President and Partner
Mike is the president of Walker Sands, a 60+ person public relations and digital marketing firm focused on technology and business to business professional services companies. The firm is a three time Inc. 5000 honoree as one of America's fastest growing companies and has been a finalist for both PR News and Bulldog Reporter awards for small agency of the year. Mike is also the recipient of a number of awards including recent recognition as one of DMNews 40 Under 40 honorees.
With offices in Chicago and San Francisco, Walker Sands has been cited a leader in PR, social, and search strategy thanks to creative thinking, an understanding of complex concepts, and a commitment to achieving real business results, not just vanity metrics.
Mike is also the co-founder of the Little Giraffe Foundation, a Chicago based non-profit dedicated to supporting neonatal research and preeemie families in the NICU. Since 2011 the foundation has delivered more than 4000 holiday gift bags and funded more than $50,000 in medical research and NICU support grants.
As President of Walker Sands, Mike leads a rapidly growing PR agency that leverages traditional, digital and social media to deliver quality results and high caliber placements for B2B and technology companies.
Under his leadership, the firm has grown rapidly with headcount increasing from six to 45 full-time employees since 2008. Based on the firm’s creative thinking, strong writing skills, and several proprietary tech tools, Walker Sands has added clients in a number of tech sectors, including mobile, e-commerce, logistics, retail, media, and enterprise and IT services.
Walker Sands remains ahead of the curve with integration of social media into PR campaigns, leveraging infographics, and developing comprehensive, understandable metrics to demonstrate the true return on PR investments. The firm continues to forward the industry with new tools for measurement tied to real business results. Walker Sands’ PR Dashboard, currently in beta, utilizes social shares, web visits, and monitors competitor efforts to reduce time-spent analyzing data and reporting metrics, and provides clients with real-time updates.
Walker Sands clients continually find themselves in Forbes, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Inc. Magazine, New York Times, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, among others. This organization has a special ability to position niche clients as experts through data and research driven PR, a place that the agency continues to innovate within.
In addition to enormous growth, numerous professional organizations and industry awards have recognized communications campaigns by Walker Sands, including the Communicator Awards, Hermes Awards, Publicity Club of Chicago, PRSA Skylines, Business Marketing Association, PR Daily and the Interactive Media Awards.
Everyone should read The Devil in the White City. That goes double for anyone living in Chicago. Erik Larson is an amazing story teller who brings the 1893 World's Fair to life. If you haven't read this book go do it right now. I also try to force Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion on everyone I know. It's one of the best books on social psychology out there. Every marketing person should read it.
We have a moment in almost every client where they send you an email in which they express amazement over what you've been able to do for their business. 500 leads generated, doubling the size of the business, a huge hit in a national publication. There's always that moment when they say thanks and it's awesome every time.
I love working in New York, Boston, San Francisco. There's nothing like emailing from a beach in the Caribbean. But despite our brutal winters I couldn't ever leave Chicago. Best city in the world.
In college I was paid in French toast to paint an entire beer garden. I had stayed at school over the summer and run out of money. Having been rejected by Barnes & Noble, and with only a 5lb bag of potatoes left to eat, I took the advice of a friend who told me that if I painted the beer garden I might be able to get a job at the bar. Turns out they didn't have any jobs, and all they could offer me was a French toast meal. It was really delicious.
I'm pretty proud that the first album I bought was Pearl Jam's Ten, so I'm fairly proud of my musical purchases. Gifts are another story. I'm pretty sure my MC Hammer cassette broke from over use. You can't touch this.