What a proud year this has been! 2019 was a year of strengthening our roots – recognizing what aspects of Blue Magnet define us and nurturing them to make the company stronger. It was a year of watching employees grow into new roles, traveling across the country to visit our hotel partners, and resurrecting Blue Magnet traditions we almost forgot. It was also a year of planting new seeds. The company welcomed bright new faces to the Blue Magnet family, began exciting new partnerships, built beautiful new websites, and offered new cutting-edge services.
So before we leave this decade behind and step into the roaring 2020s, let us take a moment to highlight the memories and accomplishments we cultivated over the past year.
The year began cold. Very cold. Chicago suffered a particularly brutal week-long polar vortex with temperatures dangerously below freezing. We tried to keep warm and cheery by welcoming new employees and hosting in-office happy hours.
In this cold January, Nicole Poggensee became our Director of Accounts and ignited a movement for stronger communication between teams. Additionally, Blue Magnet hired two stellar new employees. Tasha Lawson joined the accounts team and connected with her hotel teams immediately. Suzanna Colberg rejoined the Blue Magnet team as SEO strategist and has been a pillar of knowledge for the department ever since.
Laura Janota relaunched the old tradition of monthly happy hours – beginning with a Harry Potter-themed event and a Blue Magnet birthday party to celebrate the company’s 12 year anniversary.
As the company rolled into February we saw more new changes. Sarah Kadulski rejoined the Accounts team after two years in Iowa and jumped back into her role with fresh new perspectives. Kevin Malloy changed roles and became Blue Magnet’s official Paid Media Strategist and introduced new PPC services to the team.
Blue Magnet began their partnership with Broughton Hotels and prepared for several new site builds throughout the year.
For the Q1 company outing, the BMI team tapped into their artistic side by painting a mural at the Bottle and Bottega’s Wine and Paint. Later in the month the team also played games and ate Pacman cookies during an arcade-themed happy hour.
In March, Design Rush Magazine recognized Blue Magnet as one of the top 25 digital marketing agencies in 2019. The team celebrated this victory the Irish way with a St. Patrick’s Day happy hour complete with Irish music, food, and drinks. Also, Sean Francis won the 2018 Blog Awards for his blog post on 2018 SEO Trends.
Haley Carmichael was promoted to Project Manager and has been rocking the role ever since. The team enjoyed a wine and cheese-themed happy hour complete with a wine lesson and tasting lead by our office sommelier, Chris Jones.
The team began a project to build new streamlined dashboards to improve the user experience for our hotel partners. Brianna Breshears won the Q1 Blog Awards for her blog post on targeted Facebook Ads.
The team also had a nostalgia-themed happy hour in which veteran Blue Magneteers shared old stories and photos with new Blue Magneteers. Sarah announced she was expecting a baby and held a gender guessing game on the chalkboard- it’s a boy!
June was fun-filled month to be sure. Jordin Wilson joined the team as a Content Coordinator, the jack-of-all-trades hybrid between the SEO and Design team. Brianna Breshears was promoted to Senior Social Media Manager for being a constant source of wisdom regarding all things social media.
For the company’s Q2 Outing, we grouped into three teams and did a scavenger hunt throughout the Magnificent Mile. As part of the hunt, teams took pictures posing next to famous buildings, singing songs to strangers, and participating in other fun challenges. The team also partook in a Red, White, and Blue Magnet happy hour in preparation for Independence Day.
After almost a year in the “new office,” we added some new decor: our favorite phrase, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” as a decal on the wall of our break room. The team turned the blue room into a temporary tropical escape for our tiki happy hour and Matt Bitzer treated us to the most delicious homemade rum cake we had ever had. Per BMI tradition, Blue Magneteers played kickball in a casual league after work throughout the summer as well. Last but not least, Haley Carmichael won the Q2 Blog Awards for her blog post on increasing hotel restaurant and bar revenue.
In August, Christian Guajardo joined the accounts team and took to the role like a fish takes to water. The whole team was excited to meet him during our BBQ-themed happy hour.
For the company’s Q3 outing we embarked on our annual boat cruise on Lake Michigan. We will never forget how the lake churned abnormally giant swells this summer – rocking the boat back and forth like a toy.
The team resurrected the ol’ Blue Magneteer Award to celebrate team members who have excelled above and beyond each quarter. The Q3 Blue Magneteer Award went to Tasha Lawson for her extraordinary achievements as a digital marketing manager and bringing in new business for the company. Later that same day, the team wore pearls and drank classic cocktails during the prohibition happy hour. The Blue Magnet team also hosted a baby shower for Sarah Kadulski to wish her well and welcome her baby boy into the world who was born later in the month.
Octobers are always big months for Blue Magnet and this one was no exception. Matt Bitzer, Chris Jones, and Ken Alwell visited some partners in California, including La Casa del Camino. Stephanie Hilger, Sean Francis, Nicole Poggenssee, Tasha Lawson, and Haley Carmichael attended Orbit Media’s Content Jam to and learned about the newest trends in digital marketing. Additionally, Laura Janota won the Q3 blog awards for her blog post on growing email marketing lists fast.
There were a few well-deserved promotions this month as well. Stephanie Hilger became our Director of Brand Strategy & Marketing and Brian Surdel became our Director of Design and Development.
Halloweens are pretty special to this team. We put up our traditional Candy Cauldron, hosted two happy hours, and held our 6th Annual Throwback Halloween Contest. Phoebe Svoboda won with her Steve Zissou costume!
Natalie Connelly jazzed up one of the office walls with a throwback photo display from past company events. Haley Carmichael lead team members to Harold Washington Library down the street to get library cards after work. Finally, in anticipation for the winter ahead, team members gathered together to “Beat the Winter Blues” by having a happy hour with homemade cupcakes, cocktails and vitamin D shots.
December was filled with much joy. Right at the start of the month, Blue Magnet excitedly welcomed Lindsey Dowling to the social media team.
Blue Magnet also hosted our annual Holiday Party, which consisted of an entire day filled with fun activities. We made Thai food together at Cooking Fools, exchanged Secret Santa Gifts, held the 2nd “Blue Maggie” Awards, and watched circus performers while we dined at Carnivale. Per tradition, Matt and Chris’ end of the year speech was the cherry on top of a successful year.
On our very last all-in-day, the team held a final happy hour and cookie exchange before celebrating the holidays for winter break.
If you are reading this, you are part of the Blue Magnet family in some way. We thank you for being a part of this company’s growth and we wish you a happy new year… and a very happy new decade!