What Do Reporters Really Want? We’ve Made It Our Mission to Find Out

In the world of public relations, one thing is always true — media relations is just part of the equation. A pitch may be perfect and the topic newsworthy, but getting coverage is quite the up-hill battle without support from reporters.

At Walker Sands, we pride ourselves on strong reporter relationships. However, there’s always more we can learn about what makes a pitch resonate or what reporters are looking for when it comes to engaging stories. To keep a steady pulse on the ever-changing world of journalism, over the past few months we’ve had the opportunity to host a number of Chicago reporters in our office!

First, Mark Lazerus, Blackhawks beat writer at the Chicago Sun-Times, joined us. Then, Danny Smith, author and freelance journalist for publications like Runner’s World, Huffington Post and Vows Magazine, stopped by. Most recently, Roy Santoro, executive producer at FOX Chicago, and Adina Klein, segment producer of Good Day Chicago, paid us a much-welcomed visit.


(Mike Santoro [left], president of Walker Sands, sits down with Roy Santoro [middle] and Klein [right] to talk about a day in the life at FOX Chicago)

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Friday Five: 8/22 – 8/26


Happy Friday! Read up on some tech news before settling into the week.

IPhone Users Urged to Update Software After Security Flaws Are FoundThe New York Times

NSO Group, an Israeli spy supplier, tried to capitalize on three security vulnerabilities in the latest iOS iPhone update. With the software, an iPhone’s messages and emails can be read and calls and contacts can be tracked. Apple moved swiftly after receiving a tip about the weaknesses and released the updated iOS 9.3.5, urging users to download the new version ASAP.

New 5G Technology Will Speed Up Mobile Phones, EventuallyFortune

The next generation of mobile tech, appropriately named 5G, is on the horizon. Unfortunately when we say “horizon” we’re talking several years out. Either way, the new age of mobile tech means speeds up to 10 times faster than current ones. Top mobile providers have discussed test results and use cases. Experts predict early struggles such as poor device battery life and unstable connectivity, but that the hiccups will be ironed out by 2025.

Olympic GIF ban flip-flop shows once again that Twitter can’t manage its usersTechCrunch

Twitter has come under fire recently for an inability to manage offensive content on its platform, and inconsistency when it actually tries to do so. Last week, Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones was targeted by trolls. Twitter noted it was reporting the harassing accounts but not before she decided to take a break from the platform. This week, Twitter decided to take on the opposite extreme and shut down a sports reporter’s account for tweeting three Olympic GIFs, an action outlawed by the IOC. It’s since been reinstated thanks to backlash, but Twitter’s mood swings have left many confused.

How Parents Harnessed the Power of Social Media to Challenge EpiPen Prices – 

From 2007 to now, the price of a two-pack of EpiPens has gone from $100 to $600. Parents set out to express their anger on social media with a petition and the hashtag #EpiGate, and they got results. Bernie Sanders chimed in too, and the AAFA met with Mylan, the pharmaceutical company who makes them. Since then, Mylan has taken action by doling out coupons to those who don’t get great health care coverage, but many see that as besides the point.

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Women’s Equality Day 2016: Celebrating Our Female Leaders at Walker Sands

It’s no secret that public relations is a female dominated industry, and here at Walker Sands we like to think we have some of the best women in the business!  While there’s still work to be done in regards to the prevalence of female leaders in PR (and just about every industry), we aim to create a culture of equality and provide our employees – men and women alike – with the resources to succeed and grow.  In honor of Women’s Equality Day, we wanted to take some time to celebrate some of our female leaders and highlight their experience at Walker Sands.

Ellen-HansonEllen Hanson

Ellen is one of our fearless leaders, founders and COO of Walker Sands.  She’s a jack of all trades and keeps our agency running on a daily basis.

How long have you worked at Walker Sands? 15 years

As a woman, what makes your proud to say you work at Walker Sands?

Walker Sands is a place where anyone and everyone can excel by working hard and being a good teammate.  The leadership team is 100% behind moving current employees up the management ladder.

What woman/women in the business world do you admire and why?

I really admire Dominique Jordan Turner, CEO and President of Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit working with Chicago Public School students. From her start in the Peace Corp to her current trip to the White House she has always worked for a better world.  Seeing her make major presentations and working a room of city leaders is a real inspiration.

Erin-JordanErin Jordan

Erin is an account director on our retail tech team, a Loyola Chicago alum and is a great example of what it means to rise through the ranks at Walker Sands — she started as an intern!

How long have you worked at Walker Sands? 4.5 years

As a woman, what makes your proud to say you work at Walker Sands?

Opportunities for leadership and growing/building a practice area. There’s also plenty of opportunity to help others grow in their careers.

Are there any areas in the field of PR where you’d like to see improve for women?

While PR is a women-driven field, the majority of the top positions in organizations, primarily in agencies, are filled by men. There needs to be more examples that we can look up to and learn from, and we are responsible for doing a better job of making sure that happens for the women we’re coaching to become leaders in the future.

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Team Spotlight: Dave Parro

Ready to learn more about another employee?

This week, I got to sit down with Dave Parro, a partner and vice president at Walker Sands. Dave oversees a group that includes the marketing technology, retail technology and education technology practice areas, which comprises 18 people across the PR and content teams.

Here’s what he had to say!

1. What is your role at Walker Sands? What does your day-to-day look like? 

I oversee two PR teams and three practice areas, so I spend a lot of time on staff development and coaching, new business development, and high-level client strategy. Most days, I bounce around between client and team meetings, sales proposals and pitches, practice area marketing and thought leadership, and agency initiatives related to process and profitability. As a VP and partner, I have to balance doing great work for our clients with finding new ways to grow the agency and improve the business.

2. How has Walker Sands changed since you first started at the company?

When I started working at Walker Sands in 2012, the entire company was 18 people, and my team was just three people. Four years later, I just hired the 18th employee in my group alone, and the agency is now close to 80 people. It’s Dave-Parrobeen a lot of fun, really exciting, and very challenging personally and professionally to be a part of the Walker Sands success story and contribute to our growth.

A lot of exciting stuff has happened since I first started here. We have quadrupled in size, moved into a high-rise building in downtown Chicago with a magnificent lake view, expanded the new office twice in two years, and continued to do phenomenal work for bigger and better clients.

At the same time, we have protected and maintained the same entrepreneurial spirit, scrappiness and ambition as when we first started. We’ve grown up as a company, but we will always remember our roots and what made us successful when we were still relatively small.

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Walker Sands Hosts Scott Brinker for Second Annual ‘Just a Book’

Where do hackers and marketers intersect? At Just a Book.

FullSizeRenderFor all of August we read and shared the salient takeaways from “Hacking Marketing” by Scott Brinker. On August 23rd, Walker Sands welcomed Scott into our Chicago office as the guest speaker to share more on how we can hack marketing to inspire teams and produce the best possible products. Additionally, we opened up our doors to 45 marketing professionals from technology companies across the Chicagoland area to continue the conversation we started online with Just a Book. Check out the action from the evening and see what others were saying on the twittersphere at the ‘Just a Book’ wrap up event!

Twitter visualization via WayIn:

Missed us this year and want to be included next? Just fill out the form on this page and we’ll make sure to get you on the list!

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Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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