Best of SHIFT: Top 3 Posts from Q2 2014

As each year comes to a close, we like to sneak a peek into the SHIFT archives to see our content hits and misses. When devising a content strategy for a new year, it’s important to take note of what worked (and why) to plan what’s to come next year. Want to see how to do this for your blog? Here’s how.

Q2 was rife with moments that exemplified how core concepts in PR, marketing and media are evolving, and not necessarily in the ways we expected. Let’s revisit our top blog posts from the second quarter:

1. Content Isn’t King: A Lesson From The New York Times

“Content is king”…right? Yet the New York Times, as revealed by the internal Innovation Report leaked to the public last May, is living proof that no matter how great your content is, content alone is no longer enough.


The report, developed by the Times to assess its standing in the media marketplace, showed a plummeting online readership and embraced a difficult truth: that reach, engagement and reader retention is a serious issue for the paper, especially in comparison to new digital publishers like Buzzfeed.

The new challenge for the Times, and indeed all businesses, lies in promoting content so that it a) reaches audiences and b) brings them back to the content source in a way that produces beneficial business results.

2. Why Measuring PR Shouldn’t Include Sales

Would you measure the speed of a racecar in kilograms? The size of an ocean in Newtons? Of course not. Just as you wouldn’t use a unit of mass to measure speed, it is neither logical nor effective to use sales goal metrics to measure the success of PR.


One of our favorite metaphors is the idea of a coffee shop. You’re running a PR campaign; people come flocking, but the door (the metaphorical marketing function) is locked. Zero revenue was made. Should PR be held accountable, despite the fact that it did its job properly (to bring audience to the door)?

The role of PR is to build audience. The role of sales, much further down the funnel, is to take leads generated from that audience, and convert them into revenue. While it is possible to reverse-engineer the non-marketing ROI of PR, the idea of using sales metrics to measure PR breaks down the moment one considers the “locked door” factor.

3. The next big social network does not exist

Where should marketers be looking for the “next big thing” in social media?

Unfortunately for marketers, it doesn’t look like things will be that simple. When we examine the new social apps that gained traction in 2014, the trend is toward fragmentation, not consolidation. It would be more fitting to say that the “next big thing” will actually be the “next big collection of smaller, hyper-specialized things.”


The rise of private, anonymous and media-first social apps have changed the game for marketers and will continue to do so as such apps gain traction. For one, they are significantly more difficult to monitor (or in the case of private or anon apps, next to impossible). Furthermore, unlike networks like Twitter and Facebook that allow brands to broadcast to large audiences, the one-on-one nature of these apps makes it difficult for brands to participate at scale.

Ultimately, marketers are going to have to work harder and think further out of the box to reach the fragmented social audiences of tomorrow.

Next week we’ll be revisiting the top posts of quarter three. Stay tuned for a social media quiz (retake it, we dare you) and tips on navigating Google Analytics’ mid-2014 makeover.

JJ Samp
Marketing Analyst


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