Marcom Awards Platinum Winners

Ketner Group Earns Top Honors at the Prestigious MarCom Awards

Marcom Awards Platinum Winners

Ketner Group made headlines last month being named one of Austin Inno’s 2019 50 on Fire, but the fun didn’t stop there. This week Ketner Group Communications left a Platinum Award Winner at the prestigious MarCom Awards for our work with Adlucent on their whitepaper, “Getting the Most out of Amazon Prime Day 2019.”

About The MarCom Awards

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.

Ketner Group’s MarCom Award Win

This year, Ketner Group is a Platinum Award Winner at the MarCom Awards for our work on the whitepaper, “Getting the Most out of Amazon Prime Day 2019,” which we worked on with our client Adlucent.

From the very beginning, this report was a great collaboration. The data and insights from this whitepaper garnered media coverage from over 40 media outlets. The biggest highlights being:

Full Steam Ahead

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!

Skeleton Excited for Halloween

Halloween Retail Is Expecting Another Graveyard Smash This Year

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 Spending

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 [email protected])

The Ketner Group Communications  team dressed up as our fearless leader, Jeff Ketner on Halloween 2018.
Ketner Group Communications dressed up as our fearless leader, Jeff Ketner on Halloween 2018.

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 from 7%).

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….

Motivational posters and slogans

A Day in the Life of a Senior Account Executive at KG

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.

Achieving Workplace Success With a Collaborative Culture

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 successand the happiest employeespromote 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.

Ketner Group’s summer outing to Urban Axes Austin.
Throwing axes led to some competition, but also created an atmosphere for bonding and collaboration.

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.

Summertime at Ketner Group

KG is Excited for Summer, Summer, Summertime!

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 August!

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!

Ketner Group at Stacy's Wedding

4 Ways to Create a Great Agency Culture

How do you get a PR agency owner’s attention? One way is to whisper about employee burnout. That’s why a recent Digiday headline was so alarming. The article, “A crisis boiling under the surface: agencies confront employee burnout,” described a toxic, high-stress agency culture where 32% of professionals worried about their mental health.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the article focused on ad agencies, not PR firms. After all, we’re Ketner Group, not Sterling Cooper! However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the article. Several of our employees came from national PR agencies that expected them to bill 160+ hours a month. Late nights, employee burnout and high turnover were part of the culture.

That’s no way to run a PR agency — and it’s certainly not the way we do things at Ketner Group. We talk about KG as our “work family,” and it’s not a cliche. Our agency culture has evolved over time, and I think there are at least four reasons why.

#1: Create an Agency Culture Where People Can Thrive

Clear expectations and mutual accountability, combined with reasonable work hours and billing expectations, are fundamental to creating a positive agency culture. (And yes, competitive salaries and benefits matter, too.) These are table stakes, though. Everyone in an agency deserves a climate where they can continually learn, develop new skills and grow in their career, without sacrificing family or personal time. They also need a clear sense of how they can progress, both in salary and titles, and the reassurance that hard work will be rewarded. These are all things we’ve taken to heart at Ketner Group. That’s why we do employee reviews every six months instead of just annually. Why we value everyone’s opinion, not just the most senior staff. And why we do anything we can to help our individual team members grow and thrive.

#2: Trust Your Team

Do you hire great people? Then by all means, trust them. If KG team members focus on clients, consistently hit billing targets, demonstrate professional growth and are team players, then they earn our trust. That’s why we have a flexible work-from-home policy, especially given the headaches of Austin traffic. Trust is also the reason we’ve let KG’ers work abroad, from Dublin to Bali, not to mention our new offices in New York and Nashville.

#3: Exceed Client Expectations

Are you surprised that this wasn’t #1? Well, there’s a method to our madness. To do great client work, we believe that agencies must first create a positive environment where everyone thrives, and where there’s a climate of mutual trust, respect and accountability. Professional skills are a given, of course. But without these other attributes, it’s hard to create cohesive, focused teams where everyone focuses on exceeding client expectations. Great teams do great work, and we see it every day in our fantastic, hard-working team members.

(This isn’t me hyperbolizing, either. The VP Marketing of one of our clients recently told me that hiring Ketner Group was the single best decision he made for his company. And just last week, an editor told me we had the best PR team in the business.)

#4: Have Fun

This one almost goes without saying, but let’s face it: even at its best, PR can sometimes be stressful. And the best way to counter that is to leave plenty of time for fun. That’s why Ketner Group has Taco Tuesday, Wake-up Wednesday, frequent team lunches, and random outbursts of singing and laughing during the day. Yes, we use Slack primarily as a business tool, but sometimes a string of off-the-wall giphys is just what you need to laugh during a crazy afternoon (a Greg video or a random JK emoji can do the trick, too). And just this weekend, the KG team danced its heart out at Stacy’s wedding. The point is, committing to a fun work environment is one of the reasons we enjoy showing up every day.

There’s much more that goes into creating a great culture — frequent video chats and weekly check-ins with our remote team members. Taking time to chat with one another about life, not just work. Making sure everyone has each other’s back. Keeping the freezer stocked at all times with Amy’s frozen dinners. And occasional Rosé breaks. Team culture is always evolving at Ketner Group, and we’re working hard to make sure it evolves in the best possible ways.