Shapiro brings an openness to Mozilla's outreach

Mozilla chose Melissa Shapiro as its first full-time PR pro about a year and half ago, when it was about a week into an RFP for a new US AOR. Most recently, she helped the company set a Guinness World Record in June for the most downloads in a single day.

Mozilla chose Melissa Shapiro as its first full-time PR pro about a year and half ago, when it was about a week into an RFP for a new US AOR. Most recently, she helped the company set a Guinness World Record in June for the most downloads in a single day.

“I hit the ground running and never looked back,” she says.
 
 For example, Shapiro helped lend an agency perspective to the RFP (which OutCast Communications ultimately won). Prior to Mozilla, she interned in the tech and energy sector for Edelman after graduating from American University in Washington, DC. She added to her tech skills as a data analyst at the Children's Council of San Francisco, before joining OutCast and Spark PR.

Though a public communications major, Shapiro took an interest in technology and minored in computer information systems.

“Tech PR was something I was interested in doing,” she says, but upon graduation in 2001, Shapiro found “marketing and PR positions few and far between.” Her tech skills, however, opened up opportunities.

Today, the 28-year-old leads Mozilla's PR team, a job she says is made more rewarding by the Mozilla Manifesto, which includes principles like: “The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.”

The Mozilla Foundation was founded 10 years ago, and in 2005 it added the Mozilla Corporation, which markets and develops products. Today, the company has about 200 employees worldwide, including a 20-person marketing team with three PR staffers.

“The Manifesto is the underpinning of everything we do,” Shapiro explains. That means PR must match the organization's ethics and mission, she adds, and that they generally don't require embargoes for the press “because all of the development work that we do is happening out in the open.”

Reporters are also encouraged to join staff meetings, she says, as “that's a public meeting. The number is on the wiki.”

At Mozilla's Mountain View, CA, headquarters, Paul Kim, VP of marketing, says Shapiro moves easily from talking to reporters to programmers and “embodies the aspects of Mozilla we're most proud of.”

She played a significant role in helping Mozilla launch Firefox 3, the group's latest browser, which would eventually help it set the Guinness record.

Prior to the launch, her team met with about 80 reporters in person. “We hadn't gone out and done a series of in-person briefings since Firefox 2,” Shapiro says. “It was really important... [to meet] with people in-person and show them the demo.”

Throughout the ramp-up, which included activating Twitter, the company blog, and beyond, Shapiro's team talked up the goal for Firefox downloads to shatter records.

On “download day,” the staff gathered in front of a big screen with a ticker that tallied total downloads. “[It] was hugely exciting,” Shapiro says. The company's initial goal was 5 million, but when it ended the day at more than 8 million, “we were just completely blown away,” she says.

Kim says, “She has changed us from being almost a purely reactive organization to [one that takes] a proactive approach to PR.”
 
April 2007-present
PR manager, Mozilla

February 2006-March 2007
Associate, Spark PR

June 2004-January 2006

Account executive, OutCast Communications

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