Admin Appreciation Week at Walker Sands

There’s no doubt Walker Sands has THE BEST admin under the sun. Trish Kalchbrenner, our executive assistant, has been with Walker Sands for two and a half years, and let’s just say it’s a miracle we survived the times before her.

In honor of admin appreciation week, we asked our employees to share what they love about Trish. This post would go on for days if we included all the responses! So, here are the top five reasons why we are lucky to have Trish in our lives.

1. She gets the job done no matter what

“Not only is she the most organized person I’ve ever met, but she’s scrappy — if you need something done, she’ll find a way.” A

Trish constantly goes above and beyond for every person at Walker Sands. Whether it’s coming up with creative solutions to mundane office problems or working her magic to make the impossible seem like a breeze, there’s no problem too big or small for Trish to handle. And not only that, but she is killing the working mom game.

2. She always has a positive vibe

“I’ve never seen Trish with anything but a positive attitude.”

We all know the stereotype of the grouchy admin who is just there just to punch the clock. Lucky for us, Trish is the complete opposite. It can’t always be easy (or fun) managing an office of 80 employees, half of which are millennials, but Trish comes to work every day and radiates positivity. If you’re having a bad day, she’ll lend an ear and know just how to make it better (probably by showing you an adorable picture of her son or recommending the best spot to grab a donut).

3. She knows how to have fun

“She is literally a ray of sunshine and goes out of her way to cultivate our office culture, whether it’s through the company-wide scavenger hunt or simply grabbing a beer in the kitchen on Friday at 5.”  

On top of keeping Walker Sands running, Trish goes out of her way to make sure we all have a little fun throughout the work week. Trish reminds us enjoy the little things in life by organizing our weekly Game of Cones or helping us celebrate holidays like National Pancake Day. Oh, and she is the queen of GIFS (no email from Trish is complete with the perfect GIF).

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What EdTech Stakeholders Are Talking About: Lessons from SXSWedu 20

As a former teacher, education PR professional and current learning and development manager at Walker Sands, I was ready to nerd out at SXSWedu 2017. Thousands of experts gathered for 4 days in Austin, Texas to address trends in edtech and have honest conversations about the challenges facing the education industry as a whole.

Between education celebrities such as Dr. Brene Brown and John Maeda wandering the halls, and one interesting session description after another, my FOMO was at an all-time high. I attended as many sessions as I could and walked away with solid insights into the current state of edtech.

What EdTech Stakeholders are Talking About Now

1. What can VR do for you?

VR, AI and MR (mixed reality, combining the first two) technologies are eliciting intrigue across all industries, education included. While some educators are embracing the possibilities for deeper engagement (major buzzword alert), others worry about the risk of losing touch with reality.

If we can transport students to anywhere in the world with one swipe of a finger and a cardboard box, what’s to become of physical field trips? Will students further lose themselves in a solitary, virtual vortex? Will VR have a significant enough impact in the classroom to warrant any of this?

Teachers who have begun implementing these technologies in the classroom have noticed students prefer to explore them in groups. The social component of education remains significant. Regarding impact, all signs point to VR/AI/MR transforming, specifically and certainly, the med school experience and many healthcare practices.

In the traditional classroom setting, the technologies will allow for deeper exploration by bringing more concepts to life in new, interactive ways. One thing most can agree on is that these technologies are often intuitive enough to make implementation and integration more accessible for educators.A

2. What does the future hold for higher education?

The notion of the 21st-century job, in which you choose a specific career path and then go to school for it, is fading. Companies are instead seeking employees with relevant skills, such as creative problem-solving and good communication.

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Walker Sands Wins Big with Second Annual Marketing Madness

IMG_1On Tuesday this week we gathered at Highline with Chicago’s top marketers for our second annual Marketing Madness event. Last year we tested this event as a new concept, blending networking and speed-dating, and it was so well received we had to bring it back for another round!

We tipped off the evening with our marketing MVPs to share in discussion on hot marketing topics and trends. The format ran much the same as last year: four tables, three topics, three rounds of 15 minute conversation.

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Host, Adam Beason, leads conversations on current trends.

Our five knowledgable hosts made up an all star team:

Before our hosts could throw their first passes, we reached out to our event attendees to crowdsource speaking topics for the night. Over bites and sips our guests and hosts discussed the following topics and industry questions:

  • Current Trends: Are you currently doing any Account Based Marketing? If so, what are your tips to success? If not, do you plan on implementing any ABM strategies this year?
  • Demand Generation: What are a few creative strategies and tactics you’ve used to drive leads to your website?
  • Social Media: How do you measure the success of your social media campaigns? Which social media tactics are generating the best results? What are tips for maintaining brand personality across different social media platforms?

IMG_6 Through open dialogue style discussions, our guests and speakers left with great takeaways and new connections! For more pictures from the event, take a look at the Facebook album we put together.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and our hosts for facilitating an evening of smart conversations. If you’d like to join us at our next Walker Sands event, leave a comment below and we’ll add you to the list!

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The Storynomics Seminar takes a New Approach to Marketing: Storytelling

If there’s one thing we know that works when driving a brand message, it’s storytelling. Storytelling is something we talk a lot about in marketing, and are very aware that the right narrative can take your brand from ho-hum to resonating with an audience of thousands.

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In an effort to expand my storytelling skills and knowledge, I will be attending the Storynomics masterclass with acclaimed film and TV project consultant and author of Story, Robert McKee. After years of creative success, he’s taken his storytelling approach and adapted it to a set of teachings to help marketers transform their stories from interruption to entertainment. In addition to the hands on training McKee will provide, Tom Gerace, CEO of Skyword will also be presenting on how to use storified messaging to achieve marketing and brand goals.

I’m looking forward to attending the seminar and embracing the learn part of Walker Sands’ three pillars, learn, support, do. If you care to join me on March 29 in Chicago, register here using code WALKERSANDS.

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Can’t make the Chicago seminar? No worries. You can also find Storynomics in Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

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Walker Sands Hosts Marketing Roundtable with Catapult

Last week, a few members of the Walker Sands team visited Catapult, Chicago’s peer-selected tech hub. We were joined by a handful of the current residents to help answer their questions and facilitate insightful conversation around how marketing can help to elevate their brands and reach their company goals.

Our very own John Fairley and Meghan Spork led the conversation and fielded questions surrounding the traditional PR and digital aspects needed for a well-rounded marketing program. The companies attending had diverse backgrounds ranging from law, travel to fintech, which led to interesting perspectives and fun conversations full of lots of new learning.

Here are a few key highlights from our discussion and helpful information for other startups looking to add marketing to their strategy:IMG_3202 (1)

  • Press Releases – Too often startups issue a press release and think that reporters will come calling. That may have worked 15 years ago, but not anymore. And when operating with a limited budget, it’s important to understand when to issue a release over the wire and when it’s best just to post it on your website. Press releases are a great way to archive your company’s milestones and should live in a newsroom on your site. They’re great for SEO, helping to theme your website and can act as a good resource for you and prospects to reference.
  • Social Media – When you’re running a business on limited resources, social media is an effective resource for grassroots marketing. Different platforms attract different audiences, so tailor your posts to who is reading. LinkedIn is a better place to reach VC firms and other possible investors, while Facebook and Twitter are better platforms for reaching your customers or potential new hires.
  • Account Based Marketing – It’s the biggest buzz phrase for marketing in 2017 and for good reason! We touched on the psychological factors behind creating personal messages that go beyond your basic mail merge. Before you send out any personalized videos, emails or other content, it’s important to refine your list and target prospects based on their stage in the buyer journey and customize messaging that will resonate with them.

At the end of the discussion, we left the companies with a comprehensive tip sheet to help them integrate marketing into their startups. Here’s a few of key bullets from the sheet to help ramp up your marketing as well:

  • Customers – Your initial customers will inject their passion for your product to help fuel vital content and collateral that can be used for promotion. Maintaining these loyal relationships will be crucial in launching your first marketing initiatives.
  • Bandwidth and Focus – Forget about the CEO running the business and doing a little marketing on the side. It doesn’t work. Establish a marketing contact. This is your go to person who is focused on marketing and isn’t the founder—they’re fully immersed in the industry and have time to devote to setting up campaigns and looking into returns on your efforts.
  • You’ll Need a Story to Get Press – Think critically and creatively. Gather your team together and think of all the possible angles you can take to leverage your brand. Does your founder have a story? Great! Recent product launch? Even better! As long as you have something interesting to share with the press, you’ll have an easier time getting placements.

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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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