mother career inspiration

How Our Mothers Inspired Our Communications Careers

This Mother’s Day, as usual, we at Ketner Group are feeling thankful for the inspiration our mothers have had on our careers. Whether by being our biggest champion, encouraging us to do the right thing or shaping the way we craft stories, they have influenced who we are as people, and as communications professionals.

She Taught Me to Always Do the Right Thing

Catherine Seeds and her mom Susan
Catherine Seeds with her mother Susan

For Catherine Seeds, our SVP and Partner, her mother’s biggest influence was teaching her to always do the right thing. “This is such a simple guide, but it has really stuck with me my whole adult life, particularly as a working mom,” Catherine remarked.

Catherine has had to make some tough decisions in her life, when it comes to her role as a mother and an agency VP. But through it all, that mantra has guided her to make the best decisions.

My Mother Was Always My Biggest Champion

“My mom was always my biggest supporter in anything I pursued growing up,” shared Account Coordinator Mikaela Cannizzo. “If I was excited about something, she was too. If I was passionate about achieving a certain goal, she encouraged me until I accomplished it. And when I wanted to pursue a career in writing and journalism, she was all for it. I think she still has all my clips saved from my early days at The Daily Texan.”

For Mikaela, her mother has always been someone she could confide in and rely on. “She is exactly the type of woman and mother I strive to be one day,” Mikaela expressed.

I Learned How to Craft a Story to Stay out of Trouble

As for our very own Greg Earl, his mother taught him how to perfect his stories. “I always had to fine tune my stories so I wouldn’t get into as much trouble. I learned to frame stories in a better light but also not to lie too much—in the event she got intel from around town.”

Without her, would Greg be so capable at crafting a great story? Maybe not. “But fortunately, she was there.”

My Mother Taught Me Empathy

Ann, Katie and Ashley Stone
Ann, Katie and Ashley Stone

“My mom taught me a lot about empathy and kindness.” Our intern, Katie Stone learned a lot about compassion from her mother, who is a stay-at-home mom.

“She taught me those soft skills that you aren’t going to learn in a classroom,” Katie said.

She Inspired Me to Ensure Everyone Has a Voice

Jenna Jordan’s mother is a teacher who emphasized the importance of recognizing and ensuring that everyone has a voice.

“We as a collective population are always learning and on the course of gathering knowledge,” shared Jenna. “My mother works with kiddos, so understanding empathy and different perspectives has always been a constant in my life!”

Mom Taught Me I Could Make My Own Career Choices

Kirsty Goodlett and Karen Corcoran Hughan
My mother and me in her element at Nashville’s botanical gardens

As for me, growing up, my sister and I referred to our mother simply as “the boss.” We didn’t know exactly what she did, we just knew that she was powerful and that she made her own path.

My mother taught me that when it comes to your career, you always have a choice. Whether you wish to work in a highly corporate career wearing power suits, like she did in Atlanta in the ‘90s, or you want to start your own landscape design career, like she did in Connecticut in the ‘00s, the choice is yours to make.

This has inspired me deeply. Now, I know that whether I want to work for someone else, myself or something in between, that choice is mine.

Same Us, New Look

Notice anything different? If making changes to our online presence was a haircut, we didn’t get just a little trim. We’ve got a whole new ‘do’ around here, one to better represent our capabilities and vision. Ketner Group is excited to (officially) announce the launch of our new logo, adjusted company name, and totally revamped website.

A Word From Our Leaders

“As an agency, we’ve evolved in so many ways over the past few years, and this website is a representation of that. Jeff and I made the decision to change the name from Ketner Group PR + Marketing to Ketner Group Communications, to better represent the services we offer.” – Catherine Seeds, SVP and partner

“It was certainly time for a change, considering our growth over the past few years. Not only have we experienced 40% organic growth over the past year, but our team has grown, too. We expanded from a group of six in 2017 to a group of 11 employees in 2018 to manage our client growth. We’ve also taken on six new clients in 2018, and in 2019, we are opening an office in New York City. We like to say we’re ‘obsessed with exceeding client expectations,’ and I’m confident our new website reflects that part of our company culture.” – Jeff Ketner, president

Take The New Site For A Spin

The website offers a more comprehensive layout that is simple to navigate. Here’s a tour:

 

Investigating: Ketner Group Communications’ Growth

INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY: Private Investigators on the Hunt for PR Justice

A lot of great news has been coming out of Ketner Group recently. Just last week, they celebrated a new website aimed at capturing the true essence and philosophy of the agency and they even announced a name change to Ketner Group Communications, leaving behind Ketner Group PR + Marketing.

But should we believe all of this good news to be true?

Refreshing their look? Changing their name? Do they think we’ve never seen the Fugitive, Catch Me If You Can, or similar chase-thrillers? We’ve seen this story before – and something’s not right.

During our research into what’s really happening behind their enhanced façade, we found documents claiming that the past year has been a transformative one for them – their team grew 40% and their business grew by nearly 40% as well. But did they think we’d fall for this? We decided enough was enough and it was time to uncover these lies ourselves.

Sure, you’ve watched The Jinx, you’ve binged Making a Murder and maybe you’ve listened to Serial – but nothing will prepare you for what you are about to watch in the investigation of Ketner Group Communications. Is this team really “passionate,” “well-regarded” and “exceeding expectations”? Find out for yourself…

In Defense of the Supermarket

It’s expected that by 2022, 20% of all grocery sales will come from online shoppers. And with 70% of consumers purchasing some of their groceries on the web, I’m definitely in the minority, having never ordered groceries online myself.

I’m not opposed to online shopping or curbside delivery. They’re great options for those with kids, those who have lost their patience dealing with always-full parking lots, or those without access to reliable transportation. We could all benefit from wider aisles and shorter checkout lines. Time is an important resource, and most of us feel like we don’t have enough of it.

Call me a traditionalist, but I like going to the grocery store. It makes more sense for me, whether I’m grabbing a few things or doing a week’s worth of pantry stocking. With brick-and-mortar, I can also avoid navigating the world of memberships and high delivery costs. While I make my shopping list in advance, the endless products I see as I browse the aisles can serve as meal inspiration. The unmissable “sale” stickers help, too. Also, like many others who shy away from online delivery, I like to pick out my own produce. Fifty-nine percent of complaints against online grocery services revolve around receiving undesirable or mishandled produce.

The art of the grocery store

While many grocery stores still have room for improvement, a massive amount of psychology and planning goes into getting consumers to spend more, from the store’s scent to the sugary cereals. Everything’s been thought out and tested by science, like the fact that supermarkets make it hard to find a clock or a window, so you lose track of time and keep shopping. We’re still debating what is the ideal soundtrack for grocery shopping, and if there’s an ideal genre we can all agree on.

Did you know that spraying water on produce serves only to make it look fresher? The most expensive items are at eye-level, and products geared toward children are placed lower. Dairy products are kept as far from the entrance as possible, so shoppers have to pass by more items on their way to essentials. Supermarkets have been so strategically planned to keep shoppers within their doors and spending more that it’s almost a shame not to be the subject of their mind games.

A changing industry

For those who haven’t stepped foot in a grocery store lately, it might be time for a visit. With the use of a mobile phone, it’s easier for shoppers to look up where items are, or receive promotional items as they walk down a specific aisle. In addition to location-based benefits, mobile devices have also helped with checkout, which has served as a major pain point for decades. A 2015 study found that 88% of consumers want retail checkout to be faster, and with self-scanning technology, it’s now becoming common to avoid the checkout process altogether. Hopefully, hands-free shopping carts will be the next mainstream innovation. Clunky carts with one rusty wheel are so 20th century.

I’m fiercely loyal to shopping at my grocery store (America’s third favorite), and it helps that they’re starting to address the pain points that made consumers turn to online shopping in the first place. But more than just addressing current issues, brick-and-mortar grocery stores should also offer their own unique in-store benefits, to ensure shoppers like me are visiting. It all goes back to how we all want our time to be spent efficiently, and grocery retailers should strive to ensure that brick-and-mortar shopping is worth it.

A New Mom’s Take on Amazon

Almost two weeks have passed since Amazon’s most successful Prime Day yet, and between then and now, you’ve likely seen a good deal (no pun intended) of recaps. The purpose of writing this blog is not to provide another analysis of the retail event, but rather to share my Amazon perspective as a new mom.

But before I jump in, here are some highlights from Prime Day:

  • A record-setting 100 million products were sold for an estimated $4.2 billion. (Chain Store Age)
  • Early website difficulties cost the retailer an estimated $72 million in potential sales. (Internet Retailer)
  • Retail Leader breaks down all the numbers you could ever hope to know about Amazon Prime Day here.
  • I enjoyed Retail Dive’s discussion on their podcast, “Conversational Commerce.” Have a listen: Amazon Prime Day cues up the holidays.

Our Amazon spending analysis 

Did you know you can download a report of your complete Amazon spending history? Caution: it may be eye-opening! I spotted the tip in an article and was curious to know just how much money we’ve spent over the years.

My husband and I jumped on the Prime bandwagon early in our marriage, lured by the free shipping. In 2015, we placed a mere 13 orders from Amazon – probably just breaking “even” if you compare the average cost of shipping against the annual membership price. By the next year, that number jumped to 76, as we used e-commerce more and more to fulfill our personal and household needs.

Drumroll please… in 2017, my husband and I spent more than $3,500 on Amazon. Seeing a dollar amount that included a comma was a bit shocking, but I felt more at ease when I evaluated the nature of these purchases: we weren’t just buying impulsively when we saw a good deal. The 124 orders made last year for the Reeds will tell you a lot about our stage of life. In addition to pantry staples, toiletries, and dog food, we also bought: everything to “complete” our Amazon baby registry; gifts for Christmas and birthdays; and a significant amount of diapers and wipes.

Another status check

We’re more than halfway through 2018, and the Reed family is on track to surpass the number of orders placed on Amazon last year – 79 so far! And I’ll tell you what – not much has changed.

  • After my maternity leave, I splurged for a robot vacuum cleaner to make keeping up with chores easier on this working mama.
  • As our daughter became more mobile, our shopping cart was full of baby gates to try and items to “baby proof” our home.
  • When we threw our daughter’s first birthday party last month, I turned to Amazon for everything from her outfit to balloons.
  • What’s that? My daughter needs a Disney-themed outfit for a dress-up day at daycare? Thanks, Amazon! And clothes for me too, please. I don’t have time to shop in-store, and Amazon returns are just so dang easy.

I would be lying if I said our Amazon purchasing habits aren’t instinctual. It’s a habit now – we have a need, and we turn to Amazon first. We even purchased Dash Buttons for laundry detergent and dog treats. Amazon deliveries grace our doorstep weekly. We ‘Prime Now’ – is that a verb? – groceries when we’re in a pinch. We’ve taken advantage of the expanded streaming benefits, most recently binging “Downton Abbey” on Prime Video. As our family grows, and the demands on our time do too, I can’t imagine our Amazon activity slowing down.

I’m in good company

After my deep dive into the spreadsheet of our spending, I was curious to know how my Amazon lifestyle compared to friends. So, I created a simple Survey Monkey questionnaire, shared the link via Facebook, and watched the responses roll in…

“I tend to purchase on Amazon out of convenience, even if an item is more expensive.”

“I set up Amazon subscriptions for things I want to or tend to forget about – toothbrushes, air vent filters… I know when they are delivered, it’s time for me to change them out.”

“I use Amazon even more now that they have same-day, one-day and Prime Now shipping speeds.”

“I buy as much as I can online to save myself from making trips to the store.” 

“Amazon makes my life easier!”

Other insights:

  • More than 50 friends participated, and all but two said that the price increase ($99/year to $119) would not affect their decision to renew their Prime Membership. Yes, it was a large jump, percentage-wise, but the pros of “being Prime” still outweighed the cons.
  • The amount of money my friends spent in 2017 varied greatly, ranging from $400 to as much as $8,000.
  • Most friends were on-track in 2018 to spend the same as they did last year or more.

As much as I love a good bargain… 

You may be thinking, “So Amanda, what did you buy on Prime Day?” And the answer, my friends? Coincidentally, not a thing. I love Amazon as much as my friends do, apparently, but I’m more excited about the day-to-day convenience and experience than I am about a 36-hour promotional event.

International House of Branding

IHOP is changing its name. Last week, the company tweeted (from its updated handle), “For 60 pancakin’ years, we’ve been IHOP. Now, we’re flippin’ our name to IHOb.”

In the week between the initial tweet and the official announcement, social media responded. The news definitely sparked my attention, and I haven’t stepped foot in an IHOP in over 10 years.

Many expressed outrage while others offered up guesses of what the “b” could stand for, and the IHOb account responded creatively to tease out the news and keep people guessing. Some notable predictions included breakfast, bacon, and even the right answer: burgers.

While the social media interaction was fun and sparked life into the brand, the big buildup to yesterday’s underwhelming announcement landed as flat as a pancake, in my opinion. I considered it misleading, as the company implied that the name change would be permanent, and instead it’s just a temporary ad campaign.

However, the PR stunt brought up a good point. It demonstrates how crucial branding and identity is to legacy brands. It also begs another relevant question…

When should you rebrand?

Rebranding makes sense when a company is shifting its services or has already made that shift – for example, offering more breakfast options than just pancakes. Apple Computers renamed to Apple, Inc. as they began to expand its product lines and sell more than computers. This was a natural move and made sense as the major brand identifier – Apple – was kept in the rebrand.

On a more personal level, this year yours truly changed our name from Ketner Group PR + Marketing to Ketner Group Communications. We’ve always been more than just public relations and marketing, offering services in social media, content development, and more, but we found it was time to change our name and logo to reflect that. But are we in the same boat as IHOP? Probably not.

Many food and retail brands never undertake such a public (or even private) rebrand, as the company name is the identifier for consumers. If they do, it’s a result of an acquisition, or done before they expand, like Starbucks did in its early years, originally named Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spice. A smarter move for food and retail brands is a subtle logo change. And just a few years ago, IHOP did reveal a new logo. Last month, Best Buy redesigned its logo after 30 years. The font and colors are similar, and the yellow tag is still included to represent the company’s history. By changing its logo, Best Buy didn’t change its identity, but subtly alluded to how it’s adapting to an evolving retail environment.

IHOb is an example of how drastically changing one’s image, values or services can be met with hype, but also intense criticism. When undergoing a new logo design or rebranding – or in this case, just a burger campaign – brands should ensure that its essence is kept in the name.

Finding a Home in Today’s Digital World – A Digital Nomad’s Diary

In my 30s this kind of travel was nearly impossible. You are quite lucky to be able to stay connected no matter where you go. This is why I had to wait until retirement to travel,” an elderly British man said to me as we sat on the top deck of a fast boat on the way from Bali to Gili Trawangan.

This past month, with Ketner Group’s blessing, I was able to cross off one of the top items on my life bucket list and travel to Bali, Indonesia, for an entire month. I’ve gotten to explore the beautiful beaches and scenery, unique culture, great food and, most of all, see how the other half of the world lives – literally. And yes, while it was a lot of PLAY, there was definitely some work still involved in my travels, as I promised my KG family that I’d work throughout to ensure we did not skip a beat with our clients.

As the man on the boat reminded me, this past month I’ve felt extremely lucky to be living in an age where my work can be part of my carry-on luggage no matter where I go – as long as there is a strong WiFi connection. And, while I won’t bore with you my many pictures of radiant white sand and crystal clear blue waters on this blog (follow me on the Strings app for more on that!), I can offer some insight and best practices on what I learned from being a digital nomad this past month.

Digital Nomad Rule #1

Plan for it. For this rule, I don’t necessarily mean you have to find the right time to travel and work in order to succeed as a digital nomad – sometimes you have to put “timing” aside and just go for it and see how it turns out!

What I mean is, before you set out on your digital nomad journey, take the time to review your workload, and consider the time difference between where you will be and where the rest of your team and/or clients are. From there, set a schedule that outlines the times you will be online, how you will communicate with your team, and what your projects and assignments will be while you are away. Team work makes the dream work, especially in a fully digital world, so to keep everyone at ease, be sure to communicate with your team and stick to your plan while working remotely. Whether you are 13 hours ahead or just one hour behind, a plan matters.

Digital Nomad Rule #2

Find a digital home. As I mentioned earlier, a strong WiFi connection is a must! As I traveled throughout this past month, I was pleasantly surprised and very underwhelmed by the WiFi offered at my different stays. However, no matter where I went throughout Bali, finding a digital café or even a digital workspace that catered specifically to digital nomads was extremely easy. In fact, during my five-day stay in Canggu Beach, I posted up at a members-only workspace called The Dojo, that offered some of the speediest WiFi on the island 24/7, as well as conference call rooms, food, free coffee and water, and a pool in case you needed to take a break to dip in and relax from your workday. So, no matter where you go, make sure you find a digital home for the day to get your work done, and maybe take a swim while you’re at it!

Digital Nomad Rule #3

Find inspiration from your digital community. As I sat in The Dojo, I couldn’t help but overhear the different conversations people around me were having. I met a variety of people, from editorial and marketing directors, to business entrepreneurs and customer service agents. This communal workspace offered the opportunity to not only come face-to-face with all walks of life, but to also easily ask a question if I was interested in learning about a new topic. The Dojo offered additional networking hours where you could come together as a digital community and talk about everything from productivity hacks to brewing the perfect cup of coffee. This space not only offered several opportunities for inspiration, but also a sense of “home” and belonging in a digital world.

Last but not least, remember the key ingredient: “you are lucky” to be able to do this in today’s day and age, so take advantage of it. Call me a typical millennial but the phrase “you only live once” is quite ingrained in my brain. As they constantly say here in Bali, “you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Thanks to today’s technology, the four walls of the office cubicle can now be broken down and substituted for ocean waves crashing in the background.

Giving Tuesday lasts all year at Ketner Group

Ketner Group believes that in the office isn’t the only place we can make a difference. Our team is involved in charities and organizations across Austin and Nashville. This Giving Tuesday we wanted to share how Ketner is giving back to the community that gives us so much, and encourage you to get involved with organizations that can impact so many!

Aidan Griffin, who hails from Boston and whose blood runs green, is involved in a number of organizations in the Austin area that promote Irish culture and heritage. He currently serves the Public Relations Officer for the Irish Network of Austin, the local chapter of Irish Network USA – a business, cultural and social network for friends of Ireland in Central Texas. In his role as Public Relations Officer, Aidan is responsible for managing the public persona of the chapter through social media management, event promotion and coordination with local organizations, government entities and businesses. He is also a member of the Austin Celtic Cowboys, the Gaelic Football club in town, where he helps manage media relations and supports public outreach to grow the game in the area among the American community.

Kirsty Hughan, our lone ranger in Nashville, is the co-founder and recently appointed Advisory Board Member of Mod, a community organization that helps women personally and professionally. Through Mod’s monthly events, Kirsty works with Nashville women to better understand and achieve what they want through networking, conversation and education. She is also involved in the small business organization in Nashville and is a member of the Nashville Independent Business Alliance, or Indie Nash.

Heavily involved with Texas Exes Austin Chapter as a past board member and current young alumni committee member, Adrienne Newcomb also volunteers her time and resources with Community First! Village. Community First! Village is a 27-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas. A development of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, this transformative residential program exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets, while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless.

Kathleen See works with various non-profit and community focused organizations across the Austin community. She’s been involved with the Thinkery, Austin’s children’s museum, volunteering for their annual Imaginarium gala. Most recently, she has begun donating her time to Young Texans Against Cancer. She first became involved through their annual Powderpuff football game, but has become impassioned with their mission to raise funds and awareness for local cancer research and support organizations, becoming the sponsorship chair for their 5th annual Powderpuff Football Game and assisting with fundraising for the 7th annual Spice for Life Chili Cookoff.

Each year Ketner Group sponsors a family in need during the holidays and provides school supplies to underserved children in our area. We also regularly participate in and support our local PRSA chapter. In addition, Ketner Group actively gives back to the organizations our team members are involved with, just another way KG shows its love for our team and community. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see how we’re giving back in Austin!