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…
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Lauren Gilyard, Walker Sands’ sales manager, to learn more about her role and get her perspective on what she enjoys about working here (and to figure out if she’s a cat or dog person).
As part of the sales team, Lauren is responsible for building out the traditional and digital presence across the full sales cycle. She works across teams to execute projects and has been focusing a lot on the digital side of Walker Sands in the past several months.
Lauren is excited to see the company continue to grow and develop over the next several years! Here’s what she had to say:
1. What is your role at Walker Sands? What is your day to day?
I am the sales manager, so I’m responsible for supporting all things sales-related.
I’ve been focusing a lot on digital lately, specifically with outbound reach. We’re focusing on building awareness for companies that do not know about us, as well as others that might have needs in the future. It is all about getting in front of people so when they do have a need we are included in the conversation. One of my main tasks is to push our digital offerings, especially to prospects who might think of us more along the lines of PR.
2. What is your day-to-day?
It’s very different. Today, I’ve been in a pitch meeting, sent a bunch of prospect emails and looked at prospects. Sometimes it’s prospecting all day or participating in internal meetings or calls.
Meet Tim Morral, director of editorial content for digital and PR at Walker Sands. Tim began his career at Walker Sands as a freelance copywriter and now brings over a decade of content experience to the company as our fearless content leader, working remotely from New York!
I sat down with Tim to learn more about content at Walker Sands. Here’s what he had to say:
1. Tell me about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start working at Walker Sands?
I’m originally from rural Pennsylvania and took a nontraditional approach to a career in this industry. After graduating with a B.A. in Economics, I spent time doing a variety of nonprofit, technology and publishing work. I started working for Walker Sands as a freelance copywriter and have been full time for about six years.
2. What is your current role at Walker Sands? What does your day-to-day look like?
No two days are ever the same for me, which I think is true for most of us at Walker Sands. I’m directly involved in content development and creation for many of our clients. I also spend a lot of time coaching and working with our other content experts, both on the PR and digital teams.
3. How has Walker Sands changed since you first started at the company?
The biggest change I’ve experienced is our growth. When I joined Walker Sands, I was the only content person on staff. When I visited the office, I could walk around and talk to the entire company in just a few minutes. Now, we have an entire team dedicated to content, and I see new faces every time I visit.
The past several years have been an exciting time at Walker Sands. It’s been great to be part of the development of our content team and our growth has enabled us to deliver high-quality work for our clients. We’ve really become trusted partners to our clients and are committed to continuing to grow our teams across all creative service practices to meet client needs.