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!

Dr. John Murphy’s Universal Principles of Effective Communication

Last November, I had the pleasure of hearing one of my former professors at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. John Murphy, present his “Universal Principles of Effective Communication” at the Texas Exes Lunchtime Lecture series. While I’d heard a version of this lecture before, I was pumped to hear him speak again and be back in the “classroom.”

As I recounted my experience to the KG team, I was disappointed that my younger colleagues did not have the pleasure of taking ADV 318J with Dr. Murphy. In light of this, and the biggest advertising event of the year, the Super Bowl, having just passed, I’d like to share Dr. Murphy’s “Universal Principles of Effective Communication” and pass along some of his wisdom and a few classic examples he shared*.

Think Different

“Think Different” is Dr. Murphy’s first principle of effective communication. Here, the main objective is to do something different – either different from your norm or different from your competitors. A couple of examples that Dr. Murphy provided were the 1997 Apple campaign that coined the term “Think Different.” and this Chevy commercial in the spirit of “Lassie,” that doesn’t focus on the truck’s features, but instead, tells a familiar and captivating story.

Simplicity

We know this as KISS or “Keep it simple, stupid,” a principle that applies across the business world. It’s exactly what it sounds like; don’t complicate things.

Specificity

Specifics sell. When communicating, whether through an ad campaign or a business email, it’s important to be as specific as possible. By providing unambiguous details, the consumer knows exactly what to expect, making it more likely for them to engage with your call to action. For this principle, Dr. Murphy shared an ad that appeared in a Houston newspaper listing a non-profit’s detailed, and specific, list of needed donation items.

Believability

Believability isn’t simply telling the truth, it’s doing it in a way that people understand. Therefore, the key is using familiar language and speaking in the way that your audience would. This may mean setting aside some grammatical and syntax principals to relate to the audience.

Relevance

Furthermore, make sure you’re communicating to the right audience and don’t be afraid to call them out. Are you trying to reach millennials? Fathers? Milk drinkers? No matter who it is, by calling them out, you can be sure to grab their attention.

Likability

Now, we all know, especially in the age of social media, it’s impossible to get EVERYONE to like you. However, being likable is the first step in getting someone to buy something from you. Most of the time, consumers, and certainly businesses, aren’t going to purchase a product or service from someone they don’t like. A classic example is a car salesman in Michigan who sent every single one of his customers a card every month; on the back of every card it said, “I like you.” Clearly, this worked; he sold over 13,000 cars throughout the course of his career.

Consistency

It’s okay to say the same thing over and over. Some of the biggest brand names have achieved great advertising success by sticking to a consistent strategy. For example, Nike continues to tell audiences, “Just Do It,” Motel 6 promises, “We’ll leave the light on for you,” and, the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, who barely made the cut this year, have been a constant.

While Dr. Murphy’s presentation focused on advertising campaigns, the same principles can be applied to PR and any form of strategic communications. Furthermore, these principles can be used beyond the world of strategic communications and used in your everyday business or personal correspondence.

*All ideas and examples in this blog are credited to Dr. John Murphy.

Taking a Look Back at Shop.org 2017

At the end of Sept., Mariana and I ventured to the West Coast for Shop.org 2017: This is Digital in Los Angeles. We were excited to see what NRF had in store for the re-invigorated annual conference.

Shop.org Gets a New Focus and a Fresh Look

Until now, Shop.org’s focus had been squarely on eCommerce. This year, however, NRF shifted the event’s focus to include all things digital, bringing new vendors, perspectives and content into the limelight.

Having attended last year’s Shop.org in Dallas, I can say that the show sure did look different! NRF refreshed the branding with brighter, flashier colors and created more inviting, well-designed spaces on the show floor for attendees to gather for networking, meetings and meals.

Another great addition and surprise was Monday evening’s networking cocktail party. The cocktail party was held remotely at the famous Shrine Auditorium, which over the years has served as home to both the Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards. It was quite a spectacle, with a red-carpet entry hosted by Melissa Rivers, dancers in giant balloons and a genie floating above the crowd.

Retail Innovation Lounge Takes the Popcorn

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalretailfederation/36671293053/in/album-72157689435287445/
Image Source: NRF

During Shop.org, we had the privilege of spending most of our time in the Retail Innovation Lounge (RIL). Ketner Group’s good friend, Anne Marie Stephen, founder and CEO of kwolia, invited us to once again serve as the media partner for RIL and support her on site. As we mentioned in our previous blog, this was the first time that kwolia and NRF partnered to bring the event inside the conference.

Over the course of the two-day event, we saw nearly 600 Shop.org attendees stop by the RIL. While the fresh popcorn might have helped (as overheard on the Shop.org shuttle), we were told repeatedly that the content presented at RIL was some of the best at the conference. The Amazon Power Block, featuring sessions from Bryan Eisenberg, author of “Be Like Amazon,” and retail marketing agency TPN’s interactive workshop, drew the biggest crowds.

Ketner Group has been lucky enough to have seen the Retail Innovation Lounge since day one, when it kicked off during SXSW in 2016, and boy, has it grown in the past 18 months! We can’t wait to see what RIL has in store for the retail community in 2018 and beyond.

What’s Next for Shop.org

Shop.org planning is already under way for 2018 and the event is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, where organizers are hoping to draw big crowds once more.

What to Expect at Shop.org 2017

Image: Shop.org, NRF

The Ketner Group team is gearing up for the busiest time of year for our retail clients, and we’re kicking things off with Shop.org, Sept. 25-27, in Los Angeles.

This year, Shop.org is focused on bringing fresh content to attendees with keynotes from Tyra Banks and Kobe Bryant and a number of new opportunities to network and engage with industry peers. In addition, Shop.org has partnered with Fast Company to provide a unique series of sessions focused on innovation. We’re excited to see all of the changes at Shop.org this year!

KG Clients at Shop.org

A number of Ketner Group clients will be attending and exhibiting at Shop.org this year. These clients include:

Columbus Consulting

Founded in 2001, Columbus Consulting comprises of a team of highly experienced specialists in retail systems and processes. Through a combination of pragmatism, innovation and years of experience, they deliver services ranging from strategic insight to tactical project delivery. Their experience stems from holding executive responsibility in retail, and from successfully managing some of the most challenging projects in the industry. At Shop.org, Columbus Consulting will be available to discuss the benefits of unified commerce and the need for retailers to have a single view of real-time inventory as they head into the holiday sales season.

DynamicAction, Booth #1519

DynamicAction is the most advanced analytics solution specifically built for eCommerce, store and omnichannel retail merchandising teams. Connecting and analyzing millions of data points from every part of the retail organization, DynamicAction uses more than 600 proprietary algorithms to pinpoint margin-eating disconnects in the business, prescribe precise actions and accurately rank those actions by financial impact. During Shop.org, DynamicAction will be previewing the data for their upcoming Retail Index benchmark report as well as discussing how retailers can arm themselves with an Amazon Plan for the holidays.

GroupBy Inc., Booth #639

GroupBy Inc. recently acquired Edgecase, becoming the first data-driven e-commerce platform available for e-retailers. The acquisition merges the eCommerce search and merchandising provider with a data-driven product intelligence platform to create the most comprehensive cross-channel digital commerce solution to-date. At the show, GroupBy will be sharing new customer projects and deployments.

Linc, Booth #541, 1800

Linc’s customer care automation platform powers the digital experiences that strengthen the relationships between brands and shoppers, transforming one-time purchasers into lifetime customers. Brands, retailers and CPGs leverage Linc to provide their customers with exceptional tracking, return and exchange experiences, and create new revenue channels via personalized upsells, cross-sells, sampling and product re-ordering. At their booth, Linc will be providing a preview on its upcoming platform features and discussing how TechStyle Fashion Group is working with Linc to maximize its customer care efforts.

Mirakl, Booth #1205

Mirakl gives retailers and brands a fast path to increase customer value by launching an online marketplace. The Mirakl Marketplace Platform automates the hard things: seller onboarding, product data management, service quality control, and order distribution; on an API-based solution that’s modular and easy to integrate. Over 130 customers operating marketplaces in 40 countries trust Mirakl’s proven expertise and technology, including Hewlett Packard Electronics, Best Buy Canada, Carrefour, Darty, Galeries Lafayette and Halfords.

Shopgate, Booth #319

Shopgate‘s leading SaaS platform enables online retailers to easily create, maintain and optimize native apps and mobile websites for the iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets. Shopgate uses cutting-edge marketing features such as one-click payments, mobile coupons and advanced push notifications to help merchants connect with consumers on the go. During Shop.org, Shopgate will feature a new customer win as well as discuss newly added features to its platform.

We’re happy to help you arrange a meeting with any of these clients during the show.

Retail Innovation Lounge at Shop.org

Over the past year, we’ve had the privilege to work with Anne Marie Stephen from kwolia and help support the Retail Innovation Lounge at various industry events. This year, NRF and kwolia are partnering to bring the Retail Innovation Lounge to the Shop.org show floor, Sept. 26-27.

The partnership provides a unique “lounge and learn” experience at the retail industry’s most important event for digital commerce. A dedicated stage in the Retail Innovation Lounge features curated content and programming with exclusive, inspiring content focused on today’s most successful retail strategies and concepts.

The Retail Innovation Lounge also includes lounge areas for networking and relaxation, games, a happy hour bar and demo space for sponsors. More information and a detailed agenda can be found, here.

If you plan on attending Shop.org this year, feel free to reach out to us to schedule a meeting or find us in the Retail Innovation Lounge. We’d love to see you there!

KG is hiring: Fall 2017 PR Internship

Ketner Group is currently seeking a proactive and diligent intern for the Fall 2017 Semester to support our team, with the possibility of being invited to stay on for the spring term. The paid internship would begin in August 2017 with a flexible schedule of 15-20 hours per week. The intern will have the opportunity to work alongside our fun-loving, collaborative group while gaining real-world agency experience supporting B2B clients.

Qualifications:

  • Must be entering or in their senior year of undergraduate studies
  • Possess strong writing and communication skills
  • Willingness to work independently in a fast-paced environment
  • Organized and detail-oriented
  • Previous public relations and/or communications internship experience is a plus, preferably with an agency
  • Ability to learn quickly and adapt to our team’s work culture

Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

  • Researching media and analysts
  • Editing and/or writing client press releases and marketing materials
  • Managing editorial opportunities
  • Compiling award and speaking calendar
  • Building media lists
  • Crafting blog content for clients and internal use
  • Developing social media posts for client and internal use
  • Participating in staff meetings
  • Assisting with other duties as assigned

Application instructions: Please send resume and cover letter, along with writing samples to Adrienne Newcomb at [email protected]; no phone calls, please.

We Moved!

Ketner Group is excited to announce our new digs! Last week, we moved into our new home, where we plan to stay for the next five years. While we’re still getting settled in, the new space is already serving us well.

When we moved to our previous office two years ago, it was always thought of as a short-term fix for our growing team. With our new space we have everything we need: an office for each full-time team member, a kitchen (!), a conference room, tons of open space and plenty of room to expand as our team grows.

We’re still working to get the entire space decorated, furnished and set up but we thought we’d share a few “before” photos.

The reception area. KG logo coming soon.
The reception area. KG logo coming soon.
 The conference room. You’ll see we still have some artwork to hang and need new furniture that scales better to the large room.

The conference room. You’ll see we still have some artwork to hang and need new furniture that scales better to the large room.
Lounge area between the offices.
Lounge area between the offices.
And most importantly…the kitchen! We didn’t have a kitchen at our last space so we’re pretty pumped to have a real kitchen with a sink.
And most importantly…the kitchen! We didn’t have a kitchen at our last space so we’re pretty pumped to have a real kitchen with a sink.

We hope that you’ll visit soon to see the finished space but until then, make sure you have our new mailing address on file:

Ketner Group PR + Marketing
3737 Executive Center Drive, Suite 210
Austin, TX 78731

Retail Season is Here and Shop.org is Around the Corner

Image via http://retailsdigitalsummit.nrf.com/

Retail season has arrived. From now until spring, our calendars are filled with the hottest events and busiest days in retail. We jumped into the fray last month with back to school campaigns and returned from Labor Day to kick things into high gear with Shop.org prep. This year, Shop.org is Sept. 26-28 in Dallas, only a three-hour drive up I-35, and our team is excited to check out the show along with a number of events taking place throughout the show. Here’s our roundup of can’t miss Shop.org happenings:

Retail Innovation Lounge Dallas
Ketner Group is thrilled to serve as a media sponsor for Retail Innovation Lounge Dallas, taking place Sept. 26-28 at The Dallas Entrepreneur Center, a short shuttle ride away from Shop.org. The event will bring together leading retail executives and retail technology innovators for three days of keynotes, panels and networking.

Ketner Group Clients at Shop.org
In addition, a number of Ketner Group clients will be attending and exhibiting at Shop.org. You’ll find Convey, DynamicAction, Edgecase, Kibo and Mirakl on the expo floor. For more information on their exact location, check out the Shop.org exhibitor list, here, and if you’re interested in meeting with one of our clients, let us know.

Can’t Miss Keynotes and Sessions
There are number of exciting keynotes and sessions planned for Shop.org. We’re especially looking forward to the keynotes, “JC Penney and Transforming the Customer Experience – An Insider’s Look” and “Digital Retail’s Fast Track: Virtually There With AR/VR” featuring speakers from Sephora and Google.

We’d love to see you in Dallas this month. Please reach out if you’re interested in grabbing coffee to catch up or talk about your company’s PR strategy.

Beating the Summer PR Slump

pexels-photo-61136It’s inevitable, it happens every summer, schools out and everyone is in vacation mode. And the regularly fast pace world of PR slows down. But don’t fret, you won’t be twiddling your thumbs for long and in the meantime, we’ve come up with a few ideas to keep you busy and ahead of the curve for the Fall ramp-up.

Time for coffee and proactive pitching
Things aren’t just quiet for PR professionals; summer time is also a slow time for many journalists. This is a great time to meet up with journalists for an annual coffee, find out what they’re working on and discuss in-depth story ideas. They might be in need of something to fill in the space during the summertime slump or planning for 2017 and can pop a few of your ideas into their editorial calendars. Whether you get a story out of the deal or not, face-to-face time is essential for building long-term relationships and staying at the top of a journalist’s resource list.

Catch up on speaking and awards opportunities
The last time things were quiet, likely over the winter holidays, you probably put together a robust list of speaking and award opportunities you planned to conquer for the year. If you’re like us you probably keep it handy but things are starting to look out of date. Half the shows and most of the deadlines have passed for the year. Take a little time to refresh the info and start looking at dates and deadlines for the next year.

If you’re immersed in the world of retail tech PR like our team at Ketner Group, you know that while there isn’t major shows going on right now, plans for 2017 are well under way and a couple of major deadlines are on the horizon. This year the inaugural Shoptalk event drove media coverage and hype across the industry and the 2017 speaker lineup is already in the works. For a chance to speak at next year’s Shoptalk plan to have your speaking proposal submitted by Sept. 1.

Strategize for the upcoming year
The first half of 2016 is behind us and now is great time to start looking at 2017 priorities. Internally, meet with your top executives, sales team and product engineers to find out what’s next. Are there any major company strategy changes on the horizon? Any major customer wins in the pipeline? What major product developments are coming out next year? It’s also a good time to start looking at budgets based on first half performance.

From there, you can start building out on overall communications plan for the coming year. We’ve all been there, it’s either the end of the year or the brand new year and its time to build out the first-half communication plan. Instead of stressing out about compiling all of the materials you need for this plan under a tight deadline of two days, take this downtime to get ahead of the curve by putting together a potential outline and then finalize the plan when its time.

Don’t forget to include thought leadership themes, announcements and analyst relations’ activities. Meet with all of the stakeholders across your communications and marketing teams, both internally and externally. If you have some extra wiggle room in your budget, getting together for an in person meeting is a great way to knock this out in a short amount of time with some team building activities on size.

Last but not least, breathe
As we all know, the quiet times are rare and you never know when they might come to an abrupt halt, so enjoy it while you can. Take a long weekend without the stress of needing to make up the time when you get back. If you have “Summer Fridays,” take advantage and cut out of the office early for a much-needed massage or to spend some time at the pool with your kids. Don’t worry, there will always be a client in need of public relations and a journalist looking for a good story, come Monday.

The Wrong Kind of SXSW Party: Getting Noticed the Right Way at SXSW

As we have all heard a thousand times, first impressions are critical. They can make or break you, and whether good or bad, a first impression often becomes a lasting one that is hard to run or hide from.

During the first Saturday of SXSW, my coworker and I found ourselves with some time to kill and wandered the street to explore a few unofficial SXSW activities. Along the way, we came across one event poster that stopped us dead in our tracks.

A photo of Bill Cosby with the caption, “Wanna Party?” was taped to a saran-wrapped telephone pole on the corner of 6th and Congress. We, along with other passersby, were appalled, but I graciously held the corner of the poster down so my colleague could send a quick Snapchat to his girlfriend so she could share in our dismay.

The poster got our attention, that’s for sure, but was it a successful PR and marketing strategy? Did I want to go to the party? Do I remember what next big startup was throwing that can’t-miss party? Certainly not. If anything, if I’d bothered to remember the name of the company, I’d probably intentionally avoid doing business with them or buying their product out of the fear of being roofied while interacting with them.

As anyone who has attended or followed SXSW over the past several years knows, it has become a hot spot to launch a start up or make a big announcement. But it can be hard to break through the noise and captivate tens of thousands of individuals crawling around a ten-block radius of downtown Austin. However, a number of companies and products managed to be heard and caught the attention of festivalgoers and media—in the right way.

Piñatagrams
Unlike the failed Bill Cosby campaign,Piñatagrams’ “Lost Piñata” flyers managed to get positive attention from many at SXSW and gained quite a few mentions on Twitter. Flyers for the missing piñata were found on every street corner with tear off contact info, and the tiny piñatas were spotted around town with their new owners. According to Piñatagrams website, for $19.99, the company offers an alternative to a boring old card, sending an unwrapped piñata filled with a personalized message and candy to the recipient.

The fate of Piñatagrams as a company, and the tiny piñatas when they arrive via U.S. Mail, has yet to be determined, but the startup successfully captured the attention of SXSW without offending the female attendees.

Photo courtesy of Piñatagrams
Photo courtesy of Piñatagrams

Mr. Robot
The buzz of this marketing scheme started well before SXSW proper and it certainly paid off. But then again, it’s hard to miss a 100-foot ferris wheel in the midst of dozens of high rises. The Mr. Robot Ferris wheel attracted the usual SXSW crowds but families flocked downtown to get a free view of the Austin skyline from atop the 10-story Coney Island-inspired ride.

The line were wrapped around the block but Mr. Robot and USA Network will have to wait and compare the pre- and post-SXSW Nielson ratings to truly measure the effectiveness of this immersive Mr. Robot experience.

Vivarin
By day five of SXSW Interactive, I, like most attendees, was dragging and needed to make it two more sessions and a networking event before I could call it quits. But have no fear, Vivarin was passing out “FOMO Relief.” Two hundred milligrams of pure caffeine will surely do the trick. Maybe not, but the sentiment is there.

Vivarin (nothing more than a fancy brand name of caffeine pills) definitely knows their audience, and their street team made sure to get their product in the right hands, AND at the right time. 

And Everyone Still Loves the Mophie Dogs
Mophie employed the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” methodology and brought back their 2015 SXSW campaign. The company once again partnered with the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation and festivalgoers took a break, charged their phone and petted a dog in need.

SXSW 2016 may be over, and you may have missed the boat on making a big splash, but it’s never too early to start planning for 2017. As you’re brainstorming the next big SXSW publicity campaign, ask yourself, “How can I make attendees remember my brand and my product for the right reasons?”