Four Things I Wish I Knew Before My First PR Internship

This blog post was provided by our intern, Andrew Stonebarger

Well, I’m roughly halfway through my summer at Ketner Group Communications and the internship continues to surprise me. I’ve already learned so much during my time here at KG. I’m sure the rest of the summer will be no different! Looking back, if I could talk to myself before I started as an intern, I would give these four pieces of advice. So, without further ado, Four Things I Wish I Knew Before my First PR Internship.

Be Open to New Industries

Internships are all about growth. Every day is a chance to improve and a chance to better yourself. However, growth results from putting yourself out there. If you aren’t willing to step out of your comfort zone, take a risk, and try something new, you are holding yourself back from reaching your full potential.

One way to step out of that comfort zone as an intern begins before you even accept an offer. Don’t be afraid to apply for internships that force you out of your comfort zone. In my intro blog, I write about my passion for sports. Naturally, when I accepted an internship in retail technology PR, I was nervous. How would I last a whole summer working in an industry I had no previous experience in and no real knowledge of? Turn’s out, the industry had so much depth and intrigue that I would end up liking it.

You will never realize how interesting an industry is until you dive head first into it. By stepping outside of my comfort zone and taking an internship in retail technology PR, I found a new industry that I enjoy. Retail technology plays a role in every purchase you make and the industry continues to grow and change every day. With innovations and inventions pulling the industry forward, you never know what’s in store.

There’s a world of opportunity out there. Some of it may seem scary, and that’s because it is. Trying something new is scary, but by stepping out of your comfort zone and taking that challenge head-on, you are setting yourself up for growth and success. Who knows, you may find your new dream career or your newest passion from it.

The CEO’s Door is Always Open

As an intern, you’re low on the totem pole. So, what are the odds you get to interact with the big-time executives, directors, and CEOs? To my surprise, the odds were good; I had a meeting planned with the president and founder of Ketner Group – Jeff Ketner – within the first week. One of the biggest things to look for in a strong business is accessibility to senior leadership. The chance to interact and work with company leadership will go a long way in your growth as an intern. 

Whether it is an in-depth, hour-long meeting or five minutes to share a coffee, take advantage of every opportunity you get to interact and work with your senior leadership. Those executives, directors, and CEOs can make a world of a difference. They have been in your shoes before, their mentorship can offer you so much. Whether it’s about work or life in general, these are the people you want in your corner and rooting for you.

Another tip I’ve learned: don’t be afraid to speak up in staff-wide meetings to share your ideas, but do so sparingly. You don’t want to come across as a know-it-all. Share ideas you know add value to the discussion. Share your ideas that help solve problems, and be someone who helps add to the solution and makes an impact rather than a bystander. This will help prove to the entire company that you care about the situation, want to make a difference, and have the skills and knowledge to solve problems and generate effective solutions.

If I could go back, I would tell myself not to be afraid of senior leadership, but to use them as a resource to build you up. They usually have decades of experience, tons of advice, and countless stories to share. Taking the time to meet and interact with them will go a long way toward your growth as a PR professional.

Good Research Skills Go a Long Way

It doesn’t matter what career field you go into, research will play a role in your day-to-day responsibilities. You may not work in a lab running science experiments, but good research skills go a long way towards success in a PR internship. Everyone working in PR needs to have strong research skills to communicate effectively in a variety of subjects.

Before you can succeed in an internship, you have to get an internship. Researching background information on the company you are applying to, their clients, and their methods will be essential in your PR internship hunt. This will allow you to tailor your resume, cover letter, and interview to that specific company. I promise companies will notice these efforts and reward you for it. This may seem obvious, but doing so will go a long way in helping you stand out as a candidate.

Even after you’ve secured the internship, being able to conduct effective and comprehensive research is very important. If you stepped out of your comfort zone and took an internship in a new industry, your research skills will help you make a smooth transition. Being able to conduct effective research will allow you to become an expert on a subject quicker than anyone else.

As a PR Intern, you are preparing yourself for the responsibilities and day-to-day tasks of a PR professional. Even as a PR pro, research is important. It helps you keep track of new and emerging markets and is essential if you want to create and contribute content to your publications. It is important to develop these skills over time – the earlier the better. Improving your research skills as an intern will go a long way as you become more advanced in the field.

Be Open About Your Weaknesses 

I’ve said it a few times in this blog, but I’ll say it again, internships are all about growth and developing your skills in your desired career field. I’ve been asked in every interview to date, “what are your weaknesses?” When you answer this question, be honest. It will go a long way toward developing your skills. Employers take that question very seriously, and if you’re hired, employers will give you a chance to improve and work on those weaknesses.

The best employers will listen to your weaknesses and set you up with the opportunity to improve on them. For me, one of my biggest weaknesses as a PR Intern was my writing. I was open and honest about this during my interview with Ketner Group and here I am writing blogs, bylines and press releases on a daily basis. Ketner Group listened to my weaknesses and tailored my internship experience to help me work on them.

If your employer isn’t helping you work on your weaknesses, they and you aren’t giving yourself the chance to improve and turn those weaknesses into strengths. Being open about your weaknesses is key to reaching your full potential and taking your abilities to the next level level. Being honest about your weaknesses demonstrates that you are introspective and driven. This transparency will go a long way as you improve your internship experience and develop your abilities as a PR pro.

My first PR internship has been an eye-opening experience. Looking back on the summer so far, I’ve learned so much and it’s not even over yet! There is always something to improve on and an internship is a great place to work on your craft. So going back to a couple of months ago, I’d let myself know that even though the first internship may seem scary, the lessons to be learned and the experiences to be had make it well worth it. In the end, I get to watch my skills and development as an emerging PR professional unfold.

Finding My Way: Andrew Stonebarger

This blog post was provided by our intern Andrew Stonebarger

Finding My Way to Austin

Hello everyone! My name is Andrew Stonebarger, and I am a senior public relations student at The University of Texas at Austin. I was born in Nashville, TN, but I grew up in Syracuse, NY. Fun fact about Syracuse: it is one of the snowiest cities in America with an average snowfall of 123.8 inches per year! After living in basically the tundra for 13 years, I knew I needed to go to school in the south, so I packed my bags, drove 26 hours and found my way to Austin.

Moving 26 hours away to go to college was a tough task, but I’ve learned a lot because of it. In my time at UT, I have grown as a person, just as much, if not more, than I have as an intellectual. In addition, I found such a unique campus atmosphere that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Austin is a one-of-a-kind place with an amazing balance between college town and metropolitan city.  It has truly become my home away from home and has helped me grow so much more than I imagined. This is a special city; it’s hard to imagine my life and college experience anywhere else.

Finding My Passions

My journey to where I am today as a public relations major wasn’t easy. I entered UT Austin as an actuarial science major. I found myself bored and struggling. In turn, I started taking new classes and I found myself in PR 101. I thought to myself, “you’re a good public speaker; this’ll be a breeze.” I was dumbfounded when the professors first words were, “if you’re here because you’re a good public speaker and you think that’s PR, you are in for a rude awakening.” My heart was beating out of my chest, but I stuck with the class and grew to love it. The class was confusing, but refreshing. As I took more classes, my passion grew and I found myself in a new major.

PR allowed for a sense of creativity that I hadn’t experienced before. Every problem in mathematics had the same solution with different numbers, but in public relations, every problem requires innovation that allows me to express that creativity. As I finish my college career, I look back and hope one day I can shed light on what PR actually is to younger generations. Eventually, I want to introduce communications to a high school curriculum.

Outside of the Office

Beyond academics and work, I have a ton of hobbies. I play for Texas Men’s Volleyball. This year we went to Denver for NCVF Nationals and finished 9th! Other than volleyball, I play chess and I still can’t beat my Dad so clearly I need to practice more. I also love the NBA and college football. If you want to talk Finals or Free Agency, I’ll tell you where every star is going to end up or if you want to talk college football, I’ll tell you why UT is winning The National Championship this year.

Finding My Way to Ketner Group

As the summer drew closer, my nerves were growing. It was April and I still hadn’t secured an internship yet. I had an interview with Ketner Group and just had a gut feeling when I finished it. The gut feeling screamed, “Ketner Group is where you should be this summer!” When I got the offer, I was ecstatic. I knew once that happened, this was going to be an amazing summer. I’m only in my first week, but I have a good feeling about Ketner Group. Finding my way here is a huge step in the right direction; I can feel it.

I’m so excited to get to work here at Ketner Group Communications. I know there is a lot of knowledge at Ketner Group and there’s so much I can learn. I have a great feeling about this summer and am so excited to get started!

Omnichannel Options for Austin Shoppers

Exploring Omnichannel at The Domain

When looking for a new place to live after I graduated college, proximity to work topped my list of requirements. Luckily, I was able to find an apartment that I loved within a seven minute distance from work. My new home also happened to be only seven minutes away from the place I sometimes jokingly refer to as my second home: The Domain, a shopping center featuring some of Austin’s best omnichannel options.

Moving to North Austin has only made that statement even more true. What once was a light-hearted joke, is more of a reality for me now. As a frequent visitor of Austin’s premier retail hub, certain stores have caught my eye. Since I’m constantly reading about omnichannel trends, I thought I’d assess how my favorite stores are implementing these tactics. For a look at how The Domain exemplifies some of the most positive trends in retail’s ongoing renaissance, check out Jeff’s blog from 2018. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned about omnichannel options in Austin as a local consumer.

Nordstrom Provides Expanded Order Pickup Options

When it comes to omnichannel options, Nordstrom is no stranger. Nordstrom’s app is an essential tool for digital shoppers who like to browse online before they buy. When searching for items in-app, shoppers can even custom tailor the search bar to reflect their store location of choice. Plus, the app will curate personalized outfits based on your past purchases and search history.

A few months ago, I tested out the “reservations” option, which allows shoppers to reserve up to 10 items online. Through the app, I reserved a pair of shoes. Within a couple of hours, I got a notification that the pair of shoes I picked out were ready for me to try on. Upon my arrival at The Domain, I received a second notification explaining where to go to try on the shoes. After parking, I entered through the doors to the second floor and found the designated kiosk immediately. Subsequently, a sales associate directed me to a reserved dressing room and assisted me when I requested to try on a different size.

I’d call my experience a success. As retailers start to provide more omnichannel options where the digital and physical sides of the store work together, I’m looking forward to quicker and easier shopping trips. In addition to the reservation option, Nordstrom at The Domain also offers buy online, pickup in-store. In a jam-packed parking lot, customers picking up their online orders can park in reserved spaces, speeding up their shopping journey.

Away Creates Seamless Shopping Experiences

Away, a luggage startup and lifestyle brand, caught my attention on Instagram. With its “clicks to bricks” model, the formerly online-only retailer now has seven physical locations. Lucky for us Austinites, The Domain is home to one of Away’s stores. I’m taking off on a plane to Europe this month and realized it was time to upgrade my luggage. Perfect excuse for my first trip to Away!

Before visiting the store, I researched options and decided which pieces of luggage would be best for my traveling needs. Based on Away’s website and social media platforms, I’ll admit my expectations for the store were already high. To my surprise, my experience at the store exceeded my already-high expectations.

Though I had an idea of what I wanted, I had a few questions before making the investment. One of the sales associates was quick to greet me and patient with my questions. She even looked up measurement restrictions for the airlines I am flying to ensure my luggage would make the cut. Her help ultimately led to my decision to purchase a set, including a carry-on suitcase and bag. I left the store feeling refreshed and satisfied with my purchase. What started as browsing on Instagram turned into visiting the store and making a purchase. Yet another example of an omnichannel option in action!

Omnichannel Options Are On the Rise

All in all, omnichannel is putting a spin on traditional shopping and giving consumers something to look forward to. Whether it’s through a personalized app, store navigation tool or expanded pickup options, omnichannel is only growing. I consider myself lucky to live in a city that often gets a “first taste” of omnichannel options that later evolve. The latest and greatest is right in my backyard, so to speak. If my experiences at Nordstrom and Away are any indication, the future is bright for omnichannel retail.

Social Media Week Austin Delivers Key Business Insights

Social Media Week Austin brought together social media experts, digital power players and brands last week. Gathering at the UT campus, featured speakers from Bumble to Whole Foods Market spoke about their experiences using social media. In total, more than 100 speakers shared ideas and actionable insights with an audience of 800 industry peers. As well, our very own client, Laura Musa of Adlucent, provided key insights for making social performance soar.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Stories.” Designed to empower professionals with a deeper understanding of social media strategies for business, this theme explored the role of social media in spreading awareness, news and stories across platforms.

The Critical Role of Social Media

Social media is under more of a magnifying glass than it’s ever been before. As usage becomes more widespread, more regulations have kicked into high gear. For example, Facebook underwent scrutiny for certain practices uncovered within its data collection strategies. Platforms like Instagram also had to implement regulations for influencers announcing paid partnerships.

These new regulations improve the safety and accuracy of social media advertising and digital marketing. And as consumers discover new products on social platforms, they also look for transparency in the ads they see.

Austin Isn’t the Only City With Social Media on its Mind

With this thought in mind, this year’s Social Media Week Austin brought together the best in the business. Given Social Media Week takes place in over 28 cities, the Austin conference provided attendees with a global scope of everything going on in the world of social media.

Find the full list of cities hosting their own social media weeks here.

Same Us, New Look

Notice anything different? If making changes to our online presence was a haircut, we didn’t get just a little trim. We’ve got a whole new ‘do’ around here, one to better represent our capabilities and vision. Ketner Group is excited to (officially) announce the launch of our new logo, adjusted company name, and totally revamped website.

A Word From Our Leaders

“As an agency, we’ve evolved in so many ways over the past few years, and this website is a representation of that. Jeff and I made the decision to change the name from Ketner Group PR + Marketing to Ketner Group Communications, to better represent the services we offer.” – Catherine Seeds, SVP and partner

“It was certainly time for a change, considering our growth over the past few years. Not only have we experienced 40% organic growth over the past year, but our team has grown, too. We expanded from a group of six in 2017 to a group of 11 employees in 2018 to manage our client growth. We’ve also taken on six new clients in 2018, and in 2019, we are opening an office in New York City. We like to say we’re ‘obsessed with exceeding client expectations,’ and I’m confident our new website reflects that part of our company culture.” – Jeff Ketner, president

Take The New Site For A Spin

The website offers a more comprehensive layout that is simple to navigate. Here’s a tour:

 

Grocery Fulfillment: A Curbside Chat with Greg and Jeff

OK, we’ll admit it — the KG team likes to eat. And we have several very cool clients in grocery technology. So it’s no wonder that we spend a lot of time talking about the fast-changing world of grocery fulfillment. And in this blog, we’re taking a slightly different approach as our own Greg Earl and Jeff Ketner have an online chat about one of our favorite topics.

***

A More Convenient Way to Get Your Groceries

Jeff: It’s the perfect day to chat about grocery fulfillment.  As I write, the KG office is getting its monthly mega-delivery of frozen dinners, snacks, sandwich stuff and everything else it takes to feed our hungry crew, courtesy of HEB home delivery. Our team’s ready to descend on the kitchen like a plague of locusts. And at noon, I’ll swing by HEB to pick up a Curbside order to take home, since our fridge at home is just about empty. Speaking of HEB Curbside, Greg, you’re one of its most outspoken fans — your love of curbside is probably only slightly behind your love of Cabo Bob’s.

Greg: While Cabo Bob’s transcends my love for everything in this world, I love HEB Curbside. As the area around my local HEB keeps developing, the store becomes more of a mad house. Even finding parking isn’t worth it for me. Being able to avoid the chaos, swing by and grab all of my groceries is a godsend. However, I will say that they could do a better job at updating their real-time inventory. Nearly every time I shop, they substitute items. This isn’t a deal breaker but can throw a wrench in my cooking plans every now and then.

I haven’t personally tried HEB delivery yet, but today’s office order went incredibly smoothly. Plus it’s much cheaper than when we used Instacart, right?

Be Careful – Not All Grocery Delivery Services Are Equal

Jeff: Yep, our first HEB Curbside pickup order was WAY less expensive than our Instacart deliveries. So I’m glad to see that Instacart is lowering its prices. Hopefully they can up their level of service, too; I tried Instacart one time with Central Market, my favorite grocery store in Austin, and it can politely be described as a disaster. The delivery was late, the communication from the person picking our order was incomprehensible, and I had a lot of trouble using my $15 off coupon code, which was the only reason we tried Instacart in the first place. A recent delivery experience from Randall’s, a perennial also-ran in terms of Austin market share, was far superior. I’m not sure who they use for fulfillment, but it was a surprisingly good experience.

Speaking of surprises, I find it interesting that our office is split nearly 50-50 among those who use grocery fulfillment and those who don’t. What’s up with our team here?

Believe It or Not, In-Store Shopping Advocates Are Out There

Greg: That’s too bad about your Instacart experience. I guess it’s difficult for them to maintain quality across all of their employees throughout the country. Speaking of quality, I think that’s exactly why some folk around here are torn on letting other people pick their groceries — especially when it comes to produce, which is very fair. I’ve received a few fruits or veggies in the past that I wouldn’t have necessarily picked for myself.  

However, some of the luddites around here just enjoy going to the store for the sake of grocery shopping – ridiculous! I think I can understand where they’re coming from though. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to pick out exactly what you want, roam the aisles and grab something that you didn’t even realize you wanted (a dangerous approach sometimes when your cart ends up well beyond your budget). Plus, a trip to the store is very worth it if there are free samples throughout the aisles.

The team especially enjoys shopping in-store at the more experiential/unique grocers including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco. When you consider the option to drink a beer while shopping at Whole Foods, it does sound much more enjoyable. As for Whole Foods/Amazon delivery, the only experience I’ve had was extremely disappointing. I tried to order some prosecco for the office because Amazon touted a free two-hour delivery promotion. However, this ‘free delivery’ required a minimum that we didn’t need to reach and the ‘two-hour delivery’ meant I could select a two hour window, not that the item would be delivered within two hours of ordering. Going to Twin Liquors down the road saved me a lot of money and time. I’m curious about placing an entire grocery order though.

Jeff: Interesting! You’d expect a better experience from Amazon based on how fast they’ve been rolling out Whole Foods delivery – maybe it’s more worth it for an entire order. There sure are a lot of options out there and I don’t think we can expect the industry to slow down any time soon. There are a lot of factors for grocers to consider — cost, product selection, inventory, customer service, etc. I think we both are looking forward to seeing these services get even stronger and more rewarding, right Greg?

Greg: That’s right, Jeff. Unlike some of the colleagues, I’d honestly love to never have to think about getting my own groceries. Maybe I should move back home…

In the meantime, I can just eat Cabo Bob’s for every meal.

Ketner Group Seeking a Spring 2019 Intern

Ketner Group is currently seeking a driven, hard-working intern for the Spring 2019 semester to support our team, with the possibility of an extended offer as a summer intern. The paid internship begins in January 2019, offering a flexible schedule of 15-20 hours per week. Between collaborating with our energetic and creative team and gaining real-world agency experience supporting our B2B clients, the intern will have many opportunities for growth.

Qualifications:

  • Entering or currently in junior or senior year of undergraduate studies
  • Possess strong writing and communication skills
  • Willingness to work independently in a fast-paced environment
  • Organized and detail-oriented
  • Previous public relations and/or communications internship experience is required, preferably with an agency
  • Ability to learn quickly and adapt to our team’s work culture

Responsibilities will include:

  • Researching media and analysts
  • Editing and/or writing client press releases and marketing materials
  • Managing editorial opportunities
  • Compiling award and speaking calendar
  • Building media lists
  • Crafting blog content for clients and internal use
  • Developing social media posts for client and internal use
  • Participating in staff meetings
  • Assisting with other duties as assigned

Application instructions: 

Please send a resume and cover letter, along with writing samples, to Mariana Fischbach at [email protected]; no phone calls, please.