No Average Job: Community Link


By WSIL Manager

PINCKNEYVILLE -- When you're looking to move your home or business to a new area, this unique marketing company hopes something they did will help you make that leap.

The outside of this building in Pinckneyville will definitely catch your
eye, but the real creativity is going on inside. Craig Williams and his team are busy writing the stories of communities across the nation.

"It's like making a paper airplane, you think you crafted just the right
thing and you throw it and it just goes like this, but sometimes you get
lucky and it just, pheewww, and we had one of those," explains Williams.

Before Community Link took flight, Craig put in a lot of hard work, flying solo.

"I went out, I did the photography, I did the writing, I did the graphic
design. I went home at night and struggled with the invoicing."

What started with a true love of the community of Pinckneville where he
grew up turned into the business venture of a lifetime.

"What I discovered is there are a lot of communities, especially smaller places, that really need help making their first impression."

That's where Community Link comes in. Their specialty is telling a story of just what makes each community so special in hopes of drawing people and businesses to those areas.

But first they had to draw interest from multiple chambers of commerce.

"We said, 'We'll give you the shirt off our back if you'll just talk to us,'
and we got like a hundred responses to that, they all wanted the shirts."

So Craig piled the t-shirts in his car and drove nearly 8,000 miles in
two weeks to give them out, signing up 16 new clients in the process.

"When I talk to people about what I do, they'll ask me how many clients we work with and they expect five or ten chambers, and I say well we actually work with over a hundred chambers. That's pretty remarkable for a small company in Pinckneyville," says production manager Amanda White.

Things have come a long way since that t-shirt road trip. Craig has about 40 employees today, with half working in Pinckneyville and the other half working in communities all over the country.

"We're doing online stuff, we're doing video stuff, we're doing mobile
stuff, and we're still doing good old fashioned print."

Craig says his winning formula isn't possible without his people.

"They're immensely talented, they're completely hard-working and dedicated people, and I think that's really our secret weapon here in southern Illinois, we've got folks who want to go to work and work hard."
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