Ask the Expert: Todd Defren, principal of SHIFT Communications, provides insight on his company, social media
Todd Defren, principal at high-tech PR firm SHIFT Communications and author of the popular blog PR-Squared, is the inaugural guest in our Ask the Expert series. As the PR industry is morphing (thanks in great part to social media), so too is SHIFT with a new office in The Big Apple. We picked Todd’s brain on both fronts:
What spurred the decision to open a new office in New York and how do you anticipate it benefiting the team at SHIFT?
- Consumer brands have grown to become a significant proportion of SHIFT’s revenue.
- We’ve proven an ability to compete and win against large, entrenched PR agencies. Meanwhile…
- New York City is the Mecca of consumer brands. And,
- Coincidentally, many of our Consumer Team staff raised up stakes from Boston and moved there on their own, anyway.
As PR people, we’re not necessarily math-savvy enough to get “2+2 = 4,” but in this case, we saw that 1+1+1+1 = 4!
How has the success and global acceptance of the social media news release met your expectations? What are your thoughts on its future?
While it’s nice to have the credit for inventing the Social Media Press Release, I have diligently “stayed out of its way” since then – watching the trend grow and cheering from the sidelines. It was an idea whose time had come, and I still think it is early in the game. As the Web becomes increasingly broadband, multimedia and social, the concept of the Social Media Press Release will likely be absorbed and talked about, merely, as a “typical” news release.
Why do you think it’s important for PR/marketing communications professionals to embrace social media? How might it impact traditional media?
In a world in which every consumer is becoming a stand-alone media outlet, indexed by Google, social media is allowing public relations to fulfill its original mission of creating, mediating, and cultivating relationships with the public. PR already does a ton of monitoring and analysis of both media and social streams. We can vet the issues, alert clients to rising customer angst, analyze which users need to be ushered into the red-carpet service channel, defend against frustrated claimants, etc. Consumers increasingly expect that their online ruminations will be monitored and responded to in real time. This represents a monstrous scalability problem as the hordes increasingly move online. For the PR firms who figure out how to help companies attend to this dilemma, the benefits will be clear.
As you may have heard, we recently launched a free Social Media Fitness Program. What are your (honest) thoughts on the program?
The idea is good but I think you may have a channel conflict here, i.e., PR agencies are likely offering (or hoping to offer) similar services to their own clients.
What is a common misperception you come across about social media? What is your rebuttal?
The common misperception is that social media is free. It is true that the tools of participation are free, but the amount of time required to regularly create content and interact with people online is immensely time- and resource-intensive.
What do you predict is the next “big thing” to hit PR?
When and if I figure that out, I’ll be posting it to my blog! Meanwhile, we are all still plenty busy sussing out how social media continues to impact our profession, and our world!
SHIFT Communications recently announced the opening of its New York office. Read the social media press release on the Marketwire website.
Are you a PR pro? Are you super-savvy in social media? Are you in-the-know in investor relations? Are you a media professional who’s been transformed by the digital revolution? We’d love to interview you for our Ask the Experts series! The Ask the Expert series is Marketwire’s way of delving into the minds of industry leaders and experts, asking them the most salient and pertinent questions that affect PR, IR and marketing communications professionals. Please contact Nick Shin (nshin [at] marketwire [dot] com) for consideration.