We’re excited to announce our recent achievement on Clutch.co, a B2B ratings and reviews site. In 2018, Clutch has recognized Walker Sands as a leading company in not one, but four different categories in their Top Chicago Advertising and Marketing press release! These include: Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, SEO and PPC.
There doesn’t seem to be an end point to the growth of digital marketing. It continues to evolve in unpredictable ways. As such, our team is always thinking about how to reinvent our strategies to keep up with customer trends and technologies. Our team of strategists and original thinkers at Walker Sands thrive on rising to these challenges, and we’re grateful to have client reviews on Clutch to prove it.
Since joining the ratings and reviews platform, we’ve had a number of our clients take the time to provide their feedback, which we are so thankful for. The reviews not only help with our online reputation management, but show prospective buyers that we can be trusted with their business challenges and deliver important returns on their investment.
To say the least, we’re thrilled to have 5-star ratings on Clutch!
We’re honored that our clients have provided feedback that allows us to be amongst the best of the best in Chicago digital marketing. We will constantly strive to create work that is impactful and leads to results that matter for our B2B brands.
In addition to summer hours and the legendary annual Cubs game, Walker Sands offers employees who have been with the company for three years a great opportunity: To visit an agency within the Public Relations Organization International (PROI) network. The goal of the program is to strengthen our ties with agencies around the world, while learning from our PR and digital marketing peers.
I was awarded the opportunity to visit Lansons, a full-service agency specializing in corporate, political and financial communications. At the end of February I packed my bags, exchanged my dollars for pounds and brushed up on the British monarchy by binge-watching “The Crown” for a full week of learning in London.
In July 2017, we were joined by Becky Annable, account direct and partner at Lansons. Not only did Becky share their incredible work and client portfolio, but she also emphasized Lansons’ interest in building a strong content program. As a content strategist and part of a 14-person team, I saw an opening to talk more about content’s role in public relations and digital marketing – and maybe show off some of the great work we’ve put together for our clients.
Learnings & Takeaways
After nearly 30 years in business, Lansons has cemented its place as one of London’s premier public relations agencies. And after meeting with their teams, it’s clear why. Everyone from new business development to financial services is so deeply immersed in what they do, and are constantly looking for ways to improve their processes. Here are a few of my biggest takeaways:
- Cross-Practice Area Opportunities. While Lansons serves several practice areas (public affairs, fintech, consumer communications, etc.), employees aren’t limited to one specific team. For example, you might have a client in the financial services space, one in consumer communications and one in public affairs. The reasoning behind crossing practice areas is it gives employees a chance to broaden the scope of their work, and helps maintain fresh perspectives for new ideas and media opportunities.
- Dynamic brainstorming. We love a good brainstorm at Walker Sands, and Lansons is no different. But instead of everyone sitting around a table, their brainstorms require a ton of movement and interaction. It was loud, fast-paced and I loved every second of it. In the end, the account team working on the client pitch had four white boards full of potential story ideas.
- Data-Backed Sales Processes. Lansons’ new business development team (our equivalent of sales) walked me through a typical presentation process. While most of their steps aligned with how our sales teams handled potential clients, one of the biggest things that stood out to me was how they incorporate data into presentations. They don’t believe in just showing prospects what they can do – they show them why that strategy will work
This trip would be misrepresented if I didn’t talk about the incredible staff at Lansons. I quickly learned there are few differences between Walker Sands and Lansons employees. Everyone is hard working and supportive, and truly enjoys being around their teammates. Plus, they know how to have a good time.
With the few extra days I had to myself, I explored around London (admittedly getting lost more than once). I wandered over to Oxford and Piccadilly Circus, strolled through Westminster and enjoyed seeing Tottenham Hotspur take on Huddersfield Town A.F.C. at legendary Wembley Stadium.
It’s hard to believe one week with another agency can have such an incredible impact on your professional growth. But it was unexpectedly refreshing and eye-opening to completely immerse myself in Lansons’ processes and cultures. Now if I can just make the case to go every year…
The digital technology incubator 1871 and Chicago Reader recently hosted a presentation and interactive panel, called The Basics of Blockchain and Bitcoin. This event gave beginners to the topic a chance to hear from experts about the workings and implications of cryptocurrency and the system upon which it’s built. Here are some takeaways from the event:
The History of Blockchain and Bitcoin
According to Investopedia, blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public record of all cryptocurrency transactions. When someone pays someone in bitcoin, that transaction is timestamped and recorded on this public ledger that every user of bitcoin – all over the world – can see.
This technology burst onto the scene in 2008 with the release of a white paper called, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” In this paper, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, breaks down this revolutionary system of paying someone online without the aid of third party verification system like a financial institution.
In traditional online payments, these third party systems are checking for double spending and other malicious actions. Double spending is a kind of digital counterfeiting in which the payer clones his or her payment data, sending the fake information to the payee and keeping the original information for himself or herself.
For example, if you were to give a barista a $5 bill for a coffee, it is next to impossible to spend a duplicate of that $5 bill elsewhere because of the defenses put in place by our financial institutions and government. The same cannot be said for digital payments since users can theoretically copy the data on his or her computer and continue to “spend” over and over again.
The Need for a “Decentralized” System
Several of the speakers at this event reiterated that, up to this point, the traditional form of third-party verification has worked just fine for most people – and then the Great Recession hit. Some people no longer feel that they can trust the institutions verifying their transactions, as these institutions can represent a single point of failure: if that institution becomes compromised, then the entire system can fail.
Blockchain is said to be “decentralized,” because it does not utilize a central authority or third-party verification system to guard against malicious actors. On a blockchain, everyone can see what everyone else is doing or has done. If you try to duplicate a bitcoin, every user on that system will see and essentially “exile” you from the platform by refusing to give or take any payment from you.
What are the Implications?
One of the speakers at the event, co-founder and CEO of Bit Capital Group, Jimmy Odom, said it best when he explained that, never before in the history of humans trading with each other have we been incentivized to act “right” until now. Because blockchain allows others to see what you’re doing, the thought is that it will hold people accountable for their actions and encourage them to play by the rules.
This nascent technology is revolutionizing everything from online payments to international supply chains to the Internet of Things because people from other industries are now realizing that blockchain’s visibility and accountability can be applied to other systems as well. Despite this, there are still so many undiscovered business applications for it. If you would like to learn more how your company can position itself as an expert on this topic in the media, check out Walker Sands’ other blog posts that break it down even further for you!
What goes best with a California style burrito, the one with fries wrapped up inside? That’s right, workflow and process automation, courtesy of Walker Sands’ awesome Bellevue client, Nintex.
Three members of the Walker Sands West Coast team just wrapped up a week of deep-dive Nintex workflow experiences at the client’s annual customer and partner conference, Nintex xchange.
This year Nintex hosted the event at the Grand Hyatt, San Diego, a welcome escape for the rain-soaked Pacific Northwesters that made up the bulk of the attendees. In addition to a Sunny escape in the winter, Nintex’s annual event is one of the largest gatherings of automation and workflow experts from around the world.
Machine learning, AI and automation were the dominant trends discussed, while new product features for Nintex Forms and collapsable workflow diagrams were crowd-favorites for the mostly technical attendees.
Among myriad new technical features and product integrations, the team saw Nintex expert Ryan Duguid set up an entire fire alarm system using a sophisticated process automation workflow. We also were treated to a show by noted performance graffiti artist, Erik Wahl, who finger-painted Abraham Lincoln in less time than a Coldplay song.
Throughout the conference content, the Nintex team has been hard at work evangelizing a new concept in process automation, intelligent process automation. Imagine not having to go through that one tedious work process that takes 20 times longer than it should. Those are the problems the Nintex engineering team are solving every day.
So far, Nintex has automated more than 3 million work processes and is well on its way to conquering the (relatively) new intelligent process automation category. It’s exciting to be present for such cutting-edge technology
What’d we get up to in San Diego over the three days? Annie, Kate and I attended sessions, went to client dinners (Dover Sole FTW!) and took some time to explore downtown San Diego, including the USS-Midway aircraft carrier museum.
Interesting note on that F/A-18 Hornet. It’s been painted brown to look like a Soviet/Russian Federation MiG because it was used as an aggressor aircraft in a the Flight Weapon School training program @ Mirimar, about 10 miles from downtown San Diego. That school is also known as Top Gun.
By the way, even on that once state-of-the-art navy ship, documents were still printed out and routed by hand. I guess even the most sophisticated organizations often still get mired in dated and broken processes.
Thanks to the team for all their hard work and congrats to the Nintex event crew for putting on such a successful show!
When the Illinois Technology Association (ITA) launched Women Influence Chicago last fall, we immediately recognized an opportunity to be a part of an initiative that we’re passionate about: empowering women in tech.
In addition to being associate members of the ITA, we’re so excited to announce that we are now proud sponsors and founding partners of their Women Influence Chicago Initiative. Through this incredible organization, we have the opportunity to help women in the Chicago tech scene through training, education and events, with the goal of empowering women throughout a variety of leadership roles.
The Women Influence Chicago Initiative will focus on three key areas:
- Pre-Workforce: encouraging interest in technology through mentorship, education and STEM programs
- In-Workforce: providing resources and training for Chicago tech companies, as well as their male and female employees, to help them create inclusive work environments for women
- Positions of Influence: increasing the number of women in the C-Suite, on boards and in other prominent leadership roles at tech companies in Chicago
Powered by the ITA, Women Influence Chicago is co-chaired by Kelly Stickel, CEO of Remodista, and Aimee Schuster, CMO of Miller Heiman. Walker Sands will attend Women Influence Chicago board meetings as their public relations and marketing advisor.
Allison Ward, Senior Account Director
Walker Sands senior account director Allison Ward is excited to bring her experience and insight to this initiative. As a senior member of our FinTech public relations team and a working mother, Allison is personally passionate about Women Influence Chicago’s mission to empower female leaders and hopes that their work in the city has a wide, long-lasting effect. “We want to make Chicago an ecosystem where women in tech are not only prevalent, but thriving and supported. If we can empower women in tech in Chicago, hopefully there’s a ripple effect in other large tech markets.”
Toward that goal, Women Influence Chicago will be working on action-oriented projects throughout the year. They are determined to not just highlight the problems — but to actually solve them. Events like the “Women Influence Chicago Series: Negotiating Your Equity Package” are designed to do just that. The group is also working on an actionable blueprint to promote diversity and equality in the workplace, with tips for tech companies on how to empower their women into the C-Suite and leadership positions.
We are thrilled to be a part of this important initiative and can’t wait to share more with you on their fantastic projects throughout the year. Keep an eye out for future Women Influence Chicago blog posts, and in the meantime, connect with them on their website or on Twitter.