Recapping Blue Magnet's Year

2015: Blue Magnet’s Year In Review

As we enter 2016, it is only fitting that we take a minute and reflect on this past year’s adventures, successes, and memorable occasions. We have 10 more team members and 16 more Google Analytics certifications than we did last year. We also have over 100 wonderful partnerships with hospitality clients spanning several service levels across a variety of respected brands and management groups. This year we successfully built over 20 new websites, took pay-per-click to the next level with remarketing, and enhanced our email marketing services. Team members embarked on more site visits than ever before, from Nashville to Walnut Creek, Oak Brook to Temecula and everywhere in between. We bowled, bocce balled, yachted, laser tagged, Whirlyballed, and happy houred (all while gorging ourselves on the best food in Chicago). We even gave Summer Hours a try,and, as it turns out, we really like it! We had 3 weddings, 1 engagement, and 2 new babies (future CEOs of Blue Magnet?) on the way.

2015 came and went as fast as our websites’ load times. Before we set sail into 2016, let us reflect on all of the awesomeness that occurred these last twelve months.


2015 started out on a great note! Blue Magnet continued to grow as Ben Gavin and Ashley Martens joined our amazing account management team. We also put on our party hats and celebrated our company’s 8th birthday with tacos, beer, and BMI trivia!



Once February rolled around, we were ecstatic to welcome Sarah Kuester to our Account Management team! Meanwhile, a couple of our team members took on the HSMAI Conference in New York City where they had a great time networking, sightseeing, and learning about new trends in digital marketing.


Steven Williams, Chris Jones, Michelle Merklin, Nicole Poggensee, and Jesse Gaver rubbed elbows with clients and shared digital marketing tips at the WCG Hotels Conference in Las Vegas. A big thank you (again) to Embassy Suites Convention Center Las Vegas for the wonderful hospitality and to Britney Spears for playing hit after hit every night during her Vegas residency.


The fun didn’t end in Vegas! Our team was excited to add on a couple more Associate Account Managers (enter: Kevin Malloy and Nick Rudy), and we stopped by DePaul University’s Career Fair where we recruited a few more fabulous team members (we’ll dive into that later).

After months of diligent training and hard work, Nicole Poggensee and Anna O’Shea were promoted from Associate Account Managers to Account Managers. To celebrate an amazing first quarter, we indulged in delicious food at Pizza Parlor Bar in Chicago’s West Loop. And, for the record, we’re still thinking about that brussels sprouts pizza.


In April, we proudly announced a series of well-deserved promotions and added another member to our phenomenal team. Don Angelo was promoted to Account Manager, while Cat Sullivan and Maggie Meyers took on leadership roles as the Design and Development team’s Project Manager and Senior Project Manager. We also welcomed another promising Associate Account Manager, Sammi Raines, to the Blue Magnet team.

Stephanie Hilger, our Director of Social Media, embarked on a journey to the Spire Hospitality conference where she discussed the importance of social media in relation to a hotel’s holistic digital marketing strategy.


In May, we brought on Sean Francis as our new SEO Strategist, and his knowledge and enthusiasm for digital marketing have introduced great ideas and skills to our growing team! In equally exciting news, we welcomed Brian Surdel as Blue Magnet’s newest intern! (Spoiler Alert: Brian loved it here, the feeling was mutual, and we eventually, officially granted him the Associate Account Manager title). May also saw PPC allstar Michelle Laing join our Leadership team upon her promotion to Paid Media Specialist. To congratulate these amazing changes, BMI’s party planning committee pulled out all the stops for the company’s epic Q2 outing. On May 12th, the team voyaged to Pinstripes on Illinois Street to enjoy some friendly competition on the bocce court and roll some serious thunder at the bowling lanes.



You might be thinking, “Wow! Blue Magnet has seen some amazing internal growth in 2015!” and you are right, we did! In June, Brian Wegman and Alyssa McHugh (rewind to the DePaul career fair back in March, where we met these two) joined Blue Magnet, in addition to Annie Figliulo, as Associate Account Managers. We also welcomed the fabulous Laura Janota to our Account Management team!

For the third consecutive summer, our team decided to compete in the highly-competitive world of intramural sports. The Rippin’ Tippers Kickin’ Dingers Kickball team had yet another a fantastic season; and while we won’t get into our record, it’s safe to say we had the most fun out of any team in the league.


June also saw more internal growth as we welcomed, Karie Miller (Assistant Director of Accounts), Tim Trahey (Director of Accounts), and Caroline Scanlon (Digital Marketing Strategist) to our Leadership Team.


Moriah Miller and Geoff Fuller joined the Blue Magnet Account Management team just in time for one of our favorite annual outings: the Yacht Cruise! Shout out to our Party Planning Committee for (yet again) throwing an awesome event, and to Free Spirit Yacht Cruises for the amazing hospitality!


In July, Blue Magnet honed its digital marketing expertise at two amazing conferences. On the 28th, our team members attended the 2015 Mobile Media Summit here in Chicago to learn about recent and upcoming trends in mobile technology and media. We also schlepped to the faraway land of Seattle, Washington, where Rand Fishkin, Dr. Pete, and the rest of MozCon’s amazing speakers dropped some serious digital marketing knowledge.



We kicked off wedding season with a lovely shower for our groom and brides to be, Tim, Michelle, and Sarah. With cake, tiaras, decorations, and wedding-themed trivia, our team had an excellent time celebrating this exciting milestone in their lives!


A handful of our team members also made the bold decision to give sports another go by joining one of Chicago Sport and Social’s Flag Football Leagues. Per usual, a lot of fun was had (but we won’t get into stats).


In September we had to say goodbye to Sarah Kuester and Michelle Laing; however, we were happy to welcome (post-honeymoon) Sarah Kadulski and Michelle Merklin!

Ben Gavin, Chris Jones, and Stephanie Hilger headed to Dallas, Texas to present at the Chesapeake Conference. They discussed case studies, pay-per-click trends, and the importance of social media and enjoyed meeting and networking with our clients and other properties.



On October 5th, the Blue Magneteers put on their game faces as they commenced upon the highly combative courts of the redesigned Whirlyball for our Q4 outing. With bellies full of quesadillas and our eyes on the prize we, crashed and burned with style during a series of highly-competitive bouts.

While Tim was off honeymooning in Aruba after marrying the love of his life, the other 28 members of the Blue Magnet team disappeared from the 7th floor of our office building. In case you missed this epic prank by our founders Matt Bitzer and Chris Jones, you can always refer to the security footage.


The highlight of 2015? Blue Magnet Interactive launched our new website! The redesigned site was a product of teamwork and our commitment to sharing our values and digital marketing knowledge with the world! Our team could not have been more pleased with the end product as it reflects who we are as a company.


November was full of conferences and learning! Our Paid Media Specialist, Michelle Merklin, attended the 2015 ClickZ Live conference in Chicago. Similarly, Stephanie Hilger and Nicole Poggensee hit the ground running at Social Media Week 2015 where they sat in on a variety of sessions and classes lead by fellow industry professionals and picked up plenty of new tips and trends to share with the rest of our team.


What better way to culminate a successful year than with one of our best Holiday Parties to date! The day started out with brunch and a Secret Santa Gift Exchange; the party planning committee then took us to Dylan’s Candy Bar where we enjoyed lunch, a perfectly-themed Blue Magnet party room, and jars to fill up with the candy of our choice! Our sugar high was much needed for our next stop: Dave & Buster’s. The team enjoyed running around the arcade, playing games, and finding the perfect prizes to bring back with us to the office (#TopBanana). The day concluded at Formento’s where our significant others joined us for an excellent dinner.


2016, We’re Ready for You!

2015 will be hard to top. Our internal growth was off the charts, Google Analytic certifications have been rolling in as frequently as the daily mail, we launched a number of responsive websites (including our own), and the accolades and achievements do not end there. In fact, if tried to fit all of the accomplishments we made, the fun we had, and the knowledge we shared into one blog post, well… you would likely still be reading this come 2017!

While this past year has been one for the books, we are more than ready to see what successes and opportunities 2016 brings! Cheers to a happy, healthy, successful, and taco-filled new year!

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