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Ketner Group Takes the Stage in Music City, U.S.A

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a HUGE Walt Disney fan. I try to sneak in a Disney-themed Easter egg from time to time in my blogs – mostly for my own enjoyment! Without a doubt, he is one of my all-time heroes. Big shoes to aspire after, I know, but the global entertainment empire Disney created is a marvel. Above all, he was a storyteller at heart. He never stopped dreaming, never stopped creating and always pushed the limits of what was possible in order to make us (his audience) feel that Disney magic.

One of Disney’s most famous quotes, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths,” has been one of my mantras here at Ketner Group. It was my guiding light when we opened our New York office this past January. And it currently plays over and over in my mind as we officially mark the opening of our new digs in Nashville today!

A City On The Move

We’ve known for some time that Nashville is a force to be reckoned with, and when the perfect opportunity came along to create a presence there (read Kirsty’s Q&A), we knew that it was the right move for Ketner Group. Consider this:

  • Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and has added 200,000 jobs since 2014.
  • It was recently ranked as a top city for young professionals
  • It is also ranked as the top city in the U.S. for business conventions, and one of the best cities to buy a house.
  • In addition, multiple national and start-up companies have launched their regional headquarters in the city including Amazon, Mitsubishi, Clover Health, and many, many more.

The list of Nashville’s accolades goes on and on, with more to come!

Just Keep Growing, Just Keep Changing

In any business, growing, changing and evolving is the key to long-term success. Walt Disney knew that, and so does the team here at Ketner Group Communications. Expanding into both New York and now Nashville is an exciting and strategic next step in the life of our agency.

Nashville and New York allow us to continue opening more doors and creating new ways to tell our clients’ stories. We are thrilled to join the ranks of growing companies in the greater Nashville area.

As we said in our press release, “Ketner Group is committed to being a part of the growth, and we’re excited to play a role in telling the compelling stories coming out of these innovative businesses.”

The first exciting moment in our launch week took place on Monday night, when we hosted our official launch party in our WeWork office in East Nashville with a great group of female communicators offering super tips on how to tell stories that build your brand. Read our recap to learn more!

We are also thrilled to have launched Ketner Group Nashville during the 36/86 Entrepreneurship Festival. Kirsty Goodlett, our director of Nashville, was joined by Lisa Roberts, seasoned executive marketer and Ben Kurland, co-founder, BillFixers, to speak on a panel to provide PR, marketing and storytelling best practices to startups and entrepreneurs. Our recap of that event will fill you in on all the goodness that took place!

As we “take the stage” in Nashville, I’m reminded Walt Disney once said that Disneyland would never be completed, that it would grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. I feel the same way. Ketner Group’s mission is to tell great stories. I’m excited to plan where we will go next! After all, there are still plenty of stories left to tell.

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.

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?

NRF 2017: Don’t Throw Away Your Shot in the Greatest City in the World!

For those of you who are theater nerds like me, perhaps you caught the mashed-up reference to two songs from the critically acclaimed, Tony award-winning Broadway musical, Hamilton. (For those of you who didn’t catch the reference, I’ll forgive you only if you can score me 5 tickets to the show next Tuesday!)

Image provided by Kathleen See
Image provided by Kathleen See

But, back to the matter at hand. Those of us working in the retail industry know there are exactly nine days until NRF begins. As of right now, the race is on to be in the room where it happens -“it” meaning where the best and brightest in retail come together to showcase the technologies that will change the way consumers shop in 2017 and beyond. (I’d also like to say I threw in another Hamilton song reference in this paragraph. I’ll let you figure that out on your own.)

The Ketner Group team has attended and supported our clients at NRF for nearly 15 years, and we’ve learned a few things along the way – one big one is to wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated in between your Starbucks trips! Here are a few additional PR tips to keep in mind as we enter these last few days before the BIG show:

Don’t save all your announcements until January. Most vendors spend months planning their NRF announcements. But why cram all your news into a three-day period? We counsel our clients not to save everything until NRF, but rather to adopt a release strategy for before, during and after the Big Show.

Announcing significant customer wins and new technology in the months leading up to NRF is a great way to build momentum going into the show and to trumpet your successes to prospects. During the show, your news faces stiff competition from hundreds of other press releases, but one or two newsworthy announcements can help drive booth traffic and create a buzz during NRF. After the show is a good time for announcements, too; editors’ inboxes will be a lot less crowded, many of your competitors will emptied their arsenal of news at NRF, and your news will have room to breathe.

Don’t expect to brief everyone at NRF. While NRF presents a terrific opportunity for face-to-face meetings with key editors and analysts, you won’t be able to meet with everyone on your list. The top editors and analysts are in high demand during NRF and have tightly packed schedules; many of them will have their entire days booked in 30-minute slots starting at 6:30 a.m., and paying clients and prospects will have top priority. It is important to respect the fact that they may not be able to meet with you; briefings before or after NRF can often be more relaxed and unhurried.

In keeping with this, we advise our clients to connect with key influencers in the months leading up to NRF. Schedules are more open, and it’s an excellent time to bring analysts and editors up to speed on your company’s latest products, customers and other developments. During these briefings, you can also lay the groundwork for a possible meeting or product demo at NRF.

Leave the PowerPoints at home. The editors and analysts you meet at NRF will likely be cramming 30+ vendor meetings into their day – which can mean an equal number of mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations. We advise our clients to scrap the PowerPoints during NRF. After all, if you’ve done your briefings in the fall, then an NRF meeting can be a chance to build a one-on-one relationship. Offer editors and analysts a comfortable place to sit (their feet will be aching!), bottled water and treat them the same way you’d treat your most valued customers. Find out in advance what they’d like to focus on during the meeting: demo, product roadmap or customer announcements. If an editor is accompanied by a sales rep, be sure to give him or her equal time, too.  After all, editors and analysts have to make a living, too, and many of the lead generation programs offered by the top retail and analyst firms can produce solid results.

 If companies prepare properly, NRF can get the new year off to a running start. Don’t forget, history will have its eyes on New York during those four days this January – what will you do to earn your shot in the greatest city in the world?

#KeepPRWeird: Top 3 Take-Aways from PRSA 2013 Southwest District Conference

I’m on the PRSA Austin Chapter board and gladly volunteered to serve on the planning committee for the PRSA 2013 Southwest District Conference, which was June 5-7. I had an exciting job as the Special Events Committee Chair, which means that I got to plan the social events. What conference goes without networking and happy hours?

And what networking happy hour goes without a life-size poster board of John Wayne? He went with us everywhere!

Here’s a small group of us keeping it strictly business, of course, at Lustre Pearl during our Rainey Street Pub Crawl. That’s me in the cowgirl hat and glow sticks (yep, glow sticks).

To get back to the REAL reason PR pros from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico and more gathered in the capital city of Texas, we were there to learn how to “Keep PR Weird,” which was the official conference slogan. Not only did David Lieber, Watchdog Investigative Columnist at Dallas Morning News, say that #KeepPRWeird was the best conference slogan he’s seen in 20 years, it was trending locally for both Twitter and Instagram (thanks to our Pub Crawl photo contest), so check out the conversations!

If I had to take three lessons home from the conference, it’d be these:

1. Storytelling is everything.

Stories are the reason humankind has some idea of our past. From the beginning of time, humans have been passing on important information through stories–whether it was carvings in a rock, through song or written down. We still share and remember important information through stories, and we’re wired to think that way. David Lieber, the opening keynote speaker, emphasized the importance of companies and brands telling their stories. Each story should have a hero/heroine, and the story should have a beginning, climax and end. Make sure to describe the problem you’re solving and illustrate the challenges that brought you where you are today–it makes your company seem much more human. And people crave that human touch.

2. Measurement of Social Media? Possible!

Angela Jeffrey, APR, Senior Counsel for CARMA International, presented a session titled, “The R Social Media ROI.” This was a really useful session, because all PR people know what a headache it can be to try and measure anything in PR, let alone social media. Angela is a fan of the AMEC Social Media Valid Framework, and if you are unfamiliar with it, you can read up on it at (a very helpful presentation) or take a look at Angela’s PR News article that breaks it down nicely. According to Angela, “The philosophy behind the guidelines states that to truly demonstrate the value of PR, metrics need to be linked to the business objective of the program, and move beyond measuring outputs to measuring outcomes. The Framework helps you identify suitable metrics for PR and social media programs that take you from cursory to meaningful measures that resound with the C-suite and help you refine your programs.”

Angela gave attendees a very specific 8 step process for measuring social media activity:

  1. Define organizational goals
  2. Research stakeholders and prioritize
  3. Set specific objectives for each key stakeholder group
  4. Set traditional/social media KPIs against each objective
  5. Choose tools and benchmark (using the AMEC Framework)
  6. Analyze the results and compare to costs
  7. Present to management
  8. Measure continuously and improve performance
To learn more about her process, visit and download her latest white paper.

3. An organization can survive a crisis through honesty and passion

The closing keynote was awesome. Katherine McLain, VP of Communications at Livestrong Foundation, spoke on how to overcome a crisis situation, especially when your organization relies on donations. Following the investigation into and admittance of Lance Armstrong’s doping use, the Livestrong Foundation took a hit. Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator had said, “[They are] not going to be able to survive if the person who is behind the spirit of [the organization] is in trouble. It is just going to devastate them.” Ouch! What Livestrong ultimately did was focus on the positive: They are there to help people through difficult struggles in their lives. People with cancer. People who need the foundation to assist them with their fight. Livestrong developed a hashtag that helped position them above the controversy: #FightWithUs. They also developed videos that illustrated individual peoples’ battles with cancer. They focused on the positive, distanced themselves from the negative and marched on.

If you want to chat more about what I learned at the PRSA Southwest District Conference, hit me up on Twitter! @CaitlinNew


W-R-I-T-E: An Acrostic Method to Writing About Something You Don’t Understand

Every PR or media professional has been there. We’ve all been assigned that writing piece that’s guaranteed to scramble your brain. Like a kid who hates dodge ball hiding from the ‘choose your team’ line-up, you shrank in your seat or went silent on your phone line hoping that the arduous task wouldn’t fall to you. But just as the dodge ball-hating kid needs to play for a grade, you need to write for a living.

Now that the challenging writing assignment is yours, let’s talk about some ways that could make it easier for you to formulate an intelligent collection of thoughts about a subject about which you honestly know nothing. It’s been a while since I’ve used the Acrostic method to make a point, so let’s use WRITE to spell out a workable method to successfully writing this madness.


Who is your audience? I know this sounds basic, but it’s an important step we writers sometimes skip when launching into an article. You should really stop to identify for whom you’re writing so that (1) you know how to position the information and (2, and most helpfully) you can understand which sources could help you better comprehend the topic. Many people in your audience most likely have written content on the topic, as well. This brings us to our next letter.

Research, research, research. Clients love to give us the go-ahead on writing bylines and other pieces, but rarely have time to instruct us on the subject matter. When a client’s industry is highly technical or difficult to understand, this could be a nightmare. Therefore, work in time to do a deep-dive research session. Many times, this requires moving beyond reading through the material your client sent and finding handfuls of other articles written by professionals in the industry. Recently, I had to write a blog post about a highly-detailed, business profitability best practice. I spent about an hour just researching the topic before I even wrote one word.

Intelligent sources. When you obviously can’t speak as the expert, find experts who can. This goes hand-in-hand with research. Researching sparks great ideas, but if these ideas aren’t your own, quote them. This is a great way to get a point across fairly, and add credibility to your article. Continue reading

A Gold Medal Summer

A Gold Medal Summer

Everyone at KG knows that I’m a huge sports fan, and of course, every two years I cannot wait for the arrival of the Olympics. I love everything about the Olympics, even Bob Costas. Nothing beats watching an underdog team beat the incumbent gold medal winner or an individual athlete overcoming incredible odds to win the race.  In my opinion, the Olympics have provided some of the most historic and inspirational athletic feats in recent history.

In a little over a month, the best athletes from all over the world will descend upon London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. (As an interesting aside, our very own Brittany Johnson and her husband have been lucky enough to score tickets to a few of the events!) As the world prepares to watch more record-breaking races and nail-biting gymnastic routines – I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane on some of the top Olympic moments.  After all, so many of these were great PR stories for their time!

Jesse Owens – Conquering the World Though Racial and Physical Obstacles

During the 1936 Olympics against the back drop of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Olympic track star Jesse Owens, won four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump. He broke or equaled nine Olympic records and set three world records. Adolf Hitler hoped that the Berlin Games would prove his theory of Aryan racial superiority; however, Jesse Owen’s achievements led the people of Berlin to hail him as a hero. One of the most memorable moments of the games was when a 19-year old Germany athlete congratulated Owens after a qualifying round, in full view of Hitler.

The Holy Trinity of Gymnastics – Comaneci, Retton, Strug

You can’t call yourself a woman’s gymnastics fan unless you know about these three ladies, who all made historic achievements during three different summer Olympics:

  • Nadia Comaneci – During the 1976 Olympics, Nadia scored what is now known as “The” Perfect Ten.  She was the first gymnast to ever score a perfect “10” – and went on in her career to repeat this feat six times at Olympic competitions.
  • Mary Lou Retton – In the 1984 Olympics, she was the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title. Retton scored perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault to win the all-around title by 0.05 points.
  • Kerri Strug – During the 1996 Olympics, Kerri (a part of the Magnificent Seven U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team) fought through injury and enormous expectations to land a vault on one leg, guaranteeing her team gold.  The Magnificent Seven remain the only U.S. women’s gymnastics team to claim Olympic gold.

Miracle On Ice – A Defining Moment in Olympic History
The “Miracle on Ice” is the name in American popular culture for a medal-round men’s ice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, on Friday, February 22. The United States team, made up of amateur and collegiate players and led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet team, who had won nearly every world championship and Olympic tournament since 1954. Team USA went on to win the gold medal by winning its last match over Finland. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the “Miracle on Ice” the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century.

Tell us your favorite Olympic moments!

Is the Press Release Dead?

Has the press release run its course as a valuable communications tool, or, to paraphrase Mark Twain, have rumors of its death been greatly exaggerated? A few of us share our opinions on why—or why the press release isn’t—dead.

Jeff Ketner:
At least among the Ketner Group client base, the press release is alive and well. Our team represented eight clients at the annual NRF (National Retail Federation) convention last month, and between them, our clients issued well over a dozen press releases in a 10-day period. These news releases were essential for getting coverage in both pre-NRF and post-show coverage, and several of our clients were featured in “Best of NRF” articles – and yep, press releases were essential for helping garner this coverage.

But the press release is only part of the toolkit. PR people have to develop relationships with media and analysts, thoroughly understand (and read!) the publications they’re pitching, offer newsworthy and relevant story ideas, respond quickly and intelligently when working with media, and maintain integrity and honesty throughout the process. Like media pitches, press releases have to keep the audience in mind, too.

Caitlin New:
The press release IS dead! Stop, pick your jaw up off the ground and pop your eyes back in. Let me clarify—the original way of writing and sending press releases is dead, but just as sure as technology and fashion evolve, so does the press release.

Here are a few ways press releases have changed: Continue reading

5 SXSWi Sessions PR Pros Shouldn’t Miss

Image provided by, photo by: Brittany Ryan

Image provided by, photo by: Brittany Ryan.
It’s T-minus one month and six days until Austin’s most anticipated conference of the year. South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) begins Friday, March 9 and the whole city is preparing. Hotels have tripled their rates and are mostly booked, the city is organizing the transportation routes and local Austinites are planning their schedules and thanking their lucky stars they live close by.

I’m excited Ketner Group is sending a couple of us to SXSWi—I can’t wait to absorb all of the marketing, new media and technology ideas and advice everyone has to share. The session line up looks really interesting, and the only thing that disappoints me is that I can’t be in more than one place at the same time. You should see my schedule on the SXSWi. The site lets you star the sessions you find interesting and adds them to your “My SXSW Schedule” tab in your account. There are places where I have five sessions at the same time—that’s just not possible.

This got me thinking, “I wish someone would read through all several hundred sessions and let me know which ones are a MUST-SEE as a PR professional.” Apparently, bottles aren’t big enough to hold genies and leprechauns are really hard to catch. So I read through every single session description and starred my favorites. If you’re a PR pro, I would recommend starring the following sessions for yourself:

“Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas”
Presenter: David Meerman Scott (Best-selling author!)
The rules have changed. The traditional PR model—sticking closely to a preset script and campaign timeline—no longer works the way it used to. Public discourse now moves so fast and so dynamically that all it takes is a single afternoon to blast the wheels off someone’s laboriously crafted narrative. Enter newsjacking: the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. It creates a level playing field—literally anyone can newsjack—but, that new level favors players who are observant, quick to react, and skilled at communicating. It’s a powerful tool that can be used to throw an opponent or simply draft off the news momentum to further your own ends. Marketing and PR expert and bestselling author David Meerman Scott prepares you to launch your business ahead of the competition and attract the attention of highly-engaged audiences by taking advantage of breaking news

“We Made This, and it’s Not an Ad”
Presenter: Robbie Whiting, Director of Creative Tech & Production, Duncan/Channon
What if agencies and marketers created products and services, not just ads? And what if they made these things for themselves, not just for clients? They do. But tackling things like product design, creating new businesses or building complex real-world experiences requires a creative, technical, managerial and entrepreneurial spirit more associated with Silicon Valley than Madison Avenue. It demands new roles, agile approaches, external partnerships, technologies, investments and compensation models that can drive even the most hardened finance director crazy. And in some cases, it may even require a complete reboot from the ground up. The ability to make something that isn’t an “ad” is no longer optional in modern advertising. But it’s certainly not easy, either. So what can we learn from the makers, technologists and agencies already playing in this space? Turns out, a whole heckuva lot.

“Get Lit: Why Story Matters”
Presenter: Jill Meyers, Editor, American Short Fiction
You built a product. It’s amazing, brilliant, even earth-shattering. You know it, your team knows it, your mom knows it. So why doesn’t anyone else seem to get it? The answer may be that you haven’t told them the right story. As it turns out, good writing is hard to come by, and people who are good at making things aren’t necessarily the best at telling their story. But don’t worry: you can learn! In the world of fiction, we’ve been thinking about story–and how to make it powerful, visceral, and beautiful–for a long time. This panel will bring the practices and structure of fiction to help you transform your idea, product, or service from the mundane to the sublime. Continue reading