Friday Five: 4/10-4/14

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Happy Friday! Check out the latest tech stories before kicking off your weekend:

Facebook adds new features to Instant Articles to encourage email sign-ups and Page Likes – TechCrunch

On Monday, Facebook rolled out an improvement to its Instant Articles feature that now lets publishers include call-to-action units in their articles. In hopes of better connecting with readers, Facebook aims to encourage email sign-ups and Page Likes. The feature allows readers to share their email address directly with the publisher in order to receive email newsletters or other email updates.

Snap Want to Help Brands Track When Ads Drive People to Locations – Wall Street Journal

Helping advertisers leverage unique data, Snap Inc. will roll out Snap to Store – a new set of data and tools for advertisers. Marketers and advertisers will now be able to use the tool to measure whether their Snapchat campaigns actually drive users to specific locations including stores, restaurants and theaters. Although Snap has been testing this tool since last year, it now wants to expand Snap to Store to a wider variety of brands — think retail, fast food, automobile and more.

Comcast Said to Plan Online Rival to Netflix Using Hit NBC Shows – AdAge

Comcast Corp. is planning to introduce and online video service offering top shows from NBC Universal in the next 12-18 months. The new service could include shows from Comcast cable channels Bravo, Syfy and USA. The online service could help Comcast adapt to a TV industry that has transformed, as tens of millions of customers continue signing up for services from Netflix and Amazon.

Google Home can now help you find the cheapest time to fly – The Next Web

Starting today, Google Home users can ask their device to find and track flight prices, hands-free. Google will generate a quote for approximately two weeks from now, and then ask for specific dates in mind. Rather than blurting out every price, it just signs users up for the price tracking feature Google introduced last year. The device is can answer a few other travel-related questions including currency conversion rate or whether you need a visa to enter a country.

Google Disabled Burger King’s Ad Hijacking  Google Home, but BK Got Around That Too – AdWeek

Burger King’s latest ad stunt (a TV spot) was designed to hijack people’s Google Home device by saying, “OK, Google” and asking about the Whopper. Google blocked the ad, however BK would a way around.

What was your favorite tech headline from the week? Tweet us @WalkerSands!

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Walker Sands’ Culture has a Place for Foodies

At Walker Sands we’ve long prided ourselves on having great company culture. We let our employees help shape our inclusive atmosphere through staff-led kaizens. Kaizen is the Japanese word for discovery, which is something Walker Sands has been supportive of since day one.

Our kaizens serve as grown up extracurriculars that take place both in and out of the office. Through the years our kaizens have allowed Walker Sandsians to lead book clubs, volunteer within the community, compete in intramural sports and create their own data studies.

At the start of 2017, the kaizen system underwent a refresh. Everyone was surveyed and asked to provide feedback on the kind of kaizens they’d be interested in joining at Walker Sands. Based on feedback, a handful of kaizens were retired and replaced with new interests, one of which was the Cooking Kaizen.

juliaThe Cooking Kaizen is responsible for bringing people together to participate in activities all things food related. Last month we hosted our first event, a French themed potluck with a special viewing of Julie and Julia.

The evening was filled with lots of handmade treats like nutella croissants, cheese gougeres and tarte de soleil. Yum! Next month, we’ll be venturing outside the office to the flagship Whole Foods in Chicago to try our hand at a cooking class hosted by a local cookbook author.

The Cooking Kaizen looks forward to continuing to bring our love of food into the office!

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Walker Sands Lands a Spot on The Holmes Report’s 2017 North America Agency of the Year Shortlist

WS_Image_AgencyRepresentation_R5 (1)This morning we received exciting news:  We are shortlisted as finalists for the Holmes Report’s 2017 North America Boutique PR Agencies of the Year award – one of the public relations industry’s most prestigious awards programs. The report credits our recognition to consistent double digit growth and expansion, all of which wouldn’t be possible without our supportive teams and amazing clients!

Since Walker Sands’ founding in 2001, we’ve witnessed immense growth and are incredibly humbled to see the accolades our agency has been able to achieve together. Last year we were finalist in the top Technology Agency category, and are privileged to be distinguished for two years running. You can read more about what qualified our agency for a spot on the Boutique Agency of the Year shortlist here.

Today’s news came hot on the heels of last week’s SABRE Awards North America Finalists announcement, in which were earned a spot on the Public Education category shortlist for our CompTIA Make Tech Her Story campaign. This honor is felt company wide today as this campaign was a full team effort, utilizing resources from our PR, demand gen, web/design and content teams.  

The winners will be announced for both awards on May 2 at the awards ceremony in New York. We would like to extend a huge congratulations to the other finalists and wish our team the best of luck at the ceremony!

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Friday Five: 4/3-4/7

The weekend is near, but there’s no time like now to catch up on some of this week’s top tech stories.

Pepsi Pulls Ads Accused of Trivializing Black Lives Matter – The New York Times

Pepsi released a controversial, two-minute ad which has now been pulled. In hopes of aiming to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding, the ad, featuring Kendall Jenner, received intense criticism after making light of current real-world problems. “Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” said the company on Wednesday.

YouTube TV Arrives Today – Promising, But A Work In Progress – Fast Company

Debuting in five markets (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area), YouTube TV has arrived. For $35 a month, users can view up to 50 plus channels, and the service is available on Android phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads, and the web. YouTube TV will allow up to six accounts and three simultaneous streams. The twist? Viewers can only watch on a TV via Chromecast.

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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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