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!

Greater Austin Business Awards – Here We Come!

This blog post has been provided by our intern, Meghan Farrell.

We are thrilled to announce that Ketner Group Communications has been selected as a finalist for the Company Culture category of the Greater Austin Business Awards!

The competition is designed to honor excellence in business and recognize companies and organizations in the Austin region for achievements, community contributions and milestones. The Greater Austin Business Awards is one of the largest award and networking events in Central Texas, bringing together about 1,000 business leaders, entrepreneurs, organizations, government officials and regional chambers.

The culture at Ketner Group Communications is one of the many things that makes us unique, so we are proud of being named as a finalist in the Company Culture category. This award is presented to an organization that fosters a creative, collaborative company culture that is sustainable and retains employees – and that describes us perfectly.

Work-Life Balance

Ketner Group believes that having a healthy work-life balance is incredibly important. We offer flexible schedules and provide the opportunity to work from home, or virtually anywhere (even Ireland and Bali!), as our staff needs. Employees are encouraged to take time off when necessary, including much-needed vacations. It’s important to us that our employees are working at a comfortable pace while still producing incredible PR work for our clients. We love to include fun events during the week such as Taco Tuesdays, Wake Up Wednesday coffee runs, company lunches to celebrate big and small victories, and, of course, to celebrate any and all type of food/drink “days” (i.e. National Pizza Day) to keep our team motivated and morale high. Our motto is “work hard, play hard and be nice to people,” which we believe is the reason why our employees love working here, and our clients love working with us!

This healthy work/life balance encourages our employees to stick with Ketner Group for the long haul. On average, employees have stayed at the agency 4 to 5 years, which is way above average for PR agencies, and we’re working hard to make Ketner Group an ideal place for employees to spend the bulk of their career. Our SVP and partner Catherine Seeds will be celebrating her 17-year anniversary at the agency in November.

Professional Development

We believe professional growth is very important. Each employee is highly encouraged to contribute to outside professional organizations and community programs. To that end, each employee has a yearly budget for professional development. This allows them to travel/attend PR industry events, take classes to learn a specific skill set or anything else that will help them grow and develop as a PR professional.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

At Ketner Group every opinion is not only listened to, but encouraged, no matter the rank or seniority of the person. Not just for client work, but for new business, company culture, process improvement, investment areas – literally anything. We encourage bold thinking and risk-taking. We think it’s important for all of our employees to know that they are heard and are an important part of why Ketner Group is the way it is. We believe in our team 100% so if a team member has an idea, we’ll always listen — and more often than not, we’ll act on it.

We are very excited and honored to be named a finalist for the Greater Austin Business Awards. Winners will be announced on Aug. 30 at the JW Marriot Austin!

Get To Know Our New Account Coordinator: Mikaela Cannizzo

Hi everyone! My name is Mikaela Cannizzo and I’m a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. I am excited to be starting my first full-time job as an account coordinator at Ketner Group!

I was born in Los Angeles, but my childhood was split between Southern California and a suburb outside of Dallas. I moved to  Austin for college and decided to stick around. Although the variety of amazing restaurants and the beautiful hill country may have had something to do with that choice, my job opportunity with Ketner Group was the deciding factor.

Writing captured my heart at a young age. Whether it was writing papers for class or spending my free time coming up with an idea for a creative story, I loved the way writing allowed me to transform my thoughts into something comprehensive that could possibly resonate with others. During my high school years, I utilized my writing capabilities as the managing editor of the yearbook and a participant in an independent study and mentorship program, which gave me the opportunity to write articles for the Dallas Morning News.

My high school experiences led me to choose journalism as my major in college. I loved getting to learn more about the profession and pursue print journalism passionately as a member of the Daily Texan staff my sophomore and junior years and as an intern at the Dallas Business Journal last summer. Throughout those years, I also took on a job as a writing consultant, helping students in the communications school improve their writing. I decided to switch career paths slightly my senior year when my interest in public relations was sparked by the assignments and projects of the PR students I worked with.

Following through with this new direction, I spent the spring interning with Cohn & Wolfe, a public relations and global communications agency in downtown Austin. I enjoyed learning more about agency life and working with different clients on creating engaging content for their brands. Knowing that writing and storytelling are the core components of the PR profession, I couldn’t be more excited to continue in the field with Ketner Group!

When I’m not working or writing, I enjoy spending time at the lake, visiting restaurants and coffee shops and just exploring new places in Austin. While I’m thrilled to call Austin home, I also love to travel and am always down to plan a trip, even if it’s a spontaneous one!

Dos and Don’ts of Applying for PR Jobs

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

Do Apply if You’re Slightly Over-Qualified

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

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

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

Do Act Like You Want to Be There

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

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

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

Do Send a Thank You Note

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

A Note on Career Fairs

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

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

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

 

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

INTRODUCING OUR NEW INTERN: MEGHAN FARRELL

This blog post has been provided by our intern, Meghan Farrell.

Hey everyone! My name is Meghan Farrell, and I am a senior public relations major minoring in business at the University of Texas at Austin. I was born in Calgary, Alberta but moved to Houston, Texas about 14 years ago – what a change! I quickly grew to love the U.S., and appreciate that you can’t shovel humidity.

Moving to Austin for school has been an incredible journey, with the city feeling almost separate from the rest of the state. I have experienced so many new things, like kayaking below South Congress Bridge while the world’s largest urban bat colony flies above, and don’t even get me started on the food here – trust me, I won’t stop talking.

My love for public relations began my sophomore year of college when I realized it was all about stories. I love telling a good story to my friends, family, or whoever will lend their ear. It’s progressed to the point where friends will ask me to tell stories for them, even when I wasn’t there. Finding out there was a major where I could do what I already loved was the most relieving feeling, and once I began taking PR classes I felt at home.

Before beginning my internship at Ketner Group, I worked as a student assistant to the Public Affairs Director at UT’s Harry Ransom Center. Some of my daily tasks included drafting media advisories, creating media contact lists, and analyzing their social media statistics. I also learned a great deal about pitching to the media. I truly cherished my time spent there, and I encourage everyone to go check out their vast collections.

When I’m not writing papers, I like to spend my free time hanging by the water, watching Chopped, snuggling my cat Billy, or finding the next great restaurant in Austin. I also love returning to Houston to visit my family especially because of our newest addition to the Farrell clan, my 2-year-old niece Mila.

I am incredibly excited to be spending my summer with Ketner Group and look forward to the stories that lie ahead!

Get to Know Our New Senior Account Executive: Amanda Reed

Hi everyone! My name is Amanda Reed and I’m thrilled to join the Ketner Group team as a Senior Account Executive. I am looking forward to getting up-to-speed and contributing to the success of our clients, but first, here’s a bit about me.

The saying goes, “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could,” and that’s certainly true for me. I’ve called Austin home for almost 20 years and I love this city so much, but I spent the first six years of my life in Anchorage, Alaska. My elementary years once I moved to Austin included a lot of curious kids asking, “Were you born in an igloo?” and ever since, my Alaskan beginning has been my go-to fun fact.

I attended Baylor University where I got a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a concentration in marketing, and I honed my skills through internships at Texas Monthly, The Dwyer Group, American Football Coaches Association, and WACOAN magazine. Additionally, I studied abroad one semester in the Netherlands, attending classes at Maastricht University and traveling to 14 countries, which included one month backpacking through Spain, Italy and Greece. That experience gave me an appreciation for other cultures, a love of travel, and a level of courage and independence I hadn’t known previously.

After graduating, I moved back home to Austin to take a job on the marketing team at Bury+Partners, an engineering company later acquired by Stantec. The ultimate highlight for me there was contributing to the corporate rebrand — shifting from Bury+Partners to simply Bury — which included an epic launch party with a choreographed flash mob, in addition to the associated PR roll-out. After Bury, I joined Austin startup and fintech provider Kasasa to support their communications, PR and social media strategies. Kasasa’s mission is to empower community banks and credit unions with the right technology and marketing so that they can compete against the megabanks. It was a really fun mission to rally behind!

A few other facts about yours truly:  

  • When I’m not working, you’ll find me spending time with my husband, our daughter, and our beloved pup, Bruiser, who came to us through Austin Boxer Rescue.
  • We love trying new restaurants, and there is no shortage of those in Austin.
  • As loyal Baylor fans, we have season tickets for football, so many weekends in the Fall are spent in Waco with our closest friends from college, cheering on the Bears.
  • I regularly get comments about my penmanship, and I have made a little side gig out of hand-lettering projects for people to adorn the walls of their home… or to have tattooed on their body. No, really!
  • Another hobby for me is photography, which I get to do on the side with family photos, engagements or newborn sessions.
  • I’m a book nerd, and I even thought as a kid that I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up.
  • I carry a bound, paper planner with me at all times to stay organized, and have a preferred pen of choice — a black Pilot 0.5 G-2.

I knew Ketner was a special group because I’d previously served on the board of PRSA with both Catherine and Adrienne, but getting to know the team through the interview process has gotten me more excited about this being my new work home.

Ketner Group is Hiring: Account Executive

Looking for a place to showcase your passion and talent for PR, writing and social media? Want to be a part of an amazing team dedicated to client success, but that always makes times for tacos and chocolate? Then we want to hear from you!

Ketner Group Communications is looking for a motivated and dynamic team member, with experience in managing client relationships, as well as successfully executing PR campaign strategies, tactics and reporting.

Responsibilities:

  • Assist Account Managers with staying on task for key accounts
  • Execute media relations activities, including developing media lists, press release distribution and pitching and editorial calendar research and management
  • Cultivate new media relationships in other verticals and top tier, national press
  • Write content pieces, including press releases, articles, case studies, e-books, etc.
  • Manage client monthly reporting
  • Serve as a key contact in client communications
  • Help to brainstorm fresh, new campaign ideas
  • Execute on social media tactics
  • Support the executive team on new business initiatives and proposals

Candidate Qualities:

  • Strong writing skills, be prepared to submit writing samples
  • Confidence in handling media relations, including pitching trade and national media contacts
  • Effective communications skills, including the ability to clearly articulate the status of PR program/campaign activities to clients in person, over the phone or via email
  • Excellent research skills in finding appropriate media contacts, collecting supporting data/information for copywriting, identifying client award and event opportunities and conducting client competitor research
  • Ability to be self-accountable, self-motivated and proactive in staying on task with daily activities

Candidate Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, public relations, journalism or marketing
  • 2-4 years of PR experience in an agency, brand or corporation
  • Retail technology or brand PR experience a plus, but not required
  • B2B and/or B2C experience highly valued, but not required
  • Experience with executing on social media tactics
  • Experience with Vocus, Hootsuite, TrendKite, Cision/Vocus and Harvest a plus

Please send resume and cover letter, along with writing samples to Catherine Seeds at [email protected]

What to Expect at Shop.org 2017

Image: Shop.org, NRF

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

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

KG Clients at Shop.org

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

Columbus Consulting

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

DynamicAction, Booth #1519

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

GroupBy Inc., Booth #639

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

Linc, Booth #541, 1800

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

Mirakl, Booth #1205

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

Shopgate, Booth #319

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

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

Retail Innovation Lounge at Shop.org

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

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

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

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

Meet Our New Intern: Jenna Jordan

This blog post was written by our intern, Jenna Jordan.

Hello everyone! My name is Jenna Jordan, and I am Ketner Group’s new intern. This is my final semester as a public relations major at the University of Texas at Austin and I am so excited to be spending it with Ketner Group.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, and stuck close because I am a family girl. Although I only have a brother, I have more than a handful of cousins, aunts and uncles who always find themselves together each weekend. Besides spending time with my family and studying for class, you can find me reading, exercising, swimming, or FaceTiming my incredibly neurotic but lovable dog, Scout. While I’ve stuck close to Texas all my life, I do have the travel bug and hop on a plane whenever I have the chance. This summer, I was lucky enough to visit Cancún and New Orleans, and I am already making plans for Europe next year.

Before joining Ketner Group, I interned with a local Austin nonprofit and assisted the founder with coordinating events, increasing membership and running social media. This past spring, I was an intern for a lifestyle public relations company here in Austin. With my team, I juggled about eight restaurant and hotel clients, all in different stages with distinctive needs. I got to try my hand at pitching to media and was included inclient communication, which was an insightful way to see both the client and the agency side of public relations at work.

During my freshman year at UT, I was convinced I wanted to be a publicist for celebrities in Hollywood, but once I realized the number of long nights that came with that career path, I turned my attention to what I was learning in class. On top of public relations, taking business and creative writing classes showed me that I not only love writing, but I also love marketing, and seeing how marketing and public relations interact.

Coming from an office of less than 50 people, I didn’t think I would join an even smaller agency – but I’m so glad I found Ketner Group! Just by our team meeting on my first day, I can tell everyone here is hands-on and interested in the work they do.

I’m so excited to kick off my semester with B2B and retail technology, especially with the holiday season fast approaching!