Do Good

Do Good

Do Good

Most large corporations have a Community Relations or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department, which focuses on giving back to the communities where they do business, where their employees live and where their customers are. According to a Time Magazine article, in 2002 only about a dozen Fortune 500 companies issued a CSR or sustainability report. Now the majority does. 

Some companies are B Corps–they have faced rigorous scrutiny to demonstrate their commitment to community, environment and people.  There are currently 2,003 B Corporations in 50 countries, in more than 130 Industries.  At the entrepreneurial level, some smaller, niche companies are experimenting with CSR as a mission of the triple bottom line: people, planet and profits. B Corps, as they are known — the “B” stands for beneficial — are a new kind of business entity that by law are required to generate social and environmental advantages. (Time Magazine 2012)

And some companies just Do Good, because no matter what you call it, it’s the right thing to do.

Shift Collaborative is not prescriptive in our approach to giving

As Shift partner Sarah Mayer wrote in her blog, “doing good is an individual and personal thing. To ask that the entire [Shift Collaborative] team to support one charity, or do one good thing together, feels prescriptive.”shift-off-site

To put a greater focus – not just on the organizations we work with, and not just on the organizations the staff volunteer for, but with organizations that have meaning to us and an impact on our lives – Shift Collaborative created Do Good.

Do Good was born out of an off-site staff retreat where the team reflected on 2016 and planned for 2017. Each staff member wrote down the names of their three favorite nonprofit organizations on separate pieces of paper and dropped them into the proverbial hat (in this case it was a tote bag). We drew 12 organizations from that hat.  Don’t worry, we saved the others.

Our goal for 2017 is to highlight one organization each month.  The nonprofit ambassador (aka the staffer who submitted the name) will lead the rest of the staff in a lunch & learn to share some knowledge and personal experience or passion for the organization.  As a team, we will create and share posts on our social media to highlight the work of the organization.  In some cases, there may be a volunteer opportunity or a donation of items for the organization.  All of this is to recognize do gooders in our local, national and global community. It’s our way of lifting up the work of others.

Dr Jim Withers

Our spotlight organization for January is Operation Safety Net.  We are inspired by Dr. Jim Withers and his words echo how we feel about our Do Good initiative.

“Never underestimate the power of people.”

“It’s about human connection.”

“We are all in this together.”

If anything would “go viral,” we hope it is this idea of spreading good news.  We will share our stories and the stories of the organizations and hope that you will help us.

This is who we are.  This is Shift, Doing Good.

Here is our Do Good list for 2017

Jan – Operation Safety Net

Feb – Operation Better Block

Mar – ACLU

Apr – Sojourner House

May – The Trevor Project

Jun – Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Jul – New Voices Pittsburgh

Aug – The Innocence Project

Sep – Please Live

Oct – Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Nov – St. Vincent DePaul

Dec – The Trade Institute of Pittsburgh


From Local Attention to National Acclaim for Smallman Galley

From Local Attention to National Acclaim for Smallman Galley

Communications Media Relations Shift News

A virtuous PR path for the country’s first restaurant incubator

Since we started working with Smallman Galley just over a year ago (has it really been an entire year?!), we’ve been on an adventure to collaborate with the owners, the chefs, and the bar-program manager to bring their passions to life: four aspiring chefs in four separate kitchens — with four completely different concepts — serving the dining public under one roof in a lovingly renovated Strip District space.

At Shift, we love risk-takers, and we equally love having the opportunity to participate in the complete marketing effort: logo, branding, design, web development, social media, collateral-creation, and PR.

For Smallman Galley, the media strategy has been particularly important: engaging local media coverage first, then leveraging those successes to secure terrific national placements (with more in the pipeline). The strategy has paid off so far for Smallman Galley and for the Pittsburgh region’s burgeoning national reputation as a hot-bed of innovation in the food and restaurant space.

First, Think Local

Engaging local media before approaching national outlets was a counter-intuitive approach according to some naysayers. After all, as the nation’s first restaurant incubator, why not a major coast-to-coast PR push from the get-go? Why not capitalize on Pittsburgh’s already being showcased in national press?

Our theory in this situation was that national media would be easier to attract once we had a slew of local posts, articles, and TV links to share, to use as an inducement to coverage: “There’s big news coming out of Pittsburgh — look at all this coverage.”

But also, on a purely practical level, given our team’s long experience with restaurant launches, we were concerned that we’d make a national push for awareness, name the opening date for the restaurant, and then have to postpone the media because the place hadn’t yet opened. Best of intentions aside, delays always occur amid the complexities of contractors, subcontractors, multiple vendors, licensing, and permitting. (And like home-improvement projects, they rarely come in under budget.)  Why set up the Smallman Galley team for failure if they couldn’t open as initially scheduled?

So we made a plan: Get open, establish success, flood the local market — and then bring the national guys in. The clients agreed, and we placed our bet.

Coverage Mapping

As we mapped out potential local coverage, we broke it down into three phases that would be ripe for media interest. Judge the results for yourself: here’s the coverage we gained.

Media Coverage Phase 1: Concept Announcement in April

There was a lot of “new” going on: a new concept helmed by new restaurateurs seeking new cooking talent, so a large part of our  messaging and media training sought to build confidence and trust that the project also possessed advisors with deep industry experience (in this case the unimpeachably pedigreed Troiani Family). This first wave of coverage wouldalso  serve as a useful recruiting tool, augment other initiatives in attracting the first class of chef-applicants.

April 1: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
New Chefs get a taste of how to run a restaurant

April 1: Next Pittsburgh
Restaurant incubator launches in the Strip District–now accepting applications for its first class

April 8: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
New galley in the Strip hopes to turn out top chefs

April 29: WPXI-TV Our Region’s Business
Smallman Galley: A Restaurant Incubator in Pittsburgh’s Strip District

May 8: WTAE-TV
Unique competition concept will bring top chefs to new Pittsburgh restaurant

May 20: WESA-FM 90.5
Restaurant Start-up (starts at 36:29)

June 12: Pittsburgh Business Times
Culinary incubators offer place to hone menus

As Mr. Burns would say: “Excellent.”

Media Coverage Phase 2: Chef Announcement in July

Wave two of our coverage centered on the announcement of the chefs who had been selected to be a part of the inaugural Smallman Galley incubation class. With so much initial coverage (rightly) focused on explaining the concept, we wanted to engineer something extra-special that would turn the spotlight on the culinary talent. We decided to give Table Magazine the exclusive. Their reputation for beautifully art-directed photography made them the ideal brand-building platform for this important phase (not to mention that the opening was just two short months away).

July 27: Table Magazine
Meet the Inaugural Class at Smallman Galley

August 16: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Smallman Galley to give chefs a boost

Table’s website crashed for several hours on the day of the announcement. Talk about popularity!

Media Coverage Phase 3: The Grand Opening in October

When communicating a radical departure from the traditional restaurant model — especially given a multi-month time lag, we knew repetition of the core elements would be key to prepare (and entice) potential patrons: Four diverse chefs dishing out deliciousness in this innovative, incubator environment.

December 14: Next Pittsburgh
Eat.Drink.Do. Smallman Galley adds four more reasons to visit the Strip

December 17: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Restaurant scene: Smallman Galley will nurture big ambition

December 18: CBS Pittsburgh
Restaurant Incubator Opens In The Strip This Weekend

December 18: Pittsburgh Business Times
Five things to know today, and a new food incubator opens in the Strip District

December 22: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Hatching new ideas: Smallman Galley food hall an incubator of 4 restaurants

December 23: Pittsburgh City Paper
The story behind Smallman Galley’s a broad and quirky beverage program

January 7: Pittsburgh Magazine
First Look: Smallman Galley

Should it have escaped your notice, dear reader, please note a certain time-lag. Did we place a two-month embargo on opening coverage in some bizarre ploy to depress attendance? No. As we anticipated, the opening had been delayed due to construction issues. While we were thrilled with the amount and quality of media attention, our initial reluctance to go big nationally was looking well-founded.

Media Coverage Phase 4: Pitch National

Armed with this slew of impressive third-party validation, and two months of capacity crowds, we turned to the national media. From the beginning we had our eye on the platinum standard of food and restaurant coverage: The New York Times. Its lively, deeply-reported Wednesday food section is must-read for foodies, industry professionals, and restaurant enthusiasts across the country; it truly sets the national food agenda.

Nearly a year to the day after the announcement of this new concept, the Times’ millions of online and print subscribers were treated to this beauty:

March 15: The New York Times
Pittsburgh’s Youth-Driven Food Boom

What we especially enjoy about this article is that it gives due attention to other restaurateurs in town, helping to further position the Pittsburgh region as a culinary leader. As one journalist who works for a prestigious national publication — and not-so- incidentally has been to Pittsburgh and loves it — told us, and this is almost a direct quote: “Every mid-sized city in the country is riding a wave of local, organic, and artisanal — what’s so different about Pittsburgh?”

She will soon be in town to see — and cover this story — for herself. We’re pleased to report that her article will join Eater (“The 13 Hottest New Restaurants in Pittsburgh Right Now”) and a host of other publications, websites, and media outlets sharing with their readers and viewers.

It will be new to them, but old news (by design) to Pittsburgh.

Follow Me: How to Use Social Networks to Build Visibility & Drive Sales


Today I’ll be speaking on a panel at the 5th Annual Business Technology Conference, organized by the Small Business Development Center at Duquesne University. Our moderator will be Betsy Benson, Publisher and Vice President of Pittsburgh Magazine, and sharing the panel with me will be the delightful Victoria Dilliott, owner of Affogato Coffee Bar.

Our session title: “Follow Me: How to Use Social Networks to Build Visibility & Drive Sales.”

Follow Me: How to Use Social Networks to Build Visibility & Drive Sales

View more presentations from Big Big Design.

My portion of the session will be an evolution of a session I gave at PodCamp Pittsburgh 5, “Blogging for Business.” I wanted to expand on the ideas I’d discussed at PodCamp, going beyond blogging to a more comprehensive social media communications strategy (and actually beyond social media to online communication as a general thing).

The slideshow includes lots of neat visuals from Flickr and elsewhere (all Creative Commons attributed), but there’s one particular visual I’d like to highlight: the “Killer Blog Strategy Mind-Map” diagram by Johnny Haydon. Communications — and social media/online communications in particular — act much like a loop system, and this diagram does a great job of visualizing the loops of causes and effects. A full diagram of the system would be much more complex, but sometimes the complete complexity obscures the core of what’s going on. If you’re trying to set out your plan to build communications (and community) online, this diagram is the place to start.

More notes to come after the presentation.


Thanks to everyone who attended our session. What a fine discussion we had! Very big thanks to Victoria for sharing her story, and to Betsy for moderating the session.

Here is more information for some examples I mentioned during the talk:

Cooks Source controversy: Thorough summary write-up here, the main post by the blogger who first discovered her material had been reprinted without permission.

A sample of how shows interesting content from a Twitter account and the users it follows: my

Eat’n’Park using social media for last-minute promotions during the Stanley Cup playoffs: coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (6/21/2009)

AlphaLab accepting applications for Summer/Fall 2009

AlphaLab main area

One of our client companies is iTwixie, a web company creating the ultimate online hangout for tween girls.

iTwixie was one of six startups accepted in AlphaLab’s Winter/Spring 2009 program, which provided the company with seed funding plus office space on Pittsburgh’s South Side, guidance from AlphaLab and the organization’s parent, Innovation Works, and excellent interaction opportunities with Pittsburgh’s venture capital community.

This is a terrific program, especially for technologists looking for an entry point into the entrepreneurial world.

If that’s you, you’ll want to know that it’s time to pull together your ideas and make your pitch for the next AlphaLab application deadline:

AlphaLab is now accepting applications for its Summer/Fall 2009 session that officially starts on June 15th, 2009! Here are some important changes to note for this new application cycle:

  • We are introducing an Early Action portion to the application period where applicants can be apply and be accepted early for the AlphaLab program.
  • Early Action applicants will be invited to a meet-n-greet event with AlphaLab staff where they can interact and ask questions.
  • Early Action candidates that are accepted to AlphaLab will be able to get an early start on working on their companies and have early access to AlphaLab resources.
  • If an applicant is not accepted as part of AlphaLab Early Action, they will still be considered as part of the general application period.
  • The Early Access deadline is April 17th, 2009.

The general application deadline is May 15th, 2009.

For more information about the application process (including Early Action) and to access the AlphaLab application, visit:

ABOUT: AlphaLab is a catalyst for launching the next generation of software, entertainment technology and Internet-related companies. Created by Innovation Works, one of the nation’s most active seed-stage investors, AlphaLab provides funding, free office space, expert business advisors and services through an intensive program in Pittsburgh. AlphaLab helps companies rapidly develop their technology, gain user feedback from early product releases, develop go-to-market strategies, and move toward successful commercial launch.

PodCamp Pittsburgh 3


It’s back! Pittsburgh’s social media conference returns for the third year running, with great sessions, awesome networking opportunities, and unexpected unexpectedness.

PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 will take place on October 18 and 19, 2008, with a meet-and-greet the evening of October 17.

WHEN: October 18 and 19, 9am to 4pm each day

WHERE: Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 420 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (map/directions)

COST: free!

Register today.

See the PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 schedule. Add a session you’d like to give, or request one you’d like to attend.

Would you like to sponsor PodCamp Pittsburgh 3? Find out how.

In addition to the two days of conference, there will be a meet-n-greet reception the night before, 6 to 9pm at AlphaLab on Pittsburgh South Side. Details for the reception here.

AMA Pittsburgh Marketing Mixer at Six Penn Kitchen


Meet local marketers and enjoy the downtown scene.

When: Thursday, June 12, from 5:30 to 7:30p
Where: Six Penn Kitchen, 146 Sixth Street, Pittsburgh
Who: Anyone, plus members of the American Marketing Association’s Pittsburgh chapter
How much: $20 for food, two drinks, and unlimited mingling

Enhanced mingling is courtesy of The Famous Grouse, Scotland’s oldest working distillery, whose reps will be on hand with samples of their exceptional single-malt whiskeys.

To find out more and register online, see the event page.

These events were great fun last summer, with a lot of marketing and general socializing. I have to miss this June mixer, but I hope you will check it out. And I look forward to the other mixers later this summer.

Pittsburgh Blogfest 14


Spring has sprung, the grass is riz.
I wonder where the bloggers is.

They’re getting ready for Pittsburgh Blogfest 14!

If you’ve been curious about blogging, podcasting, and other social media — and if you’ve wondered how to integrate social media into your business marketing efforts — Blogfest is a friendly, informal setting for talking with people who share that interest. Everyone is welcome.

WHAT: Pittsburgh Blogfest 14
WHEN: Friday, May 16, 2008, 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM and beyond
WHERE: Finnegan’s Wake (near PNC Park, 20 General Robinson St., North Shore, 412-325-2601), in the Pub Room
WHO: All local bloggers, vloggers, podcasters (and their friends!) and Pittsburgh Bloggers
COST: Free to attend

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Finnegan’s Wake, as always. Arrive when you like, leave when you must.

I hope to see you there!

DevHouse Pittsburgh #4 — BBQ House Party


DevHouse Pittsburgh is "the premier Pittsburgh-area hackathon event that combines serious and not-so-serious productivity with a fun and exciting party atmosphere."

We’re about rapid development, ad-hoc collaboration, and cross pollination. Whether you’re a l33t hax0r, hardcore coder, or passionate designer, if you enjoy software and technology development, DevHouse Pittsburgh is for you.

DevHouse is not a marketing event. It’s a non-exclusive event intended for passionate and creative technical and design people that want to have some fun, learn new things, and meet new people.

When: Saturday, June 14, 2008, 2pm – 8pm

Where: Karl Schieneman’s house, 4685 Middle Road, Allison Park, PA 15101

Details of the BBQ are not yet resolved — one scenario is that each person might bring their own grillables, with beverages, sides, and fixings provided. Check the DevHouse Pittsburgh website for updated information, and to RSVP so they have a good guess at a headcount.

It’s sure to be an interesting and fun event. I hope to see you there!

PodCamp Pittsburgh 3


PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 is the third iteration of a community UnConference for people who create, enjoy or are interested in learning more about blogs, vlogs, audio podcasts, web video, content networks and new media monetization.

  • WHEN: Saturday, October 18 through Sunday, October 19, from 9 AM to 4 PM each day
  • WHERE: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 420 Boulevard of the Allies, 15219
  • WHO: New media experts, new media creators, aspiring new media creators, communications and PR personnel, and you!
  • HOW MUCH: Free!

Registration will open soon at the PodCamp Pittsburgh website . Mark your calendar!