The Marcom Awards– started in 2004, have become a staple of the communications and marketing industry. The awards are administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP). The international organization, founded in 1995, consists of several thousand marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, digital and web professionals. AMCP administers recognition programs, provides judges and rewards outstanding achievement and service to the community.
The MarCom Awards receive approximately 6,000 entries every year. These entries come from dozens of different countries all across the world. Out of all 6,000 entries only 15% are lucky enough to leave Platinum Award Winners.
Ketner Group is no stranger to the MarCom Awards. In fact, Ketner Group has been recognized two years in a row. Last year Ketner Group ran away with one platinum and one gold award. We are honored to be recognized again.
2019 was an incredible year for Ketner Group. After the launch of our new offices in New York and Nashville, we didn’t think it could get much better, but here we are. Be on the lookout for Ketner Group Communications next year because if you thought 2019 was a big year, just wait and see what we have in store for 2020!
Do you feel that chill in the air? Have you felt uneasy, constantly looking over your shoulder feeling a presence that just might be outright supernatural? You’re not the only one – at Ketner Group, we too feel the increased paranormal retail activity that comes along with the spookiest day of the year. As such, allow me to relay some SCARY statistics with you around what to expect from Halloween retail this year.
Halloween is really a story of community. Running around the
neighborhood trick or treating, attending parties and dressing up as our heroes
brings us all closer together. It offers the world the opportunity to come
together, rise up and declare in one strong voice: BOO!
According to the NRF’s annual Halloween
survey, 172 million people plan to celebrate Halloween. “Among those
celebrating, 69% plan to hand out candy, 49 percent plan to decorate their home
or yard, 47% will dress in costume, 44% will carve a pumpkin, 32% will throw or
attend a party, 29% will take their children trick-or-treating, 22% will visit
a haunted house and 17% will dress their pets in costume.” (If you are reading
this and have any pictures of pets in costumes please share to
Shoppers will spend around $86.27 for $8.8 billion in total
spending, down slightly from last year’s $9 billion. This $8.8 billion
projection will total the third-highest in the survey’s 15-year history (the
record being $9.1 billion in 2017).
Finding Costume Inspiration
Now we get to the hardest part of any Halloween: figuring
out what to be. Online search is the top source for ideas (35% of consumers),
followed by searching in-store (28%) and brainstorming with friends and family
at 20%. Social media has grown to be an essential resource for many. This is especially
unsurprising when you consider how celebrities
have taken social media by storm with their intricate designs and high
production value. Pinterest was cited by 18% of NRF respondents, a 13% increase
since 2015; 14% mentioned both YouTube (up from 8%) and Instagram (increase
Looking Ahead to Christmas
By November 1st we will have crossed over into a new month,
a new holiday season. And as November gobble gobbles away your great fears, a
new breed of terror awaits. While the weak-hearted lay in bed, counting their
candy with a glimmering eye towards the dry, poorly cooked birds of tomorrow,
our cauldron boils with something far sweeter: THE HOLIDAY SEASON.
According to a
report from The International Council of Shopping Centers, holiday spending
will increase 4.9% over last year, totaling $832.3 billion. The report also
projects that 90% of holiday shoppers expect to make purchases in-store and 97%
of them will buy goods online from retailers with physical stores.
Meanwhile, the upcoming holiday shopping season is expected
to break records in online spending, according to a study by Adobe Analytics with holiday shoppers
projected to spend $143.7B online. Amazon will, of course, continue to be a
huge part of consumers’ shopping plans. A recent Episerver report states that 32% of online shoppers begin
their holiday shopping on Amazon and 68% of online shoppers compare products on
other retailers’ websites to products on Amazon.
You might have thought last year was scary… but with Halloween 2019 upon us, retail frights (the friendly ghost kind) are in the air and we’re one step closer to the holiday retail season. Although the sweet sounds of the holidays are soon to be upon us… the terrors of All Hollow’s Eve still sends shivers down my spine. It’s Much Too Spooky for Me….
Influencer marketing is a relatively new phenomenon. Even though this trend only recently burst onto the scene, it has taken over the industry. Successful influencer marketing today is completely different from when it first started and it will continue to change as time goes on.
Early Influencer Marketing
During the early stages of influencer marketing, all the focus and investment centered on the celebrities and influencers with the largest following. Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian were pioneers of the influencer marketing industry and continue to rake in money for it. In fact, an article from US Weekly discovered that “brands will pay up to $500,000 for a campaign on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram.” As the trend has grown everyone wants a piece of the action.
Influencer marketing has exploded, and it’s not stopping soon. In a report from Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing has the potential to be worth $10 billion by 2020. What’s more incredible is that the value to brands is sky-high. For every one dollar spent on influencer marketing the average company generates $5.20 in earned media coverage, and some companies are even making $18 for every $1 spent. Influencer marketing is too big to ignore.
How has influencer marketing changed?
Celebrities were the original influencers, but that has since changed. One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen is the rise of niche influencers. There are beauty influencers, fashion influencers, lifestyle influencers and many more. These niche influencers are more valuable to brands than any celebrity. The reason being, celebrities become influencers because they are famous, but niche influencers become famous because they create content their audience loves, and their audience trusts their opinion.
Trust is the key word in that last sentence. As influencer marketing has grown consumers have grown to trust niche influencers more than they trust celebrities. In fact, “70% of teenage YouTube subscribers relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities and 60% of YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite [content] creator over their favorite TV or movie personality.”
Beyond the change in who influencers trust, we have also seen a massive shift how influencers do their job and push content to their audience. Instagram is the dominant app for influencer marketing, but other apps like YouTube continue to grow and foster a larger presence. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and receives roughly 30M visits every single day. People watch almost 500 million hours of videos on YouTube each day!
We know people spend a lot of time on YouTube. And younger generations trust YouTubers more than traditional celebs. But does that mean YouTube influencers are effective? Yes, yes, it does. A study from Carat found that 86% of the top 200 beauty videos came from influencers. Across ten niche categories tested, working with a YouTube influencer increased consumers’ purchase intent.
Where are we going?
Influencer marketing as we know it could very well disappear just as quickly as it burst onto the scene. Businesses must realize that too much content isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, the 2019 State of Influencer survey discovered that 46% of influencers have at least seven clients.
The authenticity and trust influencers enjoy can fade quickly. The influx of content has caused many consumers to ask themselves, “Is this just another advertisement or an actual opinion?” In a report from Forrester, marketing professionals expect “people will ascribe no more trust to influencers’ branded content than to brands themselves.”
Influencer marketing started with celebrities, then it became niche influencers, so where do marketers go from here? The answer, micro-influencers. Scrunch describes a micro-influencer as “someone who has an audience with a follower base of over 2,000, but less than 50,000 on a particular social media channel, usually with a focussed passion, topic or niche market.”
Just as followers are more trustworthy of niche influencers than celebrities, consumers are more trustworthy micro-influencers than larger niche influencers. Micro-influencers have personal connections with their followers. This allows consumers to have a lot of trust in them. Micro-influencers have higher engagement rates and are actively working for your brand by answering questions and responding to comments. This goes a long way towards creating greater trust between your product and their audience.
The role of influencers is all about leveraging trust and authenticity to achieve an end-goal. The big celebrities may have millions of followers and millions of likes on their posts. But for influencer marketing, that may not be the best practice. Instead, try to find people that have a strong rapport with their audience. This organic connection is what customers today want to see.
Clients often ask me, “How can we achieve top-tier coverage in publications like CNBC or The Wall Street Journal?” While there are a variety of ways to achieve this goal, one of the best ways to drive top-tier coverage is by collecting and sharing data.
However, you must remember that not all data is created equal. Let’s take a look at the factors you should consider to provide reporters relevant and useful stats worthy of top-tier placement.
Type of Data
By definition, data means “facts and statistics that are collected together for reference or analysis.” As you look to land interviews with top media contacts like Bloomberg or Business Insider, remember your data should serve as a reference or validation point for the reporter. For example, if the reporter’s beat focuses on how AI is influencing the workplace, you should point to key trends within that subject, adding further context to that particular topic.
A good example in this instance could be results from a survey of employees from various organizations and verticals about their opinions on AI. Whatever the subject, ensure your data is robust enough to answer key questions on current trends. As well, always avoid any promotional or self-serving message. Think of the data that you are providing as the greatest asset you have to highlight your expertise within the particular subject you are validating.
Know Your Audience
Now that you’ve identified the type of data, it’s time to ‘get to talking!’ What I mean by this is that you must do your due diligence and speak with each reporter you are looking to work with and identify the relevant data. For example, if you are working with a reporter who has extensively covered holiday sales outcomes in previous years, reach out to them prior to the start of holiday sales this year. Your goal should be to come away with a full understanding of what the reporter will be focusing on during each season and how your data can add third-party validation to their reports.
Timing is Everything
As you plan to send each journalist the stats you’ve collected, remember that timing is everything. For example, let’s say you own a financial services company that helps consumers file their taxes by the Tax Day deadline. The best practice here is to begin compiling relevant data about six-to-four weeks out from the deadline in order to showcase major trends that will emerge during Tax Day. As well, having the ability to provide key stats to reporters in real-time will also help you win at the coverage game.
Learn From Data Success Stories
Let’s take a look at a top example of a company who has owned the data success game recently, Adobe. If you can recall 2018’s Cyber Week sales coverage, chances are you saw the name Adobe everywhere you looked. Adobe achieved this by providing key statistics on popular trends, such as online conversions and voice assisted shopping to top reporters. It also shared this data in both real-time and as a recap, earning recognition in Fortune, Reuters and many other tier-one publications.
The Data Formula
So, remember, if top-tier coverage is a top-tier goal for you, the best way to get it is by following the data formula. It’s all about providing authentic value and unbiased third-party analysis to help a reporter write a compelling story. The process starts early as you identify the type of data you can provide and make initial connections with your journalist base. This preparation makes execution easy, and once you know which audience and data findings are a match, you’ll just need to hit ‘send’ when the time is right.
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.
With more than 60 entrepreneurs, marketers and communicators of all ages were in attendance, we met fascinating people with unique backgrounds and perspectives on brand building and business development.
very special thanks to our panelists Nicole Delger, Kelley
Griggs and Brittney Oliverfor lending us their time and expertise.
A sincere thank you to all who joined us – we
hope every attendee learned a little something that makes their story easier to
tell and more powerful for their brand.
The storytelling didn’t disappoint. We loved hearing about how an unknown author was able to secure a publisher for her book after Brittney wrote a Fast Company article about it and put her on the map.
Meanwhile, Nicole discussed how her reliance on telling stories has helped Musgrave Pencil Co., a more than 100-year-old business, develop a modern brand voice.
And for all of the PR pros looking for some insights into the secret sauce… Kelly spilled the beans on how journalists identify stories that will resonate with their audience (it’s all about personal connection to a story’s presentation and impact).
Our engaged audience asked great questions and kept the conversation focused on driving and measuring value – the real reason we spend so much time on creating our stories.
What does my day entail at Ketner Group? I wake up each morning asking that question. Anything can happen in public relations. As a Senior Account Executive, media relations, long-form content, social media and beyond are always part of the seemingly never-ending to-do list. This non-stop grind is the reality across the entire public relations industry and remains true at Ketner Group…but we always keep up the KG flare along the way.
The SAE Grind
The first thing I look at when I get into the office is my call schedule for the day. Client communication and coordination is key. Therefore, calls with clients and internal teams are essential to planning and strategizing ongoing activities and maintaining strong relationships with our great clients.
As we strive to help our clients tell their stories in the best publications, each day involves executing and overseeing media relations and PR campaigns. This requires constantly identifying fresh storylines and bringing proactive pitching ideas to the table, ready to discuss with the KG team and clients. This brainstorming, drafting, discussing, pitching and relationship building with media is a constant.
Writing is a big part of our business and as an SAE. One of my roles is managing the day-to-day content on some of my teams so I spend a lot of my time keeping writing projects moving along smoothly. Sometimes I’m in need of a “writing day,” when I attack long-form content pieces such as e-books, blogs and whitepapers.
Fortunately, on these days I have the flexibility to work from home, the library or anywhere else to avoid distractions and maintain laser focus. As I discussed in my last blog about content development, we all have different writing processes and at Ketner Group. Luckily, we’re able to find what works for us and make these days as efficient as possible.
Additionally, days can include social media management, speaking/award submissions, digital content marketing, helping clients shape communications strategy and messaging. These and a variety of other activities work together to help our clients grow and strengthen their brand across all channels.
Expecting Fire Drills
While most days include much of the above, you never know
what’s going to happen throughout the day. In fact, it’s a rarity for a day to
go according to schedule. Expecting urgent client requests is what PR is all
about and keeps us on our toes.
However, the unexpected isn’t always more work. At Ketner Group, the unexpected can also mean office lunches, coffee runs and celebrations (with a beer or wine in hand) that keep everyone engaged and refreshed. I’m fortunate to get extra motivation from my office-mate Aidan, who provides me with all the inspiration to succeed you see in the picture above. The John Cena “Never Give Up” towel purchased at WWE Monday Night Raw is especially effective in preventing me from ever giving up. And since a little friendly competition goes a long way, I always make time in my day to battle him at the New York Times Mini Crossword.
A day as a Senior Account Executive has its ups and downs
but, at the end of the day, it’s always a fun and exciting ride at Ketner Group.
No matter the industry or the size of the company, when employees come to work, they want to feel valued. The deep-seated desire to have a seat at the table indicates companies that often have the most success–and the happiest employees–promote a collaborative culture. Throughout the past 29 years, Ketner Group has learned a thing or two about how to encourage collaboration among coworkers. And it takes more than just team lunches and company outings. Although those team bonding moments are important (check out pictures from our recent axe-throwing outing), building genuine collaboration happens daily. Here at KG, we take specific actions to maintain a collaborative culture in our workplace. Read on to discover our tactics.
Create A Welcoming Environment
Driving effective collaboration starts with an inviting attitude. Employees should feel comfortable when talking to one another. To encourage a steady flow of communication throughout the day, the Ketner Group team tends to leave our office doors open. With this practice in place, face-to-face interactions happen more frequently. In addition to keeping our doors open, we use Slack. The team collaboration software helps us communicate with each other via channels designated for specific accounts and internal teams.
As a result, we’ve found transparency is a key to effective communication. Keeping each other updated on our schedules and priorities is a cornerstone of our business. Every Monday we kick off the week with a short staff meeting. During the meeting, every team member gives updates on what they plan to work on that week. When we’re all in the know, collaboration becomes more feasible.
Even though we are dispersed among various accounts, we encourage cross team collaboration. One way we do this is through Friday brainstorm sessions where we choose one topic to discuss. All employees are encouraged to share their input and anyone can pitch ideas for the topic each week. Whether it’s asking for help with a client project or ideas around how to promote our own agency, brainstorms reflect our collaborative culture. Two minds are better than one, but putting 12 heads together has proved to be even better. Since we started meeting for hour-long brainstorms each week, our shared ideas have generated success for our clients and our agency as a whole. For example, one brainstorm session focused on our client Adlucent, which recently garnered high-profile media attention after we coordinated with them in releasing a whitepaper.
Provide Leadership Opportunities For All Employees
At Ketner Group, leadership roles aren’t only for senior level employees. Every team member, junior staff included, owns a specific part of the agency. Whether it’s keeping the blog up and running or creating and distributing the monthly newsletter, we all have a chance to improve individually and hone our own skills. However, these activities aren’t possible without coordination. While employees have the autonomy to take the lead role in a specific part of the agency, we can all work together and play off of each other’s strengths. Subsequently, we value each other’s thoughts and the agency is better for it.
Additionally, finding new business opportunities isn’t limited to senior staff. We all pitch in to find opportunities for the agency and have allotted hours to conduct research toward this every month. Instead of everything coming from the top down, Ketner Group has made the business an inclusive one. Through giving everyone opportunities for leadership, the end result is a collaborative culture.
Support Each Other In Ways Big And Small
A supportive team fuels our collaboration and results in effective teamwork. If a team member is facing a challenging task or is unsure of how to handle a situation, we know we have each other to turn to. We also encourage peer reviews on our work, which helps us improve both our writing and editing skills. Each client team also conducts internal meetings to coordinate work and keep each other up to date before presenting ideas to the client.
Outside of the office, the support continues. From going on walks together to internal reviews and check-ins, we are more than just an office of coworkers, but consider each other our “work family.” Collaboration has quickly turned into genuine care, which carries over into all aspects of our work and life.
Above all, our close-knit team makes it simple for us to collaborate. Whether it’s asking each other for advice, collecting thoughts in an email brainstorm or even reaching out for help when we need it, our teamwork is the foundation for much of our success. Our Founder and President Jeff Ketner expands on how our agency culture has evolved into what it is today in his recent blog post. If you’re interested in learning more about Ketner Group, send us a message.
This blog post was provided by Charles Dimov, an experienced marketing professional and one of our former clients.
As marketers, we know that communications and public relations are important. They are part of a sound marketing mix. It’s good for the brand and helps drive awareness. But, what is it doing for qualified leads and lead generation? Of course, we all understand that it helps. If someone has heard of your brand from a third party article, they are more willing to interact with you online. Wonderful, but that’s all wishy-washy qualitative stuff! Is there tangible proof that public relations drives qualified leads? As a convert, here is my story that answers this question. Spoiler – the answer is YES, it does.
For the past three and a half years, I have led global marketing for a small retail software firm, OrderDynamics. In all regards, the company was a startup with a serious challenge. Four years ago, it was a 40-person firm, spun off from a larger organization. It had no discernible market presence. For the most part, no one in the industry had heard of us. There was no significant brand presence, compared to several goliaths in the industry like IBM, Oracle, and SAP. The flow of inbound leads was sporadic at best. To approximate, we had about 30 inbound raw leads per month.
These were certainly not marketing qualified leads (MQL), nor sales qualified leads (SQL). The inside sales process was completely focused on outbound efforts (events, list calling, followup). To top it off, web traffic dropped 75% in the year following the spinoff. Sales thought of marketing as an unengaged team working on its own. In hindsight, this was by no means a picture of success.
Public Relations & Qualified Leads
Starting with a vision, and marketing strategy (content centric – inbound), we added a communications / PR plan to the marketing mix. With buyer personas in hand, we focused on creating high-quality content, and on an ongoing public relations push. For a fast start, we outsourced this expertise.
Publishing educational, non-promotional content on a consistent basis was part of the plan. Content included white papers, topic briefs, data sheets, brochures, webinars, podcasts and ground-breaking industry research (developed in-house).
Through these initiatives, we established an ideal platform for a blogging strategy, using SEO to catch the interest of ideal buyers.
Good content gave us a chance to drive press releases, provide media quotes, submit non-paid bylines to industry publications, offer guest posts, and even interview on podcasts. These third-party public relations efforts started driving an influx in inbound raw leads. On the marketing funnel, raw leads converted to qualified leads with a growing number of prospective customers.
After ramping up our PR efforts, page views grew from less than 6,000 per month to peaks just shy of 18,000 per month. More importantly, the marketing department grew inbound leads to as high as 400 per month. Over three years, more than 240 third-party industry publications referenced OrderDynamics. This in just over three years. Twelve of these were quotes in Forbes magazine, with one full unpaid article written about our research in the publication.
Certainly, the sales team was engaged, and excited. Consistent, high-quality content marketing – supported by a strong SEO blogging strategy, and solid ongoing PR – completely turned around the business. Sales and marketing were now working together to fill the sales funnel. Additionally, sales reps saw and appreciated the clear benefit of marketing’s contributions.
Proof in the Qualified Leads
You may wonder, did PR really provide sales-ready qualified leads? I wanted to know this answer too. So, we closely watched our inbounds in the stages in the sales process, in sales calls, and through our qualification process. Over the past two years, from close to 300 qualified leads analyzed, most were attributed to SEO (organic search), at 36%. We found the next largest category to be the ‘Direct’ sourced qualified leads, the people who directly typed in our website address, at 33%. However, as a small firm starting with an almost completely unknown brand, these sources must be largely attributed to our public relations efforts.
If there is any doubt in your mind – public relations does work! And there are results to prove it. For instance, solid public relations execution drove 33% of our sales accepted leads (SAL – qualified leads).
My husband and I recently introduced our 9-year old son to the classic Will Smith song – Summertime. Even though this jam dropped way back in 1993, it still has a coolness factor to it, according to my son! The song talks about summer being a time where you can sit back and unwind.
Well, the KG team knows a few things about that!
Team Road Trip: Dallas!
Of course, we stay just as busy during the
summer as we do the rest of the year, but we are big believers in taking time
for vacations and exciting summer adventures! In fact, I’m proud to announce
that many of us just returned from a fun weekend in Dallas to celebrate our
sweet Stacy’s wedding! There was much merriment and dancing – the perfect way
to kick off the summer at KG. (We are only slightly jealous of Stacy’s current honeymoon
vacation in Hawaii!) I was so glad that our crazy crew was there to celebrate
Stacy and Alvin’s nuptials.
KG Vacation: Holiday Road!
But it doesn’t stop there. As a matter of fact, The KG team has many more fun vacations in store for Summertime 2019. Kirsty just back from a wonderful week by the seaside in Florida. Meanwhile, Mikaela is traversing Europe for an amazing 2-week vacation. I’ll be hitting up the Texas coast twice this summer, Mariana will be wining in Sonoma, Jenna will be camping at the Frio and Greg will be hanging in Montreal. Whew. As well, I believe there are also other trips planned to Seattle and Boston, too! Point is, our team knows the importance of getting away and taking the time to mentally relax. In our business, it is a must.
In addition to personal vacations, I’ll also
be traveling to our offices in New York and Nashville this summer for some very
exciting industry events! Stay tuned for future blogs on that in July and
Soak Up The Summer Sun, and the Adventures
To sum up, Team Ketner Group just loves the summer. Above all, we love spending time with our friends and loved ones and sharing all of our adventures (and amazing pictures) with each other. From our team to yours, we hope you have an amazing summer full of fun, sun and memories!
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Austin, TX 78731