A rebrand, website redesign and PR program increase contact form fills by 532% while differentiating edtech provider in crowded space
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Another week means another team spotlight, and this week I got to sit down with none other than Andrew Cross. As Vice President and Partner at Walker Sands, Andrew leads our FinTech, electronics and startup practice areas.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start working at Walker Sands?
Andrew: I am from Central Illinois originally, and I grew up in a small town outside Bloomington-Normal. I graduated from Illinois State University in three years with a B.A. in public relations. Directly following college, I was a freelance writer before joining Walker Sands as a media relations specialist in January of 2011.
2. What is your current role at Walker Sands?
Andrew: As vice president of public relations, I manage several practice areas including enterprise software, professional services, electronics, financial technology, and start-ups. My daily activities include a lot of sales and new business development so any given week I am in a handful of introductory meetings really trying to network within Chicago as much as possible. I still spend a lot of my time doing client work as well especially the larger more complicated accounts using Walker Sands for both PR and digital services.
3. How has Walker Sands changed since you first started at the company?
Andrew: The increasing number of clients using WS for more than one service is the most noticeable change and one that makes our company more valuable.
Additionally, when I started at Walker Sands we had already specialized in B2B technology but practice areas were not carved out. These emerged organically based on success with clients. Even with all of these changes, I still feel like the culture has remained the same as has the amount of opportunity and responsibility that employees have at every level of the company. I remember feeling like that my first year at WS so it is nice to see that is still the case.
4. What is your favorite part about working at Walker Sands?
Andrew: Everything is always fresh and challenging! To me, career satisfaction comes from being able to constantly feel like I am learning and I have gotten the opportunity to work with so many different businesses really learning from my clients as well as my team.
5. What sets Walker Sands apart?
Andrew: The first is our focus on B2B technology. Companies can either specialize in what they do or who they do it for, and we specialize in who we do it for which has allowed us to be very successful. The second is our mentality - we are driven by business results for our clients, not just day-to-day placements. We form partner relationships with every business we work with which is a somewhat unique approach.
6. What excites you most about the coming years at Walker Sands?
Andrew: I spend a lot of time thinking about that actually. I definitely look forward to launching new practice areas. There are so many opportunities in the technology space we haven’t explored yet and having colleagues step up and lead the way is exciting. Also, expanding the work we do for clients and having additional services such as video will make us better partners and raise our profile in the industry. Better work will result in bigger recognition and ultimately bring in more business.
7. What is your most memorable experience of the Walker Sands core values (learn, support, and do) at work?
Andrew: We had a client, Newark element14, based in London launching a big new product, Raspberry Pi, as part of a coordinated global effort all based around an event at 9 a.m. in England. Our PR team woke up at 2:30a.m. to pitch reporters about the event so it would be the first thing in their inbox when they woke up. It was crazy how excited people were about it - no one complained and it was a full team effort. And actually just a few weeks ago, we won several awards for our campaign! That level of support is a rarity and the fact everyone was so willing to do it is a testament to the supportive culture at Walker Sands.
8. Where can you be found on weekends?
Andrew: Running along the lake is fantastic. And I actually live in the suburbs now, but on weekends I will come down to get a dose of the city.
9. And finally, with baseball taking center stage in Chicago this summer…White Sox or Cubs?
Andrew: Cubs. I go to a few games every year. Zobrist is actually from Eureka and went to my high school’s rival right down the road so he is definitely my favorite player to watch.