Mission of New Client, Beyond Hunger, Resonates with CS-Effect


CS-Effect recently caused the greatest effect alongside our new client, the Oak Park River Forest (OPRF) Food Pantry when we helped launch its new name – Beyond Hunger – and visual identity (www.gobeyondhunger.org).  We partnered with the organization to develop and implement a strategy to announce the new brand with widespread media coverage and engagement on social media. Highlights included segments on NBC Chicago and Oak Park.com .

We are proud to work alongside clients with missions that resonate with our own and align with our team’s personal interests. Several members of our team volunteer at food pantries with their families and believe in the power of volunteering to cause positive change in their communities. 

“For years, my daughters and I have volunteered for several pantries in nearby communities. It is important to me that my daughters understand that hunger is not something that just happens to those who are homeless, or those far away in other countries. Lives change. Things happen. Some of our friends and neighbors could be just a few paychecks away from needing help. Kindness and compassion will take them far in life,” said Lynda Baldwin.

“I am always thrilled to get behind a client who we really support like Beyond Hunger,” said Candice Warltier. “I’m passionate about their mission to feed the hungry and provide innovative solutions to solving hunger throughout their greater community. I’m equally committed to the issue on a personal level and want to instill those values in my family. My daughter and I help serve hot meals to the hungry and prepare take away lunches at St. James Cathedral Chicago.”

Listen Up!

CS-Effect Partner Candice Warltier had the opportunity to speak with a number of association executives about how they are modernizing often “stale” affinity programs for an article in the Association Forum’s Forum magazine.  Many executives agree that several factors are essential to ensuring a successful affinity program and leads to added value for membership and new revenue. From identifying valuable partners to really understanding your audiences, successful, revenue-boosting affinity programs require strategy to drive member value and retention.

Affinity programs are just one way in which organizations are listening to their audiences. At CS-Effect understanding our clients’ audiences leads to better strategies and thoughtful communications plans that ultimately cause the greatest effect. Knowing your audiences allows us to develop messages that resonate and move your audiences to change their behavior.  

A few tried and true ways we learn more about target audiences is by uncovering insights through focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and surveys. Communications audits are another point of insight, which include reviewing Google and social media analytics to determine audience behaviors. We then develop audience personas based on research to drive the strategic plan.

Beating the Odds and Launching Our New Brand

Communication Strategies Group is the New CS-Effect

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that less than 50 percent of small businesses successfully make it past four years of operation. As we beat these odds, Communication Strategies Group (CSG) has risen as one of the top boutique communications agencies in Chicago as we celebrate our 15th anniversary. As we recognize this tremendous success, we knew it was time to evolve alongside our ever-changing industry. Last month we announced our new brand, CS-Effect.

Our behavioral-driven approach along with our integrated communication and marketing services work to drive impact. The new brand represents our purpose: to drive change and cause an effect through communications. 

Read more on our exciting rebrand and the wide range of services offered to cause the greatest effect here.

Securing Partnerships for our Clients

Often the most effective ways we reach our client’s audience is through their membership organization or professional society. Identifying influencers and establishing relationships with potential partners adds a new dimension to audience reach.

One example we are proud to share is a monthly blog feature on brain health that we secured in AARP for our client NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Center for Brain HealthThis guest blog post covers a variety of topics as it relates to their audience of Illinois residents age 50+. AARP Illinois has 1.7 million members in Illinois; 800,000 of those members are in the Chicago area. 

Here’s the latest blog post:



Not only has the content developed  for the blog reached AARP members, the posts have been picked up by other organizations, extending the audience reach and positively influencing SEO.

Using Podcasts and Storytelling to Share the Impact of Regifting


Who’s up for a feel-good podcast just in time for the holidays? Digital marketing tools, such as podcasts, allow our clients to bring their stories to life. In our latest podcast project, we sat down with the team at 88 Brand Partners, along with one of our favorite shared clients, NorthShore University HealthSystem, as they share stories of their Regifting Program.

For the fourth year in a row, each 88 employee was given $500 to make a positive impact on the world. Their Regifting Program is not only about donating $500, but for the 88 Brand Partners team to get involved applying their passions to better their community . Through fun, meaningful interviews, the CSG team was able to capture the impact the program has on the greater community. 

Hear how 88 Brand Partners used their passions, talents and $500 to make the holidays even brighter.

What does Member Engagement Really Mean?

How does your association define member engagement? What does member engagement really mean? 

Member engagement can vary depending on the association and is a measure of how active, involved and committed a member is to the work of the organization. Engaged members differ in identities, interests and associations, but increasing engagement with members is important across all associations, regardless of its definition of member engagement.   

Learn more about how different associations define and increase member engagement in an article authored by CSG's Candice Warltier that appeared in the Forum Magazine.

New Intern Joins Communication Strategies Group


Communication Strategies Group is happy to welcome Katy Bozich as the new communications intern. Originally from Ann Arbor, MI, Katy is a senior at DePaul University studying both Public Relations and Political Science. At DePaul, Katy is the social media chair and athlete on the DePaul Women’s Rowing team, PR coordinator for Student Government and is competing in the PRSSA Bateman Case Study Competition. After graduation, Katy has hopes of pursuing a career in corporate communications, but is excited to explore many avenues. Throughout her internship at CSG, Katy will draft communication and social media content, pitch to media, create media lists and fact sheets and assist with other tasks as a part of the CSG team.

“I am very excited to be an intern at CSG. The CSG communications professionals will provide me with great mentorship along with opportunities to develop new skills and become a stronger, more effective communicator. I am eager for all that I will learn during my time at CSG.”



Do your association members understand your brand? Are you delivering a consistent message? If you aren't delivering a consistent message in a recognizable package, your members may be disengaged and confused. In the worst-case scenario, they don't even recognize that the communications, the programs or the advocacy work you spend so much time creating are ultimately coming from your organization.

Learn more about what we are doing to help associations develop and share consistent messages with diverse membership groups and potential members in an article authored by CSG's Candice Warltier that appeared in the Forum Magazine.

Sharing the Impact of Vital Services


Albany Park Community Center (APCC) – one of the largest social service agencies on Chicago’s North Side provides services that meet the needs of community members as they decide their own life path. We are proud to begin a partnership with our new client APCC. We are working to bring awareness to their vital services and have already garnered media coverage with Univision, a media company serving Hispanic and Latino Americans, and other neighborhood outlets.

New Intern Joins Communication Strategies Group


Communication Strategies Group welcomes Payton Blakney as a communication intern. Throughout the internship, Payton will draft communication content, pitch to media, develop digital media outreach for social media, and assist staff with other projects as needed. Payton is a recent graduate from Eastern Illinois University located in Charleston, Ill. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a minor in advertising.  As a student at EIU, Payton was the president of The Agency, a student-run media production firm, fundraising chair for the Public Relations Student Society of America, and a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s collegiate honor society. Also, Payton worked as a social media intern for EIU’s Department of Communication Studies. This fall, Payton will return to EIU to begin earning her master’s in strategic communication.

“I am honored to be a member of CSG. I look forward to gaining experience in the industry and learning from experienced communication professionals.”

Communication Strategies Group Welcomes New Hire


Joining Communication Strategies Group as Communications Coordinator is Olivia Zimmermann. Olivia earned her bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in Public Relations, with a minor study in Corporate Communications. There, Olivia gained more than three years of professional public relations, marketing, advertising, and graphic design experience through three other internships. Olivia was in the Public Relations Student Society of America, Milwaukee Chapter as well as Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s collegiate honor society.

“I am so excited to be introduced to CSG’s unique client base and pleased to help drive change in their organizations.”

Restoring Consumer’s Confidence in Hair Restoration

Hair restoration surgery requires specially trained surgeons who are well-versed in the proper techniques. Our new client, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, engaged CSG to target both consumers and their own members, and put an end to the world-wide dangerous practice of unlicensed technicians performing surgery. CSG created an integrated campaign to educate consumers about hair loss treatment and restoration.  Coverage in international media outlets including Reader’s Digest and Health News Digest, is driving consumers to the ISHRS website to find a qualified physician member.

We are working with ISHRS on a new consumer friendly website as well. Stay tuned!

Game On!

At CSG we continue to advise and share our expertise in membership engagement and marketing communications with national associations. To get Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine members excited about a new conference and introduce them to new benefits, we developed the Alliance All Star game, a fun way to encourage members to break from their comfort zone and meet new people, including those from different member organizations. Players completed various activities and then entered to win a number of prizes.

Learn more about how associations are engaging members with gamification in an article authored by CSG’s Candice Warltier that appeared in the Forum Magazine. Click to read article.

The Molecularium® Project

We just landed The Molecularium® Project (www.molecularium.com) as a new client! We are working on a PR strategy for the flagship education effort of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Nanotechnology Center aimed at boosting global science literacy. We will soon launch NanoSpace, a new, web-based, virtual theme park for children of all ages that encourages children to explore the world of atoms and molecules with games, activities and short animations in a fun-filled amusement park and learning environment.


CSG Recognized with Three PR Awards

We are thrilled that we won three awards for Reality Check, an integrated marketing campaign we partnered on with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), designed to empower girls ages 13-17 (Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts) to share the “real” realities of their lives. IABC declared us the 2012 Bronze Quill Awards winner. We received the Golden Trumpet from The Publicity Club (PCC) and PRSA recognized the campaign with an Award of Excellence in the public service/partnerships category.


CSG Executives Mentor Youth

CSG Principal Candice Warltier dusted off her sleeping bag and headed to Camp CEO, a leadership camp hosted by the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, where she was paired with a Girl Scout “buddy.” Over camp fires, canoeing and a scavenger hunt she shared her success story and tips on what girls can do to prepare for the future.