Andrew Cross Partners with Lightswitch to Kick Off 4-Part Innovators Video Series

Video plays an important role in marketing, and has gained momentum in recent years. One scroll through Twitter and Facebook and it’s apparent that videos are resonating with consumers.

As a B2B marketing company, we understand the potential for success in videos for our clients. To reflect this, we’ve grown our video service offerings and partnered with outside parties, like Lightswitch, to bring the best in video technology and marketing into our agency.

To kick-off a four part video series with our video partner Lightswitch, Andrew Cross, VP of Public Relations, weighed in on the positive business implications we’ve witnessed with video on B2B marketing. In the first video of the series, Cross notes that more and more companies are investing in video content to tell their story and provide added value to prospects. Likewise, they see ROI in having owned video assets.

With video technology on the rise, we’ve made strategic moves to swiftly join the ranks of other agencies offering video services. Our comprehensive in house team works with clients every step of the way to create videos that share their stories and great work with the online world.

Take a look at our robust video content library here and find the first video in the four part series here. Stay tuned for the next three videos in the series!

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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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Walker Sands Book Club: The Happiness Track

Determination, tenacity and a strong work ethic are a few traits people often associate with success – but what about happiness?

The Walker Sands Book Club recently explored this idea with “The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success” by Emma Seppälä. The book explains how traditional measures of success place emphasis on hard work but typically forget to address personal fulfillment, compassion, and mental well-being. The author explains that prioritizing happiness can actually boost productivity and improve the quality of your work.

IMG_4271Over the course of three discussions, our reading group found a number of connections between our day-to-day lives and themes emphasized in each chapter. For example, many of us noted how easy it is to get caught in a sea of meetings and emails, forgetting to be present and enjoy the little things. With help from “The Happiness Track,” we were able to identify areas in our personal and professional lives where we can make changes (both large and small) to improve our overall happiness and well-being.

Here are some of our favorite tips from “The Happiness Track”:

  • Close your tabs and focus on one thing at a time: One of the most common habits our reading group discussed was our tendency to multitask, often with countless tabs open in our web browsers and our smartphones always nearby. Ironically, stepping out of overdrive can actually help improve your quality of work. Research shows that, when focusing on one thing at a time, people are better able to enter a “flow” state of increased calmness, imagination and productivity.
  • Make time for meditation (or at least take a couple of deep breaths): To be honest, I was skeptical when I saw the title of chapter four, “Get more done by doing more of nothing.” But once I read about the physical and psychological benefits of meditation and mindfulness, I was ready to give it a go. Our reading group took a stab at meditation with Headspace, an app which helps users devote time to mindful breathing and stillness. Many of us had some difficulty completely unplugging from the outside world at first, but more seasoned meditators were able to explain the benefits they saw from prolonged mindfulness such as increased positivity and focus at work.
  • Tap into your imagination and take risks: In public relations and digital marketing, creative ideas are crucial to standing out from the crowd. But many individuals tend to turn away from imagination and toward convention from childhood to adulthood. To inspire winning ideas, organizations need to embrace potential failure and take creative risks in the brainstorming process.
  • Be compassionate to others and to yourself: Research shows that people who give back, whether to charity, their colleagues or their clients, are often happier and more successful. The author also emphasized that self-compassion is equally as important as giving back to others. Chances are, you’re your own worst critic; making a daily list of what you’re glad you accomplished and things you’re grateful for is an ideal way to exercise self-compassion embrace personal power.

Share your favorite moments from “The Happiness Track” with us on Twitter @WalkerSands!

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What It’s Like to Intern at Walker Sands

Though we’re currently enduring winter here in Chicago, we already have our minds set on summer. At Walker Sands, summertime is filled with team bonding, beautiful weather and of course our summer intern class. Our internship program, which we like to call The Sandlot, helps aspiring PR, content, graphic design and digital marketing pros get hands-on experience and do real work for our tech and B2B clients.

We’re currently looking for talented young professionals who are eager to hone their skills and join our fast-paced environment. Check out what past interns say about their experience at Walker Sands, and learn more about our internship program here:

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How Walker Sands Gives Back During the Holidays

Last week, we wrapped up our fourth annual toy drive to benefit La Rabida Children’s Hospital by lending some hands at the organization’s holiday party. While at the holiday party, we were able to get to know the families behind La Rabida’s Child and Connections Program, which caters to infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or who can be at risk for such delays.

A group of volunteers from Walker Sands recently ventured over to Harris Park to help out with the annual holiday party. Our responsibilities ranged from setting up tables and serving lunch to doing holiday-themed crafts with the kids and their families. We had a great time giving back and celebrating the holidays with the families who came out to the party!

Volunteering 1As  a part of our One Step Forward philanthropy program, we also collected and donated toys to to La Rabida’s Child and Family Connections Program. Throughout the holiday season, our employees generously brought in a variety of toys to ensure the kids from La Rabida have something new to enjoy over the holidays.

ToysWe look forward to working with La Rabida again in the future to continue giving back to our community during the holidays. Check out more photos from our volunteer day here!

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