Ketner Group Takes Home the Gold…and Platinum MarCom Awards!

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

It’s been a very exciting few weeks over here at Ketner Group Communications, and it just keeps getting better! Last week the MarCom Awards named us gold and platinum winners for client campaigns.

Our founder and president, Jeff Ketner, shared his excitement about the agency’s recognition and his gratitude for the KG team:

We’re proud to receive platinum and gold awards in such a prestigious competition. It’s a testimony to the strategic and creative thinking of our team, and we’re thrilled to be recognized.”

So, what are the MarCom Awards?

The MarCom Awards international creative competition recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals. Entries and winners range from individual communicators to media conglomerates, Fortune 500 companies, corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers.

The competition has grown to perhaps the largest of its kind in the world, with approximately 6,000 entrants, with 15% winning platinum and 20% winning gold awards.

The MarCom Award program is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP), an organization of several thousand creative professionals worldwide. The Association oversees awards and recognition programs, provides judges, and sets standards for industry excellence. As part of its mission, AMCP fosters and supports the efforts of creative professionals who contribute their unique talents to public service and charitable organizations.

A gold-medal eBook

Ketner Group was recognized as a gold winner for the eBook “Health-Conscious Retail,”created for Symphony RetailAI, a global provider of Artificial Intelligence-enabled decision platforms, solutions and customer-centric insights that drive validated growth for retailers and CPG manufacturers. Health is an emerging market trend that grocers must pursue proactively – this eBook helps them to understand health-conscious customers, and how health and wellness needs should inform the retailer’s strategy.

As we’ve found, eBooks like these help B2B vendors create an authentic brand identity and authority among their target audience. Building and distributing content such as this leads to greater engagement and the opportunity to expand existing and prospective relationships.

Social media marketing goes platinum

Ketner Group was also recognized as a platinum winner for its content marketing campaign created for PlumSlice, a cloud-native provider of product workflow automation for enterprise process optimization. The program included sponsored social media promotion of curated thought leadership blogs to highly targeted audiences, emphasizing PlumSlice’s unique approach to improving retailers’ efficiency and profitability in an omni-channel commerce environment.

Staying atop the charts

With our recent name change (Ketner Group Communications), new website, and our “investigative” video release – receiving gold and platinum really was the icing on the cake for a successful month at Ketner Group. Between the MarCom Awards win and our recognition as a finalist for “Best Company Culture” in the 2018 Greater Austin Business Awards, we are wrapping up this year with strong results. As we enter 2019, we will to continue to innovate and produce high-impact work for our clients; whether it receives an award or not doesn’t ultimately matter – but hey, it doesn’t hurt!

PRSA ICON 2018: It’s All About Relevant and Data-Driven Content

Last week, the Ketner Group team attended the PRSA 2018 International Conference, better known to the public relations community as PRSA ICON, in our own backyard here in Austin, Texas. If you are not familiar with the conference, it’s designed specifically to help the communications community enhance our personal and professional network through career development and connecting with other PR practitioners.

Needless to say, the KG team definitely networked, and we DEFINITELY returned to the office with new ideas and methods for bettering our professional craft. We heard inspiring keynotes from Do Something’s CEO Aria Finger and digital marketing pioneer Ann Handley. The PRSA ICON breakout sessions we attended were all about perfecting your messages in clear yet relevant ways, and also explored new sectors of the communications industry. Here are just a few tidbits of the best practices we learned at PRSA ICON this year:

Lesson One: Communicating should ALWAYS be about your audience

Although as communication professionals we may think we are clearly delivering our messages, that may not always be the case. As we learned at the conference, we currently live in the age where content is king, but that can lead to a vicious cycle of “churning and burning” an immense amount of content, losing sight of one key component: your target audience. For example, think of a scenario where someone is just talking at you, instead of trying to understand what experiences or topics may be relevant to you based on your experiences and former knowledge – chances are, mid-lecture your mind will start drifting away to more relevant thoughts.

Therefore, your audience should always be at the forefront of the message. Key questions like ‘what is my audience’s point of reference?’ and ‘why would this be relevant to them?’ and ‘what does my audience need?’ should always lead your messaging strategy. After all, if you lose your audience, who is going to read your content?

Lesson Two: We are all, or should strive to be, data analysts

We live in a digital age where every search and click is tracked. And while we in the PR world are notorious for disliking math and preferring words over figures, it’s time to join the data revolution. At PRSA ICON, we discussed the need for PR professionals to dive into the world of data to create an even bigger need and sense of interest for each and every story, while continuing to make our pitches and strategies not only timely but also informed and relevant. As IBM’s Brandi Boatner explained during her workshop, while the world of data is intimidating, the key here is to start one step at a time. She recommended starting with Google Trends and then identifying data sets that are relevant to your communications strategy. As Boatner explained, when you dive into the world of data, you should not try to analyze a large amount of data all at once, as both you and your audience will be overwhelmed: “A good storyteller masters things that are unseen and with AI and data analytics, you can create a communications strategy that quickly identifies and gets ahead of trends.”

Lesson Three: Social media influencers are now a staple in public relations

As industry conversations continue to heat up on the effectiveness of social media influencers, the fact is, social influencers are now and will continue to be a staple in the world of communications. (Ketner Group recently profiled one such influencer in a recent blog!) What’s more, social media influencers can help companies effectively grow organic audiences and customers they would not have had before. As we learned at PRSA ICON, leveraging social media influencers for your communication efforts is a matter of conducting diligent research to identify the right influencers that will create a new level of authentic communication between you and your target audience.

As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” And in public relations and communications as a whole, there is something new to learn every day! We look forward to implementing the lessons learned at this year’s conference into our communications craft as we continue to be life-long learners in this industry.

New Things Are All Around – Welcome to Ketner Group Communications

I always tell people it’s the little things that make me happy – a good hair day, catching all the green lights on the way home, or finding that lost $10 bill in my pocket. That’s why today, the official launch of our new and improved Ketner Group website, I am grinning ear to ear remembering all of the (several dozen) little things that happened during the journey of creating this latest version of KetnerGroup.com.

For starters, before the painstaking, yet satisfying process of developing the new website began – Jeff Ketner and I made the bold decision to change the name of the agency to Ketner Group Communications, leaving behind Ketner Group PR + Marketing. As an agency, we have grown in so many ways over the past few years, not only in our ranks, but also in expanding our scope of services to offer social media management and digital content marketing to clients. We felt that the word “communications” better described where we are now and where we are headed in the years to come. We think it fits us quite nicely, and we hope you like it!

So, a new name meant a new logo, with a new color palette, to go along with a new website! Enter our new and amazing friends from Mixtape Marketing (bless their hearts) who have hung in there with us since November 2017 and have been the best marketing and design partners we could ever ask for! No one ever said creating a new website was easy, but the Mixtape team made the nearly year-long process of getting this sucker off the ground a fun and enjoyable experience. Our hats off to them.

As part of the new Ketnergroup.com site, we wanted the content, design, tone and imagery to better reflect who we are as a group and our philosophy as an agency. As the homepage says, we are “obsessed with exceeding client expectations” and we love showcasing our can-do culture. It’s at the heart of who we are. We are a fun group of taco and latte-loving “strategists, writers, talkers, listeners, tweeters, readers, music nerds and goofballs” who love nothing more than to see our clients win big. We think that sentiment is perfectly reflected in the new website.

While we hoped to have launched the site sooner, we had a few worthwhile roadblocks come up this past year that needed our attention – like the six new clients we brought on in 2018, which led us to hire three new employees, bringing our current KG full-time employee count to 10. We were nominated as a finalist in “company culture” for the 2018 Greater Austin Business awards, and have been busy finalizing the details to open a New York office in 2019. Oh, and we bought new chairs for our conference room – they are so nice and comfy! Like I said, it’s the little things.

I suppose you can consider this blog the digital version of a “ribbon cutting” ceremony for the new Ketnergroup.com! To make it KG official though, we celebrated with some Torchy’s chips and queso, a big chocolate cake and champagne. It’s how we roll.

Welcome to Ketner Group Communications – our door is always open!

Austin’s Domain: Who Says Shopping Has to Be Boring?

I’ll start with a confession: I don’t really like shopping, which is a surprising admission for someone who’s worked with enough retail technology companies to populate a small mall. My idea of a great shopping trip is spending five minutes on my laptop, finding a reasonably good deal, ordering what I need online, and then calling it a day. I’m one of the millions of reasons why ecommerce sales continue to skyrocket, year after year. (And yes, my Amazon Prime account gets a hefty workout every week.)

Here’s my second confession, though: I love observing retail trends and the creative ways that retailers are reinventing themselves to get people off the couch and back into their stores. And what’s happening at the Domain, Austin’s premier shopping destination, is particularly intriguing to me. Retail is transforming at a dizzying rate, and the Domain is a microcosm of the changes in the industry.

For those of you who live outside Austin, the Domain is a thoughtful mix of retail stores, restaurants, hotels, apartments, offices – and a hugely popular Whole Foods – that’s known as Austin’s “second downtown.” It transformed 300 acres of formerly vacant Texas scrubland into a dog-friendly, family-friendly destination that’s fun to visit – even for a shopping curmudgeon like me.

I’ve had multiple occasions to visit the Domain in recent months, and each time I’ve come away convinced that it exemplifies some of the most positive trends in retail’s ongoing renaissance.

Clicks to bricks

Warby Parker, Away, UNTUCKit, Bonobos, b8ta and Casper are some of the hottest e-commerce brands around. They all have brick and mortar stores at the Domain, too, along with Amazon Books, as my fellow KGer Amanda noted in a blog earlier this year. Physical stores are playing an increasingly important role for online retailers, and some of the best can be found at the Domain. (Tip for Amazon power shoppers: take your returns to the Amazon Books location. They’re happy to take them, and they won’t mind if you purchase a book or two while you’re there.)

Turning shopping into an experience

“Experiential retail” is one of the biggest themes in retail right now, as evidenced by the 13.4 million search results on that term in Google. Retailers are focused on creating experiences you simply can’t get online – for example, sampling the coolest tech gear on the planet at b8ta or trying out a Casper mattress. But it’s not just about the experience at each individual retailer. A destination like the Domain makes the entire shopping trip an experience, with green spaces, a splash pad for kids, outdoor restaurants, an entertainment district that rivals Austin’s famed Sixth Street, and a compelling lineup of retailers, which brings up my final point.

Making it fun

People flock to the Domain because it’s fun: a great place to take your out-of-town friends who want to shop, eat dinner, let the kids run around, and experience something that’s uniquely Austin. There’s something for everyone, from luxury brands like Tiffany and Neiman Marcus to brands that are aimed squarely at the mainstream. The Domain is anything but boring; and as retail consultant Steve Dennis points out, it’s a bad time for retailers to be boring. The Domain has taken that mantra to heart.

I may not like to shop, but the Domain has won me over. And it reinforces why I love working with technology companies that are helping drive some of the changes in this fast-paced, fascinating industry.

Intern Series: Career Fairs

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

It’s that time of the year again, a day that can fill students with dread – the career fair. Getting dressed up in our slacks and uncomfortable shoes, printing out (hopefully enough) resumes for everyone we speak to and waiting in line nervously, wondering how to stand out from the other hundred plus students in attendance, are just a few things we worry about. But career fairs shouldn’t be something you avoid. These events can be the perfect opportunity to meet your future employer and get meaningful networking experience. And with UT’s Moody College of Communications Career Fair on September 26, we thought it would be the perfect time to roll out some advice on how to tackle these opportunities.

Do Some Research

It’s okay if you don’t recognize every company attending the career fair. However, doing some research ahead of time on the businesses in attendance is imperative, even ones that might not necessarily be on your radar. This is one of the only opportunities where all of these businesses will be in the same place, so make the most of it and explore your options fully. While you don’t need to know every detail about each company, it makes a big difference when you are familiar with what they do. Visit their website or blog and get an idea of the type of work they do. You can ask them about a certain client or case study, or an open position they have listed; this will show that you didn’t come unprepared. It demonstrates that you are interested in what they do and have taken the time to learn about them beforehand. As you wait in those long lines to speak to someone, bring along notes to review so when it’s your turn to shine, you have lots of ammo for the conversation. On top of that, some colleges provide information on every company that will be in attendance on their app, so see if your school offers it and use it to your advantage!

Dress the Part

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” may sound cliché or lame, but it can make or break a company’s first impression of you. The representatives at each booth came dressed for the part, so you should too. While formal business attire has become less common for employees today, it still plays a part in making a lasting impression on prospective employers. They want to see that you made the effort to get ready for the event, take your career seriously, and that if hired, you would be able to dress professionally. UT also requires that you arrive in professional dress, so don’t make the mistake of preparing for the career fair only to be asked to leave because you showed up in jeans.

Exchange Information

It can be awkward deciding the right time to give someone your resume or business card, but recruiters want them! Even if it turns out you don’t qualify for the position, ask them to hold onto your resume in case something opens up. That company may be looking for someone for a position in the future and remember you and think, “Wow, this person I met at the UT career fair would be perfect for this role, let me go find their resume and contact them.” You worked hard on those materials so hand them out! Even ask for their card; they probably have a stack of about 200 in their office so I’m sure they would love to get rid of one.

Follow Up

A very important step that many students forget is to follow up after the career fair. If you had a particularly memorable or exciting conversation with someone, go ahead and shoot them an email explaining how great it was to meet them. This will lead to the beginning of a professional relationship with that person, and even if you don’t end up working together, it’s always beneficial to have another contact in your field. Even if you felt like the conversation didn’t go so well or was a bit awkward, contact them anyways. It never hurts to let them know you appreciated speaking with them, because at the end of the day they took the time out of their schedule to be at the career fair, too.

Take A Deep Breath

Career fairs can be very nerve-racking, but at the end of the day they are an amazing opportunity to learn about the companies in your area. They give you valuable pitching experience, something that is very beneficial in our field, and provide insight into the real working world. If you want to get hired, you are going to need to learn to vouch for yourself, so get out there and tell these employers why you would be valuable to their company. You have a lot to offer as a young professional, so take a deep breath and take that bull that is the career fair by the horns.

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!