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!

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!

Looking back on SXSW Interactive 2015

Originally posted on PRSA Austin Chapter website. 

SXSW Interactive celebrates  its 21st year in Austin, Texas.
SXSW Interactive celebrates its 21st year in Austin, Texas.

Every year, South by Southwest Interactive brings together the most innovative, entrepreneurial and accomplished individuals to showcase their products and ideas in front of eager audiences. 2015 was certainly no different.

A number of PRSA Austin Chapter board members were in attendance and answered a few questions about their experience. Check out their insight below:

What was your favorite session/panel at SXSW Interactive and why?

  • Sara Lasseter: I immensely enjoyed the panel on the Next Generation of Retail Innovation with the CEOs and founders of StitchFix and Rent the Runway. They had wonderfully insightful commentary on the state of retail and ecommerce operations, as well as where they see their innovative companies going in the future. As a woman in the technology industry, it was inspiring to hear the obstacles they faced in a male dominated startup/venture capital world.
  • Madison LaRoche: My favorite panel of SXSWi was on Reinventing the Cooking Show, in which representatives from PBS Food, ingredient sourcing show Original Fare and online cooking site ChefSteps.com discussed their experiences with digital cooking and food content. Regardless of their goals or plans for how their content would be consumed, all agreed that the digital format allowed for flexibility that was nonexistent in the time of Julia Child. Versus broadcast TV, the digital format allows for greater audience participation, allowing for content to create a feedback loop and a channel for dialog not previously available. At the close of the panel, the message was clear: stay true to the story you want to tell and maintain your authenticity in order to build and maintain brand equity. This lesson rings true well beyond the foodie content culture.
  • Erica Schuckies: My favorite session was called Entertainment and the Edge: Post Millennial Culture. Ian Pierpoint and Jack Horner (who both had very sexy English accents, by the way) provided insight into the minds of ‘Generation Edge,’ which consists of individuals born right after the Millennial generation (after 1995). Pierpoint’s research into this group showed that kids today are more socially aware of the pitfalls in our society and feel a responsibility to make positive changes more than any other generation (at least at their age). Horner described this generation as “rebels with a cause,” acting against the norm to make life better for not only themselves, but also their peers and future generations. Generation Edge is also more thoughtful of what they post on the web and social media; as Horner so eloquently put, “posting less shit.” Let’s hope this is true for all our sakes.
  • Alison Kwong: I really enjoyed the Lyft keynote on Monday afternoon. CEO and co-founder Logan Green is such a smart, articulate spokesperson who was very clear about his company’s story, vision and key differentiators from his competitors. It was apparent in the messaging and what he said about the marketing and plans for growth and future expansion. I also enjoyed Charles Barkley’s panel about staying relevant in the digital age. As a well-respected member of the sports media, I thought his perspective on why he doesn’t participate in social media was interesting as most of his peers and athletes do. The main takeaway was that authenticity and honesty go a long way in the media, especially in the sports industry.
  • Catherine Seeds: My favorite session by far was What Fashion Can Teach Women-Led Companies, which included a panel of the CEO and co-founder of Birchbox, the founder and CEO of Reformation Apparel and the founder and chief editor of Snob Essentials (Great blog on hand bags, by the way, if that is your thing!). This was a wonderful session on how these women have differentiated themselves and their companies by the way they communicate and engage with their customer base and by knowing exactly what their customers (mostly women) want and expect from these fashion and beauty brands. The panel discussed the social media effect on their companies, advice to other women on successfully launching their own companies, and some of the challenges they’ve faced as women-owned companies.

What were the trends that stood out to you while attending the Interactive portion?

  • Alison Kwong: Big data and analytics; the Internet of Things and how it drives innovation; the importance of good content.
  • Catherine Seeds: Retail tech was HUGE this year at SXSW.
  • Sara Lasseter: How to harness big data; mobile tech, of course; the customer experience.
  • Erica Schuckies: Customization of EVERYTHING, from wearables to user experiences to marketing & advertising; short-form video and social platforms catering to this concept (Meerkat, Meerkat, Meerkat); mobile-first mentality.

Did you Meerkat at all during SXSW Interactive? If so, what did you Meerkat?

  • Madison LaRoche: I downloaded Meerkat but was too scared/busy/uninterested to experiment with it at the time.
  • Erica Shuckies: Same as Madison – I downloaded the app with all intentions of Meerkatting my life away. To be completely honest, I kind of forgot about it most of the time, especially in moments that would have been perfect for it.

What was the coolest/most unique thing you saw during the Interactive portion?

  • Madison LaRoche: Unfortunately I didn’t see many amazing brand executions at SXSW this year, but to be honest, I wasn’t looking for them as hard as I have in the past. One of the most interesting panels I attended was the last Interactive Keynote of 2015, in which Dr. Astro Teller, captain of moonshots for Google[x], gave a passionate speech on failing with purpose. At his “moonshot factory” – a sci-fi-esque arm of Google devoted to exploring new technology to solve global problems – Teller encourages his colleagues to fail fast and harness those failures as learning opportunities toward success. He gave case study after case study of huge, time-intensive and expensive projects in which failure was part of the process to figure out what doesn’t work to get to what does. Though these examples were fascinating on their own, the best part of the speech was Teller’s extraordinary tenacity for and promotion of this “fail fast, fail often” approach. During the Q&A portion at the end, an obviously inspired but desperate attendee asked via Twitter how a company without the luxury and budget to fail could harness this approach. An exasperated Teller exclaimed that this poor soul missed the whole point of the talk, which was the simple fact that failing at the START of something (and being able to fix it) is much cheaper than failing at the END (when it’s simply too late to do anything about it).
  • Catherine Seeds: My colleagues and I had the opportunity to sit in on a session with the editor of Lucky Magazine, Eva Chen. She was fantastic and very down to earth. Here is a great write-up on her.

If you weren’t able to attend the Interactive portion of SXSW this year, we did the hard work for you and compiled a list of some great SXSWi recaps. Be warned, there are plenty of Meerkat mentions.

How about we all meet back here around this time next year? Until then, we will be catching up on sleep, nursing our blisters and over-tweeted fingers, and putting our learnings to good use!

The Rise of Consumer Control: What’s a Business To Do?

ThoughtWorks ParadigmShift 2014, a thought leadership conference on business disruption and customer engagement in Austin, Texas.
ParadigmShift 2014, a thought leadership conference hosted by ThoughtWorks in Austin, Texas, on business disruption and customer engagement.

With the evolution and widespread use of the Internet, mobile devices and social media, we’ve arrived in a fast-paced, noisy and fickle consumer environment.  It takes a matter of hours for consumer opinions to go viral across the web, and in a world where word-of-mouth travels like wildfire, businesses need to keep their ears to the ground to anticipate the next bit of buzz at the digital water cooler. Consumers have infinite stores and brands and tons of ecommerce choices to search for and buy the products and services they want – so how does a business foster a loyal community of shoppers in the digital world? Our client ThoughtWorks says let the consumer take the wheel.

ThoughtWorks has recognized the significance of the customer loyalty revolution in today’s hyper-connected economy, and plans to address the changing face of engagement at ParadigmShift — its 3-day, invite-only thought leadership conference September 21-23, right in our own backyard. “Technology is upending the dynamic of customer engagement,” says ThoughtWorks CEO Craig Gorsline, and ParadigmShift can help business leaders in all verticals prepare and execute the most effective strategies for two-way digital consumer interaction and loyalty.

Today’s shopper has unlimited instant access to information, reviews, social media and news surrounding a business, its products and reputation – all available at their fingertips. ParadigmShift will illuminate the profound changes in the customer landscape and open up the dialogue between top enterprise executives on how organizations can maintain relevancy with each other and their consumers.

Hugh Forrest, director of the ever-evolving and widely attended SXSW Interactive conference, will lead the closing keynote for the event, giving attendees an exclusive look into the dynamic inner workings of the minds behind the 4-day innovation summit that so wildly inspires SMB entrepreneurs and large enterprises around the world.

With redefined roles of engagement and brand loyalty, increased convenience, speedier interactions and the rise of personal choice, businesses must accept that handing the reigns to the consumer is not a bad thing. It’s what shoppers want, and when businesses embrace it, they’ll lead the next generation of successful customer engagement.

Stay tuned for more insights from conference sessions next week!

KG Clients Make Big News at NRF: Retail’s Biggest Week in Review

The biggest week in retail has come and gone, but let’s not leave NRF behind so quickly! KG had a great time at the trade show and we were thrilled to see our clients making some big news. Take a look at a few of the top clips from NRF this year!

 

CrossView
Forbes – No Jamba Juice Line For You: iPhone That Order In With PayPal

Digby
CNBC.com – How Mobile Technology Is Revolutionizing In-Store Shopping

Predictix
Supply Chain Shaman – The BIG Show: Clouds of Sensors and Sensing
RIS News – Best of NRF 2013: Top 10 Takeaways
Chain Store Age – Retailer Tech Deployments in the Spotlight at NRF

Profitect
Apparel – Going to NRF’s Big Show
RIS News – Best of NRF 2013: Top 10 Takeaways

Ketner Group had quite a year at NRF 2013 and now we can only hope to make the next round even more successful. Until NRF 2014!