The Sky was the Limit for Walker Sands at the PRSA Skyline Awards

We were honored to be recognized among Chicago’s best and brightest PR professionals at the PRSA Skyline Awards last night. PRSA nominated four Walker Sands campaigns from 2016, which included a mix of media relations, data driven content and integrated marketing. We were honored to take home four awards — two Skyline Awards and two Awards of Excellence.

We are so proud of our teams for working hard to gain recognition for some of our most exciting projects this year. At Walker Sands we are continuosly humbled by the opportunities we get to produce work for some of the smartest companies at the top of their industries.  

Here’s a recap of some of the work we were recognized for last night:

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CompTIA: Skyline Award

Our #MakeTechHerStory campaign for CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the IT industry, took home a Skyline Award. In 2016, Walker Sands approached CompTIA with an idea for an integrated awareness campaign that would unpack a nagging issue within the technology industry: why so few girls are pursuing careers in IT.

The campaign consisted of a complete rebrand of Rosie the Riveter, social awareness video, strategic media outreach and an interactive socially driven microsite. The campaign resulted in 130 media placements, including 25+ feature stories. The video was viewed a total of 35,000 times, with the Facebook Live! announcement of the campaign reaching 17,000+ viewers.

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Label Insight: Skyline Award

The second Skyline Award of the night went to the Label Insight team for their work creating and promoting tandem data studies. Label Insight transforms product data into smart attributes for CPG brands and retailers.

The results of the campaign were remarkable, with more than 130 pieces of media coverage. Additionally, Label Insight brought a new concept to the market, “Transparency ROI,” that changed the industry conversation.

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Grubhub: Award of Excellence

The Grubhub team was recognized with an Award of Excellence for their work developing comprehensive content, consisting of blog posts, whitepapers, SEO pages and downloadable resources to help bolster the B2B side of their business.

Through our content marketing program, Grubhub was able to achieve desired results and position themselves as a thought leader in the B2B side of the restaurant delivery space.

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Manta: Award of Excellence

An Award of Excellence went to the manta team. Manta is an online resource dedicated to small business, offering educational courses, proprietary research and content, and personalized marketing services. Manta regularly surveys its small business members via on-site flash polls. During the 2016 election season, our teams identified an opportunity to turn these flash polls into a window into the minds of small business owners on topics related to the election.

Using the data derived from the poles, the manta team leveraged existing reporter relationships to ensure questions asked would garner coverage, despite the saturated nature of political news. The program resulted in 232 unique media placements and a twitter mention from then presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

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Walker Sands’ New Whitepaper Outlines The B2B Approach to Influencer Marketing

Just about every business decision – no matter the magnitude or industry – hinges on a single key ingredient: trust.

The recommendations of individuals with significant industry and social followings carry heavy weight with customers, sparking a growing desire to capitalize on the credibility of an influencer’s backing. To help cultivate trust among potential customers, a growing number of B2B brands are wisely turning toward influencer marketing.

WS_whitepaper_Under-the-Influence_cover_300pxWhile sales professionals and marketing collateral can certainly help raise awareness of specific products or services, buyers inherently trust people over press releases. In fact, 84 percent of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral.

In our new whitepaper, “Under the Influence: A B2B Brand Guide to Influencer Marketing,” we’ve outlined the steps you can take to bring influencer marketing to your business. From executing influencer marketing initiatives to measuring success, discover how our approach to B2B influencer marketing can jumpstart buyer interest in new products and initiatives.

Finding a fit

When done right, influencer marketing can be a win-win for both brands and the influencers they work with. Businesses have their messages amplified while influencers get their hands on data-based insights that can help grow their social following.

But as in any other relationship, fit is crucial.

Before reaching out to a potential influencer, take a few minutes to ask yourself, “Is this influencer’s content and audience relevant to my business?” Although it’s always tempting to pursue a well-known thought leader, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to make a big difference in your brand’s bottom line. Keep an eye out for influencers who regularly engage a large portion of your target audience using a tone that aligns with your brand.

Pulling the trigger

Once you’ve identified which influencers you’d like to work with, the next step is to set aside the time and budget needed to bring a campaign to life. Thinking about getting an influencer to promote your next product launch? We recommend spending at least two months researching and reaching out to relevant analysts. The more ambitious the influencer marketing initiative, the more time you’ll need.

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When it comes to budget, many of the same rules apply. If, for example, you want an influencer’s help producing a video, be prepared to pay more than you would for a simple mention in their blog post. While nurturing an organic influencer relationship may help you save on costs, it will also take more time. By developing a sound strategy for your campaign and clearly identifying the desired outcomes of the relationship, you can determine how much time and budget are needed to execute a successful campaign.

Measuring success

Measuring the success of your influencer marketing campaign will not only provide insight into an initiative’s ROI, but also highlight areas for improvement moving forward.

Since measurements can vary based on the type of influencer marketing investment, we’ve created a different set of criteria for both ongoing and campaign-based programs. From the frequency of influencer interactions to share of voice among target influencers, each data point can help determine whether the campaign helped move you one step closer toward your goals.

Eager to learn more about influencer marketing? Download our whitepaper, “Under the Influence: A B2B Brand Guide to Influencer Marketing,” and stay tuned for more content surrounding the B2B approach to influencer marketing.

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Clutch Highlights Walker Sands as Top Chicago Digital Marketing Company

We strive to bring the best of media and digital marketing under one integrated agency. Our curious and driven teams continuously think of how to leverage the ever-changing digital world, and every day, discover new ways to help businesses grow.

In an age of “alternative facts” and general distrust, the average consumer is more proactive and critical about their consumption, and so businesses must also think more deeply about how to ensure their trust and confidence. Particularly in the communications and digital marketing fields, where the emotional and personal are so central, a company cannot be vetted simply on the basis of their analytical prowess, but also on how they understand, relate to, and treat their clients.

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In this environment, the importance of online reviews to the consumer’s buying decisions is steadily increasing. With the emergence of platforms like TripAdvisor, Glassdoor, and Yelp, ratings and reviews touches almost every aspect of life—from travels plans to college and job applications.

Clutch empowers businesses to holistically judge and ultimately select an ideal provider based on case studies, their market presence, the types of clients they’ve worked with and what they have to say about us.

To gain a top spot on the leaders matrix and list, clients were asked questions about the scope of projects, communication and our abilities to generate results.Here’s some of the diverse and useful insights our clients graciously shared on their experiences working with us:

“Their SEO expertise stands out. Their approach for the content you want to optimize on your site is very good.” – Vice President, Private Equity Firm

“They are always delivering on time or even earlier, which makes my job easy.” – Marketing Manager, Loyalty Program Company

“As soon as we give them a project…the end product is always really well done.” – Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Magnetic

While Walker Sands has been the recipient of many industry awards, Clutch reminds us that positive consumer feedback is the true testament to our success. We are incredibly grateful to be able to work with great clients who are so willing to make supportive claims of our agency. In addition to that, we must extend a huge thank you to our teams who go above and beyond to provide great services to bring positive reviews to fruition.

To learn more about service offerings and past projects, you can visit our profile on Clutch and also visit www.walkersands.com.

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Walker Sands Named as Honoree for Second Annual Inc. Best Workplaces List

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We’re a big fan of lists at Walker Sands. To-do lists, listicles, media lists — we love them all. But our favorite kind of list is one that celebrates our company culture, which is why we’re honored to rank among other outstanding companies on this year’s Inc. magazine Best Workplaces list!

Inc. selected just over 200 companies from the thousands that applied. Before consideration for this list, our employees were asked to describe why Walker Sands is such a great place to work. Beer fridges and in-office arcades weren’t the answers. Instead of vanity attractions, we cultivate our company culture around an inclusive and supportive atmosphere in the hopes of making all our employees feel valued and engaged. Based on the survey results, it looks like the approach is working!13612311_1157130410975361_542452138331779774_n18341689_1446773172011082_8424649655933048411_n

Company culture is an integral part of what makes Walker Sands Walker Sands. We pride ourselves on a workplace that fosters community, and we are always looking for ways to further our company pillars of learn, support and do. We’ve created employee interest groups called Kaizens, Japanese for continuous improvement, that allow employees to share common interests and improve the agency through volunteering, diversity, celebrations and more. We also promote strong company culture through highly anticipated annual events like the Cubs’ game and city-wide scavenger hunt.

We want our employees to take pride in the work that they do and the company they do it for, and that all starts with a constant commitment to creating an agency worth writing home about. And this will never change, no matter how big we grow or where the next adventure takes us.

14732157_1238815459473522_1677832446873512087_nWe couldn’t have earned this recognition without our supportive teams, and the thoughtfulness of each employee never ceases to amaze us. Out teams’ abilities to go above and beyond for not only our clients, but for each other, is a testament to why we consistently earn recognition from publications like Inc.

Check out our honoree profile and other’s listed on Inc.com here, and the full announcement here.

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Walker Sands Evaluation of EdTech: What Technology Means to Educators Across America

If you’re reading this blog post, you likely have education to thank for something.

Maybe a class in high school sparked an interest in your current career, or a skill you learned in college found practical applications in the real world. It goes back even further to learning to read and write in elementary school. There’s a reason Malcolm X referred to education as “the passport to the future,” and Nelson Mandela called it “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education is key.

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While the importance of education is well documented, what’s less understood are the technologies and solutions that make teaching possible. That’s why the Walker Sands Communications’ education technology (edtech) team made it our mission to find out.

In a survey of more than 500 U.S. education professionals, we explored edtech successes and frustrations, as well as future technology goals and desires. Today’s education environment is primed for greater edtech disruption and adoption, but the 2017 Walker Sands Evaluation of EdTech report found that the relationships between schools/universities and the technologies they use are complex. In the world of edtech, it seems that 1+1 doesn’t always equal 2.

When it comes to overall feelings about edtech, the report found that:

  • Current edtech is often limited, but educators’ belief in the technology’s strengths outweighs initial reservations

    Only 13 percent of teachers give their school/university an ‘A’ when asked to rank their available technology’s ability to improve the learning experience for students. However, teachers don’t seem to hold a grudge. Despite this less than stellar rating, educators are optimistic about edtech’s future positive impact, with goals including a way to better engage students, access to more academic resources and a means to better prepare students for academic success.
  • Cost is king, and funding is the jester

    Education professionals rank cost as their top concern when making edtech purchasing decisions, and for good reason. Just over half (55 percent) of education professionals feel their school/university invests enough funding in education technologies, and a third of teachers (31 percent) expect their out-of-pocket spending for classroom technologies to increase in the upcoming calendar school year.
  • Edtech interests are as diverse as the teachers and students they’re meant to help

    Education professionals are most excited about presentation tools, textbook and content services and classroom efficiency technologies. However, future edtech investments can create big hurdles to overcome. Top pain points experienced when using education technologies in the classroom include distractedness, price and alienation, and edtech providers must find ways to solve for these deficiencies.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 11.06.21 AMBridging the gap between vision and reality will be the biggest challenge for edtech providers moving forward. Fortunately, the foundations to do so exist. Teachers see the potential value of edtech, even if they’re not 100 percent sold just yet. Educational institutions are eager to embrace edtech, even if investment is not an immediate option. And today’s students, who are digital natives with an impressive tech savvy, are well-suited to make edtech work, even if it’s absent from their current educational environment.

Edtech has many educators excited, and we’re feeling pretty enthusiastic about it, too. Because, like we said, we all have a lot to thank education for.

Curious what else we learned? Download the full Walker Sands Evaluation of EdTech report to learn more about the state of edtech in America, or watch our video on the report here. Stay tuned for more insights and analysis on our blog!

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