Until Next Year NRF

NRF’s Big Show is officially over and we are back in Austin! After several cups of coffee consumed as well as analyst and media meetings coordinated for 13 clients, I think it’s safe to say this year’s show was one for the books. Check out what the Ketner Group team was up to while in the Big Apple.


Public Interest vs. Private Access: Monetizing Content to Keep Newspapers Afloat

By: Sara Lasseter

After the New York Times released its exposé on the Wal-Mart bribery investigation in April 2012, a sum of $12 billion was erased from the grocery store’s market value. While the story had a significant impact on the market for Wal-Mart and Walmex, the New York Times deliberately released the story over the weekend to deter any accusations of insider trading or private access. This story gained widespread attention for its sensitive market information and prompted many discussions on the idea of selling early access to interested parties.

But this poses a controversial question: What is the purpose of a newspaper? Newspapers began as purely profit-making entities that sold any and all stories to generate revenue. A shift toward news motivated by public interest began in the 1960s and 70s due to events like Watergate that prompted newspapers to become public institutions that existed to uphold certain principles for the good of society. Today, public value of ever-present and instantaneous news has created an “entitled and expectant” environment for the print media industry that makes it difficult to implement any major frontrunner services without a substantial amount of backlash.

Critics say that offering market-moving information at a price to hedge funds and investors plays against public interest, but could there be a beneficial side to selling these facts at a fee? Publications like the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones wire have begun to offer paid subscriptions for readers who wish to access market-moving information sooner than it is published in the newspaper or posted online. Some opponents think a move like this would be considered insider trading, while others say as long as there is no personal gain of the party disseminating the information, then it is completely legal. The court case of Dick vs. SEC 1983 established that a lack of personal benefit in trading eliminates the risk of insider trading. Neither the NYT nor Wal-Mart sources would have had any personal gain from releasing this story early to interested parties, therefore, both would be free from insider trading accusations. Continue reading

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho – It’s Off to Work We Go!

Let’s face it, there are some days where we just don’t want to get up and go to work – you are lying if you say otherwise. Other than those few days a year, I will say that I genuinely enjoy coming to work at our funky little offices. Why? I love the people that I work with! We are like a family here. We look out for each other, and support each other at and outside the office.  In fact, compared with the company culture at other small businesses (and corporate organizations) we almost live in a protective bubble.

At Ketner Group, we also have a stellar track-record of employee retention and we are very loyal to the business.  This is not the industry norm.  According to a recent WebProNews article, gone are the days when we started a job after college and worked our way up the ladder until we retire at age 65. According to the article, “Not only do we have more jobs in our lifetime than any other generation before us, but we also plan to not stay in our positions.” A recent MetLife report found that only 44% of employees feel a strong sense of loyalty towards their employers and that over one-third of employees just flat-out want a different job.

If only all companies had the same protective bubble as we do at Ketner Group. Still, after reading these reports, I became intrigued.  How can people “job hop” like that?  I always thought having job after job listed on a resume was a negative thing – but is it really becoming the norm and acceptable? Check out these stats I found from Jobvite.com:

  • Today’s average college graduate will hold 9.8 jobs, working until age 65. In California, that same graduate will hold 14.3 jobs.
  • The median number of years that an average U.S. worker has been at their job – 4.4.
  • Average jobs in a lifetime for men – 11.4.
  • Average jobs in a lifetime for women – 10.7.
  • 61% of employed workers are open to or are looking for a new job. Continue reading

Three Ways to Save an Unproductive Day

Daily agency life often feels like an elaborate juggling act—account managers constantly juggle accounts and each account’s unique priorities and deadlines. This requires switching gears throughout the day, usually several times an hour. The necessity of this workflow is obvious—we need to be available to our clients throughout the day as projects and issues pop up, and we strive to efficiently handle projects as if each account were our only account. The KG team prides ourselves on being flexible and in our ability to nimbly manage dozens of loose ends at a time. However, it would not be a stretch to call this style of work ‘multi-tasking,’ and from our recent series on productivity, we know that multi-tasking at its worst actually reduces productivity. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on how to be more productive at work, and identified “fragmentation – trying to juggle many competing, and usually unexpected, demands on your time,” as the leading cause of an unproductive day and the root of the uncomfortable feeling that you worked really hard all day and yet have the sense that nothing got done. Yep, that’s a day KGers can relate to! How then do agencies limit the inefficiencies of multi-tasking in the face of competing demands on their time?

The WSJ article, “How to Save an Unproductive Day in 25 Minutes,” gives three suggestions for busy professionals to maximize efficiency when pulled in a million directions. The article resonated with me, and I wanted to share the tips and how they apply to agency life at KG.

1. Schedule uninterrupted work time—Whether you have to go hide in the empty conference room to escape the usually welcome antics of your awesome coworkers (pie! Funny YouTube clip!), pipe in some white noise to get you in the no-distraction zone like Eric does, or follow the Pomodoro Technique like Valerie does, actually scheduling dedicated time to completely focus on the most pressing task at hand can help check it off your to-do list faster.

2. Keep track of the progress you made that day—The WSJ recommends writing out everything you did at the end of a crazy day to give yourself a better sense of accomplishment. Personally I keep a running to-do list and find great satisfaction (possibly too much satisfaction) in checking things off that list. Sometimes I even tack on a few too-easy tasks that really shouldn’t count (making breakfast, putting new ink in the printer) just to make myself feel more productive! As the WSJ points out, perception is reality and just feeling more productive can make all the difference between a good day and a bad one. Continue reading

Surprise! You’re in Public Relations.

“Surprise!” is what should be written on your diploma upon college graduation. As is the case for many careers, public relations is one thing taught and another in practice. Earlier this month, I accepted an invitation to speak to the University of Texas’ student-run Tower PR group and was brought back to my college days—days of hope, dreams and eagerness to start a fabulous life in PR.

After meeting such wonderful, enthusiastic future PR professionals at UT, I started comparing what I thought a career in PR would look like at 21 to what it actually is after nearly 5 years of going from internships to account coordinator and executive roles to senior account manager. Now I love my job and I’m sure I chose the best career for me, but one thing is certain: At 21, I had not even a clue what I was in for.

“PR is glamorous.” SURPRISE! It’s not. At all. PR professionals get no public credit for the good work we do, and that’s the way it should be. You work hard all day to win positive publicity for your clients (hardly ever for yourself), and a job well done may or may not be met with praise. PR is very much a “behind the scenes” or “backstage” role, so people who crave being the star of the show should think twice about choosing this underappreciated career.

“PR is all about party planning.” SURPRISE! I wish I could plan parties for a living. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been approached by someone wanting to get into event planning. Party planning is a large, successful industry and is mastered by event planners, designers, caterers and others. It’s a whole other tamale. In fact, it’s on a whole other plate. In PR, you’re immersed in activities such as crafting a corporate message, managing client relationships with media and analysts, and writing case studies, press releases and articles. On the rare occasion that a client throws a party and needs your help, they will likely be looking for your assistance in promoting the party to a targeted community. Continue reading

Leading a Double Life: What PR Can Learn from Social Work

A body outline drawing of Valerie in which each piece symbolizes a part of her journey through the Social Work programPhoto: A body outline drawing of Valerie in which each piece of the drawing represents Valerie’s journey through the Social Work program.

For those of you KbloG readers who don’t already know, I started working on my Master’s in Social Work last fall. It’s hard for me to believe that I only have NINE weeks of class left before I finish my last “real” courses and begin my final internship before my May 2012 graduation. Of course, as you know because you’re reading this blog post, I couldn’t bear to leave the awesome Ketner Group team so soon, so we’ve worked together to make it possible for me to “lead a double life” and do both. Even though there are few weeks in there that I’ve all but forgotten due to lack of sleep, I wouldn’t have changed a thing (short of altering the laws of time in which the day is 30 hours long – the parents are all nodding their heads in agreement!)

I could go on for way too long about the experiences I’ve had, but for the purposes of this post, I thought it would be fun to talk about a few of the things I’ve picked up in social work that I could see the PR world benefiting from.  If I really sat down and thought about it for a while, it would be a LONG list – but as you can imagine, I’ve got studying to do, so let’s make it snappy!

“Yes…. and….” – My beloved first-year practice instructor, Tammy, drilled this one into us on day one, and we all thought it was kind of silly, but now, I try to drill it into anyone I catch making a “yes…., but” statement. We’re humans. We love to think we’re right, and we love to argue. But it can get pretty obnoxious when you’re talking with someone and they keep pretending to agree with you at first, then negating exactly what you said with their “Yeah that’s true but I mean….” statements. Being on the receiving end of these comments is no fun, and it happens more than we realize – oh, until now, because you’ll start realizing it all the time. So what’s the alternative? The more positive and respectful “yes, AND” statement. What I didn’t know until I Googled this just now is that it’s also an improv comedy technique, which makes total sense! No one wants to watch an improv skit where the comedians can’t let go of their preconceived ideas or egos rather than playing off what’s going on in the moment. Continue reading