PRSA ICON 2018: It’s All About Relevant and Data-Driven Content

Last week, the Ketner Group team attended the PRSA 2018 International Conference, better known to the public relations community as PRSA ICON, in our own backyard here in Austin, Texas. If you are not familiar with the conference, it’s designed specifically to help the communications community enhance our personal and professional network through career development and connecting with other PR practitioners.

Needless to say, the KG team definitely networked, and we DEFINITELY returned to the office with new ideas and methods for bettering our professional craft. We heard inspiring keynotes from Do Something’s CEO Aria Finger and digital marketing pioneer Ann Handley. The PRSA ICON breakout sessions we attended were all about perfecting your messages in clear yet relevant ways, and also explored new sectors of the communications industry. Here are just a few tidbits of the best practices we learned at PRSA ICON this year:

Lesson One: Communicating should ALWAYS be about your audience

Although as communication professionals we may think we are clearly delivering our messages, that may not always be the case. As we learned at the conference, we currently live in the age where content is king, but that can lead to a vicious cycle of “churning and burning” an immense amount of content, losing sight of one key component: your target audience. For example, think of a scenario where someone is just talking at you, instead of trying to understand what experiences or topics may be relevant to you based on your experiences and former knowledge – chances are, mid-lecture your mind will start drifting away to more relevant thoughts.

Therefore, your audience should always be at the forefront of the message. Key questions like ‘what is my audience’s point of reference?’ and ‘why would this be relevant to them?’ and ‘what does my audience need?’ should always lead your messaging strategy. After all, if you lose your audience, who is going to read your content?

Lesson Two: We are all, or should strive to be, data analysts

We live in a digital age where every search and click is tracked. And while we in the PR world are notorious for disliking math and preferring words over figures, it’s time to join the data revolution. At PRSA ICON, we discussed the need for PR professionals to dive into the world of data to create an even bigger need and sense of interest for each and every story, while continuing to make our pitches and strategies not only timely but also informed and relevant. As IBM’s Brandi Boatner explained during her workshop, while the world of data is intimidating, the key here is to start one step at a time. She recommended starting with Google Trends and then identifying data sets that are relevant to your communications strategy. As Boatner explained, when you dive into the world of data, you should not try to analyze a large amount of data all at once, as both you and your audience will be overwhelmed: “A good storyteller masters things that are unseen and with AI and data analytics, you can create a communications strategy that quickly identifies and gets ahead of trends.”

Lesson Three: Social media influencers are now a staple in public relations

As industry conversations continue to heat up on the effectiveness of social media influencers, the fact is, social influencers are now and will continue to be a staple in the world of communications. (Ketner Group recently profiled one such influencer in a recent blog!) What’s more, social media influencers can help companies effectively grow organic audiences and customers they would not have had before. As we learned at PRSA ICON, leveraging social media influencers for your communication efforts is a matter of conducting diligent research to identify the right influencers that will create a new level of authentic communication between you and your target audience.

As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” And in public relations and communications as a whole, there is something new to learn every day! We look forward to implementing the lessons learned at this year’s conference into our communications craft as we continue to be life-long learners in this industry.

7 Steps to Successful LinkedIn Marketing

In recent weeks, we’ve explored how to develop a content strategy, how to set up a social media program from scratch, and how to use thought leadership bylines to earn media coverage. All of these content approaches complement each other and help reinforce a brand’s identity. But the power of the written, or recorded, word can only get as far as the audience you’ve built to consume it. Luckily, there’s a way to amplify the reach and impact of this owned and earned content that we find quite valuable and our clients are consistently curious about: LinkedIn Sponsored Content.

 Adding a paid element to your PR program helps bridge the gap between traditional PR and traditional marketing, which shouldn’t operate in silos anyway. We like to take a strategic view of LinkedIn promotion, using a step-by-step practice to develop and continually optimize a highly-targeted LinkedIn ads campaign that complements existing content development and organic social media initiatives. The approach outlined below helps identify hyper-relevant prospects, target them with the right content, understand what content to create in the future and serve your company’s ultimate marketing goals.

 Step 1: Identify Ideal Audience

As with any marketing process, you can’t succeed if you don’t know who you’re talking to or trying to reach. But if you know who the decision makers, influencers or buyers are that you want to influence with your content, you can target them at a granular level on LinkedIn. By combing criteria, you can hit a hyper-targeted user set and ensure you’re not spending money promoting content to users who will never make a difference for your bottom line.  You can target audiences in three ways:

  • Demographics – Job function, seniority, company name, geographic region, industry, etc.
  • Interest-based targeting – Group membership, skills, fields of study
  • Company audience data – Target account lists your sales team is using (Note, you’ll need a lot of names for this to be effective, but it guarantees a precise audience.)

Step 2: Define Campaign Goal and Associated Content Formats

Once you know who you want to read your content and ultimately to engage with your brand as a potential customer, you’ll need to define the goal of your campaign. This will determine the kind of content you promote. For content you don’t already have, you’ll need to focus on developing it as part of a comprehensive owned, earned and paid media program. For the following goals, you’ll want to emphasize the associated content:

 Brand awareness

  • Company blog posts on LinkedIn
  • Press releases
  • Long-form posts
  • Visuals/videos
  • Product announcements
  • Promotion of tradeshow attendance

Thought leadership

  • eBook, whitepaper, video, research
  • Industry commentary
  • Long-form posts
  • Guest blogs on other blogs
  • Industry trends or data

 Lead generation

  • eBooks­
  • Webinars
  • How-to guides
  • Blog posts with calls-to-action (CTA)
  • “Freemium” downloads/gated content
  • Industry-related reports

Step 3: Develop an Editorial Calendar

Once you know which content to share, set up an editorial calendar – this will help you to visualize the rhythm of content being published and ensure that you’re addressing different aspects of your brand’s value proposition. Having everything written out will also help make sure you share different forms of content to keep things fresh and engaging for all members of your target audience, depending on their interest, challenge, or stage in the buying process:

  • Awareness: Have realized and expressed symptoms of potential problems or an opportunity.
  • Consideration: Have clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity, actively looking for ways to address the issue.
  • Decision: Have defined their solution strategy, method or approach and ready to take the next step.

Step 4: Identify Assets and Messaging to Promote Content

Identify and/or develop compelling ad copy (150 words or less) and visual content that make readers want to click on or download the content you’re promoting. If you can’t sell your content, no one will read it no matter how informative or well-written it is.

Hint: Include calls to action, statistics, quotes, actionable text.

Step 5: Determine Ad Method

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content campaigns are promoted through paid channels based on posts you have also made directly on your Company Page. They are best used to attract new followers to the company website or landing page and drive engagement with company-specific content.

Company Page posts (status updates) can be promoted in the newsfeeds of both followers and non-followers whose demographics have been specifically targeted. This is a good option for posting blog content, articles about your company or to showcase commentary, award wins, customer or product announcements, and more.

Direct Sponsored Content

The direct sponsored content option allows you to post content directly in the LinkedIn feed without the content originating on your LinkedIn Company Page. This is useful if you don’t want the post to clutter your company’s LinkedIn profile page, but otherwise operates the same as sponsored content.

Website Ads

LinkedIn also offers more traditional website ads, which lead readers to the company website and often start at $2.00 per click and up. These are best leveraged for sending interested parties to your website to download gated content – whitepapers, e-books, case studies, webinars – for lead generation, or to product pages for direct sales promotion. If you choose this option, you should set up goal tracking in Google Analytics to count how many contact form submissions are received as a result of a given ad. Then judge what your cost per lead is and determine if it is delivering appropriate ROI.

Step 6: Set a Budget

Finally, you’ll need to decide what your total monthly budget for LinkedIn ads will be, and how you’ll allocate your spend – either emphasizing CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) if your goal is brand visibility, or CPC (cost per click) if your goal is lead generation or website traffic conversion.

LinkedIn Ads work on a bidding process, so depending on the audience you compete for, the price will change to show an ad. Bids are only processed at $.01 more than second-highest bid, so you can set your bids at the top limit of what you consider a fair value for the click or impression.

Step 7: Reporting/Continuous Improvement

It’s essential to monitor and analyze the key metrics of your campaigns on an ongoing basis. This review process is critical for finding opportunities for improvement to your campaigns, whether it’s improving reach, accuracy of targeting, CPC or CPM, website conversions, engagement and much more.

You should use the LinkedIn campaign manager to review all the metrics available on the platform itself, but also refer to your Google Analytics reports to see how successful you’ve been at driving increased traffic to your website as a whole or to specific landing pages on the site. There are also tools like LinkedIn Insight Tag to your website that will help you evaluate deeper insights about your campaign and users to continue improve your LinkedIn, content marketing, and overall marketing goals.

To learn more about how LinkedIn can help drive brand awareness and lead generation as part of your PR or marketing program, feel free to reach out to me directly – [email protected] – and don’t forget to follow Ketner Group Communications on LinkedIn and Twitter for more valuable tips like these.

 

Intern Series: Career Fairs

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

It’s that time of the year again, a day that can fill students with dread – the career fair. Getting dressed up in our slacks and uncomfortable shoes, printing out (hopefully enough) resumes for everyone we speak to and waiting in line nervously, wondering how to stand out from the other hundred plus students in attendance, are just a few things we worry about. But career fairs shouldn’t be something you avoid. These events can be the perfect opportunity to meet your future employer and get meaningful networking experience. And with UT’s Moody College of Communications Career Fair on September 26, we thought it would be the perfect time to roll out some advice on how to tackle these opportunities.

Do Some Research

It’s okay if you don’t recognize every company attending the career fair. However, doing some research ahead of time on the businesses in attendance is imperative, even ones that might not necessarily be on your radar. This is one of the only opportunities where all of these businesses will be in the same place, so make the most of it and explore your options fully. While you don’t need to know every detail about each company, it makes a big difference when you are familiar with what they do. Visit their website or blog and get an idea of the type of work they do. You can ask them about a certain client or case study, or an open position they have listed; this will show that you didn’t come unprepared. It demonstrates that you are interested in what they do and have taken the time to learn about them beforehand. As you wait in those long lines to speak to someone, bring along notes to review so when it’s your turn to shine, you have lots of ammo for the conversation. On top of that, some colleges provide information on every company that will be in attendance on their app, so see if your school offers it and use it to your advantage!

Dress the Part

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” may sound cliché or lame, but it can make or break a company’s first impression of you. The representatives at each booth came dressed for the part, so you should too. While formal business attire has become less common for employees today, it still plays a part in making a lasting impression on prospective employers. They want to see that you made the effort to get ready for the event, take your career seriously, and that if hired, you would be able to dress professionally. UT also requires that you arrive in professional dress, so don’t make the mistake of preparing for the career fair only to be asked to leave because you showed up in jeans.

Exchange Information

It can be awkward deciding the right time to give someone your resume or business card, but recruiters want them! Even if it turns out you don’t qualify for the position, ask them to hold onto your resume in case something opens up. That company may be looking for someone for a position in the future and remember you and think, “Wow, this person I met at the UT career fair would be perfect for this role, let me go find their resume and contact them.” You worked hard on those materials so hand them out! Even ask for their card; they probably have a stack of about 200 in their office so I’m sure they would love to get rid of one.

Follow Up

A very important step that many students forget is to follow up after the career fair. If you had a particularly memorable or exciting conversation with someone, go ahead and shoot them an email explaining how great it was to meet them. This will lead to the beginning of a professional relationship with that person, and even if you don’t end up working together, it’s always beneficial to have another contact in your field. Even if you felt like the conversation didn’t go so well or was a bit awkward, contact them anyways. It never hurts to let them know you appreciated speaking with them, because at the end of the day they took the time out of their schedule to be at the career fair, too.

Take A Deep Breath

Career fairs can be very nerve-racking, but at the end of the day they are an amazing opportunity to learn about the companies in your area. They give you valuable pitching experience, something that is very beneficial in our field, and provide insight into the real working world. If you want to get hired, you are going to need to learn to vouch for yourself, so get out there and tell these employers why you would be valuable to their company. You have a lot to offer as a young professional, so take a deep breath and take that bull that is the career fair by the horns.

Tips for Developing a Content Strategy

Blogs! Social media! Whitepapers! Webinars and email newsletters! These are only some of the content marketing tactics that hold a tremendous amount of potential for getting your business the attention it needs to grow as fast as it deserves.

It can be truly dizzying for marketing teams to crank out the amount of content needed to make an impact. And unless your marketing team requires a fleet of Uber XLs to get to an office happy hour, it’s just not possible to do it all. Yes, PR firms can be terrific allies in developing and executing on your content strategy, but how should you set one up in the first place?

Brand awareness vs. lead generation

An effective content strategy serves two equally valuable and competing (yet complementary) purposes – brand awareness and lead generation – neither of which your marketing can succeed without. It’s finding out how to balance these that takes work. So, take a step back and work from the top down. Define your organization’s unique needs and goals. Ask questions like:

  • Do our customers know who we are?
  • Is our pipeline flooded or flowing at a trickle?
  • Does our sales team close every sale they work on or are we struggling to convert leads?
  • Do we have a competitor or competitors regularly winning deals over us?

Once you know where you stand, where you’re already succeeding and what gaps you need to address, you can determine the type of information your intended audience would most benefit from. Then, leverage the three overarching channels available to you – owned, earned and paid media – to get it to them.

Owned Media

Think about the advice we’d all give to a friend feeling overwhelmed by a situation, something along the lines of, “you can only control what you can control.” Although sometimes frustrating to take that advice at face value, it’s essential to get the basics right before branching out to more nuanced arenas. Unsurprisingly then, owned media should always be the first and most fundamental element of any content strategy.

Website

To that end, your focus should be on ensuring your website is the rock your content strategy can build off of. It allows you to tell visitors who you are as a company, what you stand for, what you sell and why it’s worth the investment. It has unrivaled power to tell your story how you want it told – everything you want someone to know about your company should live here. You should also have simple components like a ‘Contact Us’ page for lead generation, and any gated whitepapers, case studies, e-books, or webinars can live in perpetuity on your website to generate traffic and leads, long after you publish them.  Managing a regularly updated blog is also a key part of becoming a well-rounded brand; it will serve as an outlet for the promotional and thought leadership messaging you want your customers to associate with your business.

Social Media

It’s not exactly a cutting-edge revelation, but social media channels allow you to disseminate any info you want to the people that follow you. All the content you post to your website should be shared on the social channels you run, as this drives traffic to specific landing pages and your site as a whole, further driving lead generation. Just don’t forget to share and engage with the broader community on your social media platforms, as no one likes a “me, me, me” account!

However, it’s also important to note that not every platform is perfect for every brand or audience. We’ll share another post on social media content marketing in a few weeks (and will link to it once it’s live), but we tend to be major fans of LinkedIn for our B2B retail clients, using Twitter and Facebook as complementary outlets. Based on your audience and goals, pick and choose your platforms so you don’t waste time and resources building a community that won’t drive online engagement.

Email

Often left out of the ‘thought leadership’ bucket, but rarely forgotten by traditional marketers, email can play a key role in reaching an audience of customers, prospects, partners and others who care about your company message and sign up to receive information from you. Don’t just use email to sell; use it to inform, engage and entertain whenever possible to maximize its potential and keep your readers from going for an instant ‘delete.’

Earned Media

Along with content strategy and development as a whole, earned media is the bread and butter of our PR firm, and one of the most compelling reasons to work with an agency with a long history in a given market. Earned media provides a major boost to your brand’s visibility, recognition and authority. But using content to earn media attention doesn’t end with press release pitching.

My colleague Adrienne Newcomb wrote a great blog on using bylined articles to secure thought leadership coverage in key trade publications, and we’ve found that case studies, proprietary research reports, and pitching executive commentary on developing trends (great for sharing on social too) can have a big impact on a brand’s ability to get media coverage.

Whatever content you create for your owned channels, think about how you might be able to convince someone else to use it on their own platform. Without reinventing the wheel, you’ve greatly increased the value of a given piece of content.

Paid Media

Paid media can be a terrific option to supplement your owned and earned content strategies but should rarely, if ever, be relied upon to have a strong impact before the brand has developed those initial content foundations. We recommend thinking of paid media as the final exclamation point on a well-executed organic program that helps take successes to new heights. This doesn’t mean you need to have a killer email marketing program in order to promote high-performing blog posts on LinkedIn, but it does mean you shouldn’t be investing heavily in LinkedIn posts that direct back to a useless website. Determine the gap in your growth plan, create enjoyable content people want to engage with, build an audience that cares what you have to say, and use paid to take you over the top. If your foundation is strong, the potential ROI can be huge!

We’re here to help

Want to learn more about developing a content marketing strategy from scratch or optimizing a program already in motion? Reach out to us. We love talking about content and it’d be our pleasure to help you use your own media effectively and efficiently.

Dos and Don’ts of Applying for PR Jobs

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

Do Apply if You’re Slightly Over-Qualified

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

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

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

Do Act Like You Want to Be There

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

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

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

Do Send a Thank You Note

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

A Note on Career Fairs

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

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

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

 

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

Breakfast Tacos and PR: Make Plans to Attend the 2018 PRSA International Conference in Austin!

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend last year’s PRSA International Conference in Boston, and as soon as I got back home, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved in this year’s event taking place in Ketner Group’s very own backyard of Austin, Texas!

The annual conference is a wonderful event that “spotlights the intersection of technology and media, and leads the competition by providing unparalleled information strategies and tools for the new trends impacting the industry.” As I wrote in my blog last October, it’s a great event for professional development, inspiration, networking and even mentoring with some of the students from PRSSA.

This year, I’m THRILLED to say that Ketner Group will be a part of the planning as part of the PRSA Austin Chapter, the official hosts of the 2018 event. Stacy Lan and I have joined the opening reception committee, and we are excited! We are joined by our friends and peers from the Austin PR community to “get the party started” and show our colleagues from around the world just how awesome and wonderfully weird our city is.

I suspect there will be plenty of breakfast tacos for everyone!

A few key note speakers have already been announced:

  • Robert B. Reich: Economic Adviser, Best-Selling Author. Reich is currently serving as the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. Reich’s most recent book is “The Common Good.”
  • Jonathan Mildenhall, Former Airbnb CMO. Mildenhall is a globally recognized thought leader in the worlds of business strategy and creative excellence. A proponent of purposeful branding, he is passionate about connecting consumers with brands in a meaningful, authentic way and building community-driven brands that promote positive societal change.

As well, PRSA is currently accepting proposals for speaking at the event. The call for proposals deadline is March 26. Click here for more information!

I encourage all of my PR peeps to consider attending this great event – I promise you will come away inspired and ready to execute on all the ideas you will hear about. Registration is open now, so y’all come on down to Texas and we’ll talk PR in October!

A Look Ahead: 2018 Retail and Ad Tech Predictions

At Ketner Group, we live and breathe retail, grocery, consumer and ad tech day in and day out. It’s what we love to do, and, more importantly, why our clients hire us! It is literally our job to stay “in the know” on what the latest trends are in those industries and use those hooks to create media coverage-worthy storylines for each of our clients.

This year has certainly seen plenty of breaking news stories (shocker, mostly about Amazon), trends that didn’t and did surprise us (chatbots will rule the world and digital platforms need to step up their game when it comes to brand safety), and enough shopping data to last us a lifetime (thank you Retail Systems Research and IHL Group!). Oh, and don’t forget the so-called “Retail Apocalypse” that dominated headlines.

As we begin to close out 2017, we look ahead to what lies in store for 2018. The Ketner Group team will be heading the NRF Big Show next month to get a first-hand look at the latest and greatest technology solutions and store implementations of that tech. We will hopefully, start to pinpoint the answers to things like “What will Amazon and Walmart do next?” and “When will Sears just die already?!”

There are plenty of predictions on 2018 trends, but we wanted to showcase just a few retail and ad tech trends.

Three Trends in Retail
According to Christopher Walton, an independent consultant and former VP of Target Store of the Future:

  • Amazon will announce H2Q location, and America will be happy. “Bet on Bezos locating HQ2 somewhere between Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta (both are less than a day’s drive from Bentonville, AK) or within the Midwestern Triangle of Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago”
  • Pop-up retail will be hot, but it won’t solve everything. “It will all make sense until the underlying business economics of retail change (i.e. until technology fuels more productivity gains and utilizes working capita differently). The same problem that plagues retail — namely traffic — will plague pop-up shops too. Bonobos was the first penguin in the water with their guideshop concept, and they had to bail out and sell to Walmart. The pop-up concept is not different enough. It is just another side of the same coin.”
  • The narrative will move from apocalypse to reformation. “Apocalypse is a silly word. It means complete destruction. People will always need to buy stuff.

Therefore, retail and physical stores will never go away. They will just look different.

The retail stores of the future are in front of us already. They will be one-part Amazon, one-part Starbucks, one-part Bonobos and one-part Ikea, shrouded in the customer-focused ethos of a casino.”

Three Trends in Ad Tech
According to Kevin O’Reilly, CTO of TVSquared and Ketner Group client:

  • “TV is Dead” will be put to rest in 2018. “Yes, TV is changing – people consume media differently, via different channels, devices and times. While the total amount of TV viewing time has dropped in the last few years, TV is not dead … not even close. We hope that 2018 will see the end of this fearmongering and bring along realistic, fact-based TV talk.”
  • Brand Safety Means Reinvesting in TV. “Until digital assumes the responsibility and cost of brand safety – providing advertisers with more control, visibility and the assurance that they are being positioned appropriately – expect to see more and more brands come back to or increase investments in TV.”
  • New KPIs for TV. “The way in which advertisers measure TV will change significantly next year. We’re not going as far as to say measuring TV via ratings is dead, but advertisers are realizing that they can’t just rely on reach and frequency metrics. They are antiquated ways to gauge TV success. While things such as GRP, CPM and ratings certainly have a role to play in brand awareness, they don’t tell advertisers how spots drove response in the real world. In 2018, advertisers will increasingly measure TV through brand-specific, performance-based KPIs.”

If you ask anyone at Ketner Group, 2018 is poised to be a great year. Not only for the industries we serve, but for our agency as well. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements from Ketner Group in the next few months!

Client Spotlight: Austin-Based Shopgate Relies on PR To Tell Its Story the Right Way to the Right Channels

Ketner Group loves telling our clients’ stories – it’s what we (said in our best Ursula the Sea Witch voice) LIVVVVE for. Not only that, we always strive to develop client relationships that are based on complete trust sprinkled with a little bit of fun – a true partnership.

Soon after the Ketner Group started working with Shopgate almost a year ago, the account team (which includes yours truly) knew right away this agency-client partnership was going to be a gem! In just over nine months, the Ketner Group account team and the amazing Shopgate marketing team have developed a finely-tuned PR engine. Together, we have increased Shopgate’s presence and thought-leadership in the otherwise crowded space of mobile shopping platforms, secured some high-value media placements and of course, have had a lot of fun along the way!

Check out our recent Q&A with Amanda Laviana, Shopgate’s marketing communications manager:

KG: What are the best things about being an employee at Shopgate?

SG: I most enjoy the autonomy and flexibility of working in a company (and field) that’s ever-evolving. Particularly, I enjoy the efficiency of working on a lean team, where accountability and versatility are the most valued characteristics of every team member.

KG: Why did Shopgate decide to engage with a PR firm? What challenges were you facing prior to deciding to hire an agency?

SG: We knew we had a great story to tell, along with a great product to promote, but were having trouble effectively relaying it to the right channels. With a small team already overwhelmed with the everyday upkeep of a full marketing calendar and strategy, PR was falling to the back burner, and we identified our lack of a strategy there as a major roadblock. We’d produced so much great content, and had so many exciting announcements, features and changes that we knew would be relevant to our industry peers and prospects, yet we hadn’t properly amplified any of it. We needed a dedicated team devoted to this endeavor, and knew using an agency would give us everything we needed.

KG: Why did you select Ketner Group?

SG: We selected Ketner Group after meeting a few members of the team at industry events, and after understanding their expertise and experience in our particular field and region. After meeting the rest of the team and understanding their proposed strategy, we knew we’d make an excellent team. They really understood our needs, goals and roadblocks.

KG: Ketner Group and Shopgate have been working together for almost a year. What have been the most successful results through your engagement with Ketner Group?

SG: During our tenure of working with Ketner, we’ve been so impressed with the results we’ve seen. We’ve secured coverage in virtually all of the publications we had on our “goals” list. This has included Inc., App Developer Magazine, Mobile Marketer, Internet Retailer, The Next Web and a slew of others, including many relevant local publications key to our employer branding efforts. Our brand, product, clients and leadership team have been featured in interviews, commentaries, podcasts and articles across so many channels. We really can’t overstate how valuable the coverage has been in building brand awareness and reaching new audiences.

KG: What peer advice would you give to a fellow tech vendor looking to develop a PR strategy? 

SG: Utilize the experts! Doing it alone can be appealing in the beginning, but the opportunities you miss by not having a team dedicated to promoting your story through earned media are invaluable. Whether you utilize an agency or not, a successful PR strategy depends heavily on your proactivity. Being involved with and on top of every opportunity – and finding your own opportunities – will make all the difference in the amount of coverage you yield, as well as the relevant relationships you’re able to forge.

What to Expect at Shop.org 2017

Image: Shop.org, NRF

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

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

KG Clients at Shop.org

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

Columbus Consulting

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

DynamicAction, Booth #1519

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

GroupBy Inc., Booth #639

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

Linc, Booth #541, 1800

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

Mirakl, Booth #1205

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

Shopgate, Booth #319

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

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

Retail Innovation Lounge at Shop.org

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

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

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

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