Agency Awards: North American Technology Agency of the Year and PRWeek Small Agency of the Year

We’re excited to share that we’ve been named a finalist in two of the public relations industry’s most prestigious awards programs, the 2016 SABRE Awards North America and the 2016 PRWeek US Awards.

Presented by The Holmes Report, the SABRE Awards is the world’s largest PR awards program, dedicated to benchmarking the best PR work from across the globe. We’re a finalist in the North American Technology Agency of the Year category following an extensive research process involving more than 150 submissions from the best PR firms across the U.S. and Canada. Winners will be announced at the 2016 North American Sabre Awards, taking place on May 3 in New York.

At Walker Sands, one of the key drivers of our business is cross-team collaboration using our digital ecosystem model, which was one of the contributing factors toward our finalist selection by The Holmes Report. From media relations to content, PPC to SEO, development to design and all other aspects of our business, we are constantly working together to determine the next creative solution to help our clients reach their goals.

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No Easy Move: the Switch to EMV (Part I of II)

Over the past year, the fintech industry has been focused on the EMV liability shift. The deadline for all U.S. merchants and credit card processors to adopt Europay, Mastercard, Visa (EMV) standards passed in October 2015, meaning those that are uncompliant may be held liable as a result of any fraud losses. To support the shift, many merchants needed to upgrade or replace point-of-sale (POS) technology and consumers were issued new chip-enabled cards, which are more secure than traditional magnetic stripe cards.

Six months following the official EMV liability shift, we wanted to get a grasp on consumer sentiments toward the changes, so we surveyed 575 U.S. consumers to find out. In our study, No Easy Move: The Switch to EMV, we found chip card adoption to be anything but smooth.

In many cases, consumers faced hurdles with EMV cards right out of the gate — from receiving the cards to first using them in-store, respondents did not hold back on reporting their frustrations. Here are some insights from the report:

Chip cards arrive with lack of instructions

With any new technology rollout, businesses should make it a priority to share detailed instructions to maintain a seamless customer experience. However, this hasn’t been the case with EMV. In fact, more than a quarter of consumers (27.3%) did not receive adequate instructions in the mail on how to actually use the cards, leaving many scratching their heads.

Consumers share common complaints with first-time transactions

In addition to not receiving instructions, many consumers faced challenges in-store when first trying to make a purchase with the cards. Many of the complaints were the result of faulty POS systems, rather than customer confusion. Some common complaints include stalled or delayed transactions or multiple attempts required to read the card.

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Online payments inconvenienced by new cards

EMV cards not only have an impact on in-store transactions, but also online for shoppers who store their credit or debit cards for faster Web transactions. Consumers value the convenience of storing account information with websites of apps they frequent, whether to make one-click transactions on Amazon or hail a cab via Uber. Countless others have their cards set up for recurring payments for things like Netflix or monthly electric bills.

Any stored credit or debit card information has to be manually updated each time a consumer gets a new card — and the EMV shift is no exception. Unfortunately, this leads to wasted time going through and updating accounts or, in some cases, failed payments for consumers who are unaware of the need to make such updates. According to our study, nearly two in five (39%) respondents had to update online accounts or recurring billing with EMV card information. Additionally, nearly one in 10 (9.4%) experienced a missed or failed payment due to not updating the information, leading to additional frustration over damaged financial health.

With so many challenges out of the gate, consumers might be discouraged by EMV technology and continue trying to swipe their cards instead, putting themselves at risk for fraud. Adding friction leads to lost customers for banks and merchants, so card issuers, payment processors and other financial institutions need to work together and make the EMV shift as seamless as possible for customers to avoid upsetting the entire payments ecosystem.

To see the full findings, download The Switch to EMV and stay tuned for a follow-up post, where we’ll dive into in-store adoption rates and the EMV knowledge gap.  

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[VIDEO] Walker Sands Helps Launch Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

In February 2015, Newark element14 and the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, the first major iteration of the board since the original version launched in February 2012. The new board offered 6x the speed and 2x the memory of the original product, but still cost less than $35. As Newark element14’s PR agency-of-record for nearly two years, Walker Sands was tapped to help launch the new board on a global scale, capture share of voice over its competitor, and drive sales of the brand’s exclusive accessories and add-ons.

Through expert collaboration, the Walker Sands team and Newark element14 were able to achieve their goals and then some. The campaign helped make the little computer a big success. YouTube unboxings, exclusive giveaways and sneak peaks had techies on the edge of their seats waiting for Raspberry Pi 2 Model B to launch.

Watch the  Raspberry Pi Launch Case Study video to see what happened next.  

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Walker Sands West: Announcing the Relaunch of Walker Sands’ San Francisco Office

If you’re familiar with Walker Sands’ story, you may remember that in 2012 we opened a west coast office in San Francisco. Located in the SOMA neighborhood at 156 2nd Street and just blocks away from some of the biggest names in the tech space, Walker Sands San Francisco was ready to bring our newly minted Digital Ecosystem messaging to a new market.

As you can tell from the title of this blog post, our initial foray into the San Francisco market didn’t quite turn out the way we expected it would.


We’re the first to admit when we jump the gun. But can you blame us? Given the Bay Area’s expansive tech landscape, we’ve always known that San Francisco is a place we need to be. However, 2012 just wasn’t the right time for expansion, so we decided to refocus our energies in house – perfecting the Digital Ecosystem model before we set out to recreate it.

Spoiler alert: It worked.  Since 2012, we’ve grown 177%, expanding by 52% in 2015 alone. Last year, we hired 28 new team members and built out our already over-packed office space.

Based on the kind of growth we’re seeing from our proven, integrated PR and digital business model, we’re happy to announce that we’re relaunching our presence in San Francisco.

As of April 1, Will Kruisbrink, managing partner and VP, and Annie Gudorf, account director, are leading our West Coast charge and have officially relocated to the Bay Area, making 156 2nd street our West Coast home once again.

Over the past several years, Walker Sands has become a trusted international partner, servicing clients from New York to Tel Aviv. We believe in the Walker Sands mission and want to continue empowering our teams to help make the world’s best companies even better. Our renewed focus out West is an important step toward doing just that.


San Francisco and Chicago are nearly 2,000 miles apart.  But it’s the Walker Sands’ way to maintain our award-winning company culture and top-notch services no matter where we go. A big thanks to all of our friends, partners and team members for sticking with us and helping us get to where we are today. We truly couldn’t have done it without you.

Located in the bay area? Be sure to stop by and say hi to Will and Annie! Interested in learning more about our SF focus and work? Check out our San Francisco location page for more information.


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[VIDEO] Walker Sands Conducts a Social Experiment with CompTIA

CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) sought out Walker Sands with the goal of becoming a brand authority in the cybersecurity space. Additionally, they wanted a PR campaign to help them rise to the top of the non-IT training and certification program industry.

We were excited to take on the challenge, and did so by coming up with a social experiment unlike any other. The Walker Sands team randomly placed preloaded USB devices across several metropolitan US cities to measure how many people would actually pick them up and plug them into a computer. In Chicago, Cleveland, Washington DC and San Francisco, curiosity killed the cat, and people began plugging them in.

Risky? Maybe. Worth it? Definitely. Our astounding results indicated that there is a much greater need for cybersecurity education than we or our client ever expected.

Watch the CompTIA case study video to see what happened when people plugged in the devices!

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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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