A rebrand, website redesign and PR program increase contact form fills by 532% while differentiating edtech provider in crowded space
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Hello, my name is James McNeil and this is my first blog post for Walker Sands and my first blog post EVER, of all-time, EVER!
I will be a regular contributor from now on, so I wanted to give a little background about me, my journey to Walker Sands and how I came to work here.
Here we go…
To say I’m not the typical new hire for Walker Sands is an understatement. I was, until recently, an intern, but not your typical intern. I started in January at the age of 32 (I have since had a b-day) and while 32 is not very old (some of my colleagues will disagree I’m sure), it is very old to be an intern. I did not follow the path of most young professionals starting off in public relations; I chose a far different path.
I am from an industrial wasteland known as Canton, Ohio. After graduating high school I dreamed of playing football for The Ohio State, but alas, it was not meant to be (mainly due to a lack of physical ability). I never attended Ohio State; I instead worked full-time sorting bras and panties at the Victoria’s Secret distribution center in Columbus, OH. Not a bad job for an 18-year-old boy, but I knew I wanted more. I really wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic and travel the world. Obviously, that was not an option, so I took a different route to my dream – I joined the U.S. Navy as a photojournalist.
I wanted to travel and I did; fortunately for me I was a gifted photographer and a not-so-gifted service-member. Basically I achieved a perfect balance of production vs. annoyance with my superiors that afforded me the ability constantly travel so as to ensure I stayed out of their hair. In the seven years I served (1998 to 2005) I was involved in the conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, traveled to five continents, went completely around the world in 2002, visited 52 different countries and countless cities/towns and lived on both U.S. coasts. It was an experience that I cherish, but may never truly be able to appreciate.
After I left the Navy I started a marketing company in San Diego, CA, with a friend, which eventually collapsed. I was part of a team that controlled alcohol distribution for Target; this same group brought you Target’s Wine Cubes and Wine Juice Boxes – you’re welcome America. But during all of these little adventures I knew they were not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
So at the ripe-old-age of 30 I enrolled in college and began working towards a bachelor’s in journalism. And though my path started towards journalism and has ended up in public relations, it was a conscious choice and I am now right where I want to be: Working for a company I enjoy, doing work I enjoy and living in the city that feels the most like home in the entire world.
So that’s me…