WDS President Becky Wilson masters a unique niche in the marketing world
Becky Wilson, founder and president of WDS Marketing and Public Relations (WDS), continues to grab the attention of the media as she gains local and national recognition for her unique and successful approach to brand building, marketing and public and media relations. Under her leadership, WDS works with clients to enhance the credibility and improve the visibility of their businesses, while forming important relationships that will allow their companies to be seen in the marketplace. Wilson offers insight into her agency, speaks about the foundation of the Kansas City Council of Women Business Owners (KC-CWBO),and shares experiences and future goals.
KCB: What is the typical client that WDS assists?
Wilson: My agency’s client base includes a variety of enterprises in both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer segments. WDS represents commercial insurance agencies, printers, manufacturers, construction companies, technology firms, retailers, suppliers, consulting firms and organizations. I value the long-term relationships formed with the entrepreneurs who continue to retain my agency, and I am so proud that WDS continues to be the agency of choice for some of the most outstanding and dynamic companies in the Midwest.
KCB: How does WDS differ from other public relations and marketing companies that are striving for similar results?
Wilson: WDS is a boutique agency with a unique niche. Our focus is helping savvy entrepreneurs increase the awareness of their businesses and differentiate them in the marketplace. We incorporate media, accolades, events and other prime public relations opportunities to accomplish these goals. Our specific areas of focus and 15 years of expertise distinguish WDS in the marketplace. I don’t believe there are other Kansas City-based public relations or communications agencies that specialize specifically in branding and marketing programs that include award and milestone optimization.
KCB: What role does participation in an awards program play when it comes to brand building?
Being honored with an award or accolade can help build the brand of a company by bringing the company’s name to the forefront and identifying it as highly desirable, credible and well respected by peers. Another benefit is that nominees and winners are placed in the vicinity of other like-minded and successful leaders and business owners where new relationships can be established. I know that the positive value of a prestigious honor can boost the brand of the honoree for years and media coverage of an awards ceremony only adds to this unique branding dynamic.
KCB: Why is it important to involve the media in other proud moments like the celebration of milestone anniversaries and how does this help a business grab local and national attention?
Wilson: Some businesses simply commemorate their founding year with cake and punch in the corporate lounge, but I encourage them to use it as a marketing and public relations opportunity. Whether celebrating 10 years or 110 years in business, a milestone media campaign is a channel through which a company can shine light on their history, leadership and culture.
KCB: Utilizing the experience and expertise of WDS, what is an example of an anniversary celebration that was successfully executed?
Wilson: One of our clients selected a “Roaring Twenties” theme for their 20th anniversary. We designed and coordinated billboards, direct mail pieces and print ads. They hosted an event with a jazz band and classic cars, raised funds for a charity and gave everyone clever promotional products. The mayor from their city even proclaimed the day in their name. Clients, employees, vendors and business associates all enjoyed being included in their celebration.
KCB: Is the target audience for media campaigns the same for all businesses or does it vary with each client?
Wilson: WDS media and branding campaigns are developed specially for each client. We meet with the client to determine the goals and objectives of the campaign and then develop a media list and assemble award opportunities and other public relations elements that coincide. When a client has a new product or service to announce, we compile contact information for industry magazines. If the subject of the media campaign is business innovation, local and national general business publications may be targeted.
KCB: Each client requires a specifically designed campaign to ensure that certain goals are obtained, but does WDS encounter multiple clients with similar misconceptions about the process?
Wilson: There are business owners that don’t see the value of media relations and branding, leaving both out of their annual marketing initiatives. Some executives choose to maintain a low profile for their enterprise. When I suggest vying for a small business award, they prefer to be modest about their achievements, opening the door for competition to garner the spotlight. Truly, it is perfectly acceptable to seek the limelight and tell people about your business in a professional way.
KCB: As a successful businesswoman and the founder of WDS, how did KC-CWBO begin to materialize in 2001?
Wilson: Nancy Zurbuchen and I had served in leadership positions on boards of organizations for women business owners, which primarily offered members informational meetings and networking opportunities. We noticed that larger women-owned businesses were not generally attending their events. Nancy and I spend a great deal of time interviewing them. We then formed an advisory board and identified public policy, certification and corporate board participation as the three dynamics that would be the foundation for KC-CWBO.
KCB: What was the initial vision when embarking on this new endeavor?
Wilson: When Nancy Zurbuchen, a core group of women and I launched the KC-CWBO, our vision was that it would represent the interests of the larger established woman-owned businesses in Kansas City. Primary goals were to improve the procurement and certification process in Kansas and Missouri and to monitor public policy issues that could directly affect their businesses. Our organization was the first to bring to the forefront the importance for women business owners to be involved in public policy. Today, KC-CWBO continues seek to better the business climate for all women business owners in the area.
KCB: As the experience and expertise found at WDS propels other businesses to the next level, how do you visualize the future success of WDS, which continues to snag the spotlight and earn its own awards?
Wilson: Expanding on one of my agency’s areas of expertise, my future plans are to develop and market signature business events and award programs to be licensed to organizations. WDS would provide support services for the programs, including consulting, copywriting, graphic and web design, promotional and media relations services, and event management. I would also like to launch an entrepreneur and community leader “roast and toast” event in Kansas City.
KCB: Looking back, instead of forward, of what are you most proud in regard to your personal accomplishments and/or the success of WDS and KC-CWBO?
Wilson: A very proud moment for me is when a client is called to the stage to accept an award. I know that being acknowledged by peers for success and leadership can be a truly defining moment for that business owner. The experience is something that will be remembered for many years.
Story by Alyssa Klimek | Photos by Danelle Photography