Viral Videos, Marathoning & Some Small Biz Love for Austin

Wherein I ramble about current events, keeping Austin weird, the latest memes and TV marathons

Sometimes news is absolutely shocking—like the time the president of the United States admitted to the public that he kept his Multiple Sclerosis a secret for seven years. Whoops—that’s all the West Wing I’ve been watching.* Um, for a real example… I nominate the news that broke on Valentine’s Day that a beloved South African Paralympic champion allegedly murdered his model girlfriend. The New York Times headline announced “a nation reels…,” and I don’t doubt it.

Photo courtesy of Outhouse Designs

But sometimes news is anything but shocking—say, last week when The Business Journals named Austin the best city in the U.S. for small business growth.

It’s hardly surprising that a city with such an obviously entrepreneurial spirit, evident down every street lined with local and independent restaurants and boutiques, should earn such an accolade. I maintain that you never have to eat somewhere twice in Austin, nor step foot in a chain, unless you want to. Austin has more pro-local loyalty cards than you can shake a stick at (Go Local, GoodyBag, LOCALoyalty and Belly, to name a few), and its thriving local business community is represented by the well-respected Austin Independence Business Alliance, who’s been Keeping Austin Weird for years. The confirmation that Austin’s independent spirit is alive and well even post-recession is just one more reason to love and be proud of our great city of Austin. Ketner Group is a small business itself, and we could not be happier to be part of the flourishing small business community in Austin, Texas.

But KG and the Business Journals are not the only ones loving on Austin lately. BuzzFeed’s “50 Sure Signs that Texas is Actually Utopia” list went viral last week (at least among Texans), and more than a few folks thought BuzzFeed missed the mark just a little, rewriting the list on behalf of Austin specifically (I side with the proponents of Austin).

Lastly, and just because KG is über cool and to prove my point that Austin really is the most awesome city for small businesses and humans alike, I present the latest viral video done right: the Harlem Shake on the Main Mall at the University of Texas at Austin.

BIGGEST Harlem Shake (University of Texas at Austin) Original

(Confession: I’m not so cool as to really “get” the whole Harlem Shake thing, I’m just cool enough to know it exists, and I’m ok with that.)

*The New York Times just wrote an interesting (and quick!) read on Americans’ new proclivity, thanks to the availability of DVD box sets and streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, to watch entire seasons or series of TV shows in marathon bursts, and how this trend is changing the way TV shows are developed and distributed. I can’t believe I personally was not interviewed for that story. My “TV bingeing” resume includes Sopranos, Greek, The Wire, Big Love, The X Files and West Wing.

My Experience Being a Part (and Learning the Ropes) of a Small Business: A Journey Full of Surprises, Nerf Guns, and Plenty of Chocolate

When I first joined Ketner Group in 2007, I knew very little about running a business, and just enough about PR to convince them I was the best candidate for the entry-level position. I was given a gigantic desk in a room all to myself (one of the “perks” of small business I am glad we grew out of – it was so lonely!) and thrown into client work 8-5, 5 days a week, while all my friends were still off procrastinating away senior year. (I was the dork that graduated early.)

The past three and a half years have taught me more than I could have imagined, and one of the best parts of it has been learning bit by bit about how a small business is run and the secret ingredients to doing it right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no financial expert, and my favorite parts of the job will always be client work and scheming with my co-workers, but an incredibly valuable part of working for Ketner Group has been learning much more than just PR: I’ve watched a small business grow, gain and lose clients (AKA revenue), and adapt to survive in a time when our entire industry was changing beneath our feet.

In order to avoid writing a novel, I thought I’d pick just a few things that make me proud to be part of this team:

Creating the kind of atmosphere you want to work in

I will be the first to admit our office didn’t always have the greatest atmosphere. Sure, it was a positive environment, but – being a small business – we just didn’t splurge on things like new furniture or décor. With clients that were mostly out of town at the time, we didn’t have many unexpected visitors, either, so the “image” of our physical office wasn’t terribly important. Then, 2 things happened. We got more local clients, and we hired more women. Continue reading