great b2b podcast

How to Create an Awesome B2B Podcast

90 million Americans regularly consume podcasts. And B2B podcasts are an increasingly key part of that.

Listeners tend to be educated, affluent and loyal – the exact audience most B2B brands want to reach.

That’s why we were fascinated to talk with Clark Buckner, co-founder and partner of podcast consulting agency Relationary Marketing, for our July 2020 KG Connects webinar. He gave us the scoop on why B2B podcasting works so well and shed light on his five-step process for how to develop a great B2B webinar.

Does B2B podcasting work?

Yes, B2B podcasting works well for three reasons:

  1. Podcasts are intimate – When you listen to a podcast, it’s a real human speaking directly to you about something they’re passionate about and you’re interested in. It establishes a sense of shared experience that supports the idea of an established relationship.
  2. Podcasts are accessible – In the car, at work and especially streaming from smartphone on any number of apps, podcasts are a versatile medium for sharing and consuming high-quality content.
  3. Podcasts are passively consumed – While listenership has taken a small hit during pandemic as fewer people commuted, they’re still popular to consume while doing other things like going for walks, doing a workout or cooking dinner. Really, any time away from a screen provides both a captive and passive audience for podcasts.  

How do I start a B2B podcast?

Clark uses a tried-and-true formula when helping his clients launch a great B2B podcast:

  1. Content design
  2. Invite/preparation
  3. Recording
  4. Production
  5. Publishing

When viewed in a list, it’s easy to assume that each stage should be given equal consideration.

That’s not a wise approach.

Brands considering a podcast have intrinsic challenges. It’s labor intensive and rare to have all the right technology and skills internally to produce a great podcast.

Luckily the barrier to entry to podcasting has gone down as the space has matured (thanks largely to the wild success of the Serial podcast, recently acquired by The New York Times).

It’s now easier and more affordable for agencies and brands to work with a company like Relationary than to do it alone. But first, they need to master step one – content design.

What’s the first step of launching a B2B podcast?

The first step of launching a B2B podcast is content design. A lot of companies get caught up worrying about technology or guests or who will host it… all undoubtedly important questions, but not the first thing to worry about.

Clark recommends focusing exclusively on five elements of content design before stressing the small stuff.

  1. Goals – What does success look like for your podcast? Be specific about one or two goals that a podcast can uniquely achieve for you. Brand awareness, lead generation or helping existing customers get the most out of your platform are all good options. Given that you’d need 10,000 regular listeners to even consider selling ads, B2B podcasting is about relationships. Sell the mission and a belief in your team and company as trustworthy and capable partners.
  2. Target audience – Most B2B companies have highly targeted audiences. Will everyone in your consumer base pay attention to or be motivated by a podcast? Will prospects at different stages of the funnel be more interested that others? Once you know what the goal of the podcast is, you can define the audience and figure out what matters to them most.
  3. Episode structure – Will you do one-on-one interviews between a company employee and a guest? Will you have an independent podcaster lead these conversations instead? Or do you plan to only interview internal experts? You could also develop a narrative structure and tell stories of great case studies or have people you’ve helped record themselves telling a story. Options are limitless, but pick one that will work for you and stick with it.
  4. Episode frequency and length – How many interesting conversations can you really lead? How much time will you dedicate to the podcast and how much time do you expect your audience to give? Think of podcasts like a TV show, with seasons. Figure out each season’s episodes ahead of time and stick with a standard cadence and episode length. You can always change it up for season two.
  5. Title/marketing – Like any form of branded content, podcasts need to be promoted to attract attention. Figure out how you’ll recruit listeners and what kind of resources are available to bring in new listeners. Podcasts are far easier to produce than ever before, but without additional promotional effort on top of it, you’ll be sitting on great content with no listeners.

How do you go from plan to production?

With this foundation, it’s relatively easy to go through the rest of the steps as long as you have access to the right network, skillsets and technology.

Step 2: Prep

Figure out who you’re going to have on your podcast and how you’ll prep them to lead a conversation that serves your company’s goals. It’s great when your guests are the kind of experts who can talk at length about a number of interesting ideas. It’s your job to let them know what you need from them, and have a plan for keeping them on track.

Step 3: Record

Unsurprisingly, the environment you record in matters. Surprisingly, the tech doesn’t matter that much. It’s far more important to have a great environment. It’s better to use basic headphones that come with a phone and be in a quiet, confined space than use an expensive mic in an open space such as a kitchen.

Case in point: Clark usually has an office to record in, but working from home during the pandemic, he uses his closet.

Step 4: Produce (i.e. edit)

You’ll never get commercial grade quality from the raw footage you record. To polish the final product, work with a partner or invest in technology that offers sound editing and also content editing.

Don’t over-edit. You want it to sound human. Breathing sounds may feel awkward at first, but it’s elements like this that give podcasting it’s personal touch and relationship power.

Step 5: Publish

At this stage, most brands will send the final product off to their marketing team, creative directors or communications agency to help promote the material and drum up interest.

Like we said before, if people don’t know the content exists, they can’t listen and become loyal brand fans and customers.

Let’s talk about podcasts

If you’re interested in launching a B2B podcast or getting more visibility for one you already produce, we’d love to help you do it. Check out Clark’s full presentation or shoot us an email to set up a free 30-minute consultation.

Broadcast Media Relations During COVID-19

Note: We published this blog post in preparation for Justin Goldstein’s webinar on broadcasting. Since publishing, the webinar is live, and you can catch it on demand!


Broadcast media is booming as the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions only begin to loosen and everyone searches for sources that can provide reliable and timely information. Consider, recent findings from Nielsen show that 83% of consumers are listening to as much if not more radio than before the pandemic.

Clearly, if you’re looking to secure television, radio or podcast placements, now is the time to do so. But, be aware that producers and reporters are just like us and mainly working from home due to the virus. A refined approach is more important than ever to break through your contact’s inbox and earn their interest in an interview. 

Here are a few recommendations to consider:

Provide Key Assets Upfront

Are you in the process of developing assets like b-roll, headshots and bios for your spokesperson(s)? If so, hold on pitching until you have these elements so that you can include them in your first pitch to producers and reporters.

These contacts are sifting through hundreds of emails while trying to coordinate interviews via platforms like Zoom and Skype that they normally don’t work with. There’s a good chance that if a reporter opens your email and doesn’t see at least one or two of these assets listed, he or she will delete your email and move on to the next opportunity. If for no other reason, moving on reduces the stress of sending a follow-up email to ask questions. 

How can you best incorporate this information into your pitch?

  1. In your subject line, note that you’re offering an interview and these assets.
  2. Provide a link to download your b-roll and headshots via Dropbox or a similar platform to avoid your message going to spam.
  3. Include your spokesperson(s) bio towards the end of your pitch so that it doesn’t take away from the story that you’re trying to tell at the top. 

Use Your Voice

Phone pitching is critical in broadcast media relations, especially during COVID. Newsrooms are overwhelmed with pitches, coordinating segments with their producers from afar and receiving updates on Coronavirus-related stories from the public. So, the chances of them responding to email outreach are less than the print/online reporters that you might be more familiar with. 

It will likely be harder to reach reporters and producers directly. Your next step is to call a network or station’s assignment desk and speak with an assignment editor. They are well-positioned to coordinate interviews or connect you with a contact that can do so. You can also leave a voicemail on a producer or reporter’s phone. They often check to make sure that they’re not missing any important messages while away from the office.

Be Flexible

Many broadcast contacts are doing their best to adapt to navigate the pressures of virtual planning meetings and interviews. While you can certainly share your spokesperson(s) platform preference for connecting, try to be flexible.

If a reporter asks to connect via Skype and your spokesperson(s) is hesitant to pursue because they’re not used to the platform, try to schedule a quick training session. Get them to feel confident and comfortable going into an interview rather than push back on the reporter. 

Consider creating video-conference meeting invites for reporters and producers and offering your willingness to do so in your pitch. This removes one extra step in coordinating an interview that they don’t have to manage.

Be aware that if you’re staffing interviews on Zoom video, your video box will appear, so it would be best to confirm with your contact that he or she can have their team edit you out before finalizing their segment. 

Broadcast media is a powerful tool that should be leveraged for your media relations program. But, it’s crucial to approach your contacts in a strategic manner to garner their interest. Your results depend on it.

Attend June’s KG Connects Webinar to learn more

Want to hear directly from Justin about the state of broadcast media and both evergreen and timely best practices for securing coverage?

Join us on Friday, June 26 at 10:00 a.m. ET for the next edition of KG Connects! Learn more and register here.

About Justin Goldstein

justin-goldstein-press-records

Justin is president and founder of Press Record Communications, a strategic media relations agency with expertise in broadcast media. He is an award-winning media relations pro, voted an Exceptional Under 35 by the Public Relations Society of America. He has developed and implemented broadcast media relations programs that have supported clients like General Motors, Best Buy and the Clinton Global Initiative.

In recent years, Justin has coordinated event broadcast press campaigns for the Consumer Electronics Show, Detroit Auto Show and Conference of Mayors. Justin also served as morning drive producer at WRHU-FM, New York’s number one non-commercial radio station. His work has been recognized by PR News, PR Newswire and the Hermes Creative Awards.

Women having conversation at small table

How to Use Radical Candor to Achieve Business Goals

On the last Friday of May, we hosted the first edition of our ongoing webinar series KG Connects, “How to Encourage Better Choices in Your Team.” Van Tucker, COO of LaunchTN, joined us to discuss how business cultures founded on trust and radical candor are far better at achieving business goals.

She provided guidance on how to establish a culture that provides an optimal working environment for all team members – whether in the office or working remotely – and launches business success into hyperdrive.

As COO, Van’s job is to remove obstacles preventing her team from doing their jobs best.  

COVID-19 made this even tougher. The whole organization had to change course to help state government and startups respond appropriately. Like many, they also onboarded new employees while working from home.

Even with the pandemic disruption, their organization is thriving. Team members are even happier and more productive.

Why?

Before sh*t hit the fan, the whole team defined and fully bought into a cohesive and transparent company culture.  

Tuckman’s Team Development Model

Developing a workplace culture that drives results isn’t easy. It requires understanding what an optimal culture looks like and what to do to do to get there.

This is where Tuckman’s Team Development Model becomes highly useful. All organizations go through it, and while some only “Form” and fail, others quickly become “Performers”. For most, it requires careful attention and commitment to master.

The stages of Tuckman's Team Development Model.
LaunchTN quickly moved from Storming to Performing by focusing on personal communication preferences and a culture of radical candor.

In order to move up the maturity ladder, organizations need to actively cultivate their culture and engage the full organization.

  1. Start with team surveys to establish baseline – find perceptions of salary, benefits, and most important cultural and organizational attributes and deficiencies. These could include low mutual trust, a sense of disempowerment among junior teams, or communications and transparency gaps.
  2. Use the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and/or Strength Finder tests to better understand your own personality and communication preferences, and those of others on your team.
  3. Use the combined findings to ensure your organization leverages each team member’s strengths in the right positions to eliminate those barriers to productivity, job satisfaction and organizational success.
  4. Create a safe environment to address sensitive issues like trust, empowerment, and transparency.

Conflict Resolution

To do this, it’s critical to provide structure and opportunity for healthy disagreements to take place and for constructive conversation to take place. Host a weekly huddle and include time for a process check. Concerns can be raised on a scale of 1 to 10 when it becomes a pinch point for them.

When a team member surfaces a conflict, they take on ownership to understand the other person’s perspective and see it through to resolution. Team members who have fully bought into a Performing company culture will strive to work outside of their preferences to the benefit of the team.

Radical Candor

The only way to achieve this is to get good at having hard conversations. Telling and finding truth and moving forward cohesively requires a culture of transparency and trust. It creates an environment for people to be themselves and work together. Critically, it also enables everyone to openly and amicably resolves conflict, regardless of their personality.

This is what Kim Scott calls “radical candor”. To do it well requires clear guidelines to help facilitate it.

When and why to have a candid discussion

  1. When you observe a behavior or action that could have a potential negative impact on the wellbeing/culture and productivity of a teammate, the team, or the company
  2. If a colleague lacks self-awareness and you would like to help them be their best self
  3. To avoid feelings/situations ending up as gossip and hurting our culture.

How to have a candid discussion

The goal of a candid conversation is to understand each other, not to reach consensus. Disagreement is okay. It will foster healthy debate and help your company identify truth and deliver optimal outcomes. Importantly, you must also meet face to face. Humanizing the interaction will work wonders.

The intention is to share perspectives, not force actions upon others. Also, recipients should stay open and not take opinions personally. They should take the time to listen and thank the other person for sharing their thoughts even if they disagree

Both parties must:

  • Be grateful to the other party for having the discussion
    • Listen fully, with the intention to understand
    • Be authentic and direct, don’t wear a mask or be evasive
    • Be constructive and helpful

The initiating party, especially, must:

  • Focus on the behavior, not the person.
    • Share examples to back up any claims
    • Accept the outcome. Set a goal of understanding each other, not forcing a consensus.

At the end of each candid discussion, rank yourself against these guidelines: How did you do? What can you improve next discussion?

Over time, this process creates an overwhelming sense of team spirit, connection and most importantly, trust. When each member of the team buys in and knows that everyone else is working in the best interest of the organization – not themselves – incredible things can, and will, happen.

Take your team from storming to performing

Check out the full webinar recording for all of Van’s best advice on turning your organization’s culture into its biggest asset.

Culture always eats strategy for breakfast. So, take control of it and reap the rewards.  

About LaunchTN

Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership, guided by a vision of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation. Their mission is to empower a high-functioning network of resources focused on core priorities that support Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Partnering with Entrepreneur Centers in seven regions of the state, LaunchTN creates collaboration among entrepreneurs, the private sector, capital sources, institutions, and government to offer entrepreneurs what they need to succeed and stay in Tennessee to build companies and create jobs. 

Grocery shelves full of eggs

UK Guest Blog: Will retail really be different after the crisis?

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact every aspect of life and the economy, our friend Chris Field, principal at UK-based FieldWorks Marketing, offers a look at some of the most influential trends that the crisis is accelerating, how retail will be affected by the crisis, and what the future of retail may look like as we emerge from it. We hope you enjoy.

As UK consumers discover that there are almost no home delivery slots available from any of the grocers, it is a timely reminder that only 8% of food is delivered online. And the grocers have defended themselves by saying that they cannot simply add huge capacity overnight, or possibly at all, given the controversy over staff working side by side in warehouses at the moment.

And it is also worth remembering, as so many people are calling the end of the store, that 85% of goods are still bought in stores, and that, while the stores landscape will look different after the pandemic ends and while retailers continue to explore just how many stores they need in a digital world, stores will not disappear, they will simply evolve, along the lines of the conversation we were all having before the pandemic.

Let’s put online shopping growth in perspective

Add to this that, albeit based on US research by Paymnts , only 25.4% of consumers surveyed said they were shopping online, and 16.3% were doing so on mobile more than they were before the coronavirus made its presence felt on these shores.

That’s only a slight uptick from the 22.1% and 16.7%, respectively, who reported similar sentiment in the survey at the beginning of March. So the idea that consumers alone will drive online growth and a further decline in store numbers may apply to certain types of goods that are already substantially bought online, ignores the fact that huge numbers do not shop online at all.

Rents are realigning

Consider also that, in the UK, there is growing flexibility among landlords to consider new types of rent agreements and the government is reviewing the rates system, so there should be a more benign environment for the store after the current crisis. This will, in turn, enable retailers to explore the right balance of on-to-offline and also to continue their journey to digitise stores to enable click and collect, browse digitally in store and buy online, store as warehouse and so on.

Consider also the role that retail stores play in the lives of consumers. Morrisons has recently reopened all of its cafes, not to serve tea and cake, but to provide a mini-warehouse for people to donate food to food banks.

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

And it is important to recognise that shopping in stores for most of us is a leisure activity that everyone would miss if it went away. A more useful debate to continue is the one about what people do when they go shopping in stores; they buy but they also chat, they drink coffee, they go to the cinema, they go on from there to the park and so on; so many different types of journeys that may be all shopping or just some shopping.

Remove stores entirely from that scenario and there are no more towns. So, listening to Silicon Valley tech investors and their hatred of stores, simply tells me that these are people who do not shop anyway; most of them are still men, so I probably don’t want to believe what they have to say about the future of the store.

So what I am concluding is that the reinvention that has been going on in retail for more than five years will continue after the crisis, even though in some areas, the velocity will increase.

If the pandemic is an existential crisis, it is one that has been going on for years.


Fieldworks is a UK-based agency that helps retail technology brands build visibility and reach prospects with award-winning digital marketing, content and PR.

Jenny Bradford

Jenny Bradford: The First NYC Intern

Hello! My name is Jenny Bradford and I am the new FIRST intern in the NYC office. I am currently a junior at Marist College, a mid-size college in Poughkeepsie, NY. I am majoring in communications with concentrations in public relations and advertising and minoring in business administration.

This semester, I am participating in a program where a few students are selected to live in the city as we intern locally and take a few online classes. So, that’s where Ketner Group comes in!

Why I Chose Public Relations

Choosing a major for college was a daunting task. As someone who loves to learn and try new things, picking something and sticking with it seemed impossible. Luckily, I found public relations. I was drawn to PR because I love to write and solve problems and the flexibility of options within the industry excited me.

My past intern experiences have been in non-profit, healthcare, real estate and financial PR. I have greatly enjoyed diving in to all these areas, so I am looking forward to learning about the retail technology field next.

My Background

I grew up in St. Louis, Mo. before moving to Yorktown, NY, where my family lives now. I am no stranger to moving, but getting the chance to live in the city on my own has already been incredible.

In My Free Time

At Marist, I am the Director of Chapter Programming for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Additionally, I am a member of the Dance Ensemble, the Student Government Association, and The Circle, Marist’s primary newspaper.

This semester, however, I am excited to go to Broadway shows and concerts. I consider discount ticket shopping to be one of my most valuable skills. As a result of this, my friends and I deemed 2019 the “Year of Concerts” and we hope to see even more shows in 2020, while somehow spending less than we did in 2019 (wish us luck).

To date, I’ve been to more than 20 Broadway shows and this semester Hadestown and West Side Story are topping my dream to-do list. Besides that, I am eager to explore new areas of the city and hopefully eat some great food.

That’s All for Now

I’m thrilled to be the first intern with Ketner Group in NYC. I know I will take away invaluable professional and personal lessons from this great opportunity.

Anthony after successfully defending his thesis.

Anthony Czelusniak Joins Ketner Group

Hey all, I’m Anthony Czelusniak (SUH-lose-knee-ack), Ketner Group’s first Nashville intern. While I’m a journalist at heart, public relations enthralled me the moment I stepped into my first PR course. I’m a senior majoring in journalism with a concentration in public relations at Middle Tennessee State University. I’ve also found myself involved in experiences outside the classroom.

Maybe a Little Too Involved…

I say there’s no such thing, but my friends tell me I’m too busy. I’m the president of the MTSU PRSSA chapter, where I’ve taken the membership from two—the vice president and myself—to 12 and growing still. I also serve as editor-in-chief of Collage, MTSU’s premier creative arts journal. We collect and curate the best of what our creative students offer. From photography to prose, to sculpture and screenplays, Collage exists to show off the best MTSU has, and I am proud to lead the 25 member staff toward that goal.

However, the craziest endeavor I’ve taken part in was Investigating the Rationale for Social Media use by Nashville Nonprofitsmy undergraduate thesis. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, a look into how some Nashville nonprofits use social media. After 18 months of herculean effort, I successfully defended in December.

But Enough About School.

In my time off, I like to pretend to be a photographer. I even bought a fancy camera and everything. I also love to write poetry, putting a focus on breaking visual conventions within poetry. When I’m not trying to be an artist, you can find me neck-deep in the Nashville soccer scene. I’ve had season tickets to Nashville SC from day one, and on game days you can find me pitch side wondering when the last time the referee saw an optometrist.

Either that, or I’ll be wandering around in one of Tennessee’s beautiful wilderness areas. A peaceful break from a hectic life.

Choosing Ketner

It was my thesis adviser who told me about the Ketner Group internship. Just by reading the job description, I knew I had to be here. Seeing the words “paid internship” was such an inspiration that I had to apply right away. OK, not exactly.

After doing the research and learning about the culture of Ketner Group, I could tell this was a fun place to work. Somewhere that wasn’t full of stuck ups in suits. My first conversation with Kirsty reinforced that conclusion. The atmosphere at Ketner Group is unlike any other internship I’ve done. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it.

Marcom Awards Platinum Winners

Ketner Group Earns Top Honors at the Prestigious MarCom Awards

Marcom Awards Platinum Winners

Ketner Group made headlines last month being named one of Austin Inno’s 2019 50 on Fire, but the fun didn’t stop there. This week Ketner Group Communications left a Platinum Award Winner at the prestigious MarCom Awards for our work with Adlucent on their whitepaper, “Getting the Most out of Amazon Prime Day 2019.”

About The MarCom Awards

The Marcom Awards– started in 2004, have become a staple of the communications and marketing industry. The awards are administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP). The international organization, founded in 1995, consists of several thousand marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, digital and web professionals. AMCP administers recognition programs, provides judges and rewards outstanding achievement and service to the community.

The MarCom Awards receive approximately 6,000 entries every year. These entries come from dozens of different countries all across the world. Out of all 6,000 entries only 15% are lucky enough to leave Platinum Award Winners.

Ketner Group is no stranger to the MarCom Awards. In fact, Ketner Group has been recognized two years in a row. Last year Ketner Group ran away with one platinum and one gold award. We are honored to be recognized again.

Ketner Group’s MarCom Award Win

This year, Ketner Group is a Platinum Award Winner at the MarCom Awards for our work on the whitepaper, “Getting the Most out of Amazon Prime Day 2019,” which we worked on with our client Adlucent.

From the very beginning, this report was a great collaboration. The data and insights from this whitepaper garnered media coverage from over 40 media outlets. The biggest highlights being:

Full Steam Ahead

2019 was an incredible year for Ketner Group. After the launch of our new offices in New York and Nashville, we didn’t think it could get much better, but here we are. Be on the lookout for Ketner Group Communications next year because if you thought 2019 was a big year, just wait and see what we have in store for 2020!

Catherine Seeds, SVP and Partner, Ketner Group

Catherine Seeds Named President of Ketner Group Communications

Seeds’ promotion strengthens Ketner Group’s leadership team and positions firm for future growth; agency founder Jeff Ketner assumes role of CEO

AUSTIN, TX. – Nov. 5, 2019 – Ketner Group Communications, a public relations and marketing firm serving clients in the U.S., Canada and the U.K, today announced that Catherine Seeds has been named president. The move from her role as senior vice president recognizes Seeds’ longstanding leadership and key role in expanding Ketner Group into a national PR agency, with offices in Austin, New York and Nashville. Agency founder Jeff Ketner will assume the role of CEO as part of the leadership transition.

Seeds’ appointment as president helps ensure a solid foundation for the agency’s continued growth and success. She joined Ketner Group in 2002 and has played a key role in every phase of the agency’s success. Seeds was instrumental in the opening of Ketner Group’s offices in New York and Nashville in 2019. As president and partner, her role will continue to grow, both in ownership and responsibilities. She will work closely with Jeff Ketner and the agency’s senior leadership team to guide the agency’s growth and expansion, focusing on key accounts, business development and agency culture.

“Catherine has been a driving force in our success for many years. I’m thrilled to announce her new role as president, and we are excited to share further news about the agency in 2020,” said Ketner. “Catherine has earned the loyalty and respect of clients, editors and industry contacts, and she constantly inspires our team to think big and expand our vision of what’s possible. Ketner Group will thrive under her leadership, and I look forward to working with her and our leadership team to make sure our agency continues to exceed client expectations for many years to come.”

Ketner Group was founded in 1990 and has expanded exponentially in the last three years. Year-over-year revenues grew nearly 40% from 2017 to 2018, as the agency added new clients, focused on additional market segments, added new services and created a senior leadership team to help guide agency growth and direction. Ketner Group has received multiple local, regional and national awards in recent years. Austin Inno recently recognized the agency as a winner of the 2019 “50 on Fire” awards.

Ketner Group focuses on B2B technology and professional services clients in a number of markets including adtech/martech, legal, IT, healthcare and other areas; it is also widely recognized as the premier PR agency for retail, grocery and CPG technology companies. The agency works with clients throughout the U.S., as well as Canada, the UK and Germany.

“For more than 19 years, I have had the opportunity to help leading technology companies in a variety of industries find their unique stories that engage, inform, surprise and impact their audiences,” said Seeds. “Successful public relations is a wonderful mixture of creativity and critical thinking, and the best part of my job is working with our clients and my team to find just the right amount of those two key ingredients to create something special.”

“I am truly honored to be named president of Ketner Group and incredibly lucky to work alongside such an amazing and talented team of PR professionals. I look forward to overseeing the company’s future growth as we continue to expand our services and expertise to meet client and industry demand.”

Yolanda-James

Influencer Insights: Yolanda James

Yolanda James recently joined the Nashville Health Care Council where she serves as the director of the Fellows initiative and content strategy. 

In addition to managing Fellows, James plays a key role in strategy development and works with staff in program planning, addressing subject content and speaker selection.

Before joining the Council, James was the director of public relations and strategy for the Tennessee Hospital Association. She also provided oversight of THA’s Agenda 21, an internship program for minority students.

James has nearly 20 years of experience in public relations, social marketing and grassroots advocacy. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism and a minor in women’s studies from Miami University (Oxford, OH). 

Ketner Group: You have a long history in public relations and marketing through a variety of industries. Clearly, you love what you do. What is your favorite thing about PR?

Yolanda James: My favorite thing is the problem-solving, finding that solution to your client’s problem. It’s that constant task of making the puzzle pieces fit. The solutions are equally as exciting. Often, I’m asking questions, such as:

Do you want to do press conferences? Will you meet with community organizing and public affairs? What’s your target audience? How can we draft impactful bylines? How can we reach ideal publications and use the right channels to achieve your goal?

KG: What do you think differentiates really great PR professionals? 

YJ: The true greats are flexible, especially those on the agency side. In PR, you have to expect the unexpected and embrace it. In many instances throughout my career, I’ve worked with professionals who were able to pivot and deal, revise talking points or take new information and then draft a news release or document accordingly.

Secondly, the truly greats write and edit well. They know when to add a transition and when to delete a bunch of fluffy run-on sentences.                                            

In my new role at the Nashville Health Care Council as the director of Fellows and content strategy, I still use all of these skills every single day (even though I am no longer responsible for PR).

KG: How do you see the PR/marketing industry in Nashville evolving in the next five years? 

YJ: Nashville is a growing city and it is growing not just by population, but by industry. Health care accounts for more than 270,000 jobs locally, with Nashville-based companies operating in all 50 states. Facing unprecedented growth, the city will need more PR and marketing professionals who are effective at promoting their companies at a regional and international scale.

KG: You’re incredibly involved in your community. What is one of the biggest challenges Nashville is currently facing and what have you been doing to address it? 

YJ: Top of mind is the massive growth that’s happening and making sure that everyone — native Nashvillians, women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ community — continue to experience advancement from it. Nashville has an opportunity to not be like other growing cities that have reached their peak only to come up with excuses for why the rising tide is not lifting all boats. We’ve built healthcare, tourism, music and entertainment dynasties. Surely, we can figure out how all Nashvillians can not only be invited to the table but also given a piece of the pie and a fork to eat and enjoy it.

To help with this, I am a Board member of the Tennessee Diversity Consortium. TDC focuses on creating positive community impact where peers gather to offer support, exchange best practices and become better diversity leaders.

KG: When you’re not in the office, what do you enjoy doing on a personal level?

YJ: I love reading. Besides my Bible, I have 7 books on my nightstand right now: Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”; Mindy Kaling’s “Why Not Me?”; “O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose”; and Jasmine Guillory’s “The Proposal”.

For my business brain, I have “The Memo”, “Multipliers” and “The First 90 Days”. They will all be completed by November 1, possibly before then!

I also love music and dancing, especially to hip-hop and 80s and 90s music – any genre.

New obsessions include hiking and people watching. There are so many cool places in Nashville for both of those.

KG: What’s the best piece of personal or professional advice you’ve been given?

YJ: I have received a lot of great advice. The best PR nugget I’ve been told is “No matter the typo, no matter how many misplaced commas or semicolons, nobody died.”          

The most useful personal advice comes from my dad: “Yolanda, people’s reactions to you are not about you. It’s about them.”                                

Remembering that keeps me grounded and humble on my most amazing days, and that motivates me to keep smiling and moving forward on my worst days when I really want to crawl home and listen to B.B. King on repeat. 

Influencer Marketing Selfie

Influencer Marketing: How We Got Here and Where We’re Going

Influencer marketing is a relatively new phenomenon. Even though this trend only recently burst onto the scene, it has taken over the industry. Successful influencer marketing today is completely different from when it first started and it will continue to change as time goes on.

Early Influencer Marketing

During the early stages of influencer marketing, all the focus and investment centered on the celebrities and influencers with the largest following. Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian were pioneers of the influencer marketing industry and continue to rake in money for it. In fact, an article from US Weekly discovered that “brands will pay up to $500,000 for a campaign on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram.” As the trend has grown everyone wants a piece of the action.

View this post on Instagram

when your lyrics are on the bottle 😛 #ad

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

Influencer marketing has exploded, and it’s not stopping soon. In a report from Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing has the potential to be worth $10 billion by 2020. What’s more incredible is that the value to brands is sky-high. For every one dollar spent on influencer marketing the average company generates $5.20 in earned media coverage, and some companies are even making $18 for every $1 spent. Influencer marketing is too big to ignore.

How has influencer marketing changed?

Celebrities were the original influencers, but that has since changed. One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen is the rise of niche influencers. There are beauty influencers, fashion influencers, lifestyle influencers and many more. These niche influencers are more valuable to brands than any celebrity. The reason being, celebrities become influencers because they are famous, but niche influencers become famous because they create content their audience loves, and their audience trusts their opinion.

Trust is the key word in that last sentence. As influencer marketing has grown consumers have grown to trust niche influencers more than they trust celebrities. In fact, “70% of teenage YouTube subscribers relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities and 60% of YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite [content] creator over their favorite TV or movie personality.”

Beyond the change in who influencers trust, we have also seen a massive shift how influencers do their job and push content to their audience. Instagram is the dominant app for influencer marketing, but other apps like YouTube continue to grow and foster a larger presence. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and receives roughly 30M visits every single day. People watch almost 500 million hours of videos on YouTube each day!

We know people spend a lot of time on YouTube. And younger generations trust YouTubers more than traditional celebs. But does that mean YouTube influencers are effective? Yes, yes, it does. A study from Carat found that 86% of the top 200 beauty videos came from influencers. Across ten niche categories tested, working with a YouTube influencer increased consumers’ purchase intent.

Where are we going?

Influencer marketing as we know it could very well disappear just as quickly as it burst onto the scene. Businesses must realize that too much content isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, the 2019 State of Influencer survey discovered that 46% of influencers have at least seven clients.

The authenticity and trust influencers enjoy can fade quickly. The influx of content has caused many consumers to ask themselves, “Is this just another advertisement or an actual opinion?” In a report from Forrester, marketing professionals expect “people will ascribe no more trust to influencers’ branded content than to brands themselves.”

Influencer marketing started with celebrities, then it became niche influencers, so where do marketers go from here? The answer, micro-influencers. Scrunch describes a micro-influencer as “someone who has an audience with a follower base of over 2,000, but less than 50,000 on a particular social media channel, usually with a focussed passion, topic or niche market.”

Just as followers are more trustworthy of niche influencers than celebrities, consumers are more trustworthy micro-influencers than larger niche influencers. Micro-influencers have personal connections with their followers. This allows consumers to have a lot of trust in them. Micro-influencers have higher engagement rates and are actively working for your brand by answering questions and responding to comments. This goes a long way towards creating greater trust between your product and their audience.

The role of influencers is all about leveraging trust and authenticity to achieve an end-goal. The big celebrities may have millions of followers and millions of likes on their posts. But for influencer marketing, that may not be the best practice. Instead, try to find people that have a strong rapport with their audience. This organic connection is what customers today want to see.