retail evolution 2020

Retail Evolution 2020: Pandemic Edition

Like much of the U.S., non-essential retailers closed their doors in mid-March. The whispers returned and eventually reached a crescendo, “The ‘Retail Apocalypse’ has arrived!” We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the ‘Retail Apocalypse’ is not here.

One more time for the cheap seats in the back (remember those?), THE ‘RETAIL APOCALYPSE’ IS NOT HERE. In fact, the ‘Retail Apocalypse’ is never happening. So let’s remove that from our vocabulary and put the rumors to bed, once and for all. Instead, let’s talk about what’s really happening — a retail evolution.

Like everything else in 2020, the retail industry has been faced with a new normal. Retailers who have failed to evolve, have had to make difficult decisions, from closing stores to declaring bankruptcy and even all out business closures.

Meanwhile, many retailers have thrived through the pandemic. In fact, Target reported that its curbside pickup service, Drive Up, grew 700% in Q2. 700%! How? Because again and again, Target has transformed to meet the changing needs of shoppers. With that, let’s dive deeper into the 2020 retail evolution.

The essentials

While many retailers temporarily shuttered to comply with state and local mandates, essential retailers like grocers, pharmacies and convenience stores, remained open. These retailers faced new challenges, from supply chain shortages to daunting volumes of online grocery orders.

However, most adapted and emerged as heroes. With digital grocery sales reaching a an all-time high of $7.2 billion in June, grocers have accepted that many of the forced changes of 2020 are here to stay. Grocers and their solution providers alike have worked hand-in-hand to rapidly evolve and meet shoppers’ needs as we continue to stay home.

essential retailers

Amazon’s 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods ignited a fire in grocers, and many began examining and implementing much needed technologies, from AI-enabled supply chains to digital grocery solutions. No doubt, they could have done more to be prepared for 2020 but no one anticipated a pandemic.

Grocers recognize the need for AI-enabled and digital technologies now more than ever. As a result, they will continue to digitally transform to address the fundamental shift in how consumers shop for everyday essentials.

Digital realities

Across the industry, retailers who have failed to embrace digital transformation have suffered immeasurably in 2020. On the other hand, forward-thinking solution providers who have been waiting in the wings for their heyday, and the retailers adopting those solutions, are reaping the rewards. Many digital solutions, like virtual fit and live shopping, that once seemed futuristic are now necessary to retail survival.

retail tech solution future

For example, Greg Alvo, CEO and founder of Ordergroove, launched the Relationship Commerce company in 2010. At the time, Amazon Prime and the Subscribe & Save program were in their infancy. But Greg recognized an opportunity in the market and had a dream of making consumer’s lives easier through subscription retail.

Ten years later, Greg’s vision has become a necessity as consumers look for reliable ways to get household essentials. According to Ordergroove, retailers and brands with subscription programs have seen a 40% in new enrollments as a result of COVID-19.

Digital capabilities like reoccurring subscription models are a win for consumers and retailers alike. From our daily conversations with solution providers, we’ve seen that retailers are clamoring to adapt such technologies ahead of the holiday season. Furthermore, consumers are adopting these new omni-channel shopping options as part of their ongoing routines.

The retail evolution is here to stay

Call it what you will — trade, retail, digital commerce — the retail industry will continue to evolve. It’s here to stay and has been for thousands of years. Yes, it will change but so will the rest of the world, and retailers and shoppers alike will adapt.

Speaking of changes in the retail industry, be sure to register for August’s KG Connects webinar, “‘Retail Re-Emergence’ in a Post-COVID World,” with Q Division.

kg connects august 2020
product or business launch

The Five Steps to a Great Product or Business Launch

Unless you’re Amazon, a new product or business idea probably doesn’t start with a press release. And it probably shouldn’t. When it comes to a product or business launch or announcing the business itself, a more methodological approach is more likely to ensure that the offering and messaging are solid and ready for market.

With a public launch as your end goal, you should start by focusing on some behind-the-scenes work.

Five steps to a great product or business launch

Create a Go-to-Market Strategy

Once you’ve established the need for a new offering and have developed a prototype, the first step towards a public launch is creating a go-to-market (GTM) strategy. TechTarget defines a GTM strategy as:

A go-to-market strategy (GTM strategy) is an action plan that specifies how a company will reach target customers and achieve competitive advantage. The purpose of a GTM strategy is to provide a blueprint for delivering a product or service to the end customer, taking into account such factors as pricing and distribution. A GTM strategy is somewhat similar to a business plan, although the latter is broader in scope and considers additional factors like funding.

A GTM strategy outlines:

  1. A market definition
  2. Target customers
  3. Your distribution model
  4. Product messaging and positioning
  5. Price

With these five components established, you’re ready to move to the next phase of a public launch.

Vet Your Strategy and Messaging

Now that you have a GTM strategy in place, it’s time to vet it with third-party experts. First, review it with your outside PR agency. They can help you tweak your messaging and understand how each key audience will receive it before it’s put under any further scrutiny.

Start your launch by focusing on behind-the-scenes work.

Once you feel your strategy and messaging are solid, turn to the analyst community. If you’re in a position to pay for some additional outside advice, we recommend doing a full messaging review with an analyst.

If not, a round of analyst briefings will do the trick. While analysts are not able to provide robust advice during a complimentary briefing, many will still provide candid feedback. Pay close attention to the questions analysts ask during these briefings, as prospects and customers will likely have the same questions.

Finalize Messaging and Draft a Release

Now that you have spoken with key third parties, use any feedback to refine and finalize your messaging. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be in a good place to draft a press release announcing your offering.

To really strengthen your announcement, we always recommend including a use case from a beta customer. At the very least, source a forward-looking quote from a customer about why they selected the solution.

With strong messaging and a customer testimonial, you have the baseline for a strong release.

Pre-brief Key Media

When you’ve drafted a release, it’s time to begin media outreach. When launching a new product or company, we always recommend that you brief key media contacts ahead of the announcement. You’ll want to start this process the a week or two before your target PR launch date. By pre-briefing the media, you’ll ensure you have coverage the day of your announcement. To prepare for media briefings, review our best practices.

There are two options when it comes to pre-briefing the media:

1. An exclusive

In this scenario, you’re offering the story to just a single high-profile media contact. This approach works best if you have a strong customer use case and the customer is willing to speak with the media.

Remember: With an exclusive, you’re at the mercy of the reporter and any breaking news. That means you might have to be flexible with your launch date and be ready to announce your news as soon as the story publishes.

2. Pre-pitch a wider range of media contacts

A good number of targets is around 10-12; you don’t want to pre-pitch EVERYONE, rather focus on key contacts.

Remember: Make sure that all of your contacts agree to your embargo date. You don’t want the news to leak before your launch.

It’s Launch Day

Finally, it’s launch day! Today, you’ll distribute your product or business launch press release over the wire and conduct day of outreach to media contacts you didn’t pre-brief. You’ll also want to follow up with any media contacts you previously reached out to who haven’t yet covered the news.

During launch day, and throughout the following week, ensure key spokespeople are available to speak with media. If needed, block some time on calendars in anticipation of these requests.

As coverage appears, be sure to post to your website and share on your social media channels.

Mission Accomplished

Once you’ve successfully launched your product or business, there’s still a ton of work to be done. Your broader marketing strategy, from social media to email campaigns, should also support your new product or business launch and continue to reiterate the key advantages you provide by tying them into ongoing conversations.

If you’re planning a product or business launch but don’t know where to begin, reach out. Ketner Group has decades of experience doing just that. We’re here to help.

When and why press releases

The When and Why of Press Releases, and Considerations for Today’s Normal

When it comes to tracking relevant industry news as a PR pro, it’s important to read press releases in addition to what the media is already actively covering. By using an RSS feed (maybe that’s very 2000s of me), I receive the news from the source rather than reading it second hand in the media. This is helpful for a number of reasons. It keeps us ahead of rapid response opportunities for our clients and new business ideas for Ketner Group. Perhaps even more importantly, by reviewing hundreds of releases a day, I’ve learned a lot about the when and why of press releases.

Since early March when the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality in the U.S., I’ve seen the number of press releases in my newsfeed drop considerably. But for good reason. A lot of the news we’d normally announce simply isn’t important at the moment. During normal times, there are a handful of categories that press releases fall into. While press releases aren’t altogether obsolete now, there are several additional considerations that should be taken. We’ll explore all of this below.

When and Why: Customer Stories

PR professionals, particularly in B2B, often argue that customer news is the most important. Customer stories validate a vendor’s product offering and provide real-world case studies – both for the media and an organization’s broader sales efforts. You can announce customer news at two stages of the relationship. First, upon signature (a customer win) and second, once results are achieved.

Unfortunately, customer releases are also probably the most difficult to procure for most B2B clients. Customer PR and marketing teams are often hesitant to sign on to a release. Internal customer stakeholders don’t always see the value or they’re afraid of giving away trade secrets to competitors. However, customers are more likely to participate in media activities if there’s a financial incentive. Given that these stories are so helpful for replenishing the pipeline, sales teams should make an effort to negotiate these incentives during the contract and renewal process.

Considerations for Now. If your industry is operating more or less as it normally does, there’s likely no harm in doing a customer release right now. But, your media targets may be stretched and not have the bandwidth to cover the news.

On the other hand, if your industry has been largely disrupted by the pandemic and its effects, customer releases are pretty much off-limits. The exception is if the customer news is directly tied to the crisis. In that case, customer stories are incredibly valuable and the media are eager for this content.

When and Why: Product Releases and Updates

In general, product releases or updates aren’t meant to drive a huge amount of media coverage. Don’t worry, a few opportunities exist to drive mentions. The exception of course is if you have a truly revolutionary new offering. While that is rarely the case, it’s important to make product news available to your customers, prospects and investors.

When it comes to product news specifically, turn to the analyst community. Use paid analyst relationships when you can to vet your messaging and ensure the offering resonates with your target audience. If you don’t have a paid relationship, pre-brief analysts before the news is public. Friendlies might still offer valuable feedback that can help you tweak your final messaging.

Like any release, customer validation is key when it comes to product news. Again, this can be negotiated. Ask beta users to provide a quote in exchange for early access to the product. If a customer quote is off the table, anonymize any benefits or improvements from those tests or aggregate the results from a collection of customers.

Considerations for Now. Unless there is a direct application to help users manage the current situation, product releases probably don’t make sense right now. But, like customer releases, with a relevant angle, the media might be interested.

When and Why: Company News

Company news comes in a variety of forms. A leadership change, a new service offering, an upcoming event, a strategic partnership or an office opening. Like product news, company news doesn’t usually drive significant media mentions. But it’s important to make your stakeholders aware of this news.

In general, it’s important to get this news out both over the wire, on your website, to analysts and to any media friendlies who cover this type of news. Unless you represent a Fortune 500 company, you don’t need to pitch top-tier media. Don’t waste your time or theirs.

Considerations for Now. At Ketner Group, we recommend that you post this news on your websites and distribute over the wire. That way it’s on your website so customers and prospects are ensured it’s “business as usual.” By distributing it over the wire, media have access if they desire. However, we don’t recommend directly pitching the news to media. Reporter’s inboxes are overloaded and editors are directing their teams to focus only on timely coverage related to the crisis.

When and Why: Unique Research

Proprietary research. It’s the holy grail. It’s the gift that keeps giving.

For PR professionals and media alike, unique research (done well, of course) is the biggest blessing a client or solution provider can provide. At Ketner Group, we can’t sing the praises of good research enough. While it often requires a significant upfront investment, the payoff will be worth it.

A robust research study can be divided into multiple releases – not to mention multiple bylines, thought leadership pitches, social media posts, email campaigns and more. Plan to repeat the research on a quarterly or annual basis, if you can.

Considerations for Now. If you completed your research during “normal times,” you might be in bit of a pickle at the moment. But look for ways you can tie in the current situation. For example, our clients RSR and Symphony RetailAI completed a joint supply chain study just before the crisis set in.

Initially, we thought we’d need to wait on the news. However, we were able to find a tie in, identifying how “retail winners” were prepared for the current situation and others could learn from them. As a result, the news generated considerable interest and coverage. Now is also a good time for real-time research focusing on the current situation. If you have the time and budget for research now, we highly recommend proceeding.

The Nevers

While the above might not encompass all types of releases, it’s a good overview. There are also times and situations when press releases simply don’t make sense. One scenario I see way too often is a release that’s distributed over the wire that simply quotes an executive’s opinion about a particular trend or piece of news. This is a waste of money! Trust me, I’m the only one seeing it.

A short release costs roughly $400 to put over the wire. There are much better ways to get your opinions out; namely, blogs, bylines, pitching reporters directly offering the perspective for a story idea and rapid response (AKA newsjacking) pitching.

Final Press Release Considerations

In general, if you’re considering whether or not a press release is necessary, ask yourself a few questions. First, is it newsworthy? Will the media cover this news? If not, is this the best way to disseminate the news to my intended audience? Would a blog or a social post be more appropriate? And especially right now when resources are stretched, is the time and cost needed to write and distribute the release worth the return?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, ask your PR partner. A good PR partner will always ensure that your time and money are well spent when it comes to press releases.

Don’t have a PR partner? No worries, we’re here to help.

Advertising Week New York

Advertising Week New York: A Ketner Group Preview

With clients like Adlucent and PMG on our roster, Ketner Group understands advertising’s role in today’s retail market. For that reason, I was excited to see the retail-heavy agenda unfold for Advertising Week New York. As an added bonus, Advertising Week is located just steps away from the Ketner Group NYC headquarters in Lincoln Square.

On Monday, Sept. 23, there will be eight retail-focused sessions with smattering of related content throughout the four-day event. Curious what’s on my agenda for the week? If so, here’s a preview for you!

Retail at Advertising Week

Monday’s retail lineup will be held on the Culture Builders Stage.

A.M. Lineup

“Passion & Performance Marketing: Driving Growth & Demand While Honoring The Spirit Of Your Brand” kicks off the retail sessions at 9:45 a.m. Google, Cardlytics and Tinulti will discuss marrying passion and performance in online and local to generate happy customers.

Next, the focus shifts to data. Experian, PlaceIQ, IRI Worldwide and TrueData explore how brands can extract more from their data. Check out “So Much Data…So Little Time” at 10:45 a.m. to learn how to manage mass amounts of data and make smarter advertising decisions.

If retail is the topic of conversation, Amazon is sure to come up. At 11:45 a.m. Catalyst, Xaxis, Georgia-Pacific and Pacvue look at how Amazon is reshaping shopper marketing. “Seismic Shifts: How Amazon is Reshaping Shopper Marketing” will help retailers and and brands better understand this changing dynamic.

P.M. Lineup

One of the hottest topics in retail is direct-to-consumer brands. During “Reinventing Retail – How to Think Like DTC Startups” at 12:45 p.m., Rhone, Koio, Bombas and Dagne Dover join Digiday‘s Shareen Pathak to explore how “DTC brands are reinventing the consumer journey, [and] experimenting with customer service and retail concepts.”

Afterward, stay in your seats for the 1:45 session, “Hello to Good-Buy: Marketing Approaches to Drive the Evolving Consumer Journey.” Valassis, GSK and Universal McCann chat reimagining marketing approaches to effectively engage evolving shopper preferences.

Then, for some holiday talk. At 2:45 p.m., Open X and Essence Global take the stage for “Reaching Holiday Shoppers in the Age of Digital.” Attendees will leave with a better understanding of today’s holiday shopper and an overview of 2019 holiday consumer spending habits.

At 3:45 p.m. Constellation Brands, AT&T and CAA discuss “Beyond Digital Retail: The Future of Retail, Moving Well Past Omnichannel.” Panelists will discuss the consumer demand for customization, on-demand services, and the impact of mobile and technology.

The retail track wraps at 4:45 p.m. with “Flipping the Script: The Rise of Shape-Shifting Experience Platforms.” VMLY&R and SHOWFIELDS, the new store concept from Shopify, explore today’s top marketing strategies.

Monday wraps with a networking happy hour. Stick around for cocktails and conversation with fellow attendees.

What to Check Out After Monday

While the official retail track takes place on Monday, there are plenty of related topics to check out throughout the four-day event. So, let’s see what other sessions are worth checking out.

Tuesday largely focuses on AdTech and brand innovation. Throughout the day, hear from Burger King, brands like The Knot, LG and OceanSpray, and Verizon and Anheuser Busch.

On Wednesday, DTC, retail and the customer experience continue to be key themes. Sessions include:

On Thursday, Advertising Week will focus on female leaders in advertising and marketing at retailers and brands in a series of “Future is Female” sessions.

Meet Ketner Group at Advertising Week

Attending Advertising Week? Want to chat about the state of advertising and retail? In that case, I’d love to connect and grab a cup of coffee during the events. Send me an email and we’ll find a time to meet up.

NYC retail scene

NYC Retail Hits and Misses: Edition 1, Volume 2

A better title for this edition of “NYC Retail Hits and Misses” is “NYC Retail Hits and a Fix.” Or, a la “Friends,” in honor of its 25th Anniversary, “The One Where Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now Redeem Themselves.” But this did not come without one last blunder.

Before we dive into my ongoing NYC grocery saga, let’s talk about some happier retail happenings.

Hit: The Lead

No, don’t worry, “The Lead” isn’t a hip new retail store or direct-to-consumer brand that you’ve missed out on. But it might be one of the hottest new retail innovation events.

Launched last year, The Lead “bridges the fashion & retail industry with the global Silicon Valley, empowering the industry’s transition to digital centricity.” With more than 1,300 attendees at this year’s Innovation Summit, The Lead is quickly capturing the attention of retailers, brands, solution providers and influencers, alike.

Last month, Catherine made the trip to NYC and joined me in Brooklyn for the summit. Over two days, we heard from innovative solution providers like NewStore, Yotpo and Afterpay. Speakers also included executives from some of the hottest young brands and retailers in the industry, including Bombas, Shinola and AYR. We heard how Bombas is creating a culture for today’s workforce, how Shinola is reinvigorating Detroit, and how AYR is reaching millennials and Gen Z.

After two days of great speakers and conversations, I’m excited to see where next year leads (pun intended) the event.

Miss Fix: Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now

Okay, now back to the grocery drama.

As you might recall, after my last experience with Amazon Prime Now and Whole Foods, I was left without groceries. Soon after I wrote that blog, I learned the Whole Foods on the Upper West Side allows customers to shop in the store and pay for delivery anywhere in Manhattan. For a small fee of $4, my LaCroix, watermelon and other heavy items were delivered to my doorstep. Problem solved.

But not for long. On June 6, Amazon and Whole Foods ended their relationship with Instacart and moved all of their delivery in house. Long story short, when I went grocery shopping on June 11 and asked for delivery, I was out of luck. Whole Foods now only delivers to customers within 10 blocks. My nearest Whole Foods is 20 blocks away.

After a lot of back and forth, I was once again left without groceries. I was told my only option for delivery was to order through Prime Now. <Insert face-palm emoji>

After explaining my ongoing saga to the store managers, I was told to call corporate customer service. I then received a call from regional headquarters and was told to email the details and share the blog I’d previously written. This was the last I heard in mid-June.

Fast forward to early July. I see a courier delivering what appears to be a Whole Foods order from Prime Now in my neighborhood. I gave it another go. It was July 4 weekend and I had time to go to the grocery store if needed. But wah lah! Later that day, I had a fridge full of Waterloo sparkling water!

Two orders later, and the Whole Foods-Prime Now drama appear to be solved.

The NYC Retail Adventures Continue

With a Friends-themed pop up on the way and the opening of ThirdLove’s first brick-and-mortar concept, the adventures continue. If you’re in NYC, let’s grab coffee and discuss all things retail.

Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Four “Free” Ways to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

In the world of B2B PR, it’s an age-old question, “How does media coverage drive leads?” But the better question is, “How CAN marketing teams use media coverage to drive leads?” And Ketner Group has the answers for you.

The hard part is securing the media coverage, and we can do that for you. Once you have a great mention, the easy part is using that media coverage to drive leads. And lucky you, we can help with that too! To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of four easy, and mostly free, ways to do just that.

Share and Share Again

When it comes to social, most of our clients have the “share” step down. When we alert clients to a new piece of coverage, for the most part, they quickly share it to social. But that’s it.

That brings us to “share again.” Whether on LinkedIn or Twitter, social teams should share great coverage time and time again. There are a number of opportunities to bring coverage back to life on your social channels. As you roll out new marketing campaigns or a related trend appears in the news, continue to share the media coverage on social. Rather than simply copying and pasting the original content, tailor each new post to the specific campaign or trending news topic.

Post on Your Website

Along with social, posting coverage to your website should be one of the first things you do when a new mention appears. Media coverage should have a home on your website; either in the same newsroom where you post press releases or on a separate coverage page. Either way, it needs to be visible.

But don’t stop there; use the coverage in your blog. This may mean using coverage as outbound links in relative posts, creating a monthly roundup of news, or for contributed content such as bylines, writing a short blog summary to drive more eyeballs. In addition to outbound links to the coverage itself, blogs should include a CTA that drives your readers to additional gated content on the topic or to request a demo.

Leverage for Email and Newsletter Campaigns

Every B2B company needs to use email and newsletter campaigns to drive leads. One of the most challenging parts of these marketing campaigns is creating engaging, relevant content. Luckily, our editor and reporter friends have done that part for you.

Use this content to feed your lead generation engine. Media coverage carries an authenticity that pure marketing content usually lacks. Your targets are likely to pay more attention to what someone else has to say about your company, solution or the problem you’re trying to solve. Use this to your advantage! Like blogs, include not only a link to the coverage, but also a call to action (CTA) to drive prospects to your website and gated content.

Create a Content Library and Share Internally

Finally, make sure everyone in the organization, from the C-suite down, is aware of coverage and empowered to share it. Create a library of content and assets for team members to easily share via social, email or even print as a leave behind for in-person meetings and events. There are anumber of tools for marketers to enable their teams to find and share content.

How NOT to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Do nothing. That’s what you shouldn’t do when it comes to using media coverage to drive leads. It’s true, from time to time that approach might work. You may be one of the lucky few who make a big splash and suddenly every big-name prospect is knocking at your door. But that’s not the usual reality. If you want to drive great leads, leverage your media coverage — third-party validation is one of your best marketing assets.

Need help? Ketner Group can help you secure great media coverage AND amplify that coverage to drive leads, contact us to learn more.

NYC Retail

NYC Retail Hits and Misses

Greetings from America’s shopping capitol! Okay, no one actually calls it that but maybe they should. As a reminder, I recently moved to NYC and while Ketner Group always lived and breathed retail, I’m now drowning in all things retail on a daily basis. As a consumer, wherever I go, whatever I do, I’m surrounded; I can’t escape the world of retail!

My ever-growing list of NYC retail experiences has been full of ups and downs. With that in mind, consider this Edition 1, Volume 1 of a little series I call, “NYC Retail Hits and Misses.”

Hit: Happy Returns

Pretty soon after I moved, I realized I needed another sturdy pair of work flats. I’d been toying with the idea of investing in a pair of Rothy’s for a solid year. After a friend posted a review and discount code, I sucked it up and made the investment. One problem. I wasn’t sure what size to buy. I range anywhere between a women’s 8.5 and 10 depending on the brand and style. After some back and forth, I settled on a size 9. I was wrong. I loved the shoes but sadly, they were too small. Given that Rothy’s doesn’t have an NYC store, I expected the exchange process to be a hassle.

Enter Happy Returns. Despite my daily consumption of retail news, Happy Returns was not on my radar (as I was writing this blog, PayPal Ventures announced an $11 million investment in the company). Happy Returns enables “‘buy online, return to store’ for retailers without stores.” Using Happy Returns, the exchange process was, well, happy. I simply walked a few blocks to the nearest Happy Returns partner location, Paper Source. My exchange was processed by a store associate and I was on my way, but not before picking up a birthday card.

The beauty of Happy Returns is three-fold, benefitting the customer, retailer and location partner. Happy Returns processed the exchange instantly and Rothy’s didn’t wait to receive the return before shipping the larger size. Meaning I ended up with my news shoes faster than with a traditional online return. Happy Customer. The ease of the experience (not to mention the actual shoes) means that I will be a return customer. Happy Retailer. And I didn’t leave empty handed; I made a purchase at Paper Source. Happy Location Partner. All around, Happy Returns!

Miss: Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now

As I mentioned in my Q&A, grocery shopping has been a bit of an adjustment. Since I moved into my own apartment and my pup Mackey has joined me in the city, I find my time even more limited. With this in mind, I gave in and decided to try Whole Foods “Two-Hour Delivery” through Amazon Prime Now. As Greg mentioned in a previous blog, the free two-hour delivery promotion is kind of a joke. It’s a two-hour delivery window, not delivery within two hours. Nonetheless, I ordered my groceries on a Saturday and scheduled a delivery for the following evening when I knew I’d be home.

The following afternoon around 5 p.m., I was notified that a shopper was picking my order and selected a few replacement items. My order was picked and placed in the cooler to await drive pickup. Next thing I know, it’s 8:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, 30 minutes after my scheduled delivery window and no groceries. My groceries were still sitting at a Whole Foods in…wait for it…YONKERS!

Now if you know anything about geography and getting in and out of NYC, you’re probably, like me, thinking, “That’s BONKERS!” Well after 45 minutes on the phone with Prime Now customer service, I was left with “this seems to happen a lot in NYC” (well, duh, you’re trying to get someone to deliver groceries an hour away for a minimal tip), a $30 credit in my Amazon account and no groceries.

NYC retail FAIL.

More NYC Retail Hits and Misses to Come

With almost four months of living in NYC under my belt, I have a few additional NYC retail tales stored up to tell and many more to come. Stay tuned for the next edition of NYC Retail Hits and Misses to learn more about what the retail industry is getting right and where there’s room for improvement.

Dos and Don’ts of Applying for PR Jobs

When I started at Ketner Group almost three years ago, I was the fifth full-time team member. At the beginning of July, we’ll be adding our 10th full-time team member (get excited for another intro blog!). Pair that with our ongoing internship program, and it goes without saying that we’ve done a TON of recruiting, resume reading and interviewing in the past few years. And as you can probably imagine, we’ve seen some interesting things (some good, some…not so good) throughout the process. Given that many recent grads are likely applying for jobs, we thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the dos and don’ts of applying for PR jobs.

Do Apply if You’re Slightly Over-Qualified

You might be looking at a job description or a company website and think, “that sounds like a perfect fit for me.” However, even if they’re looking for someone with slightly less experience than you, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. For example, if the position is an Account Executive role with 2-3 years of experience, and you’ve been in the working world a bit longer, the hiring agency might be willing to hire you as a Senior Account Executive if you fit their profile and hiring needs but have slightly more experience.

Don’t Apply for a Job You Don’t Qualify For

Now, I recently had a debate with some friends about this one – many argued that you should aim big, or the employer may not know what they’re looking for until you tell them. While that may be true in some industries, I’d argue that it doesn’t apply to most PR jobs, specifically agency ones. For example, if we’re hiring for an Account Manager position with 4-5 years of agency experience, you do NOT qualify for that job if you’re looking for your first job out of college. To a recruiter or the person reviewing resumes, this says one of a few things: 1) You don’t think their time is important; 2) You didn’t thoroughly read the job description; or 3) You’re just blindly applying for jobs to meet some sort of quota. Now if you’re still interested in working for the company, but simply don’t have enough experience, feel free to send the contact a note, acknowledging that you aren’t qualified, but let them know you’re interested in a more junior position if one is to open up.

Do Act Like You Want to Be There

We all know that applying for jobs and interviewing is an exhausting, and often, defeating process. But as you can probably tell, it’s not all fun and games for employers, either. That being said, when you do get to the job interview, act like you want to be there. Show up well-rested, prepared and with a smile on your face. And most importantly, be yourself. While we know job interviews are nerve-wracking, some of the best interviews I’ve been in (whether as the interviewer or interviewee) are those where everyone’s been themselves and the conversation has flowed naturally…whether it was completely relevant to the job itself, or not.

Don’t Apply if You Aren’t Available to Start in the Near Future

As much as we’d like to be able to anticipate that we’re going to need someone to join our team in six months, unfortunately, that’s not often a reality for most agencies. We often don’t know we need a new team member until we needed them yesterday! While we’re always happy to hang on to your resume, it’s very disappointing to receive an application for an open position from a qualified candidate, and then once you’ve invested time in speaking with them, learn that they’re not available to start for another six months. Therefore, if you see a job that you think you might be qualified for but wouldn’t be able to start for a while, just be upfront about it and send the contact a note to see if they’d consider a candidate who can’t start for a few months. Trust me, they’ll appreciate your honesty!

Do Send a Thank You Note

While it’s not necessarily a deal breaker, a thank you note goes a long way. And if you’re anything like me, you still get giddy when you receive the old-fashioned kind in the mail. While any thank you note is better than none, try to make it thoughtful, highlighting something that was discussed in the interview, mentioning something you forgot or maybe asking a follow up question to help keep the conversation going.

A Note on Career Fairs

For the past two years, Ketner Group has attended the Moody College of Communication Career Fair at UT Austin and we’ve had the pleasure of meeting some great candidates (shout out to Stacy and Meghan!). But we’ve also had some interesting exchanges. Notably, we’ve noticed that many of the candidates don’t have a clue what we do or what type of job they’re applying for. Some walk up to our booth and straight up ask, “So, what does Ketner Group do?” While we commend you for having the courage to put yourself out there, Career Services provided a list of employers well in advance, and you have time to prepare and research the companies you want to meet.

While the list could go on, these are some of the dos and don’ts that have repeatedly shown themselves. So, before you apply for your next PR job, be sure to take this advice into account, and best of luck on your job hunting journey!

P.S. While it’s only a small part of my job, I really do enjoy recruiting and getting to know job candidates! Even though Ketner Group doesn’t currently* have any openings, feel free to shoot me your resume to keep on file or I’d be happy to sit down with you and discuss your job search journey. You can email me at [email protected].

 

*As noted above, that could change at any moment!