BELMONT, CA: AnitaB.org, a nonprofit named after famed computer scientist Anita Borg that is dedicated to advancing women in technology, has named The Sway Effect as its global PR AOR.
AnitaB.org hired the agency in March on a project basis and planned to issue an RFP seeking a PR AOR, but organization CEO Brenda Darden Wilkerson instead formalized the relationship with Sway midway through this month.
“Sway came on at a critical time in our organization as we were heavily impacted by COVID-19,” said Darden Wilkerson. “They helped us to rethink our message and get reorganized around the impact COVID-19 has had on our organization.”
The Sway Effect is handling messaging and content development, strategic communications for the organization globally, CEO communications and issues management.
One of AnitaB.org’s major events each year is the Grace Hopper Celebration, which highlights the contributions of women to computing. AnitaB.org planned to have 30,000 people at the in-person event in Orlando, Florida, in October. But with the onset of COVID-19, the event has gone virtual.
“We had to rethink how we reach out and stay in touch [with attendees],” said Darden Wilkerson. “We are going to come out of it so much better off because we are touching people we previously had a feeling on. Our demand used to be more than 30,000 but now that we do more virtual work we can reach more people.”
Sway Effect founder and president Jennifer Risi said that her firm is helping AnitaB.org with its positioning.
“We are helping them to talk about the fact they are advising major companies in the tech space 365 days of the year, not just around [the Grace Hopper Celebration], to drive diversity and inclusion in the tech industry,” she said.
AnitaB.org advises companies such as Cisco, Intel, Facebook and Google on how to drive their DE&I agenda across their organizations.
In the last few months, AnitaB.org launched a webinar series addressing what companies can do to address the impact of COVID-19.
“The Sway Effect has been instrumental in the success of that series,” said Darden Wilkerson. “We were able to garner a following pretty quickly. That is an opportunity to step into our mission of elevating the conversation around the table where tech is created and making sure it is diverse."
Budget information was not disclosed.
Hotwire, the incumbent on the account, stopped working with AnitaB.org in February.
“There are great people over at Hotwire,” said Darden Wilkerson. “We just wanted to take a different direction and find someone who could help us focus. We have so much going on in so many different directions, it really just wasn’t effective and we weren’t getting our message out there in the right way.”
“AnitaB.org has been a really rewarding client for us and we’re incredibly proud of the work we did together over the past four years to promote and push for women’s equitable representation in technology," said Lindsay Riddell, Hotwire's SVP of corporate and executive communications.
She added that Darden Wilkerson is "an inspiring leader with a bold vision for a more representative tech sector and a more equitable world."
On July 17, AnitaB.org is holding a virtual career fair called HiredNow focused on the country’s newest emerging tech hotspot, the Midwest. The event will offer networking and employment opportunities for technologists.
Risi launched the Sway Effect last year after exiting her role as Ogilvy’s worldwide chief communications officer and MD of media influence. An Ogilvy executive since 2011, she was also a part of the 2019 PRWeek Hall of Femme class.