AUSTIN and NEW YORK CITY – Feb. 3, 2022 – Ketner Group Communications, the leading public relations agency for innovative retail technology companies, today announced significant growth in 2021, culminating in 20% year-over-year revenue growth for the agency, the creation of a net-new leadership role and multiple industry recognitions throughout 2021. Ketner Group’s momentum this past year is a result of the agency’s continued specialization in retail technology, which resulted in the onboarding of nine new clients in the retail technology ecosystem.
Specializing in retail technology has allowed Ketner Group to play a continued role in retail’s fast-paced evolution by representing a wide range of innovative clients, from omnichannel commerce to online marketplaces, hospitality, adtech and supply chain solutions. Moving into 2022, Ketner Group is expanding its portfolio of clients, offering its depth and breadth of experience and leadership in retail technology PR and adding additional services including lead generation to its current PR and content development offerings.
“The retail industry came roaring back in 2021, setting a YOY record in holiday spending,” said Jeff Ketner, CEO, Ketner Group Communications. “Ketner Group experienced a very strong year as well, as we supported our retail technology clients. Retail innovation has accelerated rapidly in the wake of COVID-19, creating significant opportunities for retail tech companies to tell their stories. Ketner Group is the only U.S. PR agency focused exclusively on retail tech, and we have the domain expertise and team to help our clients succeed.”
Adrienne Newcomb Is Promoted to VP of Operations
Following its notable momentum as an agency in 2021, Ketner has created a new executive position, vice president of operations, promoting Adrienne Newcomb to fulfill this position. She has been with Ketner Group since 2015, serving as account manager and supervisor, and most recently as director of New York. In her new role, she will be responsible for overseeing and supporting all aspects of Ketner Group operations and HR, continuing to manage the agency’s New York City office, and supporting new business and market development, marketing and more. Additionally, Newcomb will continue to contribute to the overall strategic direction of the agency.
“As a part of our senior leadership team, Adrienne has done an amazing job strengthening our operating and HR procedures as well as providing invaluable support for our new business and marketing teams,” said Catherine Seeds, president, Ketner Group. “She is a strong and results-oriented leader, and as VP of operations, will help drive further process improvement and increased revenue for the agency. This is an exciting time for Ketner Group with the expansion of our executive team, our focus on retail tech, and a rebrand we plan to launch in Q4.”
Ketner Group Receives Industry Recognition
In 2021, Ketner Group was ranked as one of Ragan’s Top Places to Work: Class of 2021, which recognizes organizations with great company cultures that are true to their mission and vision and provide a top working environment for each of its employees. As well, the agency was named to the 2021 Inc. 5000 Regionals Texas list, which recognizes the fastest-growing companies in the state of Texas and is an extension of the Inc. 5000 nationals list. These accolades followed the agency’s celebration of its 30th anniversary at the beginning of 2021.
To learn more about Ketner Group’s services and career opportunities, visit ketnergroup.com.
About Ketner Group Communications
For more than 20 years, Ketner Group has helped retail technology companies build brand, drive demand and grow shareholder value through strategic PR programs. We’re widely recognized as one of the leading PR agencies in retail technology. With a range of clients, from omni-channel commerce to AdTech, CPG and supply chain solution providers, our team knows and understands retail technology like no other PR agency. Core services include media and analyst relations, content development, PR messaging and communications strategy, demand generation, social media management and more. Ketner Group has offices in Austin, Nashville and New York City, working with clients located in North America, UK and Europe. For more information, please visit www.ketnergroup.com
Mariana Fischbach, Director of Media Relations Ketner Group Communications [email protected]
I can’t imagine a single person who would say they thought 2020 turned out like they expected. I certainly can’t.
After launching our Nashville office last August, we had big plans for this year. While it hasn’t turned out like we expected, I am grateful to say that the year has provided joy nonetheless.
I’m proud of our team for what we’ve accomplished and in that spirit, I’d like to celebrate some of the notable successes from this year, which include working with Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), OhanaHealth, Origami Day, and launching the NTC Marketing Peer Group!
Welcoming 36|86 Festival and LaunchTN to the Ketner Group fold
Little did we know that that event would spur an even more long-standing relationship and that just a few weeks afterwards we’d kick off working with LaunchTN to support 2020’s virtual 36|86! Together, we increased awareness of the event with media, generated coverage and increased buzz.
“As a speaker for KG Connects, I experienced Ketner Group’s creative thinking, enthusiasm for their work and master organizational skills,” said Tucker. “Not to mention, they’re just fun! I knew they would make a wonderful partner when it came to our media relations for 36|86 Festival and ultimately LaunchTN overall and my instinct was not wrong. We’ve been thrilled by the output of our work together and pleased that they equally consider Tennessee the perfect place for launching a new office.”
Capturing coverage for OhanaHealth
We also had great fun this year working with Daniel Oppong, founder, OhanaHealth. When we initially spoke with him about his desire to do a media relations push around the next iteration of the company, we were excited to hear him talk about how the news sat at the intersection of three incredibly powerful themes from this year: healthcare, accessibility and employment.
Daniel is dynamic, driven and talented, so it’s no surprise OhanaHealth is primed for connecting top talent with health companies poised to make a meaningful impact post-COVID-19. We were thrilled to help the company generate coverage in local and trade publications alike.
“On top of delivering fantastic and measurable results, Ketner Group was exceptional to work with,” said Daniel. “They took the time to get to know me and OhanaHealth’s PR goals, then designed and executed an intentional strategy that put the story I wanted to tell (with OhanaHealth) in front of the right journalists, which ultimately led to it being read by thousands of people.
“I didn’t really know what I was in for, given that it was my first time formally working with a PR group, but our engagement exceeded my expectations and set a really high bar for what’s possible when working with the right PR group. I’m a big fan of Ketner Group, and not only would I recommend them to other companies, but I hope I get to work with them again.”
“Quarterly long-form content was a huge victory in fixing bottlenecks in my business,” said Samantha Lane, time management coach and creator of Origami Day. “Knowing that ‘batching’ is an effective way to accomplish more with less, I was already creating content around monthly themes. However, Kirsty helped me see the value in zooming out to quarterly themes and long-form pieces of content.”
Launching an NTC Marketing Peer Group
Another exciting effort this year? We became members of the Nashville Technology Council! We were thrilled to become a more integrated part of the technology community here in town, so when we learned that they didn’t yet have a Peer Group for marketers we thought, well, what a better time to start?
Through the course of this year, we’ve had the pleasure of working with NTC and others in the community to kick off this group, which will seek to help members connect, learn, grow and give back. I’ll be joining the committee as a co-chair alongside some other wonderful members including fellow co-chair Lane Harbin, director of marketing at Campaign Monitor.
Our very first event kicks off Friday Dec. 11 at 11 am, more details are coming soon!
Nashville is still growing
COVID-19 is not slowing down the growth Nashville has been experiencing over the past few years. In fact, we continue to see announcements regularly that are signs of the city’s opportunity for big impact. Just last week, the New York Times’ announced it is opening a Nashville bureau.
And Amazon’s head of worldwide economic development, Holly Sullivan recently remarked, “We don’t want to be the last tech company to announce a corporate office in downtown Nashville. We’d like to welcome other tech companies too so we can really build that robust diversity within the Nashville area.”
These continued stories inspire us and remind us that we’re just where we should be.
When it came to the topic of remote work and how Ketner Group has addressed it over the years – I immediately thought of the 1981 hit country song, “I Was Country, When Country Wasn’t Cool,” sung by Barbara Mandrell.
In it, Mrs. Mandrell talks about how she listened to music from the Grand Ole Opry growing up while her friends were “digging on rock ‘n’ roll” and how everyone is now trying to be what she was back then.
When it comes to remote work at Ketner Group, this song seems spot on. We’ve been at this for quite some time – way before it was cool, and (now) necessary.
The way we were, and are: Ketner Group and our history of remote work
While I know that Ketner Group is not the only company to have instituted flexible work-from-home policies prior to the pandemic, our agency was founded with an emphasis on offering a good work-life balance for all employees.
That became very apparent to me in 2005 when my daughter was born. My two bosses at the time, Jeff Ketner and Terry Barnes, made it clear that my family was very important and that they were just fine with a work schedule that was best for me and my family.
This philosophy started even before my tenure at Ketner Group, when Jeff launched the agency in 1990. He was to be at home every night for dinner, and if he needed to work from home, he would lug home a big laptop to finish any client work after his kids had gone to bed.
Thus, the roots of Ketner Group’s flexible work standards started to grow, and we’ve never looked back.
Our attitude toward working from home has always been simple: plan accordingly, meet your deadlines, and communicate with your team and managers of your schedule. In normal times, we always encouraged the team to be in the office as much as possible, but life happens.
Whether it be a doctor appointment across town, picking up kids from school, or being at home for the cable guy – working from home to take care of things is sometimes just easier. There are also times when one needs to work from home to concentrate on a big writing or research project – we’ve always encouraged that, too.
We’ve been everywhere
In recent years, Ketner Group has continued to walk the walk and talk the talk when it came to working remote – a sentiment I talked about last November in the Austin Business Journal. One of the most important things we value at the agency is trust, and we have a very high level of trust with all of our employees.
For example, we have had employees take extended vacations to Europe and Asia (learn more about Mariana’s time in Bali here), where they worked remote for a period of time while they were overseas and then take an additional two weeks off for vacation. A few years ago, one of our employees spent a year working from Ireland, and it worked out beautifully.
It is important to support these remote work options because we want our team to live their best lives, see the world and have amazing experiences.
W.O.R.K in the USA
Since March, our remote work game has been in overdrive – along with the rest of the world.
In fact, a global survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. found that 88% of business organizations all over the world mandated or encouraged all their employees to work from home when the COVID-19 virus started to spread at exponential rates.
The move to full-time remote work for the Ketner Group team was seamless, and again demonstrated how much we value and trust each of our employees. Not only is everyone currently working from their respective homes, but we have a few employees that have hit the open road in RVs to fully experience remote work life!
It’s been an adventure for all of us so far.
Our team is spread out across five states, but our productivity and company culture remain strong. The pandemic has been hard on all of us – professionally and personally – but we remain a strong and dedicated team because of the processes and work policies we put in place 30 years ago.
I look forward to when we can all be in an office together again. Until then, we’ll be seeing you on a Zoom somewhere.
I love anniversaries. It gives one the opportunity to look back at where you’ve been, what you’ve gone through and all the good things that lay ahead.
This time last year, Kirsty Goodlett, our director of Nashville, and I, were putting the final touches on our soon to be Nashville launch. Our anniversary “week” in Nashville kicked off with an amazing launch party, complete with signature cocktails, food and a panel of brilliant, all-female storytellers.
We continued our launch activities by participating in and attending 36|86 Festival, the premier entrepreneur and start up event of the Southeast. As Kirsty said in her recap blog last year, it was truly nothing short of magic!
We were honored to kick off 36|86 with a panel featuring Kirsty, Ben Kurland and Lisa Roberts, chatting about how to win press and influence customers. Kirsty also did a podcast interview with our friend, Clark Bucker, for the 36|86 podcast, and we secured some wonderful media coverage for Ketner Group in Nashville and Austin.
Our launch was perfect, and was made possible against the wonderful backdrop of 36|86. Which is why, when asked if we wanted to participate in this year’s festival and manage media relations for 36|86, we responded with a resounding “YES!” to our friends at Launch Tennessee.
36|86 Festival goes global, interactive and virtual!
Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s 36|86 Festival will look a bit different, but will still include all of the amazing speakers, sessions, networking and that Nashville pizazz that attendees have come to expect from the event!
The fully interactive, online experience will take place over two weeks for a global audience from Aug. 17-28. 36|86 will offer human stories, real strategies, 1-on-1 networking opportunities and shared experiences in its most accessible form yet.
Eddie George, entrepreneur and former NFL running back
Van Jones, CNN host and political commentator and CEO of REFORM Alliance
Ian Rogers, Group Chief Digital Officer of LVMH
Dr. Stacey Edwards Dunn, founder and president of Fertility for Colored Girls, NFP
Ketner Group brings a bit of Austin to Nashville
Our team is so proud to again participate in this year’s festival, bringing our love of PR and entrepreneurial innovation to the 36|86 stage. And this year, Kirsty and I are bringing a few more of the KG team along for the fun!
Right after the session, Jeff and Mariana will be available for a live “ask the experts” session for festival attendees.
Kirsty and I are also back in full swing at 36|86 this year, judging two pitch competitions with some new and old friends from Nashville! Startup companies and student groups are competing for bragging rights as well as cash prizes. Don’t miss this opportunity to see some of the brightest and most innovative minds in Tennessee!
If that hasn’t been exciting enough, we have also been managing media relations for this year’s festival. It’s been wonderful taking them on as a client and telling the most amazing entrepreneurship stories.
Building community across the global startup ecosystem
Right now, a year after our official launch in Nashville, Ketner Group and the entire world find ourselves in a unique situation. Our lives have become disrupted and turned upside down, but, we’ve all become closer and more connected than ever, and that’s exciting! Think of all the possibilities!
36|86 has embodied what it means for events, right now, to make timely, engaging and entertaining content available to anyone around the world. The show must go on, and the Ketner Group team is thrilled to again share the stage with an amazing collection of game-changers, disrupters and future-seekers!
I hope to see ya’ll there!
Click here to register for 36|86, which kicks off in just a few days!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hello! My name is Keturah Harris. I’m an Account Executive by day, amateur music critic by night. I am the second full-time Nashville employee, and I am more than thrilled!
Whether it is a binge-worthy Netflix series or
a decade-defining album (ex: Beyoncé’s self-titled album), I have always
enjoyed captivating writing and storytelling. This passion moved me to leave my
hometown of Memphis, Tennessee to complete a public relations degree at the
University of Tennessee at Knoxville (go Vols!).
Following graduation, I was given the
opportunity to strengthen my writing skills as a full-time intern at Jarrard
Phillips Cate & Hancock, a healthcare public relations firm in
Brentwood, Tennessee. There, I drafted press releases, managed editorial
calendars and pitched letters for large healthcare systems.
Most recently, I served as an Account Coordinator for DENOR Brands & Public Relations, a full-service communication agency that serves non-profit and public policy clients. This experience allowed me to wear a variety of hats, such as media relations, social media, project management and graphic design. I quickly realized that I was equipped for the #agencylife, and I am so excited to continue growing as a communications professional at Ketner!
When I’m not in the office, you can find me front row at a concert across the country, checking out the new hot chicken joint or trying out the latest makeup. I am a huge music nerd; please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any cool music facts that you would like to share!
Yolanda James recently
joined the Nashville Health Care Council where she serves as the director of
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
The most useful personal advice comes from my dad:
“Yolanda, people’s reactions to you are not about you. It’s about
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
Interested in learning more about our thoughts on storytelling? We always love to chat about the topic over a cup of coffee. So don’t be shy, just reach out.
Read the Transcript
Goodlett: I want to start with Brittney. I am curious to hear from you. Why is
Storytelling is so important, especially to me because I feel like it gives
everyone an opportunity to share their truth, right? We all have our own, all
our story that deserves to be shared. And I see the impact impacted needs,
especially for under represented communities, right? So if you’re a minority
business owner, having your stories old can do understory. For example, I have
a colleague whose book came out this week. When she received her book deal her
publishing house was kind of nervous because she didn’t have a large social
media following. They really want to make sure that she could sell this book
and the book, it’s called, The Memo, and it’s about women of color and
workplace. It’s a great topic but it’s always hard to pitch opportunities or
stories around people of color, right? It really is. So her publisher’s
feedback really meant some of these are hurting. So I wrote about her for Fast
Company. Once that article went live, her publisher gave her a date for her
book to be released. That’s how much a story being published can make an impact
to someone’s life.
Goodlett: So I want to jump off of that point and pass it over to Nicole.
Nicole, I’m curious to hear from you how you see storytelling being important
to businesses. Because Brittney’s example is such a great example of like
someone who’s clearly making money from writing, but we also have sometimes a
harder time telling stories about companies. So why is story telling important
Delger: Storytelling gives people to talk about your company and you know,
share pride in the things they find. There are so many different things that we
can invest in or bring into our lives and it’s harder to be discerning some
times as a consumer. So when I think about storytelling, I always put my
consumer hat on. What are the brands that I like, what are the stories that I
rally around? How are they interesting? And I think it’s important for
companies down on what their story is so that people will talk about them. I
love your example, Brittney. I just saw another one in the news yesterday in
the Shelbyville Times about Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. Have you seen this
one? I thought that was so beautiful and it is inspired by a slave that taught
Jack Daniels how to distill whiskey. And they are saying, this is the Godfather
ofTennessee whiskey. And I think that is really exciting for people who are
entrepreneurial, who are wanting to make something meaningful, wanting to
create a brand that’s meaningful to go out and find these stories and be
inspired by these stories to create something new. So I think it’s made from an
entrepreneurial perspective. And so typing into your own story or the story
that you want to tell it from a creative business.
Goodlett: So, what do you do then if you don’t have that? So, like how does
storytelling money vary then between business to business or business to
consumer? And what do you do from a toolkit perspective to think differently
about those different types of companies or services?
Delger: Yeah, I mean not to immediately pitch hiring someone. I think it’s not
necessarily about hiring communications. company to tell your story. It’s about
having conversations with people and starting to look outside yourself, get
outside your business, get perspective on what might be interesting. For a
story, you might not recognize these really interesting people. I remember
Catherine talking about that person that you work with…
Goodlett: Yeah, that’s great. That’s a great leeway. Right. Catherine, can you
speak to this example or maybe some others that you’ve seen when it comes to
finding ways to tell stories about businesses?
Seeds: Sure. I think with our clients, we work with B2B technology companies,
so we’re always looking into why we’d be interested in stories about the
products and the services that our clients are providing. And that’s what their
marketing is for, of course, but we want to dig deeper. All of us here are
storytellers in some way. So you want to take deeper. And what I love to do,
what we love doing for our clients is figuring out what has inspired the
executive and founder of the company to start that company. In my experience, a
lot of CEOs and founders don’t give themselves enough credit for the
inspiration for their own companies. One of our clients, we sat down with the
CEO and founder to get the backstory. He is from Germany. He went through his
story about how when he was 16, he worked in the salt mines and how he
remembered the sweat coming down his face, working in the mines, the salt
mines. He remembered how his superiors would check on him to make sure that he
was okay. And he remembered that and he carried that with him. When he started
his own company he decided he was always going to treat everyone the same, no
matter what level and that was because of his background in the salt mines. So
we put together a pitch to the media and we’ve got some interest in that, which
is great because CEO stories are always interesting to tell. You want to tell
those stories about the products and services and how they’re affecting end
users but we want to go further, we want to dig deeper into telling more
interesting, more human inspired stories for our clients.
Yeah. So that leads me to a good question for Kelley. When we were preparing
for this panel we were talking about, how do you identify interesting stories?
Kelley you had some interesting things to say about that. You remarked that
when you consider stories, you say, is this interesting to me? So can you speak
to that a little bit?
Griggs: So that’s sort of the question I would ask. I would ask, hey, we are
seeking stories about startups. We happen to be seeking stories about startups
in the south. That’s like a pretty specific topic. And one of the reasons why
we were doing that was because we were looking for the types of things that
other people might relate to, both in business and in life. So, I think that
one really, really important part of telling your story is just asking
yourself, is this an interesting and would it be interesting to somebody else
if they were to read it? And what is really the, the hook of the story? If you
think about the hook of your story or you know, the reason why you love it so
much and emphasize that hook, I think that others are more likely to grab on to
whatever you’re talking about. They have to work on, you have to work on that
hook. So that’s really, you know, that’s really subjective. Everybody would
think a little bit differently and your story is not for everyone. So, I do
think though, as a journalist that something I would always think about if someone
was pitching me a story is, you know, is this interesting to my audience? And
that went back to my topic about startups in the south.
Goodlett: That’s a good point. So as a journalist who chooses which stories to
write about, can you speak to tips about someone may pitch you to get written
Griggs: Sure and I think, I think Brittney and I will have different
perspectives because when you’re, when you’re pitching to me, I have my topic,
I have startups in the south and that’s what I’m really looking for. And those
stories are very, very interesting to me because I’m telling you a human story,
I’m telling the story that a lot of people around here might relate to. I’m
telling a very different story than stories in Silicon Valley. So my stories
might have more grittiness to them. They might have more culture in the way
that we might understand it in our area of the country. They might not be so
much about scale and getting investment from, you know, getting millions and
millions of dollars. They’re not going to be the story of Silicon Valley.
They’re gonna be the story of what I’m used to. But, but my blog is about a
beginner, you know, a founder who’s just started a company, who is in the area
of maybe Nashville or Atlanta or Raleigh or global or Memphis. And I might be
your first person that you’ve reached out to. I think I’m way more likely to be
the first or second or third person you reach out to and say, Hey, I think I’m
writing to pitch somebody a story. So, people are out there starting
businesses. I’d love to hear from you.
Goodlett: And what do they say to you?
Griggs: They usually say something like, Hey, uh, I just started a company.
This is what it’s called. Here’s the website. I think my story’s really
interesting. I wouldlove to talk to you about it. And that’s how we start a
conversation. You know, there are little things, like details like time and
getting our schedules right. Then usually I am willing to speak with most
people as long as it’s in my topic area; most people who reach out to me as
long as they’re legitimate.
Goodlett: Brittney, would you say that that’s true for you? Like what does it
take for you to get pitched and to write about it?
Oliver: So I just want to let you know some of the outlets that I contribute
to. So I work where I contribute to the career money, entrepreneurial segments
for Fast Company, Essence, Nashville lifestyles, and other one line
publications. So I have a national reach, so I’m not limited to a region. But
to what you’re speaking, you need to pitch it within someone’s vertical, right?
So if your topic is on business or entrepreneurial endeavors or innovation at
your company, you want to target that specific staff writer or contributor for
that particular vertical in your immunity. You want to target the beauty
writer, right? So those are some of the tips that you would need when you’re
pitching yourself. Also, people don’t realize that you’re so much more than
your bio. You’re so much more than your bio. Really dig deep to different
angles to pitch yourself. You’ll never know when your experience, your life
experience will intrigue somebody. So for example, if you run a company, a
cheese company, right? But you have this really interesting background and how
you grew up and somehow it impacted the way you run your business. That’s
something that made it yourself. Is your company 50% minority? That’s something
that’s interesting because right now DNI topics are important and trending. So
also think about trending topics in your industry as well. What’s trending?
What is some leading data around your industry that you could leave with when
you’re pitching publicists? I mean, when you’re pitching publications, those
are things that are interesting. Lead with numbers, the data doesn’t lie. It
really backs up your story.
Goodlett: Yeah. So that leads to a great comment I think from Catherine. So,
Catherine, we have done a number of stories where we use data as a way to pitch
B2B, which sometimes has difficulty finding a human element. So as Brittney
said, that could be another way in. So I’d love for you to share some more
insight about how data can be used to help provide pickup.
Seeds: Right. The clients that we’re working with, we’re always looking for data,
whether that’s data with your own customer base or if you’ve gone out and done
some consumer surveys or research studies. You know, folks like Brittney and
other trade or business media are gonna be interested in that as well as a good
customer story. We have an interesting use case about how we were able to use
data very successfully in Kirsty you can keep me honest on this one since you
were on the team. We have a company in Austin, they’re an ad tech company. We
worked in collaboration with them to put together a consumer study around
Amazon Prime Day. We were looking at things like, you know, from a consumer
standpoint, you know, what are they shopping for during Amazon Prime Day? Have
they shopped before? What are they going to be shopping for this year? So we
kind of looked at that. It was focused all on Amazon Prime Day. We got really
lucky because we have really great data. We also had really great luck from a
timing standpoint because the day that we released our was the day that Amazon
had announced the date of their official Prime Day. So we have all this amazing
data out there. And what we found in that data was that Amazon Prime Day is
like the next big holiday shopping event, like back-to-school or any other sort
of micro-holiday. So, we have some really great data, but we also had really
great timing and our team had been pitching top tier and trade media, up until
that day. So the stars aligned in PR world that doesn’t happen very often. And
so we’re really glad that it did and we were able to get some awesome media
coverage: Bloomberg, Market Watch, Ad Week, and all the trade and ad tech
trades. Am I missing anything, Kirsty?
Goodlett: No, that’s good.
Seeds: Okay good. So from a success standpoint, it was a good day for us at
Ketner Group when that happened and the client, obviously was very happy. And I
know that the team is still being able to use some of that data moving forward.
Goodlett: Yeah. The other thing that I’ll add to that, which is interesting
from a story perspective is the one thing that was like the hook for the media
was Amazon Prime Day is the new back to school holiday, right? Like that’s an
interesting hook. But additionally Adlucent is an ad tech company, so we were
able to say, okay, it’s the new holiday and what are you doing about it? Right?
Like, are you making sure that your advertising is prepared in order to meet
this holiday? So that’s another example of how the data is great for getting
and securing that trade or that top tier pickup. But then from a business
perspective, you want to consider, okay, the data’s going to get me in and then
what do I do once I’m in, right? What’s my story after that? So in terms of
that logistics stuff, Nicole, I’m curious to hear from you regarding what
things you need to consider about stories that you might not expect. One thing
with you in particular, and knowing your background, how do you take a story
and integrate a brand identity. How do you take that and translate it into
Delger: Yeah, so I do marketing and communications, but my main client right
now is a pencil factory, a hundred year old pencil factory. And I’m now all
about pencils. I have a bunch in my bag if you want one from Musgrave Pencil
factory there in Shelbyville. So I mentioned that because if you don’t know
about the pencil industry, they’re notoriously secretive. So when they came on
and wanted to rebrand, they were a hundred year old company and nobody knew
anything about them. So it was of like, oh my gosh, I have this like chest of
things to just uncover. And I think the thing that’s surprising is they have
such a great story. They have so many vintage things. I didn’t have to tell it
all at once. It didn’t have to just go out there with this really long piece of
coverage. I can find a vintage advertising pencil and take an awesome photo of
it and find a business that it was advertising 50 years ago and tag them and
tell a little story. So especially if you have a company where you feel like
there’s so much to tell and share, it’s okay in your storytelling to tell
little nuggets, and little Easter eggs along the way and know that over time
you’re building that brand identity, you’re building that larger narrative. It
doesn’t all have to happen at once. And starting to know when you’re talking to
people, what details you can leave out just as much as what details should you
put in for whatever that exchange might be. And so I think you can find one
story on Instagram through a visual platform. Or another story if you’re doing
the longer piece of media, what you might talk about regarding your CEO, and
you don’t have to get into that, all that other stuff. And so really thinking,
matching the media, matching the story with it.
Delger: So something else that we were discussing earlier that was something
that came up that we wouldn’t expect so much was that Brittney talked about
thinking about SEO and what stories people want to hear. So can you speak to
your experience, Brittney, regarding from the publication side. What are
publications thinking about that would be surprising to companies?
Oliver: So everything is about clicks, right? A lot of people blame Buzzfeed
for the way the media is, but it’s true. It’s about clicks. Let’s, it’s
click-baity, right? How are we going to drive traffic? Everyone wants that
traffic. And so when you’re thinking about telling your story, think about
things that are trending, right? For example, I feel like this is the month of
Serena Williams. And the reason why I say that is, one, it’s tennis month,
right? Today’s the US Open. So anything tennis relating related is going to
pick up some traffic, right? Then she’s someone who advocates equal pay. And
that’s been a big topic this month, women’s equality day is today actually. So
she is someone who’s trending, circulating. If you have a story idea in those
little pockets you’re going to drive SEO. So tell that story, if it is sports,
or you know, Serena Williams related, you can tie her in somehow. Any of those
things. Think about those holidays that are coming up, the holidays that you
were talking about. Those things attract SEO. So when you’re pitching, really
think about that because that’s what media companies are looking for.
Goodlett: The other thing that I found surprising when we were meeting earlier
was that companies aren’t always ready to tell their stories. So, Nicole and
Brittney, you were both talking about what to do as you keep telling stories.
Kelly, I’m curious to hear from you, when do you know that you have a story to
tell in the first place?
Griggs: So some of you might be wondering like, Hey, I am just getting started.
I don’t have any customers yet or I don’t have, you know, my business is less
than a year old or the things that I want to share with the world just
happened. And obviously it depends on your personal preferences and
circumstances, but, I will say you wouldn’t believe how many pitches I get that
are pre-revenue, like barely have a put together a pitch deck, they just want
to reach out to me and like get on my radar. I don’t want to give advice
because I don’t know if bloggers find that annoying or if they if they like it.
I don’t really know. I only know how I feel and I’m just naturally curious and
I like stories. So if you were to send me the pitch deck, even if I were to to
turn you away. Or even if I said like, hey, this isn’t ready yet or I would
really like to see, you know, some other things. Come back to me again. You
should still send them to me because odds are I’m interested because I’m
interested in startups because I truly like starting businesses and I like
talking about it and I thoroughly enjoy that world.
Goodlett: What do you put in the pitch deck?
Griggs: So if you have a deck…something that should be included in the deck
is your information, what your business is, where your website is, what it
does, you know, the 32nd elevator pitch of who your competitors are. What is
your revenue plan, if you haven’t made money yet, ..if you do have customers, I
would like to know that you have customers. But remember, you have to be
careful with what you share with me because I am a writer and I will want to
write about things. So if there’s something that you just don’t want to share,
you don’t have to share it even if I ask for it. So just always remember,
Goodlett: Is it a PowerPoint typically or a pdf?
Griggs: It’s usually a pdf. Sometimes it’s like on a different website, but
sometimes it’s just an attached pdf like in keynote or it could be PowerPoint.
I get a wide range. Some of them are very well polished, they look like they’ve
been in front of investors, others are like done with them in PowerPoint. And I
think all this is to say that some of my favorite startup stories in Nashville
are people that you may have heard of now like ** for example, like they have
raised millions of dollars. Now they’re an instrument that, uh, you can put
your phone into and you can play any instrument using their device. Some fans
in Nashville have used the ** on stage and they’ve now gotten to the point
where they’re probably written in big publications more often than I would
write about them. But you know, when they just started out in Nashville, like
somebody had to find them. So I wrote about them a long, long, long time ago.
Another Nashville startup, there’s one that does lawn care. It’s almost like an
Uber for lawn care. Um, they started very young. When they started out, they
pitched me with like, I think just like maybe a one sheeter or a pitch deck or
something very light. And I had to sort of go out and keep following them and
dig for those stories. So I don’t know all this to say that I really like to
encourage people to just get started. I’m probably a little bit more
approachable. Like I don’t think that other media should or will give you
feedback like I do. And I try to keep it non-biased and according to my own
rules of my blog. But I will say that I would love to hear your stories in
Goodlett: So now we’ve heard about about what’s happening now. Catherine, I’m
curious about your perspective regarding how storytelling is evolving. Like
what do you see in terms of new ways that people are telling stories like
podcasts or social media? And also what are you seeing staying the same?
Seeds: So we are spending a lot more time looking at podcasts. I don’t know if
there’s any podcasters in the audience but we are starting to put you guys on
our media list because our clients are asking for that. It’s another new
interesting medium to, for our clients to tell their stories and also to share
on social media platforms inside. So we are really taking a close look at
podcasting. They’re more and more popping up every day especially in Austin. There’s,
there’s a ton of podcasts, a startup focused podcasts in Austin. Social media:
social media has always been there for us, but we’re really, um, trying to
build better relationships with the media that we work with on social media.
And not in an annoying way, but you know, if they are tweeting about something,
you know, or if they wrote an article about something interesting that had
nothing to do with any of our clients we might want to say, oh, that’s really
interesting or share that. It always goes back to developing really great
relationships with the media that you’re working with. Social media is a really
great, great way of doing that. And so we’ve been able to really kind of deepen
our relationships with the key media and also we get, you know, first insights
into people that are moving around. So someone that may be at Fast Company and
has moved on to Bloomberg and this and that, so we’re able to keep tabs of
what’s going on in there to help us tell better stories and tell the stories of
the right people.
Oliver: I just want to say that’s, that’s the most organic way to build a
relationship with someone who is a journalist, what you’re doing. And for me
personally, I don’t like pitch decks or pdf. If you can’t send like a quick one
paragraph blurb, then it’s probably a no go for me. But the most organic
relationships that I’ve built are the people who usually get features from me.
Like if you come to support me at an event and you need to spend a moment of
time with me afterward. And you tell me something interesting. I keep that in
mind. I’m also always listening to podcasts. If I hear someone on there and I
think, oh, that was really unique. I’m going to reach out to them for an
opportunity. So journalists are looking everywhere for the next story. So if
you don’t have, you know, an Essence or a Fast Company, that is fine. That
blog, that news letter, that podcast is another way that someone can be seen.
Seeds: I was just going to say one more thing. As far as things staying the
same and we kind of touched on it a little bit, but building the relationships
with the media is so important, no matter how you’re communicating. You know,
with you guys building those relationships and not, you know, just coming to
them when, when you need something. We found that we have better luck and I’m
sure you guys, you all are communicators, you find better luck in getting
things that you would want for your client or for yourself if you have that
relationship. It’s a two way street. So I really encourage you all to do what
you can to develop those relationships, whether it’s again, you know, talking
with them on social media, going to the events that they’re going to. We go to
a lot of trade shows for our clients and it’s a really great way to get face to
face. But again, all of this ties back to like, how can I help our clients or
my company tell a better story? And it really is ties back to developing really
Goodlett: Awesome. Thank you. I’m going to switch gears here. and pick up on
the Austin Nashville theme for the event. So, Kelly, I’m curious to hear from
you how you see storytelling supporting the growth of Nashville.
Griggs: That’s a great question. Look, we’ve been growing as a city far before
I came to Nashville. So I feel as a writer, like I am an observer and I’m only
telling the part of the story that I know how to tell. The part that I see in
the world. Back when I moved to Nashville in 2012, that happened to coincide
with the tech scene starting to grow really rapidly. Some of that was due to
local and regional investments. Some of that was due to accelerators starting
up. So that was due to coming off the flood and the last recession. People were
getting really comfortable and some of it was due to the success and the
stories that people heard from other places in the U.S. So, you know, when I
think about growth and where, where we go from here, I think there’s so much
opportunity. Part of the thing I get excited about when I’m telling a story is
that we are all part of it. If you’re here in Nashville right now. And I will
add that location really shouldn’t matter if you’re on the Internet, that
you’re in the conversation, so that kind of goes against like my, my regional
focus. But, in reality, you know, we all exist no matter where we are. And
since, you know, people are more interested in things like remote work and
longer maternity and paternity leaves and different people are interested in
different benefits that might apply. And that is really exciting for people who
live in places like Nashville. I think that is a very important emerging story.
So for us here, you know, starting a business, I don’t know, to me it’s never
been more exciting. But I would say that every year, since I’ve lived here, you
know, since I moved here in 2012. And I think the most important thing that I
see is that we are in charge of our own story. And that doesn’t have to be the
same as other places. It can be really our own brand and it can come from our
own place and it can come from our own history and our own experiences. And it
should be that way because we have our own identity.
Goodlett: Yeah. So that leads to a nice pass off to Catherine from Austin. So,
Catherine, I’m curious to hear from you how you’ve seen storytelling support
the growth of Austin.
Seeds: Well, I mean, I’m sure you all know it’s a huge tech hub, much like
Nashville is and is becoming. And it’s been that way since the 80s. I mean, um,
Dell computers started there, Twitter, got its start at South by Southwest. I
mean there’s a ton of really cool startup stories in Austin. And I think from a
storytelling standpoint, if like when we’re talking to companies and pitching
our clients, especially those that are based in Austin, that comes with a
certain cache. Oh, I’m from Austin! Or that comes from Austin! Oh, that’s cool.
Oh, I love Austin. Yeah, it’s the same thing with Nashville and we’re so glad
to be here because I feel like there is a lot of similarities between the two
cities. Because, again, you say, Oh, I’m from Nashville, I’m starting a company
in Nashville.. Oh, that’s cool. I’ve heard great things about Nashville. You
know, it doesn’t really change so much of like how we tell the story, but I
feel like it does kind of give us a differentiation when we’re pitching for
business because a lot of our clients that we’re working with are either global
or across the U.S. and so for them having someone in a tech hub like Austin or
Nashville is important to them.
Goodlett: Great. So the other thing that is true about this panel is that we’re
all women. So, Nicole, I would love to hear from you regarding why it’s
important for us to discuss diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the
future of storytelling.
Delger: Absolutely. You know, stories are how we make sense of the world. It’s
how we cooperate. It’s how we work together. I don’t know if has anybody read
the book Sapiens, it is a fantastic book. And you know, his whole thesis is
essentially, you know, we’re an animal and the reason that we were able to be
the dominant animal is our ability to work together, to cooperate and to tell
stories. So when we talk about the importance of inclusivity and whether it’s
women or people of color or people who have been disenfranchised, when they
don’t have the ability to tell the story and to shape the narrative then they
don’t have the opportunity to create the world that we all want to live in that
is different than the narrative that we’ve been told for hundreds of years,
thousands of years, by whoever was in charge at that given time. I think that’s
really interesting. We have to make sure that a lot of voices get to shape and
get to tell their stories so that we can create a better world for everybody.
Goodlett: So then Brittney, I’m curious to hear your response to that same
question. Where do you see diversity inclusion being important to the future of
Oliver: It’s important because it’s impactful. Like I said earlier, it really
makes a difference for a minority owned businesses when your story is told. And
so I want to give a, a quick story about just my experience moving back to
Nashville. So I lived in New York for seven years and diversity and inclusion
is such a big topic in New York. It’s something that everyone’s talking about.
All the companies are really trying to make changes. But when I came back home
a year ago, I noticed that conversation wasn’t happening here. It wasn’t loud,
people weren’t really making noise. And when I looked at the publications here,
I didn’t see a lot of black owned businesses featured in the publications. I
kind of made it a priority to be that vessel for those black owned businesses
and for minority businesses. So for example, Ashley is here today,. She has a
website called Urbanite and she really highlights a lot of the businesses that
are left out in those major publications here in Nashville. And because I’m a
subscriber to her newsletter, I came across Nicole, who is the owner of
Clarity, which is a candle shop. And I loved her story. I pitched her to
Nashville Lifestyles and she’s in the current business, women in business
issue. That’s something that was important to me to see more diversity in that
magazine and to see more diversity just throughout Nashville, but it’s so it
will change her business being featured in that and it will change other
people’s businesses. And so diversity inclusion, really being able to tell
those stories is impactful. There’s a Nashville mother and daughter team, Mixtroz,
well, they just moved but I featured them in Essence. I featured them in
Dssence and they were really close to hitting the million dollar mark raising
money. After essence, they hit that mark the next week. You know, so you can
leverage those things. That’s how much your story being featured being featured
in major publications as a minority can help. And so when people say no, it
doesn’t matter if you have press or not, it does. It really makes an impact.
Delger: I love what you’re doing. The voice you’re bringing because we talk
about how Nashville is booming and we want to make sure that it’s booming for
everybody, that everybody is, you know, because there’s so much industry coming
in here, like tech, and I love that you’re telling those stories and you have
that forum because it’s so critical at this key time for Nashville, for
everybody to get that lift.
Oliver: Yeah. Nationwide, nationwide, the numbers don’t lie. You know, we’re an
all women panel, but in business and major companies, you don’t see women on
the C-suite like that, right? So telling those stories are important. It really
can change the game. It starts to challenge what’s happening in corporate
America, right? And it starts to make people see different things about what they’re
doing. And so the numbers don’t lie. You want to be impactful. We want to make
change in our culture, in our communities. So definitely diversity and
inclusion is a big deal.
On August 27, after seven months of preparation, we officially launched Ketner Group Nashville. I don’t mean this as hyperbole: our launch week was one of the best weeks of my life. It started with a bang and ended with magic. To really soak up all the goodness, I think it’s only fair to offer you up the day-to-day highlights and takeaways.
But additionally, the discussion dug into more inspirational topics such as the ability storytelling has to generate unique opportunities. Brittney shared an example of a tech startup she covered who procured the funding they needed after earning a great article in an important magazine.
On a personal level, it was emotional to see so many people from Nashville – who have and who will make such an impact on our success – show up to celebrate our launch with us!
With Catherine Seeds in town for the week, we headed off to the 36|86 VIP Launch Party in a fun speakeasy in Printer’s Alley, Dirty Little Secret, to celebrate over a glass of champagne.
Winning Press and Earning Influence: Wednesday, August 28
Wednesday morning, we kicked off 36|86 with a panel featuring Ben Kurland, Lisa Roberts and me. Seeing a packed room excited to learn how to win press and influence customers thrilled me. The engaged audience asked some great questions, including, what exactly is “the wire?”
Lisa and Ben dazzled with their insights about the best ways for entrepreneurs to highlight their stories to the media. Lisa recommended data as a great approach, a soundbite highlighted in a Nashville Entrepreneur Center blog: “Looking to win press? ‘There’s nothing that will get reporters’ attention faster than compelling data that tells a story.’ This will build trust and credibility.”
Then we wrapped up the day getting a chance to speak with Clark Buckner for the 36|86 podcast. So, stay tuned for that great content!
Learning and Magic: Thursday, August 29
Finally, on the last day of 36|86, Catherine and I attended separate sessions to learn as much as we possibly could from the experts in attendance. The vulnerability and openness of the speakers blew me away.
A number of female venture capitalists (VCs) spoke about the challenges for women founders and women funders. Kerry Rupp of True Wealth Ventures and Jessica Peltz Zatulove of MDC Ventures, among others, highlighted this theme in their sessions. In fact, did you know that only 15% of venture capital funding is allocated to female founders, despite female founders outperforming their male counterparts (more stats in Forbes)?
But my favorite session was “How I f*cked up and you can too!” The panelists spoke candidly about the challenges and joys of entrepreneurship. Marcus Cobb of Jammber brought me to tears as he emphasized that we are all made of creative magic.
And with that, Catherine and I headed off to experience Nashville’s House of Cards and to celebrate the week with a little bit of magic ourselves.
There’s no rest for the weary when launching a new office in an exciting new town.
After beginning the week hosting an outstanding storytelling panel at our new We Work office in East Nashville, we continued the week-long celebration of Ketner Group’s Nashville Office launch by modering a great conversation at the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival about how startups can win press and influence customers.
The room was packed with a host of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, marketers, PR people, executives and more for the first session at 36|86. Kirsty said the atmosphere at Ole Red in Downtown Nashville was “electric, packed full of people, and a great overall experience.”
The panelists included Ben Kurland and Lisa Roberts, experts with years of experience in entrepreneurship, marketing, and PR between the two of them. Every attendee took away valuable tips and tricks to help take their business and career to the next level.
Ben, a Nashville local, spoke on his experience generating press on a local scale. He highlighted the value of creating good relationships with reporters and having a strong network in your area. He shared two key pieces of advice when interacting and working with reporters, the first being: “Be friendly, come prepared, and make the job easy for the reporter.” His second piece of advice: “Don’t ignore the power of Twitter; don’t be another buried email.”
Lisa is an Austin native and provided a great perspective on how to make the most of your PR and use it to the best of your ability. She offered valuable advice and personal experiences on how she uses PR to generate leads, create brand awareness, and differentiate her brands in the eyes of consumers. Lisa’s advice to entrepreneurs and growing businesses: “think about your business opportunities as headlines. If it’s a headline no one cares about, it’s probably not a good priority.”
Welcome to Nashville
The festivities are only just beginning here in the Music City and we can’t wait to share all the news and surprises with you. We are so excited to join the 615 Family and make an impact on the Nashville community. Based on our experience so far, we expect that there are lots of good things in store for us in Music City, USA.