IABC World Conference 2013: Shel Holtz Interview

Shel Holtz

We’re covering the events as they unfold from the IABC World Conference here in New York.

Down below is a short interview with Shel Holtz, courtesy of IABC member Jennifer Mackie, winner of the EMENA scholarship to #IABCWC13, co-founder and community manager of the International Young Women Partnership  and account executive at Hill+Knowlton strategies.

For those of you not familiar with Shel, he is one of the biggest movers and shakers in digital and social communication spaces. He is an author, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology, blogger, influencer extraordinaire and IABC Fellow.

He led a captivating session on the hottest digital trends and their impact on communications. Just a few of the subjects he covered were:


As Shel explains, organisations need to engage more with real-time communications. But strategically, not just tactically. It’s extremely important to do that while staying relevant, valuable, – and refraining from hijacking every story just for the sake of it.

The pressure for real-time marketing – to be the first on the scene – is huge. But focusing on the customer needs is paramount. If not carefully thought through, this approach can have all manner of consequences.

Shel cited examples when real-time marketing has been brilliant … and when it’s been awful.


Demonstrating the way it should be done was Oreo’s clever tweet during the Super Bowl blackout which read:

“Power out? No problem, you can still tweet in the dark”.

The post was quickly picked up on social media as it generated over 15,000 re-tweets and 19,000 likes on Facebook. Here’s more information on Oreo’s tweet.


As an example of what NOT to do, Shel shared an example from Sprint, a telecommunications company in the US. The company tried to promote its unlimited data plan with the tweet:

Lincoln may not know what a cell phone is but even he can appreciate Truly Unlimited data while on the Sprint network”.

The tweet was not only irrelevant and unrealistic but also managed to attract negative attention about the company’s service.


Start with content strategy, not a channel strategy! As Shel explains, once you have a content strategy, the messaging can be adapted to the tactical needs of the situation your brand organisation is facing. In other words, make sure your content is great!

He also notes that visual communications is incredibly important -something our own EMENA board member and IABC fellow Suzanne Salvo (congrats again Suzanne!) knows a hell of a lot about.

For the rest … here’s Shel:


More from the IABC World conference, soon.

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