3686-festival-ketner-group-communications

Back to Where We Started in Nashville: Ketner Group Participates in This Year’s 36|86 Festival

I love anniversaries. It gives one the opportunity to look back at where you’ve been, what you’ve gone through and all the good things that lay ahead.

This time last year, Kirsty Goodlett, our director of Nashville, and I, were putting the final touches on our soon to be Nashville launch. Our anniversary “week” in Nashville kicked off with an amazing launch party, complete with signature cocktails, food and a panel of brilliant, all-female storytellers.

We continued our launch activities by participating in and attending 36|86 Festival, the premier entrepreneur and start up event of the Southeast. As Kirsty said in her recap blog last year, it was truly nothing short of magic!

We were honored to kick off 36|86 with a panel featuring Kirsty, Ben Kurland and Lisa Roberts, chatting about how to win press and influence customers. Kirsty also did a podcast interview with our friend, Clark Bucker, for the 36|86 podcast, and we secured some wonderful media coverage for Ketner Group in Nashville and Austin.

Our launch was perfect, and was made possible against the wonderful backdrop of 36|86. Which is why, when asked if we wanted to participate in this year’s festival and manage media relations for 36|86, we responded with a resounding “YES!” to our friends at Launch Tennessee.

36|86 Festival goes global, interactive and virtual!

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s 36|86 Festival will look a bit different, but will still include all of the amazing speakers, sessions, networking and that Nashville pizazz that attendees have come to expect from the event!

The fully interactive, online experience will take place over two weeks for a global audience from Aug. 17-28. 36|86 will offer human stories, real strategies, 1-on-1 networking opportunities and shared experiences in its most accessible form yet.

Here are just a few of this years “can’t miss” featured speakers:

  • Garth Brooks, country music superstar
  • Eddie George, entrepreneur and former NFL running back
  • Van Jones, CNN host and political commentator and CEO of REFORM Alliance
  • Ian Rogers, Group Chief Digital Officer of LVMH
  • Dr. Stacey Edwards Dunn, founder and president of Fertility for Colored Girls, NFP

Ketner Group brings a bit of Austin to Nashville

Our team is so proud to again participate in this year’s festival, bringing our love of PR and entrepreneurial innovation to the 36|86 stage. And this year, Kirsty and I are bringing a few more of the KG team along for the fun!

On August 25, Jeff Ketner and Mariana Fischbach will be talking about all things press coverage in a session titled Ketner Group Wants You to Get More Press – teaching attendees how to craft PR-worthy news messages that hook the journalist, build your brand story, and define a call to action from readers.

Right after the session, Jeff and Mariana will be available for a live “ask the experts” session for festival attendees.

Kirsty and I are also back in full swing at 36|86 this year, judging two pitch competitions with some new and old friends from Nashville! Startup companies and student groups are competing for bragging rights as well as cash prizes. Don’t miss this opportunity to see some of the brightest and most innovative minds in Tennessee!

If that hasn’t been exciting enough, we have also been managing media relations for this year’s festival. It’s been wonderful taking them on as a client and telling the most amazing entrepreneurship stories.

Building community across the global startup ecosystem

Right now, a year after our official launch in Nashville, Ketner Group and the entire world find ourselves in a unique situation. Our lives have become disrupted and turned upside down, but, we’ve all become closer and more connected than ever, and that’s exciting! Think of all the possibilities!

36|86 has embodied what it means for events, right now, to make timely, engaging and entertaining content available to anyone around the world. The show must go on, and the Ketner Group team is thrilled to again share the stage with an amazing collection of game-changers, disrupters and future-seekers!

I hope to see ya’ll there!

Click here to register for 36|86, which kicks off in just a few days!

Person reviewing printed survey results at computer

How to Create a Research Survey Press Release That Gets Results

As part of our new webinar series, KG Connects, we recently invited Jeffrey Henning and Tony Cheevers of Researchscape to give attendees an overview of the types of PR surveys and custom research they have been working on during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as their best practices for conducting newsworthy surveys.

As PR practitioners, we know that some of the best media coverage is powered by data that can tell a unique story. In other words, it’s a PR goldmine if you can find those one-of-a-kind nuggets of data that will generate the publicity you are looking for.

According to the Researchscape team – and PR people all over the world – stories that can place a company in the larger context of sweeping changes, backed by recent data, will resonate best with journalists.

There is never a bad time to field a PR survey. In fact, Researchscape has conducted 21,000 surveys since March 1. Three out of four research surveys today have a COVID-19 angle.

But, how can you ensure that you are putting the right information from a survey into your press release or proactive pitch? Better yet, what are the best practices for setting up your survey for long-term success?

According to Researchscape, focusing on the following five processes will set you on the right track:

Set Goals

As with any PR and communications campaign, setting a goal focuses your efforts and saves time and budget that might have gone to extraneous details.

Companies should develop long term goals such as building brand awareness, generating leads or developing content for a content marketing strategy. Executing a PR survey should also have short term goals such as providing support for a product launch or leveraging a holiday or trending story/event for coverage.

Remember this critical first step or risk losing the overall vision of your campaign.

Design and Field the Survey

Now that you have your goals set, the next step is to brainstorm possible headlines that you would love to see – kind of an “in a perfect world” exercise with your team! Researchscape suggests you “let your team’s imagination go wild, envisioning the results that would best drive coverage.”

Once you come up with your dream headlines, now is the time to come up with the questions. This is where academic discipline and a little bit of art in surveys comes to play.  According to Researchscape, the main problems that lead to inaccurate survey results and will reduce credibility with reporters are asking leading questions or encouraging acquiescence bias.

A good rule of thumb: a well-designed questionnaire can provide material for two or three news releases. As outlined in a Researchscape whitepaper, the average survey news release typically reports the findings from five questions (not including demographic questions).

A 15- to 20-question survey can easily provide content for three or four news releases.

Develop Campaign Assets

Most survey news releases simply include a summary of key findings of the survey, without commentary or context. But, with additional effort and detail, you can get far better results.

How to get survey results covered by media:

Include:

  • Exhibits: These include high-quality charts and graphs that can be used by reporters. Don’t forget to put your company’s name in the graphic!
  • Topline Results: These should accompany the press release and include the full list of complete questions and the answers selected for each question. As one reporter says, “I want to see what the questions are and what order they are asked in.”
  • Methodology FAQ: Don’t push the methodology summary to the last paragraph of the release. Create a methodology document or section in the release that answers the questions that journalists are trained to look for in surveys.

Write the News Release

Once you develop campaign assets, it’s time to write your killer press release(s) and make your push to key media.

Rule of thumb: Journalists prefer timely content. Announce your findings as soon as you can.

When writing your survey press releases, pay attention to these common mistakes as reported by Researchscape:

  • Overgeneralizing
  • Being overly precise
  • Claiming a margin of sampling error
  • Reporting on questions with too few respondents
  • Failing to disclose the basics
  • Not linking to resources
  • MISSING THE POINT!

Adapt and Re-Use

You’ve drafted a strong press release, pitched it to your key media targets and have secured press all while building brand awareness and generating leads – now what?

Do it all again next year, of course!

At Ketner Group, we have had clients conduct the same survey for consecutive years with great success. It allows us to do year-over-year comparisons so we can give reporters “trend reports” that provide more than just a snapshot in time. This is one of the best ways to become a go-to expert and thought leader on a given topic.

For more information about the process of creating newsworthy PR surveys, I encourage you to read the Best Practices for Newsmaker Surveys whitepaper from Researchscape that analyzes more than 3,000 surveys done over seven years.

Put Your Ideas in Motion

If you need help designing or getting the most out of your next PR survey project, connect with me at [email protected] to set up a free 30-minute consultation.

NRF 2020 Expo Hall

What to Do After NRF: Post-Tradeshow PR, Marketing and Lead Nurturing

Ah, tradeshows! Those giant beasts that take over our lives for at least six months, if not longer. We know B2B tradeshows are often a major line-item in a company’s yearly budget, and as such, should be treated with care. We often see a lot of time and focus on the first two, but it’s critical you know what to do after NRF to keep the momentum going.

As we have many clients, prospects and industry peers that attend the BIG Show each year, aka NRF (National Retail Federation), our goal for this blog is to provide recommendations for retail technology vendors to make note of in their post-NRF plans. After all, Ketner Group has been faithfully making the trip to New York every January since 1999.

That’s 20+ years of learning from our clients on what works and what doesn’t!

Now that the Expo Hall is officially closed, below is a quick checklist of things from the Ketner Group team to keep in mind as the dust settles from the Big Apple:

(As a general caveat, the best practices called out in this blog can really be applied to any B2B tradeshow.)

Post Show Emails to New Leads – Get Them Out, STAT!

We can’t reiterate this enough: post-show emails to the leads you generated at NRF MUST happen, and fast! Retailers have made a point to attend NRF to see what technologies they want to implement in 2020 – this is your chance to keep those conversations going.

Make sure to send personalized “thank you” emails to each person you meet; i.e., if a salesperson meets a prospect, he or she should take the lead on the follow-up. The email should contain a variety of helpful, unique information, and focus on the products they cared about specifically to give the email a more personal touch.

If you were not able to connect at the show, send “sorry we missed you” emails to the rest of your list. Their inbox will be less hectic, and there’s no pressure for them to work you into a packed schedule. This can also be a great time to get in front of someone who was underwhelmed by other vendors they may have met with on site.

If time is of the essence, you can also send out a general, visual email to everyone that was met at NRF.

Media and Analysts – Keep Those Conversations and Relationships Going

Sales leads are important at NRF, no doubt, but so are the face-to-face meetings with key media and analysts. You’ve likely executed on a successful communications/PR plan at NRF that has landed you targeted media briefings, an interview with Retail Touchpoints TV and/or inclusion in RIS News’ Top Ten Takeaways article – all hopefully with our help! – but what should you do next?

An example of an NRF recap article, from RIS News

Media and Analysts You Met With

This is critical: follow up on every media and analyst request and conversation after NRF.  This can be done by you and via a PR partner like Ketner Group. Conversations at NRF invariably lead to post-NRF follow-up, so it’s important to follow through on all the details. A simple thank you is helpful, but even better is following up with specific deliverables, like a demo, more insight into a customer you discussed, or a new pitch angle that might have come up, etc.

Media and Analysts You Did Not Meet With

Don’t forget to follow up with key media and analysts that you didn’t get to meet with or that were unable to attend, too.

Lastly, we’ve seen way too many cases where retail tech companies make all their announcements at NRF and then have a drought of several months when they make no announcements at all. In the past, media have been receptive to story pitches several weeks after NRF, when so much of the noise from the Big Show has died down.

If you have the luxury of multiple press releases around NRF, especially a retail customer announcement, hold one back for early February.

Content – The More Unique, The Better!

If done right, post-NRF content can help motivate prospects to continue having fruitful conversations with you. Content, which includes press releases you send out after NRF, is the best way to you top of mind with prospects AND media/analysts.

Publish a Recap Blog

Do a recap blog on your key themes from NRF, or the major topics that seemed to come up in every conversation you had, then share them on social media. Focus on adding as much unique content as you can – including images, videos, podcasts, quotes, stories – to make your content stand out. As well, include a call to action for demos of products that address those topics.

Here’s an NRF recap blog we wrote last year and a great example from Kibo.  

An example of a great NRF recap blog from a technology vendor, from Kibo Commerce

Consider an eBook or Long-Form Content

As part of your pre-NRF preparation, consider creating an ebook (we recommend interactive or image-driven that is easy to read) that you can also send to prospects that showcases how your solution can help solve their challenges. This can be effective for both pre- and post-NRF marketing.

Most of us have little time to read these days, let alone retailers. Make sure any content you send is easily digestible as well as informative.

Promote it prominently on your website, including alongside your recap blog, and push via email and social to capitalize on the power of each channel.

Social Media – It’s All About the Hashtag (#NRF2020)

Speaking of social, your social media platforms are the perfect way to amplify the successes you achieved, promote post-show content and of course to further develop the relationships from NRF. It’s your branding megaphone, take advantage of it post-show!

If you haven’t already, follow all media and analysts you engaged with at the show to keep the conversation going. Share their NRF recap thoughts and have your leadership engage with their content, especially if you earn coverage with them.

Social Engagement Is a Full-Time Job

Note: beyond any NRF coverage, as part of your relationship building, we always recommend commenting on published articles throughout the year, even if they do not include your company. This goes a long way, especially with journalists.

And remember, the hashtag doesn’t end when the show does. Make sure to use any key hashtags, especially #NRF2020, to share any follow-up content you post.

Website – Your Branding Homebase for All Things NRF

Your website is your North Star, so make sure it has everything prospects and industry playmakers might need to get any information about your company after the BIG show.

We always recommend taking down your NRF 2020 promo branding as soon as the show ends. However, you may want to consider leaving a spot on the homepage for the “Missed Us At NRF?” crowd. Bring them to the recap blog and highlight the demos/calls to action.

As you prepare for 2020, get ready for the next show early! Wherever you’ll have a presence, promote it prominently on the site. NRF might be the biggest retail technology show, but there’s a ton of value in other shows like EuroCIS and Shoptalk coming right up. It’s never too early to get ready.

Lastly, make sure your details for 2020 are on your website. It’s best to have an events page that lists all of the events you attend in a given year.

NRF – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

We know that you put in a ton of time preparing for NRF and working overtime during the show to execute on that planning. Just don’t forget that the show isn’t over once the booth is broken down. The people you meet and relationships you build continue on for years.

Need PR and Marketing Support?

If you are looking for a retail partner for 2020, we’d love to speak with you. Drop us a line at [email protected]!

Ketner Group Nashville logo

Ketner Group Takes the Stage in Music City, U.S.A

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a HUGE Walt Disney fan. I try to sneak in a Disney-themed Easter egg from time to time in my blogs – mostly for my own enjoyment! Without a doubt, he is one of my all-time heroes. Big shoes to aspire after, I know, but the global entertainment empire Disney created is a marvel. Above all, he was a storyteller at heart. He never stopped dreaming, never stopped creating and always pushed the limits of what was possible in order to make us (his audience) feel that Disney magic.

One of Disney’s most famous quotes, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths,” has been one of my mantras here at Ketner Group. It was my guiding light when we opened our New York office this past January. And it currently plays over and over in my mind as we officially mark the opening of our new digs in Nashville today!

A City On The Move

We’ve known for some time that Nashville is a force to be reckoned with, and when the perfect opportunity came along to create a presence there (read Kirsty’s Q&A), we knew that it was the right move for Ketner Group. Consider this:

  • Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and has added 200,000 jobs since 2014.
  • It was recently ranked as a top city for young professionals
  • It is also ranked as the top city in the U.S. for business conventions, and one of the best cities to buy a house.
  • In addition, multiple national and start-up companies have launched their regional headquarters in the city including Amazon, Mitsubishi, Clover Health, Pilot.com and many, many more.

The list of Nashville’s accolades goes on and on, with more to come!

Just Keep Growing, Just Keep Changing

In any business, growing, changing and evolving is the key to long-term success. Walt Disney knew that, and so does the team here at Ketner Group Communications. Expanding into both New York and now Nashville is an exciting and strategic next step in the life of our agency.

Nashville and New York allow us to continue opening more doors and creating new ways to tell our clients’ stories. We are thrilled to join the ranks of growing companies in the greater Nashville area.

As we said in our press release, “Ketner Group is committed to being a part of the growth, and we’re excited to play a role in telling the compelling stories coming out of these innovative businesses.”

The first exciting moment in our launch week took place on Monday night, when we hosted our official launch party in our WeWork office in East Nashville with a great group of female communicators offering super tips on how to tell stories that build your brand. Read our recap to learn more!

We are also thrilled to have launched Ketner Group Nashville during the 36/86 Entrepreneurship Festival. Kirsty Goodlett, our director of Nashville, was joined by Lisa Roberts, seasoned executive marketer and Ben Kurland, co-founder, BillFixers, to speak on a panel to provide PR, marketing and storytelling best practices to startups and entrepreneurs. Our recap of that event will fill you in on all the goodness that took place!

As we “take the stage” in Nashville, I’m reminded Walt Disney once said that Disneyland would never be completed, that it would grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. I feel the same way. Ketner Group’s mission is to tell great stories. I’m excited to plan where we will go next! After all, there are still plenty of stories left to tell.

Summertime at Ketner Group

KG is Excited for Summer, Summer, Summertime!

My husband and I recently introduced our 9-year old son to the classic Will Smith song – Summertime. Even though this jam dropped way back in 1993, it still has a coolness factor to it, according to my son! The song talks about summer being a time where you can sit back and unwind.

Well, the KG team knows a few things about that!

Team Road Trip: Dallas!

Of course, we stay just as busy during the summer as we do the rest of the year, but we are big believers in taking time for vacations and exciting summer adventures! In fact, I’m proud to announce that many of us just returned from a fun weekend in Dallas to celebrate our sweet Stacy’s wedding! There was much merriment and dancing – the perfect way to kick off the summer at KG. (We are only slightly jealous of Stacy’s current honeymoon vacation in Hawaii!) I was so glad that our crazy crew was there to celebrate Stacy and Alvin’s nuptials.

KG Vacation: Holiday Road!

But it doesn’t stop there. As a matter of fact, The KG team has many more fun vacations in store for Summertime 2019. Kirsty just back from a wonderful week by the seaside in Florida. Meanwhile, Mikaela is traversing Europe for an amazing 2-week vacation. I’ll be hitting up the Texas coast twice this summer, Mariana will be wining in Sonoma, Jenna will be camping at the Frio and Greg will be hanging in Montreal. Whew. As well, I believe there are also other trips planned to Seattle and Boston, too! Point is, our team knows the importance of getting away and taking the time to mentally relax. In our business, it is a must.

In addition to personal vacations, I’ll also be traveling to our offices in New York and Nashville this summer for some very exciting industry events! Stay tuned for future blogs on that in July and August!

Soak Up The Summer Sun, and the Adventures

To sum up, Team Ketner Group just loves the summer. Above all, we love spending time with our friends and loved ones and sharing all of our adventures (and amazing pictures) with each other. From our team to yours, we hope you have an amazing summer full of fun, sun and memories!

NRF 2019

NRF 2019 Gives Retail Stores the Old “Razzle Dazzle”

Please excuse the musical reference in my headline, but it just seems to fit!  The Ketner Group team is still on a high after wrapping up another successful NRF Big Show. We also saw the musical “Chicago” (starring Cuba Gooding Jr.) on Broadway. In the musical, the song “Razzle Dazzle” is about a lawyer who wins all of his cases by putting on a good show in the courtroom. He always stretches the truth since most of his clients are actually guilty!  The “razzle dazzle” I’m referring to, however, is the hundreds of new retail technologies that were on display last week at the Javits Center.

I think Joe Skorupa, editorial director of RIS News, summed it up best: The 2019 NRF Big Show was big, big, big! As usual, frenzied herds of attendees funneled into sessions and booths that were often too crowded to accommodate them. But this year’s NRF took bigness to a new level. Aisles were clogged with attendees, innovative exhibitors were jam packed and traditional exhibitors were jam packed. The lower level of the Javits Center, usually an outpost for the forlorn and lonely, was a hotbed of engaging technology and crowded activity.”

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, Give ‘Em A Show That’s So Splendiferous

This year, NRF exhibitors and sponsors truly outdid themselves. The renewed interest in the brick and mortar store is everywhere, and the excitement is brewing. The industry “talked the talk” about the store in 2018, but at NRF, everyone seemed to really “walk the walk” when it comes to store investments! Even Target CEO Brian Cornell acknowledged the value of his stores. According to Cornell, Target stores fulfilled 3 out of every 4 orders. This included items picked up in the store, delivered to customers in the parking lot, or picked and packed by store associates and shipped to customers. Cornell considers his stores his single biggest competitive advantage.

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, And They’ll Beg You For More!

You’ve heard the phrase “location, location, location,” but it seems in 2019, the chant for retailers will be “the store, the store, the store!” Just take a look at some of the store-focused announcements from Ketner Group clients:

  • California Closets demonstrated their use of Elo’s smart table technology, which incorporates use of endless aisle/endless design app on the Elo touchscreen platform.
  • C-store retailer Pilot Flying J announced that it is deploying a new store architecture solution with NCR Software Defined Store, enabled by Zynstra. The architecture creates an agile infrastructure across the entire store, reducing costs and optimizing operations for faster innovation.
  • Theatro announced the launch of its new data analytics suite, a proprietary method to track, aggregate, and analyze in-store employee key performance indicators.

These and many other new store technology deployments tell us two things. First, retailers want to do all they can to make the store a destination for fun, in-store shopper engagement.  Second, they can (and should) utilize the store to power their omnichannel efforts. Note: I have a feeling that we will have another word to replace omnichannel in 2019. Stay tuned on that!

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, And They’ll Make You A Star!

The Ketner Group team believes the old “razzle dazzle” has new meaning for the retail industry in 2019. Gone are the days of trying to impress retailers with a three-ring circus of ineffective and expensive technologies. Solutions demonstrated at NRF 2019 have invigorated the industry with a breath of fresh air. The Ketner Group team is excited to play our part to push that momentum forward in 2019.

As notable author and speaker Steve Dennis recently tweeted, “Physical retail isn’t dead. Boring retail is.”

Don’t be boring. Go after the razzle dazzle!

New Things Are All Around – Welcome to Ketner Group Communications

I always tell people it’s the little things that make me happy – a good hair day, catching all the green lights on the way home, or finding that lost $10 bill in my pocket. That’s why today, the official launch of our new and improved Ketner Group website, I am grinning ear to ear remembering all of the (several dozen) little things that happened during the journey of creating this latest version of KetnerGroup.com.

For starters, before the painstaking, yet satisfying process of developing the new website began – Jeff Ketner and I made the bold decision to change the name of the agency to Ketner Group Communications, leaving behind Ketner Group PR + Marketing. As an agency, we have grown in so many ways over the past few years, not only in our ranks, but also in expanding our scope of services to offer social media management and digital content marketing to clients. We felt that the word “communications” better described where we are now and where we are headed in the years to come. We think it fits us quite nicely, and we hope you like it!

So, a new name meant a new logo, with a new color palette, to go along with a new website! Enter our new and amazing friends from Mixtape Marketing (bless their hearts) who have hung in there with us since November 2017 and have been the best marketing and design partners we could ever ask for! No one ever said creating a new website was easy, but the Mixtape team made the nearly year-long process of getting this sucker off the ground a fun and enjoyable experience. Our hats off to them.

As part of the new Ketnergroup.com site, we wanted the content, design, tone and imagery to better reflect who we are as a group and our philosophy as an agency. As the homepage says, we are “obsessed with exceeding client expectations” and we love showcasing our can-do culture. It’s at the heart of who we are. We are a fun group of taco and latte-loving “strategists, writers, talkers, listeners, tweeters, readers, music nerds and goofballs” who love nothing more than to see our clients win big. We think that sentiment is perfectly reflected in the new website.

While we hoped to have launched the site sooner, we had a few worthwhile roadblocks come up this past year that needed our attention – like the six new clients we brought on in 2018, which led us to hire three new employees, bringing our current KG full-time employee count to 10. We were nominated as a finalist in “company culture” for the 2018 Greater Austin Business awards, and have been busy finalizing the details to open a New York office in 2019. Oh, and we bought new chairs for our conference room – they are so nice and comfy! Like I said, it’s the little things.

I suppose you can consider this blog the digital version of a “ribbon cutting” ceremony for the new Ketnergroup.com! To make it KG official though, we celebrated with some Torchy’s chips and queso, a big chocolate cake and champagne. It’s how we roll.

Welcome to Ketner Group Communications – our door is always open!

Breakfast Tacos and PR: Make Plans to Attend the 2018 PRSA International Conference in Austin!

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend last year’s PRSA International Conference in Boston, and as soon as I got back home, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved in this year’s event taking place in Ketner Group’s very own backyard of Austin, Texas!

The annual conference is a wonderful event that “spotlights the intersection of technology and media, and leads the competition by providing unparalleled information strategies and tools for the new trends impacting the industry.” As I wrote in my blog last October, it’s a great event for professional development, inspiration, networking and even mentoring with some of the students from PRSSA.

This year, I’m THRILLED to say that Ketner Group will be a part of the planning as part of the PRSA Austin Chapter, the official hosts of the 2018 event. Stacy Lan and I have joined the opening reception committee, and we are excited! We are joined by our friends and peers from the Austin PR community to “get the party started” and show our colleagues from around the world just how awesome and wonderfully weird our city is.

I suspect there will be plenty of breakfast tacos for everyone!

A few key note speakers have already been announced:

  • Robert B. Reich: Economic Adviser, Best-Selling Author. Reich is currently serving as the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. Reich’s most recent book is “The Common Good.”
  • Jonathan Mildenhall, Former Airbnb CMO. Mildenhall is a globally recognized thought leader in the worlds of business strategy and creative excellence. A proponent of purposeful branding, he is passionate about connecting consumers with brands in a meaningful, authentic way and building community-driven brands that promote positive societal change.

As well, PRSA is currently accepting proposals for speaking at the event. The call for proposals deadline is March 26. Click here for more information!

I encourage all of my PR peeps to consider attending this great event – I promise you will come away inspired and ready to execute on all the ideas you will hear about. Registration is open now, so y’all come on down to Texas and we’ll talk PR in October!

Two Reactions, Same Person: Thoughts on the PR Effectiveness of March for Our Lives

For the record, I am the SVP and Partner here at Ketner Group Communications, with nearly 20 years of experience working as a public relations professional. I love the industry I work in, and I love helping my clients elevate their brands by telling impactful stories that make a difference. When done right, timely and ethically, PR is a beautiful thing to watch. It can also lead to a horrible train wreck when done wrong, too late or unethically. It’s hard for me not to notice good PR or bad PR when it’s happening outside of my work with Ketner Group – it’s like second nature to me.

I am also a proud mother of two awesome kids, ages 9 and 13. I don’t know about the rest of you parents out there, but as soon as I became a mom, I felt as though I became an honorary mom to all the children on the entire planet. Meaning, I not only worry about my own two offspring constantly, but I also find myself concerned about every single kid that I see or hear about – even the older ones! A recent example: during the Winter Olympics, I found myself telling the young and talented athletes (via talking to the TV) who fell on the ice or lost a race, “Aww, it’s ok! You’ll get ‘em next time!” And don’t even get me started on when there is an injury involved. When watching college football, I’m always saying to myself, “His mother must be so worried about him right now!” I can’t help it – it’s also like second nature to me.

So, for the most part, my “life lens” is part PR professional and part mom.

When I watched all of the March for Our Lives protests happening around the U.S. this past weekend, my two “selves” automatically kicked in. By recent reports, March for Our Lives was one of the biggest youth-led protests since the Vietnam War. These protests, as we all know, were in direct response to the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. By all accounts, the marches were a huge success – obviously!

My PR Reaction: This is PR at its finest! The students, from the onset, created a message that was compelling and most of all, honest, open and raw. They also used the platforms they knew would be the most effective to get their message across – in this case they were TV and social media. Lastly, they used those channels and their message to go about changing opinions with the intent of changing laws. It is more than impressive what they have done, and it’s a case study worthy of a dozen PRSA Silver Anvil awards. As Amy George wrote about this week in her column in Inc. Magazine:

“In just five weeks since the shooting spree that killed 17 of their classmates, a handful of these survivors have become pros at live TV interviews, created the ‘Never Again’ campaign and raised millions of dollars — from celebrities and organizations like George and Amal Clooney, Oprah and Gucci — for the massive ‘March For Our Lives’ demonstration that they’ve planned for Saturday in Washington.”

My Mom Reaction: These kids must be so tired, I hope they are getting enough to eat and are sleeping enough!

My PR Reaction: I admire the fact that with little to no formal education on PR strategies, objectives and tactics, they’ve been able to, as Amy outlined in her column, accomplish two very important things when faced with launching an effective PR campaign:

  • Own the conversation: These kids have done a commendable job of keeping their conversation going and going so that others don’t do it for them. Any good PR person will tell their client or company that you must get out there before anyone else to tell your story, or risk the conversation or message going in the wrong direction.
  • Master the soundbite: The students have also quickly mastered the art of the soundbite. Of course they have! Even my nine-year-old son can come up with clever soundbites to explain a funny situation that happened to him at school. They have been groomed for some time now to talk in short, witty conversations via social media.

My Mom Reaction: I wonder if they got nervous before speaking to the crowd in Washington?

The final end result of the PR campaign is TBD. But this we do know – it is a campaign that has quickly commanded the spotlight and is bound to continue to do so. I’ll continue to be in awe of them as a PR professional and will also worry about them as “far away mom,” but something tells me these kids are going to be just fine.

Image attribution: photo by Gavin Whitner

2018 Winter Olympic Games: Over Two Weeks of Public Relations Gold

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been obsessed with the Olympics. It didn’t matter if it was the summer or winter games, I was there, in front of the TV watching every moment I could. I remember watching Mary Lou Retton win the gold medal in the individual all-around competition in 1984, will never forget watching the drama unfold between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, or watching in awe as Michael Johnson broke record after record in Atlanta. My childhood, early adulthood and even in recent years watching the games with my kids, are filled with Olympic memories.

But the Olympic games are also something else – they are a PR dream, or a nightmare, depending on who you are and what situation you are in. For the athletes and the countries they represent, there are plenty of opportunities to overcome seemingly impossible challenges or to come to terms with not standing on the medal podium after years of hard work.

In short, the Olympics is an abundance of PR stories, some sad, some happy and others simply inspiring – and I love them all.

There have been plenty of those PR stories, in the weeks, months and even days leading up to the 2018 Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In fact, as I write this blog – watching the first competition of the figure skating team event – NBC just announced breaking news regarding the Team USA flag-bearer for Friday’s opening ceremony. Apparently, after it was announced this week that veteran luger Erin Hamlin was selected for the flag-bearer honor, U.S. speed skater Shani Davis responded (via Twitter) that he actually lost a tiebreaker coin toss that kept him from carrying the Stars and Stripes:

I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018

WHOA.

As a life-long Olympic spectator, my reaction is just that. Whoa. Yikes. But, as a PR professional, my reaction is to immediately feel for the U.S. Olympic communications team, the IOC’s communications team and of course the reps for both Shani Davis and Erin Hamlin. The games haven’t even started and the Twitter wars have started. Obviously so much has changed since my earliest memories watching the Olympics – the hair, the fashion, the actual competing countries, and of course, the communications aspect.  Of course, the “inspiring stories” with NBC commentators such as Bob Costas and Mary Carillo have always been there to give us a closer look at our favorite Olympic athletes. But it’s the social media component that has really changed the PR game – for better or for worse. I could write an entire blog just on this angle, but for now, I’ll just keep an eye on @Jambobsled (the Jamaican bobsled team) and @TaraandJohnny, and hope that the Twitter wars stay at a minimum.

Over the next 2 ½ weeks, I’ll be watching the Olympics from both the fan and PR perspective – and plan on writing another blog after the closing ceremonies. I’m sure there will be plenty for me to “dish” about – I mean – to give you all my completely unbiased and neutral PR insights.

Go Team USA.