Company: SHIFT Communications, Boston, Massachussetts
Company Description: SHIFT Communications was founded in 2003, by Jim Joyal, Todd Defren and Ed Weiler – three colleagues who have worked closely in PR for the past decade. SHIFT focuses on traditional technology public relations, as well as consumer public relations, and is a pioneer in the social media space. SHIFT created the world’s first Social Media News Release, adopted by companies such as SAP and Novell.
Nomination Category: Company, Office & Product Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Agency, Brokerage, or Satellite Office or Facility
Nomination Title: SHIFT: Modernizing Public Relations
1. Tell the story about what this nominated office, plant, or agency achieved in the past year (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:
SHIFT Communications hung out its shingle four years ago, led by seasoned
technology PR veterans and a handful of account services professionals. The
principals of the company made an important promise on Day One: NEVER BE
CONTENT. During that time, the first glimmers of what would later be
called “social media” caught our attention. Against this exciting – and
admittedly daunting – new backdrop, SHIFT Principal Todd Defren started his pr-
squared blog, and began examining the underpinnings of social media for the PR
Fast forward to today:
SHIFT turned a cold shoulder to the status quo with the launch of its “Social
Media News Release” (SMNR) template in 2006, hoping to stimulate better
interaction among press, companies, PR professionals, and other key audiences.
PRWeek and BusinessWeek responded positively with their write-ups, touting our
efforts to change the traditional press release format. The business world
noticed: more than 50,000 SMNR templates were downloaded from the SHIFT
website, and top companies like Novell, Belkin, and SAP AG began adopting the
new social media format. We continue to field calls from industry giants such
as Disney about the particulars of the SMNR.
Perhaps more tellingly, Business Wire, Market Wire, and PRNews Wire all
continue to consult with SHIFT as they work to implement the most purposeful
social media formats for their thousands of clients.
The aforementioned Mr. Defren continues to advance the conversation daily in
SHIFT’s blog, to which thousands of PR and marketing professionals link for his
insights about the practical application of social media in today’s PR 2.0
world. Todd’s virtual “water cooler” at the intersection of social media and
PR consistently ranks in the “top five” of more than 600 PR-related blogs.
This is owed in part to his “Open Source” approach to sharing intellectual
capital. For example, SHIFT offered a free PR 2.0 Essentials Guide for anyone
interested in downloading it from our site. The Guide demystifies intimidating
social media terminology for PR pros and examines a range of social media
innovations (such as social bookmarking, RSS, etc.)
The industry’s response? More than 50,000 downloads and hundreds of “thank you”
emails from a broad cross-section of business.
In 2006, SHIFT Communications rose to meet the changes not only for PR but for
anyone with web access and an audience, be they customers, casual readers,
partners or the press. We helped define social media in the communications
realm, and became the de facto leader of a new movement in PR. An unintended-
but-fortunate result is that we continue to attract high caliber clients such
as Novell, Akamai, WebTrends, Shimano, Travelocity Emerging Brands, Oakley,
Yelp, and 1-800-Free-411.
It’s an understatement to say that 2006 was a defining year for SHIFT. It was
the year that we began viewing our profession through a different lens, one in
which key messages can be presented and disseminated across a kaleidoscope-like
range of communications vehicles, such as wikis, Technorati, dig, del.icio.us,
Vlogs, RSS feeds, etc.
We have seen what is possible, and we can never look back.
2. List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, [http://www.youraddress.com]:
3. Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader of this nominated office, plant or agency:
Working in technology public relations for 15 years, Defren specializes in
Social Media strategies and is widely noted for creating the first template for
Social Media News Releases in 2006 and a template for Social Media-optimized
online newsrooms in early 2007.
Prior to SHIFT, Defren was at Sterling Hager, joining in 1994 as an account
manager and reaching the level of managing director in August 2000.
Defren has served as a visiting professor at Emerson College in Boston. In
2006, Defren was named a Research Fellow and member of the Advisory Board of
the Society for New Communications Research.