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Engagement, Reputation

Owler CEO Likeability Campaign

Sprint, T-Mobile and other Fortune 1000 companies respond to Owler’s “National CEO Likeability” campaign.


Owler, the world’s largest community-based business insights platform, needed to bolster engagement within its community and attract new members. Walker Sands leveraged Owler’s CEO Likeability Study to uncover data-driven storylines, tie data to timely news trends, and tailor outreach by city and industry.

This approach generated hundreds of placements, thousands of social media shares and millions of impressions.

placements within the first month

million impressions

shares on social media

out of 25 industry verticals were highlighted in media coverage


With over 1 million active users and a global database spanning 15 million organizations, Owler is the world’s largest community-based business insights platform. Using crowdsourced information from business professionals around the world, Owler delivers unique insights like competitive analysis, private company revenue, funding and acquisitions, and CEO ratings to business leaders like marketers, investors and salespeople. To contribute information, members regularly answer simple, clear questions based on the companies they follow, profiles viewed and where they are currently employed.

The Challenge

Owler came to Walker Sands with two distinct challenges. The first was securing high-quality media placements to increase the community-based platform’s national brand awareness. Despite being well-known in the Bay Area, Owler struggled to achieve significant media coverage in top-tier business outlets. The second challenge was to bolster engagement with Owler’s existing community while attracting potential new members from all types of professional services.

When Owler reached out to Walker Sands, the company was launching its Top CEO Awards campaign using data from its community of business professionals. Owler recognized its business data possessed media value and approached Walker Sands for assistance building a campaign that could capture reporters’ attention using Owler’s data. This led to the creation of Owler’s first National CEO Likeability Study, which ranked the highest rated leaders across 50 cities and 25 industries. Armed with data focusing on recognizable CEOs and companies, Walker Sands developed a media outreach plan to generate lots of media coverage, as well as  help Owler build a reputation as a trusted resource for business insights.

The Solution

Walker Sands created a data-driven PR strategy leveraging Owler’s CEO Likeability Study to pitch reporters nationwide and generate buzz around the final rankings. Key elements of Walker Sands’ approach included:

  • Discovering data-driven storylines: Owler’s initial rankings covered over 100,000 CEOs – a dataset few reporters would have the time to sift through. To develop a story reporters would find interesting and Owler’s community would want to read, Walker Sands worked with Owler to look specifically at data surrounding CEOs at the top public and private companies with 500 employees or more. The data was then further segmented by highlighting CEOs from organizations in cities with over 5,000 companies, and companies that are actively updated and followed by the Owler community.
  • Tying data to timely news trends: In addition to pitching data to relevant reporters, Walker Sands took advantage of breaking CEO headlines to strengthen our media outreach. For example, Walker Sands jumped on timely news items like leadership turnover and CEO scandals at public companies to drive top-tier coverage. The team also honed in on broader trends driving conversations in the business landscape (like the gender disparity among CEOs) to get Owler’s data quoted in a diverse array of media outlets.
  • Tailoring outreach by city and industry: To bolster Walker Sands’ national outreach, the team further segmented the data by location and industry. The team then pitched each city’s rankings to its local media; for example, San Francisco reporters received information concerning the top CEOs in San Francisco. The team did the same for industries, so retail trade publications received custom data detailing the top CEOs in retail.

The Results

Within the first month of launching the CEO Likeability campaign, Walker Sands generated over 200 placements, 442,131,328 impressions and more than 21,000 social media shares for Owler. The team secured a number of placements in Owler’s primary target – mainstream, national business outlets – such as Bloomberg, CNBC, Forbes, Quartz, Inc., Yahoo!, plus many more.

Outside of national press, the team landed media coverage in 21 different local markets and in 17 different industry verticals. Some industry and local highlights include the San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Business Journal, AdAge, Industry Week and Retail TouchPoints.

In addition to top-tier media coverage, Walker Sands’ work inspired:

  • CEOs to respond to the data: Following the release of Owler’s report, CEOs included on the list took to the internet to address their rankings. One of the most powerful figures in the PR industry, for example, published a blog post to his LinkedIn channel explaining what his ranking on the report means for him professionally and personally.
  • Companies pledging to take action: Similarly, companies with CEOs who ranked poorly in the Owler community pledged to do better by their employees and to improve their standing with the general public. Some organizations have taken proactive measures to improve their CEO scores by challenging Owler’s rankings, and encouraging employees to share their feedback in response to the report’s release.

As Owler’s CEO Likeability campaign garners additional media coverage, Walker Sands continues to pursue future publication opportunities to grow and strengthen brand awareness for the growing online community.

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