The Caster Crew Reflects on 2021
I joined Caster during a period of seismic transformation- not just for us, but for the entire planet. During the fall of 2020, the Caster Crew was navigating the transition from a tightly knit Rhode Island-based firm to a hybrid team dispersed across the Eastern seaboard. Treasured colleagues left to pursue new opportunities, personal and professional, while new faces with fresh ideas integrated into the team. In-person events crumbled all around us, but we found new ways to connect with media and key audiences through virtual events, podcasts, social media, and more. Travel restrictions made it difficult to connect in-person with colleagues and clients, but we grew very adept at nurturing relationships from a distance.
The COVID Rewind
One of the most surprising aspects of 2021 was how little any of that changed. In the first half of the year, as the entire team reached 100% vaccination and we started making plans for shows and events, it felt like the tech market was emerging from the chrysalis of the pandemic, transformed but familiar. Then the Delta variant exploded across the landscape, and plans for returning to travel, offices, events, and business as usual were sharply curtailed. Make no mistake, the Caster Crew got back to doing many of the things we loved: We attended CEDIA Expo and InfoComm, spent in-person time together to strengthen our team and strategize for our clients, and played as hard as we worked – traveling to islands in the Caribbean, Canada, and the Cape. We also grew the business back to our pre-pandemic level; which was no surprise, since many of our tech-sector clients have been instrumental to business transformation across the economy.
But still, conversations and storylines in 2021 remained tied to the pandemic to a surprising degree. In-person events have been slower to recover than we hoped, with many 2021 shows cancelled, reverting to virtual, or taking on a scrappier, more regional character. The Great Resignation touched Caster along with the rest of the workforce, too. We’ve had to update and streamline our hiring and training processes as we’ve remained continually on the hunt for new talent throughout the year. In many ways, 2021 felt like a lot of 2020 problems at a 2019 pace.
Big Wins in Embedded Tech
Still, Caster has celebrated some extremely satisfying client wins this year. Take Knowles, for example. They’re an established embedded technology company, but a newer Caster client. In 2021, Caster Account Executive Lexie Gardiner took deep pride in elevating their brand. “Since they partnered with us earlier this year, we’ve managed to communicate the brand’s incredible journey in the audio and microprocessor space — from smart speakers to hearing health technologies to the Mars Rover — across thought leadership, social media growth, and so much more. Knowles has pioneered its industry for over 75 years and getting the word out there about the most impactful brand folks have never heard of — well that’s been freaking cool.”
I was personally proud to see the cross-industry coverage of Avnu Alliance’s new Silicon Level Validation Task Group, a volunteer-led organization that is working to create alignment on time sensitive networking base requirements at the silicon level. The announcement caught the attention of publications across all the industries Avnu serves, including the industrial automation, electronics design and manufacturing, network engineering, automotive, and professional AV markets. The association has been working behind the scenes to advance the implementation of open standards for time sensitive network traffic for a long time, and when they were ready to tell their story, I loved seeing their target audiences take notice.
Account Executive Robert Simms has been especially proud of the exposure we’re scored for Nanolock, another embedded tech company specializing in cybersecurity software. “It’s been satisfying to see their 4th quarter messaging priorities, such as security risks related to electric vehicle charging, get attention from major global industry publications like The Next Web.”
Simms has also seen trends in the cybersecurity sector mirrored in society at large. “Nearly every study I’ve seen shows that people are well aware of the risks of insufficient cybersecurity policies, but a very low percentage actually do anything about it. Obviously, this applies to the pandemic too: warning calls in general are ineffective as a messaging strategy. We need to find other ways to motivate and inspire action.”
And a Happy New Year
Looking forward to next year, some new strategies and opportunities are already beginning to unfold. Gardiner, Caster’s reigning meme champ, is especially exciting about escalating messaging and branding opportunities on video platforms. “Apps like Tik Tok and Reels on Instagram have played an unwavering role in driving engagement, with more brands and thought leaders using the power of short videos, live streaming, and Stories to define their company’s voice.”
We’re also excited about the creative, hungry new faces we’ve recently brought into Caster to help us capitalize on these opportunities. That includes our new account services pros, Anna Meyers and Brittney Darcy. They’re a synecdoche for the enthusiasm and ingenuity a fresh perspective can bring, and they’re both looking forward to 2022 with bright anticipation. “I’m looking forward to finding creative ways through media outlets to continue Caster’s legacy as a PR leader in the tech world,” says Darcy. “Maybe Podcast Fridays?” Meyers concurs: “In 2022, I’m most looking forward to continuing to learn and grow with such an awesome and supportive team.”
I feel the same – about both the Caster crew and our amazing clients. Reflecting on 2021, I’m proud to be part of such a resilient and effective team. Whatever 2022 brings – yet another whiplash plot twist, or even more of the same – we’ll be ready. I’ll happily raise my holiday glass to that!