A rebrand, website redesign and PR program increase contact form fills by 532% while differentiating edtech provider in crowded space
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Ready to learn more about another employee?
This week, I got to sit down with Dave Parro, a partner and vice president at Walker Sands. Dave oversees a group that includes the marketing technology, retail technology and education technology practice areas, which comprises 18 people across the PR and content teams.
Here’s what he had to say!
1. What is your role at Walker Sands? What does your day-to-day look like?
I oversee two PR teams and three practice areas, so I spend a lot of time on staff development and coaching, new business development, and high-level client strategy. Most days, I bounce around between client and team meetings, sales proposals and pitches, practice area marketing and thought leadership, and agency initiatives related to process and profitability. As a VP and partner, I have to balance doing great work for our clients with finding new ways to grow the agency and improve the business.
2. How has Walker Sands changed since you first started at the company?
When I started working at Walker Sands in 2012, the entire company was 18 people, and my team was just three people. Four years later, I just hired the 18th employee in my group alone, and the agency is now close to 80 people. It’s been a lot of fun, really exciting, and very challenging personally and professionally to be a part of the Walker Sands success story and contribute to our growth.
A lot of exciting stuff has happened since I first started here. We have quadrupled in size, moved into a high-rise building in downtown Chicago with a magnificent lake view, expanded the new office twice in two years, and continued to do phenomenal work for bigger and better clients.
At the same time, we have protected and maintained the same entrepreneurial spirit, scrappiness and ambition as when we first started. We’ve grown up as a company, but we will always remember our roots and what made us successful when we were still relatively small.
3. What do you like most about working at Walker Sands?
I love that I get to come to Walker Sands every day and work with amazing and talented people, all of whom have the same vision and passion. We’re building something great together, and everyone is working toward the same goals.
4. What sets Walker Sands apart?
There’s a collective buy-in into the vision of Walker Sands and where we’re headed as a company. I hope and think that people, even new employees right out of college, feel like they’re joining a great company with unlimited potential, and that they can play a role in making it even better from their first day here.
In terms of the work we do, we’re reinventing PR and digital marketing, and breaking new ground when it comes to getting traditionally fragmented strategies to work together in an integrated way to deliver real business results for our B2B tech clients. All agencies are trying to figure out how to get PR and digital marketing to work together, and I think we’re ahead of the curve.
5. What excites you most about the next year at Walker Sands? The next three years?
In the next year, I’m most excited to see team members who have recently stepped into new management positions take on more responsibility and become future leaders at Walker Sands. As a business, we’re reaching a point where we need to build out our infrastructure -- like HR and finance -- to support our growth and future plans. We’re spending a lot of time talking about plans for 2017 and how we need to raise the bar for company operations. I’m excited to see all of that take shape.
Three years from now, I hope we will have perfected integrated marketing and really figured out in a very seamless way how all of our disciplines work together to drive leads and real measurable business results for clients. I also hope we’re doing really creative, award-winning campaigns for our clients that other agencies are trying to replicate.
6. What’s your background?
I went to the University of Illinois in Champaign, where I received a degree in journalism. I spent about eight years as a reporter and editor at a Chicago suburban newspaper, The Beacon News. I then worked for Aurora University for three years overseeing digital strategy, media relations and print publications. I earned an MBA while I was there and also worked as an adjunct professor. I then joined Walker Sands in 2012.
7. What’s your favorite WS tradition?
I always enjoy the annual company Cubs game. The citywide scavenger hunt is really cool as well, and it’s a great way to bring people together.
8. Funniest Walker Sands moment?
Last year, I did a Donald Trump impersonation and skit with Kelsey, a senior content strategist on my team, and won the Halloween costume contest.