Four Things I Wish I Knew Before My First PR Internship

This blog post was provided by our intern, Andrew Stonebarger

Well, I’m roughly halfway through my summer at Ketner Group Communications and the internship continues to surprise me. I’ve already learned so much during my time here at KG. I’m sure the rest of the summer will be no different! Looking back, if I could talk to myself before I started as an intern, I would give these four pieces of advice. So, without further ado, Four Things I Wish I Knew Before my First PR Internship.

Be Open to New Industries

Internships are all about growth. Every day is a chance to improve and a chance to better yourself. However, growth results from putting yourself out there. If you aren’t willing to step out of your comfort zone, take a risk, and try something new, you are holding yourself back from reaching your full potential.

One way to step out of that comfort zone as an intern begins before you even accept an offer. Don’t be afraid to apply for internships that force you out of your comfort zone. In my intro blog, I write about my passion for sports. Naturally, when I accepted an internship in retail technology PR, I was nervous. How would I last a whole summer working in an industry I had no previous experience in and no real knowledge of? Turn’s out, the industry had so much depth and intrigue that I would end up liking it.

You will never realize how interesting an industry is until you dive head first into it. By stepping outside of my comfort zone and taking an internship in retail technology PR, I found a new industry that I enjoy. Retail technology plays a role in every purchase you make and the industry continues to grow and change every day. With innovations and inventions pulling the industry forward, you never know what’s in store.

There’s a world of opportunity out there. Some of it may seem scary, and that’s because it is. Trying something new is scary, but by stepping out of your comfort zone and taking that challenge head-on, you are setting yourself up for growth and success. Who knows, you may find your new dream career or your newest passion from it.

The CEO’s Door is Always Open

As an intern, you’re low on the totem pole. So, what are the odds you get to interact with the big-time executives, directors, and CEOs? To my surprise, the odds were good; I had a meeting planned with the president and founder of Ketner Group – Jeff Ketner – within the first week. One of the biggest things to look for in a strong business is accessibility to senior leadership. The chance to interact and work with company leadership will go a long way in your growth as an intern. 

Whether it is an in-depth, hour-long meeting or five minutes to share a coffee, take advantage of every opportunity you get to interact and work with your senior leadership. Those executives, directors, and CEOs can make a world of a difference. They have been in your shoes before, their mentorship can offer you so much. Whether it’s about work or life in general, these are the people you want in your corner and rooting for you.

Another tip I’ve learned: don’t be afraid to speak up in staff-wide meetings to share your ideas, but do so sparingly. You don’t want to come across as a know-it-all. Share ideas you know add value to the discussion. Share your ideas that help solve problems, and be someone who helps add to the solution and makes an impact rather than a bystander. This will help prove to the entire company that you care about the situation, want to make a difference, and have the skills and knowledge to solve problems and generate effective solutions.

If I could go back, I would tell myself not to be afraid of senior leadership, but to use them as a resource to build you up. They usually have decades of experience, tons of advice, and countless stories to share. Taking the time to meet and interact with them will go a long way toward your growth as a PR professional.

Good Research Skills Go a Long Way

It doesn’t matter what career field you go into, research will play a role in your day-to-day responsibilities. You may not work in a lab running science experiments, but good research skills go a long way towards success in a PR internship. Everyone working in PR needs to have strong research skills to communicate effectively in a variety of subjects.

Before you can succeed in an internship, you have to get an internship. Researching background information on the company you are applying to, their clients, and their methods will be essential in your PR internship hunt. This will allow you to tailor your resume, cover letter, and interview to that specific company. I promise companies will notice these efforts and reward you for it. This may seem obvious, but doing so will go a long way in helping you stand out as a candidate.

Even after you’ve secured the internship, being able to conduct effective and comprehensive research is very important. If you stepped out of your comfort zone and took an internship in a new industry, your research skills will help you make a smooth transition. Being able to conduct effective research will allow you to become an expert on a subject quicker than anyone else.

As a PR Intern, you are preparing yourself for the responsibilities and day-to-day tasks of a PR professional. Even as a PR pro, research is important. It helps you keep track of new and emerging markets and is essential if you want to create and contribute content to your publications. It is important to develop these skills over time – the earlier the better. Improving your research skills as an intern will go a long way as you become more advanced in the field.

Be Open About Your Weaknesses 

I’ve said it a few times in this blog, but I’ll say it again, internships are all about growth and developing your skills in your desired career field. I’ve been asked in every interview to date, “what are your weaknesses?” When you answer this question, be honest. It will go a long way toward developing your skills. Employers take that question very seriously, and if you’re hired, employers will give you a chance to improve and work on those weaknesses.

The best employers will listen to your weaknesses and set you up with the opportunity to improve on them. For me, one of my biggest weaknesses as a PR Intern was my writing. I was open and honest about this during my interview with Ketner Group and here I am writing blogs, bylines and press releases on a daily basis. Ketner Group listened to my weaknesses and tailored my internship experience to help me work on them.

If your employer isn’t helping you work on your weaknesses, they and you aren’t giving yourself the chance to improve and turn those weaknesses into strengths. Being open about your weaknesses is key to reaching your full potential and taking your abilities to the next level level. Being honest about your weaknesses demonstrates that you are introspective and driven. This transparency will go a long way as you improve your internship experience and develop your abilities as a PR pro.

My first PR internship has been an eye-opening experience. Looking back on the summer so far, I’ve learned so much and it’s not even over yet! There is always something to improve on and an internship is a great place to work on your craft. So going back to a couple of months ago, I’d let myself know that even though the first internship may seem scary, the lessons to be learned and the experiences to be had make it well worth it. In the end, I get to watch my skills and development as an emerging PR professional unfold.

Finding My Way: Andrew Stonebarger

This blog post was provided by our intern Andrew Stonebarger

Finding My Way to Austin

Hello everyone! My name is Andrew Stonebarger, and I am a senior public relations student at The University of Texas at Austin. I was born in Nashville, TN, but I grew up in Syracuse, NY. Fun fact about Syracuse: it is one of the snowiest cities in America with an average snowfall of 123.8 inches per year! After living in basically the tundra for 13 years, I knew I needed to go to school in the south, so I packed my bags, drove 26 hours and found my way to Austin.

Moving 26 hours away to go to college was a tough task, but I’ve learned a lot because of it. In my time at UT, I have grown as a person, just as much, if not more, than I have as an intellectual. In addition, I found such a unique campus atmosphere that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Austin is a one-of-a-kind place with an amazing balance between college town and metropolitan city.  It has truly become my home away from home and has helped me grow so much more than I imagined. This is a special city; it’s hard to imagine my life and college experience anywhere else.

Finding My Passions

My journey to where I am today as a public relations major wasn’t easy. I entered UT Austin as an actuarial science major. I found myself bored and struggling. In turn, I started taking new classes and I found myself in PR 101. I thought to myself, “you’re a good public speaker; this’ll be a breeze.” I was dumbfounded when the professors first words were, “if you’re here because you’re a good public speaker and you think that’s PR, you are in for a rude awakening.” My heart was beating out of my chest, but I stuck with the class and grew to love it. The class was confusing, but refreshing. As I took more classes, my passion grew and I found myself in a new major.

PR allowed for a sense of creativity that I hadn’t experienced before. Every problem in mathematics had the same solution with different numbers, but in public relations, every problem requires innovation that allows me to express that creativity. As I finish my college career, I look back and hope one day I can shed light on what PR actually is to younger generations. Eventually, I want to introduce communications to a high school curriculum.

Outside of the Office

Beyond academics and work, I have a ton of hobbies. I play for Texas Men’s Volleyball. This year we went to Denver for NCVF Nationals and finished 9th! Other than volleyball, I play chess and I still can’t beat my Dad so clearly I need to practice more. I also love the NBA and college football. If you want to talk Finals or Free Agency, I’ll tell you where every star is going to end up or if you want to talk college football, I’ll tell you why UT is winning The National Championship this year.

Finding My Way to Ketner Group

As the summer drew closer, my nerves were growing. It was April and I still hadn’t secured an internship yet. I had an interview with Ketner Group and just had a gut feeling when I finished it. The gut feeling screamed, “Ketner Group is where you should be this summer!” When I got the offer, I was ecstatic. I knew once that happened, this was going to be an amazing summer. I’m only in my first week, but I have a good feeling about Ketner Group. Finding my way here is a huge step in the right direction; I can feel it.

I’m so excited to get to work here at Ketner Group Communications. I know there is a lot of knowledge at Ketner Group and there’s so much I can learn. I have a great feeling about this summer and am so excited to get started!

Katie Stone, Intern at Ketner Group

Meet Our New Intern: Katie Stone

This blog post was provided by our intern Katie Stone

Getting To Know Me

Hello everyone! My name is Katie Stone and I am the new intern at Ketner Group Communications. I recently graduated summa cum laude from Texas State University where I received my bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Public Relations. 

I am originally from Katy, Texas (yeah, I know, Katie from Katy). Even though there isn’t a whole lot to do in Katy, I love visiting home so I can spend time with my family. I also like to visit our crazy boxer mix Daisy. Though I have lived in Texas my whole life, I have been lucky enough to travel to many places. I have hiked through national parks in the United States and zip-lined through the Costa Rican canopy. I’ve eaten fish and chips in London and walked the streets of Rome. I hope to go even more places in the future. When I’m not traveling or visiting family, I love reading, cooking and binge watching the newest shows on Netflix.

How Did I Get Here?

Before joining Ketner Group, I did six different internships with companies and organizations such as the Freedom of Information Foundation, Leadhub and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. At these internships, I learned a lot about running the perfect social media campaign, developing digital content people will actually click on, and the ins-and-outs of event planning.

While working internships and going to class, I was also heavily involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). While in PRSSA, I served as secretary on our executive board. I was also the Communications Director for the PRSSA 2018 National Conference – the largest annual gathering of public relations students and professionals in the world. Though I had a crazy schedule, the skills I learned made every minute worth it.

Despite my current dedication to the field, I knew nothing about public relations before I went to college. When I started at Texas State, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I needed to select a major. I selected Mass Communication and Public Relations at random. Thankfully, I fell in love with it.

I couldn’t be more excited to get started in my new position at Ketner Group Communications. I’m eager to work with the KG team and to learn about communications in the retail technology industry!

Intern Series: Starting a New Position

This blog post was written by our intern, Meghan Farrell. 

Starting a new position can be a daunting experience. You don’t know the company culture yet, you have many new faces and names to learn and you aren’t quite sure what an Account Executive even does. These are all common worries that new employees have when starting a new position – and that’s completely normal. However, there are some tips to keep in mind that will help make starting your new job less stressful. Let’s talk about some ways to successfully prepare for starting a new position.

Do Some Digging

Although you probably learned about the position during the interview, it doesn’t hurt to do some digging. Check out the company’s LinkedIn or team page on its website and find someone with a similar position as you. Once you find that person, check out some of the work they have been doing or subjects they have been writing about. This can help you access what you’re in for or topics that might be relevant to learn more about before your start date. At the very least, research some of the publications the company works with or shares on its social platforms and get familiar with the trends in your respective industry. By doing prior research, you will have a better idea of the dialogue that occurs in your new position.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknown

Starting a new position usually means doing things you have never done before – and that’s a good thing! You want a job that challenges and pushes you into the unknown because that will help you grow as a professional. You never want to get too comfortable with what you are doing because you then risk getting left behind. Take on some things you aren’t familiar with because getting as much experience as possible is beneficial, even if it doesn’t seem to fit your current role or field. Volunteer to help with clients you haven’t worked with before or projects that are new to you when you have the time. Through taking advantage of these opportunities, you will get familiar with the things the company does on a daily basis.

Confidence is Key

Although you are the new guy or girl at the company, that doesn’t make you less important than other employees. You have the skills and qualities that the job requires and you were chosen over many other applicants. Remember that when you begin your new position. It’s normal to feel like you’re at the bottom of the food chain as the new employee, especially when you’re young, but you have worked hard to be where you are and deserve to be there just as much as everyone else. However, there is a fine line between being confident in yourself and coming off as cocky, so make sure to keep that in mind. You want to let other employees know that you mean business without leaving a bad taste in their mouths because you will be working closely.

There’s No “I” in Team

No matter the position you are starting, you always want to be a team player. While being able to work individually is important, being able to work in a team setting is key and will benefit you throughout your job, especially as the new employee. Employers want to hire people who will increase the value of the organization as a whole, and that can’t be done single handedly. It requires the help and collaboration of many people, and you want to be a part of that. Additionally, the more you network, the more resources you will have as you adjust to your new role.

Hit the Ground Running

Although you may be nervous, the best tactic to start off strong at a new position is to hit the ground running. Find areas that may need improvement within the company and make suggestions on how to make them more frictionless. If there was a program that your previous job used to speed up daily tasks, let your employer know! Do research on ways other companies are doing things and suggest them at the next staff meeting. There are plenty of things you can do that let your employer know you are innovative and want to contribute to the advancement of the company.

As scary as starting a new position can be, it’s ultimately a positive thing and a great opportunity to grow as a professional. So, when you’re walking in on your first day with sweaty palms, remember some of these tips and tricks to get off to a good start. Good luck!

Ketner Group Seeking a Spring 2019 Intern

Ketner Group is currently seeking a driven, hard-working intern for the Spring 2019 semester to support our team, with the possibility of an extended offer as a summer intern. The paid internship begins in January 2019, offering a flexible schedule of 15-20 hours per week. Between collaborating with our energetic and creative team and gaining real-world agency experience supporting our B2B clients, the intern will have many opportunities for growth.

Qualifications:

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

Responsibilities will include:

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

Application instructions: 

Please send a resume and cover letter, along with writing samples, to Mariana Fischbach at [email protected]; no phone calls, please.

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!

Black Friday Forecasts

This blog was written by our intern, Jenna Jordan

For many Americans, Thanksgiving signals countless things: the beginning of the holiday season, spending time with family, reflecting on what you’re grateful for, or eating too much of your favorite homemade dishes. Sometimes it’s all of the above! But for more than 70% of Americans planning to holiday shop, Thanksgiving marks the “official” start of Black Friday. Even before the turkey-induced drowsiness wears off, many are already planning where to find the best discounts. This Black Friday however, discounts have already begun weeks in advance, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online.

The shopping triad gains momentum: Brick-and-mortar, e-commerce and mobile expected to break records

For many years, Black Friday was a historically brick-and-mortar sales holiday that eventually moved into the e-commerce world. But this year, it is estimated that shoppers will stray away from tradition and move to mobile on Black Friday – which is expected to be the biggest mobile shopping day ever in the U.S.

While Cyber Monday is still the largest e-commerce sales day, Chain Store Age predicts that e-commerce will see larger growth on Black Friday, just as it did in 2016. However, success in brick-and-mortar retail shouldn’t be ruled out this year, as 44% of Americans who will shop are planning to camp out for doorbusters. Overall, price is the most important factor related to shopping during the holiday season, so consumers are likely to do their research and plan ahead before making their purchases, whether in a physical store or online.

A shift to “Black November”

In a lot of ways, it feels as though Black Friday has already begun. eBay found in a new survey that 45% of Americans start holiday shopping well before Black Friday, and retailers are responding. On November 1, Amazon opened its Black Friday store. Other major retailers, including Kohl’s, Walmart and Sears, are also pushing promotions earlier. Target has made the decision to close its stores at midnight on Thanksgiving – but it’s not a sign of brick-and-mortar decline. More likely, Target is just taking a page out of REI’s #optoutside campaign playbook and focusing on the well-being of its employees as a means of differentiation instead. Additionally, their Black Friday discounts began on November 6, so there is no need to rush to the store Thanksgiving Day.

Steve Barr, U.S. Retail and Consumer Sector Leader at PwC, has taken to calling Black Friday “Black November” as the discounts continue to stretch out over the month. “Black Friday is still going to have a meaningful place on the retail calendar,” said Barr in a Retail TouchPoints interview. “It’s just not as significant as it used to be as a stand-alone date.”

According to Forbes, consumer spending over Black Friday weekend is forecast to grow by 47% year after year. Yet more retailers – an expected 70 to 80 stores, will be closing its doors on Thanksgiving in 2017. This isn’t a result of a brick-and-mortar decline, but simply a reflection of a discounting season lasting longer. As a result, consumers may be able to keep their Thanksgiving reserved for their families, and save their shopping for the rest of the month.

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!

 

KG is hiring: Fall 2017 PR Internship

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

Qualifications:

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

Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

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

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