Greater Austin Business Awards – Here We Come!

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

We are thrilled to announce that Ketner Group Communications has been selected as a finalist for the Company Culture category of the Greater Austin Business Awards!

The competition is designed to honor excellence in business and recognize companies and organizations in the Austin region for achievements, community contributions and milestones. The Greater Austin Business Awards is one of the largest award and networking events in Central Texas, bringing together about 1,000 business leaders, entrepreneurs, organizations, government officials and regional chambers.

The culture at Ketner Group Communications is one of the many things that makes us unique, so we are proud of being named as a finalist in the Company Culture category. This award is presented to an organization that fosters a creative, collaborative company culture that is sustainable and retains employees – and that describes us perfectly.

Work-Life Balance

Ketner Group believes that having a healthy work-life balance is incredibly important. We offer flexible schedules and provide the opportunity to work from home, or virtually anywhere (even Ireland and Bali!), as our staff needs. Employees are encouraged to take time off when necessary, including much-needed vacations. It’s important to us that our employees are working at a comfortable pace while still producing incredible PR work for our clients. We love to include fun events during the week such as Taco Tuesdays, Wake Up Wednesday coffee runs, company lunches to celebrate big and small victories, and, of course, to celebrate any and all type of food/drink “days” (i.e. National Pizza Day) to keep our team motivated and morale high. Our motto is “work hard, play hard and be nice to people,” which we believe is the reason why our employees love working here, and our clients love working with us!

This healthy work/life balance encourages our employees to stick with Ketner Group for the long haul. On average, employees have stayed at the agency 4 to 5 years, which is way above average for PR agencies, and we’re working hard to make Ketner Group an ideal place for employees to spend the bulk of their career. Our SVP and partner Catherine Seeds will be celebrating her 17-year anniversary at the agency in November.

Professional Development

We believe professional growth is very important. Each employee is highly encouraged to contribute to outside professional organizations and community programs. To that end, each employee has a yearly budget for professional development. This allows them to travel/attend PR industry events, take classes to learn a specific skill set or anything else that will help them grow and develop as a PR professional.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

At Ketner Group every opinion is not only listened to, but encouraged, no matter the rank or seniority of the person. Not just for client work, but for new business, company culture, process improvement, investment areas – literally anything. We encourage bold thinking and risk-taking. We think it’s important for all of our employees to know that they are heard and are an important part of why Ketner Group is the way it is. We believe in our team 100% so if a team member has an idea, we’ll always listen — and more often than not, we’ll act on it.

We are very excited and honored to be named a finalist for the Greater Austin Business Awards. Winners will be announced on Aug. 30 at the JW Marriot Austin!

INTRODUCING OUR NEW INTERN: MEGHAN FARRELL

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

Hey everyone! My name is Meghan Farrell, and I am a senior public relations major minoring in business at the University of Texas at Austin. I was born in Calgary, Alberta but moved to Houston, Texas about 14 years ago – what a change! I quickly grew to love the U.S., and appreciate that you can’t shovel humidity.

Moving to Austin for school has been an incredible journey, with the city feeling almost separate from the rest of the state. I have experienced so many new things, like kayaking below South Congress Bridge while the world’s largest urban bat colony flies above, and don’t even get me started on the food here – trust me, I won’t stop talking.

My love for public relations began my sophomore year of college when I realized it was all about stories. I love telling a good story to my friends, family, or whoever will lend their ear. It’s progressed to the point where friends will ask me to tell stories for them, even when I wasn’t there. Finding out there was a major where I could do what I already loved was the most relieving feeling, and once I began taking PR classes I felt at home.

Before beginning my internship at Ketner Group, I worked as a student assistant to the Public Affairs Director at UT’s Harry Ransom Center. Some of my daily tasks included drafting media advisories, creating media contact lists, and analyzing their social media statistics. I also learned a great deal about pitching to the media. I truly cherished my time spent there, and I encourage everyone to go check out their vast collections.

When I’m not writing papers, I like to spend my free time hanging by the water, watching Chopped, snuggling my cat Billy, or finding the next great restaurant in Austin. I also love returning to Houston to visit my family especially because of our newest addition to the Farrell clan, my 2-year-old niece Mila.

I am incredibly excited to be spending my summer with Ketner Group and look forward to the stories that lie ahead!

Meet our newest addition to the team: Madeleine Hatley

This blog post was written by our intern, Madeleine Hatley.

Hi, everyone! My name is Madeleine Hatley and I am a senior public relations major at the University of Texas at Austin. Coming from the small town of Paris, Texas, I was ready to head to a larger city with more growth opportunities and also more things to do other than take pictures in front of the world’s third largest Eiffel Tower complete with a cowboy hat.  During my spare time, I love seeing live music, discovering new restaurants, and taking my adorably fluffy Corgi, Oliver, to Zilker Park.

Prior to joining the Ketner Group team, I mainly worked in politics. My past experience has taught me that internships are vital to figure out what best suits your personality and what path you want your career to follow.

My first internship was with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at Texans for Greg Abbott. I mainly worked on his social media, press releases regarding the governor and event scheduling. It was a great first internship in that I learned how to further develop my writing skills and got the opportunity to represent a single client via social media.

This past semester I was an intern at Axiom Strategies, a political consulting and public relations agency. I got the chance to represent and write for House and Senate members and meet lots of interesting people. I also got experience helping with crisis management and handling tricky situations that can easily escalate online and by word-of-mouth.

My cute puppy, Oliver. I wish he was still this size!

However, after two political internships, I decided it was time for a change of pace. I imagined I could be the real-life Kerry Washington in Scandal, but the job was far less glamorous than I imagined. The political sphere did not allow me to connect with people how I like to nor did it allow me to utilize much that I had learned in college. I felt like a small fish in a very large pond.

This is one of the reasons I think my internship at Ketner Group will be so valuable. The people here are so welcoming, actually care about your ideas and want to help you learn. On my first day, they ordered pizza for me and we all got the chance to get to know each other a little better over lunch. If my first day is anything like the rest of my internship, I know I will love it here. It took me long enough to find an internship that suited me!

Trial and error is the key to college internships. Get your first or second (maybe even third) internship out of the way to find which path you want to take. Internships give you real world experience so you aren’t forced to be in a field you dislike for the rest of your life. Try, try and try again until you get your dream internship that leads to your dream job.

As for my dream job after graduation, I would love to work in an agency setting that allows me to grow as a writer, team member and professional. I am a native Texan, so I would love to stay in Austin or move to Dallas to be closer to home.

I am very much looking forward to my time here and hope to learn valuable skills I can carry with me to my future career!

 

Navigating the Job Market

This blog was provided by our intern, Daniela Ramirez.

As graduation draws closer, reality starts to set in and before you know it, it’s time to venture into the job market. The search can be long and intimidating, but I’m here to share some strategies to expand your network and make what seems a never-ending process, a smooth transition.

Get Involved
First off, get involved early and join student organizations. Joining groups that are of interest to your major will give you experience that you can’t learn in the classroom or by reading a textbook. For example if you are a PR major, join PRSSA but also join other organizations that may have some overlap, such as your school’s advertising or marketing organization. These organizations will give you face time with industry professionals, expose you to different disciplines of the field and leverage your knowledge of the industry a little more.

Network
Don’t just network with other students at your school, attend events put on by local professional organizations to get to know people working in your prospective field. Many schools also offer networking trips. I find this one the hardest to do, but it has also been the most rewarding. It’s crazy how spread out a college’s alumni network is, and you never know when a connection can lead you to your next big opportunity.

Get to know your professors out of the classroom and learn about their experiences and academia. They all come from various professional and academic backgrounds and are able to help you figure out your career trajectory.

Take Advantage of Career Services
Use your college’s career services office and actively peruse opportunities that come through the office. They are a great resource and often serve as the liaison between students and employers. They will be able to help you secure informational interviews and portfolio reviews when recruiters come to campus, expose you to different company information sessions and give you the tools you need to get your foot in the door.

Seek Valuable Internships
Lastly, find an internship that will help you grow and expand your undergrad experience. Join a company that sparks your interest and fuels your brain. Sounds cliché, but your time at school does go by fast and before you know it these opportunities will be gone. For me, joining the Ketner Group has allowed me to grow faster than I ever have before and become more confident than ever that this is the field for me. After all, how cool is it to be able to come into an internship that challenges you everyday?

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.

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NRF 2017, Here We Come

In most industries, the holidays are a time to disengage from the hustle and bustle of work, plan for 2017 and clean out the junk folders to start the New Year feeling refreshed. But as we all know, quite the opposite is true in retail. And once a new calendar gets pinned to the wall, the heat really starts to turn up as we make final preparations for the biggest conference of our year, NRF’s BIG Show.

This year, the Ketner Group team has been as busy as ever, meticulously preparing, pitching, coordinating and managing all sorts of client announcements and on-site briefings. As the newest member of the KG team and a rookie to the realities of NRF life, I have to admit it’s been impressive watching our team stay (mostly) stress-free, while securing some truly terrific opportunities for publicity next week, without losing sight of client needs in the now.

As our entire office goes wheels up this weekend, heading from sunny and warm Austin, Texas to the hopefully not-so-cold and not-so-gray Big Apple, I expect to feel the same excitement and confidence in our client outcomes as our veterans who have been mastering the NRF process for over ten years.

We look forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces, connecting with new clients and having NRF ’17 mark the start of another great year at Ketner Group, for our clients, and for the retail industry in general. Good luck everyone!

Ketner Group clients at NRF, and where to find them:

 

Ketner Group Musings on Retail: Finding the Perfect Blend of Technology and People

In the past few years, it would seem that the appeal of “traditional” physical retail stores is decreasing. After all, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, eCommerce grew 14.6% in 2015 with online sales accounting for more than half of total retail sales growth.

Even with this tremendous amount of growth in the online channel, the store is still the heartbeat of retail. But the reality is this: What we as shoppers really want, what we crave, is for our favorite retailers to create new and refreshing reasons for us to visit their physical stores.

Spoiler alert: it’s all about technology with a human touch!

So what, exactly, does this partnership of technology and human touch translate to?

Human touch means assisted selling in the store, in which store associates capture customer preferences and provide more targeted recommendations with the help of mobile devices that contain attribute information for all retail products. The result? Associates can become highly-effective personal “style” advisors when they combine their own knowledge of a product with readily available product information and customer preference indicators.

So too does it translate to relaxed spaces in-store where customers can learn and call on associates if they need or want to. Apple has been a leader in this type of dynamic in-store environment for ages.

Photo provided by Tech Times
Photo provided by: Tech Times

Since then, other retail stores have taken note. For example, London-based department store, Selfridges, has brought that “technology meets human” feel to the store by launching a multi-sensory yoga experience by partnering with East London yoga duo, Yung Club. Smaller scale retailers like STORY have taken the store experience to another level. Their 2000 square foot Manhattan store is part magazine, part store. Every four to eight weeks, it completely reinvents itself from design to merchandise in order to address a new theme, trend or issue.

Human touch in the store becomes especially useful when it partners with technology that pulls together disparate pieces of information. Think Clueless in the real world! Consider the example of a shopper pulling up a digital version of their own closet to see if a top they’ve found at a retail store matches their skirts. Adding that insight to a full product catalogue allows the store associate to purchase that top from another store should their location be out of stock. By connecting all channels with human insight, shoppers can truly find the right product at the right moment. The end result is a delightful and share-worthy shopping experience for the customer.

The Ketner Group team looks forward to hearing more about how human and machines are working together to create relevant, intimate and memorable customer experiences. We’re excited to find out the extent to which the future success of retailers hinges on connecting these two things to build memorable brand experiences. Retailers that effectively blend human touch with technology stand apart from the rest and not only “win,” they kill it.

Austinite, Longhorn, and new Ketner Group Intern, Sara Shaw

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Photo provided by Sara Shaw

This blog was provided by Ketner Group intern, Sara Shaw

 

My name is Sara Shaw and I am a senior Public Relations major in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at The University of Texas at Austin. I am also pursuing a minor in Spanish as well as a certificate in the Business Foundations Program. I grew up in Austin and, naturally, love it so much I decided to stay for school, which is easily the best decision I’ve ever made.

I am the youngest of three children, so I have had my fair share of older-sibling-bullying. Too many times did I fall for, “I’ve got a surprise,” and end up with a bar of soap in my mouth. Talk about a surprise. As an “adult” this has made me a great team player and very capable of laughing at myself.

I became interested in public relations in high school because of my love for stories. More specifically, the stories of people around me. What people were passionate about, what motivated them, why they loved what they did. I was good at creating relationships with people and getting them to tell their stories. I loved that PR combined the art of story-telling and business strategy. So with the click of the mouse I declared my major and haven’t looked back since.

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Photo provided by Sara Shaw

This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity of interning for Southwest Airlines in Dallas. I was the communications intern for their Network Operations Control Department. Imagine a command center at NASA, but these guys are dispatching nearly 4,000 flights a day. I was lucky enough to be on their communications team and learn more about the airline industry than I ever imagined.

When I’m not in the office or in the classroom, I love to explore my hometown and discover the next great taco place. I recently went to El Chilito on Manor Road, and highly recommend the Cherrywood breakfast taco.

As a senior in college, I often get the question, “What are you doing once you graduate?” I’ll tell you now that I have no idea. However, I am very excited to be with Ketner Group this semester and get hands-on experience in a more “traditional” PR setting. Everyone here has already taken Daniela and me in as part of the team and we are eager to keep learning from everyone!

 

 

 

New Intern on the Block: Daniela Ramirez

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Photo provided by Daniela Ramirez.

This blog was provided by our intern, Daniela Ramirez.

Hello everyone! I’m Daniela Ramirez and I’m one of the new Ketner Group interns, it’s nice to e-meet you! I am currently in my final year at The University of Texas at Austin studying public relations. It’s hard to believe that I am a senior (cue the nostalgia) and already in my last two semesters of undergrad. Looking back as a curious freshman, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with public relations or the type of job I wanted to work in following graduation. Through previous internships and courses, I have been able to develop a trajectory and carve a more focused track. These experiences have led me to develop a more strategic outlook and make the most of my four years at the best school in the world (Hook ‘em!).

Having worked in a variety of communication and public relations roles in the beverage industry, music business working with niche, reggae-type artists and bands as well as non-profits, I have been able to widen my scope of knowledge and skills. I’m excited to work with the amazing team at Ketner Group and continue to develop my B2B communication skills, and not to mention, learn about some pretty cool retail technology! Having only been with the team for a short time, I already feel so welcomed and truly feel like a valuable asset.

Now, a little bit about myself. I’m from a small town near Fort Worth, Texas called Kennedale – maybe you’ve heard of it? That’s why I was so excited to move to Austin and really live in a place that I haven’t experienced before. I love everything about Austin and the energy that it offers; I don’t plan on leaving the city scene anytime soon (sorry, Mom!). I’m all about experiences and living in the moment. You can often find me seeking out the next place to try brunch, attending a concert in town or going to an improv comedy show. I love to meet new people and learn about their life. That’s what really intrigued me about studying public relations; it’s a discipline that’s all about sustaining relationships through authentic dialogue. It’s a field that’s conducive to learning and exploring new interests and allows you to build an arsenal of skills. I love diving into different industries and learning how they operate, hence the range of my internships. Overall, I’m an extrovert and love to surround myself with good company. I’m excited for the semester ahead and spending my time with Ketner Group. As a senior, I’m anxious as well as excited for what’s ahead, while ironically wanting time to slow down at the same time.

Looking forward, I hope to work in the agency world so I can continue to gain varied experience in one industry and widen my scope of knowledge. I can already see that interning at Ketner Group will make my public relations undergrad experience memorable and one-of-a-kind, and I am very excited for the wonderful opportunity!

What a Classroom Can’t Teach You, An Internship Can

This blog was written by our intern, Kamilla Rahman.

As a college student I often find myself slaving for hours and hours in a textbook and trying to shove as much information as I can into my brain in order to do well on an exam. This is simply how college is structured; you’re given information, you’re expected to learn it, you’re tested over the materials and by the end of the semester you are dubbed proficient in that area of study. If a class isn’t focused around exams, the process will be the same except your proficiency in the subject matter will be based off of a project or a series of assignments.

Don’t get me wrong, I have learned more than I can imagine during my time in college. But how much can someone learn in the confines of a textbook, case study or hypothetical situation given by a professor? Not enough.

As a public relations major I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to understand a target market, write in AP style, research media and create campaigns for clients. My class work is graded by a professor or a teacher’s assistant and not assessed by a real client. I’m given a grade and that grade doesn’t hold much meaning besides it affecting my GPA. Because I write a press release and it receives a 93, does that mean if it was distributed to a media list it would be covered by a variety of journalists? Probably not.

Many times the best way to learn is simply by doing. The classroom provides the basic skills needed to have a career, but an internship provides the experience to have a successful one. My internship has given me the opportunity to fine-tune my writing skills in a way I know my writing classes simply cannot. It’s given me the opportunity to create REAL content for REAL clients, which is something only an internship can provide. It’s allowed me to work in a fast-paced environment and helped me understand what to expect in the future. With school, you learn a lot of general, yet important, things about your major, but internships give you the chance to figure out where you actually want to take your career.

Internship experience is truly irreplaceable. Without an internship, I would feel like I was being thrown out into the world after graduation. On some level, that is still how I feel, but I’m much more confident that I’ll have a grasp of what I want to do and where I want to begin when the time comes.