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Walker Sands Boston Recognized for PR Work at 2022 PR Club Bell Ringer Awards

Liz Woidat

Liz Woidat

When Walker Sands acquired March Communications in 2021, we were excited to scale our award-winning B2B marketing solutions in Boston, a city that consistently ranks as a top venture capital and technology hub. Last week, we were honored to have our work recognized among Boston’s top PR campaigns at the PR Club Bell Ringer Awards, where our teams took home two wins for our work with Sophos and Affectiva.

With several of our team members sitting on the PR Club board, the Bell Ringer Awards is a great chance to connect with our fellow PR Club members and peers in the Boston PR community. It was a treat for our team to celebrate in person this year at the Royal Sonesta Boston, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to continue generating remarkable results for our clients on the East Coast.

Walker Sands Boston team at the PR Club Bell Ringer Awards

Here’s a recap of the award-winning work:

Increasing Top-Tier Coverage for Sophos With Rapid Response Around Log4j Exploit

Our media relations strategy for Sophos received the Bronze Bell in the “Response to Breaking News” category. At the start of the relationship, Walker Sands partnered with Sophos to establish a systematic rapid response media strategy to quickly push out Sophos’ commentary around breaking cybersecurity attacks. As part of this initiative, Walker Sands conducted an audit of news outlets and journalists that covered prior cybersecurity attacks to develop a foundational list of media targets. This “rapid response” media list would enable the team to quickly jump on any relevant cybersecurity stories for Sophos.

So, when a vulnerability was found in Log4j, an open-source software provided by the Apache Software Foundation, in early December 2021, Walker Sands’ Sophos rapid response media machine was ready to respond and position Sophos as the go-to source on the exploit.

When news first broke of the exploit, the Walker Sands team flagged the incident to Sophos’ threat researchers to unearth intel that could be offered to the media. Based on those insights, Walker Sands and Sophos quickly collaborated on a framework for the first phase of commentary. Simultaneously, the Walker Sands team finalized the media list for Log4j by quickly referencing the “rapid response” list and customizing it based on contacts that had already covered the news, as well as those Walker Sands expected to cover based on the details of the attack.

Once Sophos finalized and approved the commentary, the team dropped it into a pitch and pushed it out to the media as quickly as possible – within one hour of first flagging the attack. As the attack narrative unfolded in the following weeks, Walker Sands continued to analyze the direction of the story and ideated on how Sophos could continue to contribute valuable insight as it evolved.

By the end of the news cycle, Walker Sands successfully inserted Sophos into nearly 60 articles around the nationally recognized Log4j exploit. Not only did the media relations strategy help raise Sophos’ share-of-voice to #1 against competitors during the Log4J exploit news cycle, but the coverage secured Sophos’ #1 spot in SoV against competitors more broadly for the entire quarter. 

Affectiva Acquired: A PR Journey to M&A

Our PR work for Affectiva received the Bronze Bell in the “High-Tech” category. Affectiva has worked with Walker Sands since 2016, and in that time, the team has established the company as a leader in Emotion AI across fields such as automotive and market analytics. Since Affectiva’s pivot to focus almost entirely on automotive in 2018, the team has secured numerous media, speaking and award opportunities to help validate Affectiva’s position in the space with not only the media but auto investors, partners and prospects. 

While Affectiva achieved success in the automotive market, there was an opportunity for the company to be acquired by Smart Eye, the leader in Human Insight AI. So, when Affectiva approached Walker Sands with their latest news, an acquisition, the team was excited and ready to generate awareness of Smart Eye’s acquisition of Affectiva in top media outlets.

To nail down the story around why the companies were joining forces, leaders from Smart Eye, Affectiva and Walker Sands came together to develop messaging that highlighted why the acquisition was a mutual fit, the companies’ shared vision and the opportunities in automotive and media analytics. Walker Sands also built out a media FAQ document to help anticipate any questions from both media and other stakeholders.

Once the positioning and messaging were finalized, Walker Sands developed a strategic execution plan that included the following elements: 

  • A press release to complement the financial guidance that Smart Eye would have to issue announcing the acquisition news.
  • A media strategy that included multiple pitch angles targeting a number of verticals such as AI, investor, automotive, tech and business press.
  • A content plan made up of bylined articles on key themes and a social promotion plan for both companies.

The comprehensive media strategy resulted in 83 media placements, 61 of which hit in the first week. This work was also recognized as a 2022 SABRE Award finalist in the “Technology: Software & Services” category.

Congratulations to Sophos, Affectiva and our Boston team members on this well-deserved recognition! We look forward to attending the PR Club Bell Ringer Awards next year.