sustainability strategic messaging

Integrating Sustainability Into Your Strategic Messaging

This blog post has been provided by our intern, Katie Stone.

Earth Day is a special day to me. Not only is it a day that celebrates the Earth and its resources, but it is also my parent’s wedding anniversary. Though not intentional, the holiday seems fitting. Growing up, my parents taught me to respect the Earth through evenings spent watching nature documentaries and taking family trips to national parks. Now as an adult, I care deeply about the planet and climate change issues. Likewise, I know I am not the only member of Gen Z to think this way.

According to the 2019 Retail and Sustainability Survey by CGS, 68% of Generation Z shoppers have made an eco-friendly purchase in the past year. The survey also shows that Gen Z ranks ethical business as one of its top factors when making a purchase. Therefore, retailers who aren’t using eco-friendly strategic messaging are going to be abandoned by the up-and-coming generation.

Be Transparent About Sustainability

Before you publicly declare your company an eco-friendly one, do a quick analysis of your company’s current practices. If your company has made, or is currently making some environmental mistakes, get in front of it. Be open and transparent about past mistakes while directing your messaging toward the future. Detail your company’s plans to reduce or eliminate its negative effects on the planet through proactive digital media campaigns. When your company reaches a goal, use social media, press releases and other PR tactics to get your message heard. A strategic approach to eco-friendly branding will strengthen your brand amongst Gen Z and your other target audiences.

Include Sustainability in Your Strategic Messaging

Developing strategic messages will establish your company as a thought leader in sustainability. Spend some time developing key messaging that aligns with the messaging you already have. Test out what works and doesn’t work. Then, work with company spokespeople to get all of your strategic messaging consistent and include it in traditional and digital media.

When you identify the messaging you want to use, it is important that the messaging is laced throughout your brand. One post on social media using #EarthDay isn’t going to cut it anymore. Demonstrating your company’s sustainable initiatives year-round will give your larger Earth Day campaigns more validation.

Flesh Out Your Community Relations Initiatives

Showing is often more important than telling when it comes to environmentally friendly initiatives, as it proves that your company genuinely cares about the environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of possible community relations practices. Here are a few earth friendly community relations ideas to try in your office:

  • Incentivize volunteer work
  • Get your office to participate in #MeatlessMondays
  • Donate time and money to local environmental charities
  • Start a rooftop garden, or sponsor a community garden
  • Encourage carpools and working remote

When your company takes part in community relations activities, make sure you include it in marketing pieces. For example, highlight the activities in a newsletter or write a blog about the experience. Visual content is key, so make sure you get lots of pictures and video. You can use this content on social media and other branding materials.

Find Your Approach to Branding

There are many different approaches that companies can take when branding themselves as sustainable. To sum up, find what works for your brand and run with it. Looking to build out your strategic messaging beyond Earth Day? Send an email to [email protected] – we love to talk branding!

SXSW 2016: The Customer May Always Be Right, But What The Heck Do They Want?

SXSW Interactive 2016 blazed through Austin this past week in typical disruptive fashion, bringing the tech industry’s brightest minds into town for a five-day festival that was all business during the day and all party during the night.

No matter the application, the topic of how to engage customers was at the forefront of the most prominent conversations. From machine learning to data analytics to mobile, all technology pointed to one focal point – the customer and their engagement.

However, during all of the discussions one thing became apparent: while we now have technology that can help us track and study customers’ actions throughout the engagement cycle, we cannot yet decipher what prompted the customer to begin the engagement process with a particular brand.

Zappos Product Manager Kandis Yaokum best described it during the panel session titled “Future of Cool: Predicting What’s Next in Fashion”. Sitting alongside ThoughtWorks Senior Retail Consultant Rachel Brooks, Google Fashion Data Scientist Olivier Zimmer and Shoptelligence Founder Laura Khoury, Yaokum discussed how data analytics is helping fashion retailers predict what will be the industry’s next big trend. When Yaokum was asked “what kept her up at night?,” she answered that it was not knowing why a particular customer decided that a certain product was the “cool one” to buy and what stirred the initial curiosity to engage with a brand.

All the panel members described how data analytics is historical by nature, and can help deliver better insights into overall trends that can help predict the future. However, understanding what sparked a customer’s initial attention is still something that technology cannot yet decipher.

It seems we are at an inflection point, however; additional sessions all pointed to a better understanding of the customer and different ways we can look at the convergence of brand and technology to spark and measure customer’s attention. Key themes that emerged included:

It’s all about psychology: a brand’s engagement with a consumer should have personal and organic connection.

  • Marcela Sapone, founder of the New York based startup, Hello Alfred, discussed that how brands make you feel is all about perception, and brands can use this perception alongside technology as a metric to continue innovating and building a better product.

Going beyond the product – A physical store setting should be more about the overall experience and providing content customers can immerse themselves in.

  • STORY founder Rachel Shecthman discussed how the retail store should be utilized as a media channel to create an experience that immerses customers in the overall story and gives them something to do. We should think about physical stores as living labs and places of entertainment that are enabled by technology.

Democratizing access to luxury: luxury is now defined as a combination of access, experiences and usability.

  • Discussing wearables, Uri Minkoff and Decoded’s Liz Bacelar emphasized how luxury items should be both about usability and functionality and how the wearables of the future will be more about portraying emotion than tracking health data.

ALL customers are individuals.

  • Refinery29’s Phillipe von Borries discussed how all brands should look to people as individuals instead of grouping them into a block such as a generational age group. The power, he says, lies in niches – people who are defined by their overall passions and hobbies.

At the end of the day, the customer is the key driver, and brands that look to incorporate innovative technologies and tactics into their overall customer experience philosophy will continue to spark their attention.

Vine: The New Social Sensation?

VineWell we’ve just begun 2013 and a starlet app has already hit the social scene. Vine is the new kid on the block everyone is talking about – could it be the next big thing in social sharing? It’s still too early to tell, but the mobile technology industry seems to think this Twitter spinoff has a pretty good shot.

Vine is a video creation platform designed to let users record 6-second video clips or GIF-like spots and share them to the social sphere. After its January 2013 release by Twitter, the industry hype surrounding the app has been on the rise. Other social video products, like SocialCam and Viddy, have been circulating the mobile sharing community as early as 2011. These platforms gained momentum rapidly, but after the launch of the social media giant’s own video app, the chances of survival have dwindled drastically. Viddy has experienced the most significant blow to followers and finances after supposedly turning down a buyout by the very company that is putting it out of business.

Brands like Trident and Wheat Thins have already jumped on the Vine train, and more companies are on their way to implementing the new social feature on Twitter. While the video application offers a unique outlet to not only promote products and services, Vine does come with bugs and burdens as new platforms typically do. Some non-Apple mobile devices have seen difficulty viewing the clips and other issues involve the inappropriate or unintended use of Vine for explicit content. Vine has its concerns, but the possibilities for future use are potentially endless. Specifically, the entertainment industry is interested to see how this new face of social sharing will impact music marketing.

So will Vine become another addition to the list of failed “Instagram for video” platforms, or will this new app see a consistent following in the coming months? Only time will tell, but KG looks forward to observing the role Vine will play at the fast-approaching SXSW Interactive Festival!

The Mobile (Presidential) Election of 2012

mobile-pres-election-blog-imageAs originally posted on The Mobile Retail Blog http://www.themobileretailblog.com/social-media/the-mobile-presidential-election-of-2012/

It’s hard to imagine that in a little over two weeks, our country will have elected (or re-elected) a new president. What a difference four years makes. For example, just here at the Ketner Group, the team has definitely gone through its share of changes and life-changing moments – we’ve had one new baby, two marriages, two cross-country moves to California and Texas, and have bought seven new cars!

Other things have changed, too, especially on the technology front. Thinking back to the 2008 election, or what is known as “The Social Media” election, Facebook and Twitter were a key factor into President Obama’s election win.  In fact, it was his campaign team who pioneered the use of social media for organizing, fundraising, and communicating his 2008 White House bid. And boy did it work! Continue reading

The Scariest Thing You’ll See This Halloween… AP Style Mistakes!

ap-stylebook1Sure. Zombies and ghosts can give you chills, but nothing makes you squirm like a misplaced comma or the double space between sentences. We know deadlines and full schedules dictate most of our days, but making time to review the latest AP Stylebook might be just what you need to polish up your nearly-flawless writing skills!

The team at Ketner Group decided to highlight which mistakes we make the most and which common errors make our hair stand on end.

KG’s Most Common Mistakes

  • Using “their” Instead of “its.” – Jeff’s our biggest offender on this one!
  • The Double Space Two-Step – As Catherine would say! It’s a tough change, but we’re all in this together.
  • Too Many Commas – Caitlin has become a little comma happy recently – this article in PR Daily is a great read for tips on comma usage!
  • Misspelled Words – Brittany’s a Grammar Hammer, but “occasion” and “fulfillment” give her some spelling trouble every now and then. Continue reading

Halloween: In Need of Good PR?

madeleine-halloweenIs it just me, or is the Halloween industry in need of a branding facelift?  When I was a kid, it never occurred to me that this “holiday of sorts” was the cause for so much controversy between differing religious groups, let alone the fact that Halloween’s roots come from ancient pagans who believed that October 31 was the day that the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. (Thus ancient Celtics would wear masks to scare away any spirits.) I come from a Christian family, but my parents were not the ultra-conservative type, and so my brother and I always dressed up for Halloween, participated in Halloween parties at school and always went trick or treating in our safe suburban neighborhood in Lubbock, Texas.

Nowadays, however, Halloween as a “holiday” has a much different look and the industry has literally exploded right before our eyes.  In doing research for this blog, I found a stat from BIGResearch that in 2005 (the year my daughter was born) consumers spent almost $3.30 billion.  For 2012, figures are estimated to top $8 billion– spending of course on costumes, decorations, and candy. So, if you look at the Halloween from a figures standpoint, the industry has done, well, pretty dang amazing! Continue reading

A word from our newest!

Brittany graduateI’m Ketner Group’s resident rookie. I graduated with my bachelor’s of public relations way, way back in May 2009, and promptly joined the Ketner Group family.

I’ve known from the beginning that I liked my job. We have awesome clients. I have a super cute desk (let’s be honest, what PR girl does not like cute office furniture from IKEA?) and post-it notes that bear my initials (again, PR ladies, do not act like you aren’t jealous). I even have my own extension and business cards (I know you are impressed!). Our team really is like a family, which I proudly admit even though I fall squarely in the “cliché” camp with that admission.

I knew I liked my job, but when friends, family and really anyone else asked me how I liked it, I would quickly give a thoughtless answer, something like, “It’s OK,” and change the subject.
Really? It’s just OK?

I blame my wishy-washy feelings on the transition from full-time student to full-time employee. Let’s examine.

Maybe it was my deep-seated fear that I chose the wrong major. I mean, there was that existential meltdown of 2007 when I applied for and was accepted to become an advertising major, only to jump right back into the PR camp after deciding my professors were biased and made advertising appear overly sexy and glamorous. For shame, professors! But I never did feel confident in my decision again.

Maybe it was how I didn’t know how I truly felt about the cold, hard fact that I will never again have a summer vacation or a whole month off for winter break. Truthfully, it was a little difficult to pick and choose which family holiday obligations I was actually obliged to attend, and then to carefully ration my vacation days so as to make the most people happy while saving enough days for the rest of the year. Continue reading

The Power of the Press (Release)

For better or worse, press releases are a staple of every public relations toolkit. Used incorrectly, they can be the bane of an editor’s inbox: when the “news” isn’t really newsworthy, when companies take a shotgun approach to the media list, and when media outlets are bombarded with irrelevant information (does the New York Times really care about your software company’s latest technology partnership?).

Used properly, however, a press release is a powerful communications tool that can help create sales opportunities, drive revenues and much more – all of which is underscored by several client examples from the past few months.

Just before this month’s NRF (National Retail Federation) show, for example, one of our retail technology clients, an NRF exhibitor, received a call from a midsized apparel retailer, requesting a meeting at the show. The impetus? The retailer had just seen a press release announcing that another retailer (one of our client’s customers) had received a major industry award for successfully implementing our client’s software. If our client’s software could provide a competitive advantage, this retailer didn’t want to be left out in the cold. The press release opened a door, the meeting went well, and sales discussions are continuing.

In a similar vein, this fall we announced that a well-known consumer electronics brand had tapped another of our clients for a major technology initiative – and within a few days, our client received an inquiry from another brand looking for a similar solution. That inquiry has led to ongoing sales meetings, and at this point, a deal looks probable. If so, the revenue from that one customer will likely cover the cost of our PR services for many years to come.

Continue reading