SHIFT Agency PR Blog and PR News

01 Sep 2015

How To Turn An Interview Into Coverage a Year Later

get that media coverage!

When you ask a client what their dream publication/piece of coverage is, nine times out of ten they will name a top tier business publication: Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. When I hear this it simultaneously makes me apprehensive and excited. While these hits are sometimes the hardest to come by, they are also the most exciting and rewarding.

So what happens once you finally get that business press reporter interested? They take a briefing, the client is excited and wants to know when the coverage will hit…and then nothing. In my experience, sometimes the fruits of your labor can take anywhere from three months up to even a year to turn into coverage.  That’s a really long time in the world of journalism, where reporters are sometimes cranking out two or three stories a day. So what do you do in the meantime to keep your client fresh in the reporter’s mind without becoming that annoying PR person? Below are my tips for cultivating a long lead business press opportunity.

Be selective about when touch base.
The last thing you want to do is start checking in with a reporter weekly on the status of a story. They are busy with plenty of stories to write, events to attend and breaking news they have to jump on. There is no science to the frequency with which you should check in, but go with your gut. If the last time you called them or emailed they seemed annoyed that you are asking again, it’s probably a good sign that you should ease up on the follow up. Instead of sending another email I often like to give them a call and try to catch them on the phone. This allows it to be more conversational and you might get more insight on what they are working on than over email. I also like to put reminders on my calendar for every month or two so that it doesn’t fall off my radar. It’s easy to forget about it when other projects become a priority. The calendar invite helps me stay on track and remember that the opportunity isn’t completely dead.

Use timely hooks to check in.
I also like to time my follow up to current events that I know a reporter will be writing about or are relevant to my client. For example, a big announcement from Facebook or Apple, a key tradeshow they will attend/cover, a competitor’s earnings. In doing this I also ask if they are looking for any commentary from sources related to any of these events. This not only helps put your client back to the top of their mind but it gives you a reason for reaching out. Even if they don’t end up using client commentary or information from the original interview in a potential story, it helps continue the life of the relationship and familiarize the reporter with your client.

Offer something new.
If it’s been awhile since the reporter interviewed your client, there is a good chance there has been some sort of update within the company that you can share. Since business press don’t often care much about product news, is there a customer willing to speak that you can offer? New survey data that ties back to your original conversation that they might find interesting? The CEO is involved in a cool new project since the original conversation? The key with this approach is to not force it. If you are grasping at straws to find a “new hook” for the reporter, odds are they are going to see through that as well. When clients share updates on activities and new information, make sure to ask if that is something you can share with the reporter. The new information might be enough to push the reporter towards publishing a story that they were putting off because it was deemed “evergreen.”

Pay attention to what they are doing.
A lot can happen in a year! Keep an eye on what the reporter is writing about. Has their beat changed? Is there a topic they seem to be writing about a lot that you can fit your client into? Do they take a long vacation in the summer? Do they have other roles at the publication like putting together conferences or events? By paying attention to what the reporter is up to you will sound smarter in your follow up and you’ll find new ways to engage. It goes without saying but following them on Twitter helps too. I also like to keep an eye out for events they might be speaking at on a panel. It’s not only great for networking but you get more insight than you would normally get over email and it gives you something to reference in your follow up.

At the end of the day, not every business press briefing is going to result in coverage, but if you take the time to find ways to keep the spark alive, it can result in a big payoff with a great hit that was many months in the making. As they say, patience is a virtue. Any other tips that you use to help keep media opportunity alive? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Katie Halloran
Senior Account Manager

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31 Aug 2015

How to Choose a PR Strategy, Part 6 of 6: Choosing the right strategy

Strategy is one of the most abused, misused words in the entire lexicon of business. Ask 100 executives what strategy means and you’ll get 150 different answers. In this six-part series, we’ll look at how to choose a PR strategy based on visible, measurable criteria and a meta-strategic framework. Today, we’ll look at how to choose the right strategy.

Recall that our framework for choosing a PR strategy is based on two dimensions, pace (how fast things change) and voice (how easy it is to be heard):

how to choose a PR strategy

How do you choose the right PR strategy? Begin by understanding what your limits are, what restrictions you have. In the chart above, we list four chief constraints.

  • Are you restricted by resources? These include time, labor, and of course money.
  • Are you restricted by agility? Agility is defined by how quickly you can make changes.
  • Are you restricted by dedication? This is your resolve to keep going in a given direction for months or even years without great success shown.
  • Are you restricted by connection? Is your network less strong than it should be?

Knowing your limitations will give you a sense of which quadrants in the above chart will present the greatest difficulties for your overall PR strategy.

Next, identify your placement on the chart above by defining how easy it is to gain a share of voice and how fast-paced your industry is.

To determine share of voice, execute this simple test. Look at the top 2 or 3 influencers or publications in your niche, your industry, and see what content they share. For example, here’s a graphical representation of what tech super-influencer Robert Scoble has shared, by domain, in recent times. (links back to Facebook and Twitter have been excluded):

scoble

Above, the graph shows that Scoble shares from a few major domains like Techcrunch, LinkedIn, and live streaming video apps most often, but there aren’t a ton of different sources. As a result, if you’re looking for tech coverage, the ability to gain a share of the conversation through him is relatively difficult. If you get in, you can achieve a strong share of voice because there isn’t a great deal of competition. Thus, constraints like dedication (trying to get Scoble to notice your content) and connection (trying to get a hold of Scoble) matter in order to get seen.

Compare this with social and digital marketing influencer Jason Falls:

falls

The graph above, intentionally difficult to see, shows that Falls shares a tremendous amount of content from a very wide variety of sources. This puts any one publication in a relatively weak share of voice; getting Jason Falls to share your content isn’t an impossible task (as long as your content is good), but getting noticed in the pack might be. Constraints like resources (such as adding paid promotion behind one of Jason’s shares) or agility (ensuring that you provide Jason lots of content that’s timely) matter most in order to get seen.

If you’re not sure about the pace of your industry or topic, the easiest way to make that determination is with a service like Google Trends. For example, suppose you’re wondering about the pace of the video streaming market:

Google_Trends_-_Web_Search_interest__Streaming_media_-_Worldwide__2004_-_present

This is clearly an ascendant market; the pace is quickening. Thus, if you’re in the video streaming industry, you now know that strategies which favor collaborative PR – fast pace and potentially strong voice through influencers like Robert Scoble – could be your best bet. If you lack connections, however, you’re in a really bad spot, and building those connections should be your first priority, the first tactical steps you take towards a collaborative PR strategy.

Contrast this with some of the digital marketing channels:

Google_Trends_-_Web_Search_interest__Social_Media_Marketing__Mobile_marketing__Direct_marketing_-_Worldwide__2004_-_present

Social media marketing and direct marketing (which includes marketing like email marketing) are slowing down. The pace isn’t as fast, whereas mobile marketing is ascendant. If you’re a social media marketer or a digital direct marketer, you probably already know that there isn’t a ton that’s new under the sun. Thus, you have a slowing pace and a weak voice environment. Traditional PR strategies – which will involve a lot of commitment of resources – will be necessary to be heard. You will need influencers like Jason Falls, but you will also need paid media budget, cross channel integration, and lots of time in order to achieve success.

Conclusion

We’ve taken a grand tour through the world of PR strategy, from traditional PR to handling PR in a chaotic environment, from innovation to collaboration. You’re now equipped to analyze and determine the best overall PR strategies for your industry; you have a better feel for what could work and what isn’t going to set you up for success.

How to Choose a PR Strategy

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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28 Aug 2015

Tips for Successful Presentations

Microphone at Event

So you need to give a presentation. You’ve got PowerPoint fired up and the audience is ready. The presentation is all set, all that is left to do is – present. The presentation is ready – are you? Here’s how to make your presentation a success.

Talk Slow

An easy mistake people often make is rushing. And there’s no quicker way to tell the audience that you aren’t comfortable with public speaking than to speed through your presentation. Talk very slowly, even if it’s uncomfortable. You always talk faster than you think you do, so slow your roll.

Don’t Read Off the Slides

Please, please, PLEASE don’t read directly off slides. A good presentation displays the main topic or broad points, allowing you to elaborate through your speech. If all of the information you are discussing is on the slides, what purpose do you serve? Your audience can presumably read; don’t read the presentation to them

Be Excited About Your Topic

Hopefully the topic you are presenting is one you are both interested and knowledgeable in. Your enthusiasm should show! You don’t have to be hopping up and down, but you should have a level of energy that makes people want to listen to you. An enthusiastic presentation about a dull topic will be far more captivating than a low-energy presentation about an exciting topic.

Practice-Practice-Practice!

No one does anything perfectly the first time they try it. Chances are, your presentation won’t be perfect the first time either. Make sure the first time you present isn’t at the actual presentation itself! Run through it in empty room, run through it front of coworkers, heck, present it to your pet! Just make sure you do a few practice runs beforehand.

Another trick is to present in front of someone who isn’t familiar with the topic. This is a good way to have questions asked you might have overlooked, and prepares you for the questions a crowd might throw at you.

Don’t Sweat It

Finally, don’t worry! You’ll be fine. Take a deep breath, and head on out there. Your audience awaits you.

Angie Goldman
Marketing Analyst, Marketing Technology

27 Aug 2015

Fix Google Analytics Referral Spam

Attention Google Analytics: you have a problem that desperately needs your attention. Referral spam is getting out of control and messing with the data we gather for ourselves and our clients. That valuable data is used to make business decisions, and referral spam is affecting that data. While we wait for a permanent solution from Google, we’ve developed a way for our clients and friends to avoid this issue from affecting their decision-making.

What is referral spam?

spam bot referral traffic

If you frequent your Google Analytics account, you’ve probably looked through your referral traffic to see how people visit your website and where they are coming from. Recently, there have been sites popping up that aren’t truly traffic drivers, but rather “ghost” referral traffic. This traffic distorts the information you’re gathering. In other words, someone is kidnapping your traffic on its way to Google Analytics.

This turns into traffic for the spammer in two ways:

  1. Webmasters and analytics nerds click on the URL to investigate the why the site is showing up in Google Analytics. This visit adds to their traffic numbers. (That might seem like a lot of work for a little traffic, but spam is a numbers game.)
  2. Backlinks – less aware webmasters are more likely to link back to the spam site, thinking they’re returning a favor. In reality, the original link to their site never existed in the first place.

Why should we be concerned about referral spam?

Referral spam does not affect your website. It doesn’t open your site to hacking, nor is it a sign of an insecurity. What it does do is mess with your Google Analytics data, the important data which you use to make data-driven decisions.

If you’re getting a decent amount of traffic from these websites and don’t remove the spam traffic from your reports, then the data points for each KPI are skewed. For example, simple things like the amount of referral-based site traffic will be higher, which could lead to incorrect conclusions about PR campaigns or content creation. You want to make sure your decisions are based on solid data.

Help! I have referral spam sites listed in Google Analytics.

Google has confirmed that they are working on a solution to this issue. In the meantime, you’re still stuck with spam traffic, right? Wrong! While Google Analytics resolves the problem on their end, we can block those websites and keep them from distorting our data.

Taking a look at our referral traffic, here’s how to create a filter for each spammy URL.

  • First things first, check if you have any referral spam by logging into Google Analytics and going to Acquisition – All Traffic – Referrals.
  • If you find spammy sites, make a note of all of them – they are typically easy to identify. (See the list above for some of the more “successful” referral spam sites.)
  • Once you have a list of those sites, go back to the top of the page and click “Add Segment”.

Referral_Traffic_-_Google_Analytics

  • Add a new segment by clicking the “+NEW SEGMENT” button.

New Segment

  • Once you start to fill this out it becomes incredibly easy to add in sites:
    • First, click “Conditions”.
    • Second, choose “Exclude”. (Obviously – we’re trying to remove this traffic from our view, right?)
    • Third, in the dropdown below, type in “Source” – we want to filter the spam traffic based on the source of the traffic, the website.
    • On step four, begin typing the name of a referral spam site and select it when it comes up.
    • For step five, add the next site you want to filter. Continue adding sites until you’ve captured them all.

referral spam filter

 

One thing to note in step four are the multiple “floating-share-buttons” sources. Each of these should be added to the filter. Thankfully, Google Analytics’s auto-complete helps you find the additional sites without having to record each variation in a list.

For the more technical among you, there are other filtering methods you can use – .htaccess filtering being one of them. There are instructions for this on the Moz blog.

One final step – visit the “View Settings” page, found in the admin section of Google Analytics. In this list there is an option to exclude bot filtering. Make sure you check this box. While we aren’t entirely sure of its effectiveness, it should still give Google information to help fix this issue.

Bot Filtering

What’s next?

Google is working on a solution. It will take time, but according to Adam Singer, they’ve given it a high priority. In the meantime, the steps we’ve outlined above will help. We highly recommend reviewing your Google Analytics data at least weekly, preferably daily, and continue to add any new sites to the spam filter.

Have questions or need help getting this squared away? Send us an email and we’ll be happy to help.


Chel Wolverton
Account Manager, Marketing Technology

Work at SHIFT

26 Aug 2015

3 Reasons Why Social Media is One of the Most Important Marketing Tools

Kiev, Ukraine - August 26, 2013 - A collection of well-known social media brands printed on paper and placed on plastic signs. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Tumblr logos.

“Follow me on Instagram!” read the text. “Amber __ added you on Facebook!” said the notification. Years ago, those sentences would have been meaningless, but today, in our personal lives, social media has become a vital part of how we connect with others. The same is true for brands trying to market themselves on social media.

Here are 3 reasons why social has become a key component of marketing programs:

Social media builds communities.

If you do it right, building your brand means connecting your audiences within a larger community. Social media allows people who are interested in a brand to connect not only with that brand but also with each other. For example, my dad only has 5 friends on Facebook, but follows every move of the “Game of Thrones” Facebook page. Creating engaging posts and great content makes social one of the most important tools in a marketer’s arsenal. It enwraps users into the loving embrace of a community bigger than themselves but in which they play a role – and makes them more likely to engage with the brand in terms of using/buying.

Social media is a microscope into the petri dish of user feedback.

Social media is one of the main platforms for consumers to express themselves, which includes both praise and complaints. You can probably remember the last time you sent out a Tweet praising your meal at a restaurant or complaining about an airline, for example. With a proper monitoring strategy, brands can keep track of their mentions and respond in real time – making amends or just letting customers know they’re listening and that they care. In industries where public image is everything, social media lets marketers tap into sentiment they might not otherwise get to see and convert brand haters into brand celebrators.

Social media lets customers, who you might never have known how to reach, find you.

Pretend you’re managing Pinterest for your brand, posting great content, the works. Someone goes looking in the feed of users they follow to find some great new content for their “wedding” board (I promised myself I wouldn’t make one, but I caved). They see that one of the people they follow has repined a pin you posted, one that showcases your brand of wedding planning services. You attract their interest, they re-pin the pin that caught their eye, and before you know it they’ve become a customer. Such is the seemingly magical power of using social media. You never know who you can reach by using social media as a marketing tool, and you can attract a lot of customers to your brand that might never have come your way.

This is just the beginning of why social media can be the proverbial claw hammer in your box of marketing tools – in other words, an essential tool that you can’t go without.   Have any other ideas for why social media is your go-to marketing tool? Add them in the comments!

Amanda Loewy
Marketing Coordinator

Photo Credit

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25 Aug 2015

3 Challenges Every Entry Level PR Pro Faces

Getting your first PR job, or any job for that matter, can be both thrilling and terrifying. Not only are you excited to start your career, but you’re anxious to make a good impression. While college and extracurricular activities will have provided you with some skills needed to navigate the workplace, there are a number of new challenges every entry level PR pro will face, especially in the agency world. To help get you on track, I’ve highlighted three common challenges as well as tips to overcome them.

Managing your time
As a new PR professional, you will likely be surprised at the amount of work on your plate. From compiling briefing documents, media lists and agendas, to researching speaking and award opportunities, your average day is typically booked solid, all while learning new responsibilities and fielding inbound client requests. I have to be honest, there are some times (especially in the beginning of your career) when your workday will seem pretty chaotic. In order to mitigate this, it’s imperative that people just getting into the industry develop strong time management skills early on.

I’ve listed out a few tips below that will ensure you’re making the most of your time and ultimately help improve your time management skills:

  • Develop a daily task list with the activities you’re responsible for. Also include how much time you estimate each task will take so you can plan out your day accordingly. If you’ve compiled your task list and allocated nine hours of work for the day, talk to your manager and see which task(s) can be pushed back. By creating a tentative plan first thing in the morning, and keeping the line of communication open with your team, you’re one step closer to managing your time effectively. You can take this one step further by compiling your task list for the following day before heading home the night before. This will help you keep track of the tasks you were unable to complete day-of and ensure they’re top-of-mind the following morning.
  • Schedule your day in an online calendar, such as Outlook. In PR, your day is consistently changing – meetings pop up or get pushed back, last-minute research requests comes in, deadlines are moved up, etc. By assigning each task to a particular time of the day, and readjusting as needed, you’re continuously referencing your to-do list. Additionally, by setting alerts on your calendar, you’ll be reminded when it’s time to start a new task.
  • Go over weekly priorities every Monday as a team. This will give you an opportunity to discuss timelines and opens the door for communication with your managers.

Making deadlines.
Something that goes hand-in-hand with developing time management skills is being cognizant of deadlines. While using the “dog ate my paper” excuse might have worked in college, it’s unlikely that it will work with your client (although I’d be curious to hear if it has!). In order to keep your clients happy and your PR initiatives moving forward, it’s vital that you’re always conscious of deadlines.

There are a couple ways to do this:

  • First and foremost, ask your client or team if and when there is a deadline. This gives you the ability to plan out the rest of your day or week and collaborate with colleagues as needed.
  • If you develop a daily task list, highlight the initiatives you have to get done today or tomorrow. This will make those particular tasks stand out when you reference your priorities throughout the day.
  • Create a calendar appointment on the day and time a task is due. This will remind you when the deadline is so it doesn’t fall off your plate.

Using social media professionally.
Another challenge for anyone starting an entry level career is learning how to use social media professionally. While these channels are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, there’s a good chance you’ll start using it to connect with colleagues and clients as well. Because they way you portray yourself online can affect how people in the workplace view you, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to make a good impression when using social media.

Here are a few tips to help you use social media professionally:

  • Only post content you’d feel comfortable with your client or boss reading. If you wouldn’t say it when they’re around, you probably shouldn’t post it online.
  • Don’t post negative comments about work. Chances are, your colleagues, boss or client will see those comments and that’s an uncomfortable conversation you don’t want to have.
  • Post photos that you wouldn’t be embarrassed about. When you list which company you work for on your page, and start to connect with colleagues via social media, you will start to show up as a suggested friend to people you have those similarities with. If your profile picture is inappropriate then it could make things awkward at work. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” really is true.
  • For additional advice on keeping it professional on social, check out this previous SHIFT post.

For those of you just starting in PR, the above three challenges will probably hit close to home. Understanding the importance of time management, deadlines and how to use social media professionally lay the foundation for your career and as a result, can have a significant impact on your future success. By keeping these challenges and tips in mind, you’ll be one step closer to a great career in PR.

Julie Middleton
Account Executive

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24 Aug 2015

How to Choose a PR Strategy, Part 5 of 6: Collaborative environment

Strategy is one of the most abused, misused words in the entire lexicon of business. Ask 100 executives what strategy means and you’ll get 150 different answers. In this six-part series, we’ll look at how to choose a PR strategy based on visible, measurable criteria and a meta-strategic framework. Today, we’ll examine the collaborative PR environment.

Recall that our framework for choosing a PR strategy is based on two dimensions, pace (how fast things change) and voice (how easy it is to be heard):

how to choose a PR strategy

The collaborative environment is defined by a fast pace and the ability to have a strong voice, to be heard clearly; the strong voice has a catch, however. Strong voice in a collaborative environment is possible only through networking and alliances. In an environment in which no one brand has dominance, but is quickly unchanging, collaborative PR efforts can lead to significant breakthroughs.

For example, in Jeremiah Owyang’s collaborative economy, companies like AirBnB, Uber, Breather, etc. all are aggregations of individuals and solo proprietors. None of these individuals on their own would be able to achieve any market awareness or scale on their own; together, they form a formidable opponent. These companies have become so dominant that their names and brands now define other business models. New companies define themselves as the Uber of X or the AirBnB of Y.

In the early days of podcasting, a consortium of podcasters grouped together and amplified their voice and awareness through a nascent company named Podshow. Podshow’s efforts led to the first wave of podcasting and gave the medium enough momentum to sustain itself.

In digital music, while there were many upstart companies, only Apple Inc. was able, using Steve Jobs’ many entertainment industry connections, to force the hand of the recording industry companies to participate. His efforts paved the way for legitimate digital music companies to flourish at a time when music piracy was the de facto standard among consumers.

Collaboration is nothing new to the digital age; associations and organizations of businesses are as old as business itself. Consider the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the myriad of trade groups for every industry. All these associations serve similar purposes, to amplify the voices and power of individual members above and beyond the individual companies.

How To Choose A Collaborative Strategy

In the collaborative environment, connection defines whether you win or lose. If you want to become the industry leader in a collaborative environment, you have to be the organization with the biggest, best network of connections to other players. Like the formation of stars and planets, the strongest connections build the biggest winners.

What strategies and tactics fit well in a collaborative environment? Collaboration is ideal for industries without much news to offer. By creating an association or consortium, individual members can pitch in affordable amounts of marketing and communications budgets to accomplish industry studies or major initiatives that they could not afford alone. The collaboration leader would set the direction and manage the plan, but the industry as a whole would benefit and awareness can be created from the research.

Collaboration is also ideal for any environment where major challenges must be addressed but are beyond the scope of any one company to tackle. Note that this can occur even in the presence of an existing industry; the example of Uber disrupting the taxi industry is a textbook case of collaboration overthrowing an existing paradigm.

Where You’ll Go Wrong

The biggest mistake in collaborative PR is not being the collaboration leader. If your network isn’t the strongest, if your connections aren’t the deepest, then you can work to build a coalition and end up deferring leadership to another party. The other party will reap the rewards of your efforts. You may gain some ancillary benefit, but no more than other coalition members, while the other party’s name will be strongly associated with the industry’s leadership.

The second biggest mistake in the collaborative PR environment is in failing to distinguish it from a chaotic environment. While fast-paced, collaborative environments aren’t as unstable as chaotic environments. A truly chaotic environment will render moot any attempt at defining standards via a consortium or association; a collaboration strategy in a true chaotic environment will simply be a waste of time. To avoid this mistake, determine if the changes are going to happen with or without your industry’s participation. If the latter is true, you’re in a chaotic environment. If a coalition of industry players can steer change, then you have a collaborative environment.

For example, smartphone adoption and usage happened without the agreement of the music industry. Companies such as Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio were able to adapt in the chaotic environment, in an environment in which they had little say. Traditional music companies neglected to recognize the change until the streaming music players had eaten their lunch.

In the final post in this series, we’ll look at choosing strategies and understanding whether your strategy is the best choice.

How to Choose a PR Strategy

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Download our new eBook, How Social Broke PR

21 Aug 2015

Conducting an SEO Audit Pt. 2: On-Site Components

In the first post of this series, we talked about the questions you should ask to figure out whether or not you need an SEO audit. If you walked through those and found yourself saying, “I sure do need one,” then keep on reading.

So you need an SEO audit. Perhaps your organic traffic could be better. Or your competitors are smoking you out on search. Either way, you’ve decided that you want to step up your SEO game and discover where holes can be plugged and improvements can be made.

One of the first steps in your audit should be looking at on-site issues. This means checking out your own website to see what’s working well and what needs fixing. After all, at the end of the day your website is the key component to a successful SEO program. Since, you know, that’s where you want people to go.

Here are a few core items you should examine on your website:

Broken Links
You know what a searcher (and Google) doesn’t love? Broken website links. Not only do broken links affect user experience, but they also can affect your SEO ranking.

How does it hurt? One of the ways your website gets ranked is thanks to little guys like Google who crawl the links on your site. If it comes across a broken link, it can stop in its tracks and prevent it from being indexed.

There are many tools out there to help you discover broken links. They’ll scan your website and deliver a list of any links that aren’t working, which you can then fix or get rid of on your site.

Site Speed
Within Google Analytics, you have the option to check out how pages on your site do speed-wise. It will show you data around individual webpages, specific browsers and even offer suggestions on how to resolve the issues. You can find this in Analytics under Behavior.

Why is this important? Google has let everyone know that site speed factors into how it ranks pages in their search engine. Slow speeds = lower ranking.

Mobile Optimization
If you’ve worked in marketing or communications for even the past 30 days, you’re well aware of how important mobile has become. People are using their mobile devices to access websites more than ever. Which means you have to be optimized as of yesterday in order to be in good SEO shape.

Google has a free tool that allows you to test whether or not your site is mobile ready. Check it out. If it’s not okay’d by the G machine, get mobile ready ASAP.

Those are some basic technical components to be on the lookout for when examining your own website. Google’s Webmaster Central blog also offers up some great information around how they crawl and index sites – which serves as good indicators on what you should be aware of for yours. Stay tuned for the next post in this series that will drill down more into search and keywords.

Amanda Grinavich
Account Manager

Photo Credit: Upstate Synergy

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20 Aug 2015

Not Always There When You Call, But I’m Always On Brand

But really ... what is your personal brand?You’re walking into a new business pitch, do you know where your personal brand is?

It’s 9 a.m. on a Monday, do you know where your personal brand is??

Your manager is making small talk with you by the Keurig, do you know where your personal brand is???

If you answered no to any of the above, continue reading. If you answered yes, still continue reading. Your greatest weapon can be your personal brand but only if you take this seemingly useless and laughable concept completely serious. Ignoring semantics, your personal brand can and should be incorporated into your professional life on a daily basis. However, rolling out a brand goes far beyond showing a little personality, instead you must take a good, long look at yourself in the office’s unisex bathroom mirror and commit to always being On Brand. Here’s how:

Step one: See the brand.
The best way to build a brand is to think about what you want people to associate with you when your name comes up in conversation. For example, “Are you talking about Kelly Anderson? Her Twitter content is really great and totally sharable.” Pick your strengths and shine the brightest, most obnoxious spotlight on them 24/7 for all to see – even if they didn’t necessarily ask to see.

Some people make it life’s mission to stay at least twenty feet away from the spotlight – even I can’t make eye contact with someone giving me a compliment – but there’s nothing wrong with making your strengths known especially if they those around you also gain from the benefits.

Advanced Tip: Have no shame.

Step two: Be the brand.
If you build a personal brand and no one is around to see it, does it really exist? Answer, it doesn’t.

Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the tweets you send to the way you present yourself in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.

Each day, find a way your brand can produce value. If your strength is writing, take on as many writing projects that your plate can handle. If you’re the creative type, make it a point to suggest the most ridiculous idea in every brainstorm you join. Do you think you’re funny? Find a way to make the room laugh in the first ten minutes of a new business pitch. And polite “I’m laughing because I don’t know what else to do” laughter doesn’t count.

Advanced Tip: Update your Facebook status to “In a serious relationship with my brand”

Step three: Reinvent the brand.
Your brand isn’t set in stone. If that were the case I would still be three-barreling my hair and listening to Ashlee Simpson. Instead, think of it as a narrative that continues to evolve. You will (hopefully) learn new skills and develop new interests over time, so your brand is bound to change and it’s best not to fight it. Rather, embrace the storytelling opportunity.

 Advanced Tip: Create an editorial calendar for all of your brand updates

Always remember that you are in control of the impressions you give off, don’t leave it to chance and let others take the lead. Your brand is your personal visibility campaign, and guess what? You’re the campaign manager. Congrats!

Kelly Anderson
Account Executive

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19 Aug 2015

I’m Not on Twitter, It’s #NBD

Twitter_logo_blueOne of the points that college career offices like to hammer into soon-to-be-grads is that you need a “personal brand” to stand out in today’s corporate world. In a hyper-competitive environment, candidates with an instantly recognizable and easily recallable brand are sure to stand out from their peers.

“But how do I build my personal brand?!” you, an average undergraduate, might ask. More often than not, the answer can be boiled down to a single word: “Twitter.” Candidates with robust followings, a consistent stream of posts and clear interests are more memorable, as the logic goes.

And it makes complete sense. The problem is that somewhere along the way, here in the PR world, a decent Twitter account came to signify more than just a capacity to express one’s interests and connectivity, but rather an ability to excel at public relations. This is a lazy conclusion.

Twitter is one great way to signify that a candidate is #connected, #smart and #dedicated – three of SHIFT’s Core Values – but it’s also not shorthand. The trap that some PR professionals can fall into is that an audience (in this case, Twitter following) is valuable for its own sake. As we at SHIFT strive to prove on a daily basis, this is not really the case.

In today’s #datadriven PR landscape, we work to take a holistic look at how our efforts have specifically impacted our clients’ goals. We take into account many factors, and employ the latest tools to do so. We wouldn’t judge a campaign’s success on a single metric alone, and we should follow that rule when it comes to evaluating employees and candidates.

Which brings me back to the headline of this post. Isn’t it a bit self-serving to write a blog that basically boils down to a defense of why I’m not on Twitter? Yes, but there’s still a valuable point to be made. I’m not on Twitter because there’s no single channel I rely on when it comes to staying #connected, informed and tuned in to the complex landscapes that my clients operate in.

Twitter is great, but so are the countless other information channels available to us, and just because Twitter is the chosen network of the media echo chamber, doesn’t mean it should come to represent anyone’s professional abilities by itself.

Nick Sneath
Account Executive

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