world, which might slant progressive given their geolocations and business models.

Ib2b marketing analysisn other words, when it comes to marketing, what are more “traditional” B2B companies doing these days? And as B2B brands prepare for the future, what does doing it “well” look like on the surface and how is “well” defined?

Starting on this short journey, I picked three leading companies to look at in diverse industries – defense/industrial, medical device/biosystems and construction equipment. I chose the first two based on the trend of their more traditional “hard goods” historic product sets transitioning to blend with more service oriented offerings (defense with intelligence software, medical device via the Internet of Things (IoT) aspects). As far as the construction equipment candidate, there certainly is an IoT service aspect as well. But more importantly my 3 year old son loves trucks and shouts “diggers!” every time we go by one in a local construction site.

I considered both similarities and differences of how each company was approaching marketing from both a tools and content perspective to assess the breadth and depth of marketing investment at play.

What each has in common: Public companies with investor relations needs; diverse number of locations; indirect channel sales structures for at least some of their core business; indirect end consumer impact. In summary, it’s much of what you’d expect a B2B company to have in their DNA.

Using a variety of tools like Ghostery and BuiltWith, I took a look at the advertising and analytics tools these companies use on their sites. I combined that with a review of the newsroom portions of their sites and their social profiles. In essence I wanted to know how they are using their most public face (their website) when marketing their brands. Here are my findings:

Marketing Technology

Each company is leveraging Google Analytics and some type of content management system, either from a company like Adobe or through a marketing automation system. Interestingly only one company using a formal marketing automation system. This lack of adoption coincides with what we’ve observed when looking at other larger B2B entities – there is greenfield for the Marketos and Eloquas of the world with these companies, especially as they make the transition to being more digitally focused marketing organizations.

Interestingly, the defense company has invested the most in advertising and analytics tools, with over 20 tools across a range of capabilities – everything from tag management to audience scoring to advertising platforms. Being the company in the group that has a more developed software technology component to their offerings could be an indicator of what drove their investment. As the other two companies become more digital through natural IoT extensions to their products it will be interesting to see if they follow suit.

Opportunity: Embrace content management capabilities tie that to marketing automation to move down the path of being a customer centric organization. This will grow in important as these companies incorporate service components into their offerings to drive customer loyalty and service revenue via IoT aspects of their business.


Interestingly there were no formal blogs on any of the sites. Each company substituted this need by publishing content that might be used in a more traditional blog under the title of news. The majority of these posts were company-centric – however every company did leverage visual content in some way to accompany the posts, be it video (which all three used in some way), infographics or associated white papers. Social was tied to most of these posts for two of the three companies.

It was great to see video so prominent for each company, either on their home pages or alongside news items and even on investor relations pages as well.

Opportunity: Make non-video content more visible and increase the volume of content across the sites. In addition, none of the companies included any media coverage in their newsrooms or sites, a miss for creating backlinks and deepening media relationships. Lastly, increase the thought leadership content volume and break the blog content out of the “news” bucket.


It’s great to see every company is leveraging social in some way on the site. The days of “is social important?” seem to be firmly gone. This ranged from social streams right on the front page to visible social site buttons either on the home page on newsroom pages. Twitter was the common denominator for all three, with the defense company doing the most with streams from every representative social channel on a separate page.

Opportunity: All three brands could be more diverse in their messages and rebalance on the promotional vs. informational volume. Part of this issue could be resolved by adjusting the content balance noted above. Also, it wasn’t clear if there are community managers in place, but if so they should be empowered to engage more readily with external audiences in conversation vs. only publishing. Adhering to the 80/20 rule of education/promotion is a good place to start.

In summary, these diverse large B2B companies aren’t sitting on the sidelines when it comes to social or leveraging visual content on their sites. There is ample opportunity to assess their overall content strategies with an eye to being more informational and sharing thought leadership for their larger ecosystems, be it customers, partners, investors or employees. All three are at least initially embracing analytics in some form, with room to grow in sophistication and application of tools and insights to further shape their marketing strategies.

Derek Lyons
Vice President

Work at SHIFT

13 May 2015

5 Ways to Hit the Refresh Button


One of my favorite things about working at SHIFT is that we’re encouraged to move beyond the bread and butter and indulge the most off-the-wall ideas. We’re constantly challenged with thinking outside the box, but sometimes our day-to-day routines get us caught in a rut, leaving us feeling stifled and out of creative ideas.

Luckily, it just takes a few subtle actions to hit the refresh button and get those creative juices flowing again. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Get outside: Going for a walk around the block always helps me think, and I can also draw inspiration from my surroundings. Grab a friend, too – getting fresh air can make “walking brainstorms” more productive than your regular white boarding sessions.
  • Change locations: It’s true that a remote work situation doesn’t mesh with everyone. However, working remotely once a week has a huge impact on me. Even just going across the street from the office to the nearby Starbucks can open your eyes to new ideas — you hear new sounds, you see new people.
  • Branch out: Brainstorm with folks outside of your team and/or wheelhouse. Planning an event for your security client? Invite the consumer tech team that just did one in New York. Feeling in a rut about a pitch? Ask your neighbor who always seems to be locking down those proactive campaigns.
  • Ask a Newbie: Some of our biggest and brightest ideas have come from those whose imaginations are still unjaded, people who are brand new to the PR game. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve doubted my own ideas just because it “hasn’t worked before.” If you want to come up with badass hashtags or want cars suspended from Times Square, ask the young guns.
  • Treat Yourself: Sometimes refreshing your mind is as simple as taking a few minutes to do something you love – could be playing your favorite song, grabbing frozen yogurt or checking your favorite news site. It’s re-energizing to soothe your soul with something familiar.

Good luck! #GetOutside

Danielle Coe
Account Manager

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12 May 2015

10 to 20 to 30: An Elevator Pitch Framework


20 words.

20 words are the most you can say in an effective elevator pitch.

Forget “thirty second pitches” for a moment. The average attention span has declined from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today, a 33% fall.

Combine that with the average speaking speed of an adult, approximately 150 words per minute (or 2.5 words per second), and 20 words are all you can say to earn someone’s continued attention or lose it forever.

The basic rules of crafting a pitch remain the same: tell your story, be concise, do not clutter your pitch with industry jargon. These rules are important, but if you remember one thing about pitching, remember the “10 to 20 to 30 Framework”.

The premise is simple: people might give you thirty seconds of their time, but they may not give you thirty seconds of their attention.

People will hear you out for thirty seconds. They will be polite for thirty seconds. They’ll furrow their brows, nod their heads, maybe even stroke their chins to feign interest. But they don’t have to listen. Most people decide whether you’re worth their actual attention in ten seconds. Ten seconds, twenty words. So your first twenty words had better be good.

If you can hold someone’s attention for 20 words, you have bought yourself the chance to hold that person’s attention for another 20 words. If you get to 40 words, or twenty seconds of time, now you can have their attention for 60 words, or thirty seconds.

Write out your 10 second, 20 second, and 30 second pitches in increments of 20 words. Trimming down your pitch is painful, but losing the attention of your most valuable audiences will hurt more.

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11 May 2015

Day-to-day Tips for Finding Success in PR


Having jumped into the world of PR with zero experience and without a paddle, it’s easy to say that I’ve learned a lot over the past year and a half at SHIFT. As with any job right out of college, there are going to be new experiences and situations that you need to take in stride (or sometimes limp away from) in order to keep your momentum going forward. Finding success in the day-to-day is key to adapting to a new and often overwhelming professional experience.

Having worked with clients from multiple industries and backgrounds, I’ve found three core learnings that help me feel successful each day. I’m sharing them with you in hopes that you can apply them to your professional (or personal) life to keep learning and growing.

Always proof your work – and then re-read it again (and again).

A few months ago, Colgate went out with an advertising campaign for its floss that showed a couple where one individual had something stuck in their teeth. The couple was photoshopped to have some physical anomaly, such as extra fingers or a missing ear, and the copy on each ad said “Not even that [insert anatomical oddity] gets more attention than mouth without care.”

The learning here is that even a small distraction – like something stuck in your teeth – can take away from a much larger picture. The same can be said for mistakes in emails sent to clients or reporters. That one misspelled word could be enough that they dismiss your email without reading the other 99% that you spent time perfectly wording. Spell check works most of the time, but it doesn’t catch everything. Take a second to step back from your computer before hitting the send button – and then apply this proofing method beyond email.

Don’t sweat the small things.

Mistakes happen. They’re a part of life, and humankind wouldn’t be where it is now if it weren’t for a few mistakes along the way. Case in point: the chocolate chip cookie was invented by mistake when Ruth Wakefield substituted chocolate chips for baker’s chocolate, expecting the chips to melt. #funfact!

So here’s the deal: you will send an email to the wrong person. You will miss a deadline, and you know what you will learn? Life goes on. Your company will go on, and so will your client’s. Get up, brush yourself off, but make sure you learn from your mistake. As long as you learn something, the mistake will not be in vain. Another tip: When informing your manager of the situation, always come with a solution, never just the problem.

Highlight your achievements.

One of the hardest parts of the job hunt for me was the interviews. I’m completely comfortable speaking about almost everything except for myself. However, interviews are one of the only places where it’s not only okay to brag a little, it’s expected. This translates into work perfectly!

For example, clients aren’t always aware of what goes on behind the scenes; time spent researching media targets, how many times you followed up with a reporter and then how you nurtured that relationship months on end to secure a great hit.

When the fruits of your labor bloom, it’s a good time to point out some of the background work that you’ve done. From something as simple as “Due to a result of our pitching efforts” to something more specific like “We’re so happy to see that our efforts on this front have resulted in such great coverage,” it’s good to give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it.

This goes for internal communication as well. If you put extra time and effort into a project that your manager might not know about, it’s okay to tell them that you went above and beyond to get it done well. You might want to stick to regular-bragging over humblebragging though – check out this paper from Harvard Business School!

Navigating the PR world as a newbie can be overwhelming, but keep in mind, day-to-day successes snowball into even larger achievements to celebrate. No matter what role or what business you work in, you can take these tips into account to keep your professional momentum going in the right direction. Sometimes it helps to take a step back, take a walk or grab a cup of coffee – and then jump right back in to #killingit.

Kelsey Robb
Account Executive

Photo source: Buchanan

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