H&R Block turns to Shift for content strategy

KANSAS CITY, MO: Tax-service company H&R Block has hired Shift Communications as its content strategy agency.

KANSAS CITY, MO: Tax-service company H&R Block has hired Shift Communications as its content strategy agency.

Shift will lead social media and content initiatives for H&R Block's “Block Talk” blog, working to grow its audience and establish it as a go-to destination for tax-related content and personal finance information.

“They are our partner in developing this content strategy, not only in implementing it, but in helping us grow it and mature it over time so we reach our objective, which is owning that tax conversation,” said Scott Gulbransen, director of social media at H&R Block. “Our goal is to own the tax conversation in America, and if we're going to do that then we have to be a good content producer, and so [Shift is] helping us deploy that."

The firm's New York office is overseeing the account, led by managing director Molly Mandell.

Shift will also lead content strategy, creating infographic campaigns, developing content strategy and distribution, and advising on social media strategy. It will also facilitate content-syndication efforts and blogger relations, including working with third-party bloggers to develop content for H&R Block.

“What we're finding, especially with forward-looking brands like H&R Block, is that you need to develop a hybrid strategy that includes both earned and paid media,” said Todd Defren, principal at Shift Communications.

Prior to selecting Shift, the company did not have an agency handling content strategy. H&R Block's PR team works with Ketchum, and the creative and advertising unit works with Fallon.

When Gulbransen joined the company more than a year ago, he placed a focus on content, redesigning the company's blog as a content hub. Shortly thereafter, he began to search for an agency to act as a content partner.

Shift handled PR and social media for H&R Block in 2009, and Gulbransen also worked with the agency during past stints at Applebee's and TurboTax. He spoke with a few firms about the role, but ultimately realized Shift would be a fit for the account due to its social savvy and strong understanding of content.

H&R Block declined to disclose the budget or terms of the contract.

The McDonald's Advertising Cooperative, which represents about 300 restaurants in the New England region, hired Shift last fall as its AOR for PR and social media.

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