Meet our newest addition to the team: Madeleine Hatley

This blog post was written by our intern, Madeleine Hatley.

Hi, everyone! My name is Madeleine Hatley and I am a senior public relations major at the University of Texas at Austin. Coming from the small town of Paris, Texas, I was ready to head to a larger city with more growth opportunities and also more things to do other than take pictures in front of the world’s third largest Eiffel Tower complete with a cowboy hat.  During my spare time, I love seeing live music, discovering new restaurants, and taking my adorably fluffy Corgi, Oliver, to Zilker Park.

Prior to joining the Ketner Group team, I mainly worked in politics. My past experience has taught me that internships are vital to figure out what best suits your personality and what path you want your career to follow.

My first internship was with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at Texans for Greg Abbott. I mainly worked on his social media, press releases regarding the governor and event scheduling. It was a great first internship in that I learned how to further develop my writing skills and got the opportunity to represent a single client via social media.

This past semester I was an intern at Axiom Strategies, a political consulting and public relations agency. I got the chance to represent and write for House and Senate members and meet lots of interesting people. I also got experience helping with crisis management and handling tricky situations that can easily escalate online and by word-of-mouth.

My cute puppy, Oliver. I wish he was still this size!

However, after two political internships, I decided it was time for a change of pace. I imagined I could be the real-life Kerry Washington in Scandal, but the job was far less glamorous than I imagined. The political sphere did not allow me to connect with people how I like to nor did it allow me to utilize much that I had learned in college. I felt like a small fish in a very large pond.

This is one of the reasons I think my internship at Ketner Group will be so valuable. The people here are so welcoming, actually care about your ideas and want to help you learn. On my first day, they ordered pizza for me and we all got the chance to get to know each other a little better over lunch. If my first day is anything like the rest of my internship, I know I will love it here. It took me long enough to find an internship that suited me!

Trial and error is the key to college internships. Get your first or second (maybe even third) internship out of the way to find which path you want to take. Internships give you real world experience so you aren’t forced to be in a field you dislike for the rest of your life. Try, try and try again until you get your dream internship that leads to your dream job.

As for my dream job after graduation, I would love to work in an agency setting that allows me to grow as a writer, team member and professional. I am a native Texan, so I would love to stay in Austin or move to Dallas to be closer to home.

I am very much looking forward to my time here and hope to learn valuable skills I can carry with me to my future career!


Videogames, Stethoscopes and Retail Robots: South by Southwest 2016 is going to Rock

SXSW_Platinum-2015-RGBWhen the experts from a diverse range of disciplines come together under one roof, each with their own unique perspectives and hard-earned knowledge, invaluable insights are to be expected. This March, some of the world’s most respected medical innovators, videogame designers and marketing all-stars (just to name a few) will join the panels of South by Southwest 2016’s Interactive Series in Austin, Texas to dissect, debate and present the most groundbreaking discoveries in each of their respective fields. Of course, they will all be awesome, but there are six in particular that we are dying to see (and you should be too). We have a handful of clients throwing their hat in the ring to speak on some incredible panels, and we encourage you to support the panelists with your vote, and tell us which presentations have you most excited!

First up is Order Dynamics, resident experts at retail data analytics. They will dive into the world’s toughest industry to find the perfect commerce cocktail with their discussion on “Retail Data Mixology.” John Squire, President of DynamicAction, will join Kevin Ertell of Sur la Table, Laura SXSWHeller of FierceMarkets and Forbes, and Dr. David Bell, a consumer shopping behavior expert from the University of Pennsylvania, to uncover key ways to pinpoint customer and marketing needs. Show your support by voting them into the Panel Series here.

As well, 360pi, big data pricing analysts, are prepared to give you a glimpse “Inside the Retail Vortex.” They will share valuable insights along with Paula Rosenblum of RSR Research, Andy Voelker of Ace Hardware, and Dana Klein of Reebok Adidas Group, on what the “new normal” of retail looks like for brands who are adapting (or not) to the online surge. Vote them into the Panel Series here.

Shopatron will save you from the wait of online shopping and divulge how to avoid the retail “time suck.” Learn from CEO of Shopatron Ed Stevens and San Francisco Chronicle columnist and author Thomas Lee about how retailers can improve customer sentiment and reduce shipping costs by getting smart about local product searches. Vote for this panel to be officially selected into the Series here, and we’ll see you there!SXSW2

Mirakl will tell us the story of “How the Online Marketplace Ate Retail.” We all love shopping online in some form or fashion – but how much of that is done on Amazon, and now While it may be ideal for consumers, retailers are still working out exactly how to keep their profits up and overhead low. Join Mirakl’s CEO for the U.S. Adrien Nussenbaum, Paula Rosenblum of RSR Research and Forbes, and Chandhu Nair of Staples as they provide insights on our web-based retail era. Show your support with a vote here, and we’ll see you in Austin!

Watch human and machine collide with Edgecase’s Lisa Roberts and their fellow panelists Brian Schultz of Crate and Barrel, John Perasco of Urban Decay, and Alicia Fiorletta of Retail TouchPoints as they present “The Future of Retail: Human + Machine Curation.” Show them your excitement and support with a vote here to see just how machine learning can revolutionize online shopping.

Want to be a retail fortune-teller? Retail Innovation Consultant Rachel Brooks of ThoughtWorks will predict the “Future of Cool” for retailers in the fashion industry alongside Google’s Fashion Data Scientist Olivier Zimmer, Zappos’ Content Editor Kandis Yoakum, and CEO and Founder of Shoptelligence Laura Khoury. They’ll discuss how technology can help retailers deduce up-and-coming fashion trends, but they need your vote here to officially join the Series.

With such a compelling lineup, innovation is expected, breakthroughs are likely, and fun is a definite. Place your votes now (deadline is this Friday, September 4), and we will see you in March!


It has been a very busy week for the retail industry, from being able to shop and buy items from Nordstrom with just a simple text, to the new-found ways to utilize pop-up stores. Check out the top stories this past week from the retail world:

Nordstrom enables shopping via text via Retailing Today

Imagine a world where you could text someone what you wanted, and all of a sudden it’s yours. Well, for all of those shopaholics out there, it’s time to rejoice. Nordstrom has launched TextStyle at all of their  116 U.S. stores, and it’s basically revolutionized retail. TextStyle allows shoppers to make purchases from a personal salesperson or stylist, and enables associates to send new product recommendations to customers with a text message. If the customer would like to purchase the items, they can by simply replying with ‘buy’ and a unique code. Shoppers can also send their salesperson a text message with a product description or photo. All purchases are completed with the customer’s Nordstrom account information, and items are shipped directly for free.

Of course this isn’t the most mind-blowing news around. There are many retailers that have similar programs like this, but Nordstrom is now the only retail company in the U.S. that offers customers who opt-in the ability to shop and buy with just a text message. TextStyle provides consumers with a unique, efficient and extremely personalized way of shopping.

Target addresses digital channels after overwhelming demand for Lilly Pulitzer collaboration via RIS News

April 19, 2015, is a day that will live in infamy. It was the day that the Lilly Pulitzer collaboration with Target, #LillyForTarget, launched, sold out in minutes, crashed the company’s website and left many people angry, sad and extremely disappointed. Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell, noted that the company was disappointed their, “digital channels were not able to properly accommodate the surge in traffic at the time of the launch.”

Since that chaotic event, Target has been working to redeem itself and its digital business. Target announced during their Q1 2015 earnings call, that the company will make a $1 billion investment in technology and supply chain. Kathryn A. Tesija, executive vice President, chief merchandising and supply chain officer, ensures the company will continue to invest in technology and supply chain to allow their guests to shop on demand, and to improve the economics of its online business meaningfully. Target is now “working to address root causes and learn from the experience” as they prepare for the upcoming holiday season and the accelerated growth of the company.

Jo-Ann Fabric among first retailers to partner with Pinterest’s new Buyable Pins via Chain Store Age

We’ve all been there… well most of us. You’re scrolling through your Pinterest feed and you basically fall in love with everything you see. You re-pin it, thinking that you might attempt to create it later. After a while, you finally have time to create this beautiful masterpiece that is supposedly simple to do. But then you realize achieving the perfection that is pictured on Pinterest is basically unattainable, and your sad attempt hardly resembles it. Well, look no further because you can finally buy items from Pinterest directly from the site!

Pinterest is embarking on their first attempt in e-commerce by partnering with various retailers, including fabric and craft specialty retailer Jo-Ann fabric and Craft Stores, for their new Buyable Pins. Currently, there are over 4.2 million pins linking back to With buyable pins, consumers can find a product, pin it to their board, and directly purchase it off of Pinterest.

The Buyable Pins are expected to launch on the Pinterest iOS app this month and for Android and desktop later this year. Other retail partners for Pinterest’s Buyable Pins include Macy’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Ethan Allen.

Pop-Ups: How temporary storefronts are changing brand loyalty via Fierce Retail

Pop-up stores are a big trend this year. Though the concept of placing a shop within a shop to attract attention to new designers and collections is nothing new, but the concept of a pop-up shop today has evolved into something much more intricate. The 2015 pop-ups are used as a sort-of beta test for a physical presence for retailers that have previously only had an online store and to see how it might change brand loyalty.

Many retailers are joining this trend, including e-commerce giant Amazon with its launch of a holiday pop-up store in 2014. Brands such as Zappos, The Grommet, Crest & Co. and Boohoo have recently introduced their first pop-up store. Even the highly anticipated buzz for the sold out Lilly Pulitzer collection for Target was fueled by a pop up shop in New York’s Bryant Park.

This growing trend for retailers utilizing pop-ups can be attributed to a few important reasons. First, retailers are starting to realize that pop-up stores are a feasible way to increase sales and presence in the marketplace. Secondly, these temporary stores are a great way to track customer approval for the transition from online to brick-and mortar in a temporary setting. Lastly, opening a temporary store is relatively inexpensive with little risk, which is great when testing something new. Pop-ups are not only a great way to assess costs and success; they’re also a great way to promote a brand.

Public Interest vs. Private Access: Monetizing Content to Keep Newspapers Afloat

By: Sara Lasseter

After the New York Times released its exposé on the Wal-Mart bribery investigation in April 2012, a sum of $12 billion was erased from the grocery store’s market value. While the story had a significant impact on the market for Wal-Mart and Walmex, the New York Times deliberately released the story over the weekend to deter any accusations of insider trading or private access. This story gained widespread attention for its sensitive market information and prompted many discussions on the idea of selling early access to interested parties.

But this poses a controversial question: What is the purpose of a newspaper? Newspapers began as purely profit-making entities that sold any and all stories to generate revenue. A shift toward news motivated by public interest began in the 1960s and 70s due to events like Watergate that prompted newspapers to become public institutions that existed to uphold certain principles for the good of society. Today, public value of ever-present and instantaneous news has created an “entitled and expectant” environment for the print media industry that makes it difficult to implement any major frontrunner services without a substantial amount of backlash.

Critics say that offering market-moving information at a price to hedge funds and investors plays against public interest, but could there be a beneficial side to selling these facts at a fee? Publications like the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones wire have begun to offer paid subscriptions for readers who wish to access market-moving information sooner than it is published in the newspaper or posted online. Some opponents think a move like this would be considered insider trading, while others say as long as there is no personal gain of the party disseminating the information, then it is completely legal. The court case of Dick vs. SEC 1983 established that a lack of personal benefit in trading eliminates the risk of insider trading. Neither the NYT nor Wal-Mart sources would have had any personal gain from releasing this story early to interested parties, therefore, both would be free from insider trading accusations. Continue reading

I Need a Doctor (to Bring Me Back to Life)

I Need a Doctor I Need A Doctor (single), Dr. Dre & Eminem © 2011
I’m a very musical person. If I’m not talking, I’m singing and if I’m doing neither of those, then I guarantee I have a song stuck in my head to which I’m bouncing noiselessly along. Lately, I’ve been on a hip-hop (rap) kick. Nothing gets me more pumped at the gym, into the work zone and easily through rush hour than emcees spitting their rhymes through the mic and into my headphones. And no one does it better than Eminem (warning: major celeb crush). Because this is what’s in my head at the moment, I’ve taken the titles of some of my favorite Eminem songs as inspiration for a blog post to help companies experiencing common PR challenges.

Do you feel like you “Need a Doctor” for your company’s PR program? I’m no doctor—and neither is Marshall Mathers, Eminem or his alter ego, Slim Shady—but we can use his beats to help us structure common PR challenges companies face every day.

[Warning: If you’re offended by strong or suggestive language, avoid listening to the songs hyperlinked below.]

The Real Slim ShadyThe Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem © 2000
Is another company imitating your business’ main messaging and value points? They say that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ but I just find it annoying. Let’s combat this unoriginal behavior and have the ‘real slim shady’ stand up, please. If no one can do it better than you, they shouldn’t be able to say it better than you, so take back what’s yours with these steps:

  • Find a better way to say it: Refresh your corporate messaging to stay ahead of the copycats. Don’t let follower companies ride off of your success—refresh your messaging and find new ways to talk about the great things you do.
  • Find new SEO terms: Search terms are always changing in frequency. If your competitors have caught on to the key words and it has become a little crowded, analyze your industry’s SEO landscape to see what other terms your audience is typing into Google’s box.
  • Call them out: Go on, point the finger. In a classy way. It’s okay to say that you’re the only company that provides XYZ to ABC in exactly this 123 way. Don’t be afraid to describe why you’re different (…or better) than your competition. Just make sure you have the proof to back up your assertions.

No LoveRecovery, Eminem © 2010
Are your Facebook and Twitter pages lacking in the love department? If you are aching for more fans, “likes,” and followers, follow these steps:

  • What are you saying? Analyze the content you’re posting. If you’re only tooting your own horn, lay off for a while. Post and tweet interesting industry articles or general questions to engage your audiences. Ex: What are you doing this weekend? Free #Starbucks drink for the person with the most interesting plans!
  • Engage to get visibility: For Twitter folks, “retweeting” and responding directly to people can go a long way in personalizing your online interaction with customers or prospects. Also, make sure to use hashtags whenever appropriate so that potential new followers tracking those interests see your updates.
  • The game is on: For Facebook folks, we’ve found that promoting competitions on Facebook can significantly boost your “likes.” One of our clients hosted a YouTube video challenge and to qualify, participants were required to “like” the company on Facebook, first. They boosted their Facebook fan base by over 3,000 fans during this competition. Continue reading

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho – It’s Off to Work We Go!

Let’s face it, there are some days where we just don’t want to get up and go to work – you are lying if you say otherwise. Other than those few days a year, I will say that I genuinely enjoy coming to work at our funky little offices. Why? I love the people that I work with! We are like a family here. We look out for each other, and support each other at and outside the office.  In fact, compared with the company culture at other small businesses (and corporate organizations) we almost live in a protective bubble.

At Ketner Group, we also have a stellar track-record of employee retention and we are very loyal to the business.  This is not the industry norm.  According to a recent WebProNews article, gone are the days when we started a job after college and worked our way up the ladder until we retire at age 65. According to the article, “Not only do we have more jobs in our lifetime than any other generation before us, but we also plan to not stay in our positions.” A recent MetLife report found that only 44% of employees feel a strong sense of loyalty towards their employers and that over one-third of employees just flat-out want a different job.

If only all companies had the same protective bubble as we do at Ketner Group. Still, after reading these reports, I became intrigued.  How can people “job hop” like that?  I always thought having job after job listed on a resume was a negative thing – but is it really becoming the norm and acceptable? Check out these stats I found from

  • Today’s average college graduate will hold 9.8 jobs, working until age 65. In California, that same graduate will hold 14.3 jobs.
  • The median number of years that an average U.S. worker has been at their job – 4.4.
  • Average jobs in a lifetime for men – 11.4.
  • Average jobs in a lifetime for women – 10.7.
  • 61% of employed workers are open to or are looking for a new job. Continue reading

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

Three Ways to Save an Unproductive Day

Daily agency life often feels like an elaborate juggling act—account managers constantly juggle accounts and each account’s unique priorities and deadlines. This requires switching gears throughout the day, usually several times an hour. The necessity of this workflow is obvious—we need to be available to our clients throughout the day as projects and issues pop up, and we strive to efficiently handle projects as if each account were our only account. The KG team prides ourselves on being flexible and in our ability to nimbly manage dozens of loose ends at a time. However, it would not be a stretch to call this style of work ‘multi-tasking,’ and from our recent series on productivity, we know that multi-tasking at its worst actually reduces productivity. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on how to be more productive at work, and identified “fragmentation – trying to juggle many competing, and usually unexpected, demands on your time,” as the leading cause of an unproductive day and the root of the uncomfortable feeling that you worked really hard all day and yet have the sense that nothing got done. Yep, that’s a day KGers can relate to! How then do agencies limit the inefficiencies of multi-tasking in the face of competing demands on their time?

The WSJ article, “How to Save an Unproductive Day in 25 Minutes,” gives three suggestions for busy professionals to maximize efficiency when pulled in a million directions. The article resonated with me, and I wanted to share the tips and how they apply to agency life at KG.

1. Schedule uninterrupted work time—Whether you have to go hide in the empty conference room to escape the usually welcome antics of your awesome coworkers (pie! Funny YouTube clip!), pipe in some white noise to get you in the no-distraction zone like Eric does, or follow the Pomodoro Technique like Valerie does, actually scheduling dedicated time to completely focus on the most pressing task at hand can help check it off your to-do list faster.

2. Keep track of the progress you made that day—The WSJ recommends writing out everything you did at the end of a crazy day to give yourself a better sense of accomplishment. Personally I keep a running to-do list and find great satisfaction (possibly too much satisfaction) in checking things off that list. Sometimes I even tack on a few too-easy tasks that really shouldn’t count (making breakfast, putting new ink in the printer) just to make myself feel more productive! As the WSJ points out, perception is reality and just feeling more productive can make all the difference between a good day and a bad one. Continue reading

Top 5 Questions Companies Should Consider in Planning PR for 2012

It’s our favorite time of the year—and I’m not talking about the Holidays. December is the month where our clients start thinking about goals for their 2012 public relations programs. In addition to new technology and industry standards, every year brings growth and change to a business, so re-evaluating one’s PR program is a must. Here’s a look at five of the most important questions companies should ask themselves and their PR agency when planning a new PR strategy for 2012.

What worked for you in 2011?
This may seem like an obvious question to ask, but finding a satisfying answer proves difficult for many. PR can be more of an art than a science and is often challenging to measure. Try answering this question with another: “What PR wins stood out most to you this year?” If your answer is, “The customer-focused articles we secured,” or “The pre-launch media and analyst interest we received,” then aggressive media and analyst outreach was what worked best for you in 2011. When you’ve identified your most valued PR win, put an emphasis on that when planning for 2012.

Budget cuts? How do you get the same value for less money?
Budget cuts are nothing new. Every year seems to bring higher demands of producing more results for less money. While it seems as though this request is the same as asking a contractor to build an “MTV Cribs” home on a “Design on a Dime” budget, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. You can still have a swanky PR program if you’re willing to cut back in other areas that may not produce such cost-effective results. For example, consider reducing the number of events and tradeshows you attend or exhibit as this could free up tens of thousands of dollars per show. Lightening your advertising spend can also allow you to spend more on PR, which can bring you earned media—a more valuable and cost-effective means of promotion.

Do you have product or solution launches?
Is your company planning to introduce a new product or solution in 2012? Even if it’s planned for later in the year, product launch PR and marketing activities should be outlined from day one. Product launches (especially products that are new concepts) are one of the best ways to earn media coverage and brand recognition and need to be carefully planned throughout the early lifecycle (launch, adoption and evaluation).

Where is the majority of your revenue coming from?
It’s easy to get excited about your new products or services, but don’t forget who pays the bills. Make sure your PR program has plenty of resources assigned to the product or service that is bringing in the most revenue. Have you been busy with pre-briefing analysts on your new technology? Make sure that you use existing happy customers as media references for your current selling product while you save press releases and analyst briefings for the new product. Continue reading

KG Productivity Tips Series #3: Other Things We Like

If you’re a regular reader of the KBlog, you’ll recall KG’s favorite productivity tips for staying focused and organized. In the third and final segment in our productivity series, we share our favorite miscellaneous productivity tools and tricks that help make the KG team shine!

Google Voice: So chances are that you’ve heard of Google Voice before, but on the off-chance you haven’t, let me be the first to tell you how cool it is to not have to listen to voicemails anymore. If I have to miss a call because I’m on another call, I almost instantly receive an email and a text transcription of the voicemail–quite the perk for someone like me who dislikes listening to five consecutive messages of “Hi Brittany, it’s your mom. Call me back!” to get to the message left by a client. (Aside: I can’t be the only person whose mom doesn’t trust that my phone will tell me I missed her call without needing to leave a message.) Especially effective for people with multiple phone numbers (home, work, cell), Google Voice gives users the option to use a single Google forwarding number to all of the user’s phones, so when your office phone rings when you’re out of the office, you can take the call on your cell. Brilliant! Google Voice also supports conference calling with call recording and online archiving. On top of all of that, there are lots more features, so get your Google Voice on now if you haven’t signed up yet.

Good Old-fashioned Mindfulness: This one might be a “duh,” but if we were all doing it right, I have a hunch our society would be a lot different than it is. The powers of mindfulness are praised high and wide for increasing health, happiness, and productivity. Some even believe that if you focus your positive energy well enough, you can attract good things to you. Now, I don’t know if I’d go that far personally, but I do know that reminding myself to be mindful and “in the moment” can have powerful effects on my sanity and my efficiency.

Next time you find yourself scatterbrained, extremely stressed, or asking yourself “what the heck was I just doing/going to do?”, try this: Close your eyes. Take ten deep breaths and visualize all the thoughts cluttering your mind flowing out one-by-one, vanishing (poof!), leaving your head empty. (I’m saying visualize, folks – most of us are not really that good.) Then, ask yourself: What is it I really need to be focusing on right now? Try to pick one thing that’s high-priority. Open your eyes, and jot down a few steps that you can work on right now.

Session Manager: I love tabs. There are two dozen tabs open in my browser right now. Session manager helps keep those tabs safe until I’m ready to return to them.

Session Manager is an add-on for Firefox and Chrome that allows you to save the state of all windows and tabs open in your browser. This snapshot of your broswer can be saved and an unlimited number of sessions saves are allowed. Besides backing up your browsing in the event of a crash, this helps keep personal and professional browsing separate. It allows you to unplug — save your 9-5 browser windows as you’re leaving for the day, close your browser and leave your work projects until you’re ready for them. (It’s no fun to open up Chrome on Sunday morning when you’re looking for a good brunch spot on Yelp and get a big reminder of all the loose ends waiting for you Monday morning.) Or, focus on plugging back in. (If you’ve been shopping at home for a sweet new pair of slacks and reasonably priced ties, you can save those window-shopping tabs until later to avoid distraction when you get to the office.)

Look at the Competition: This may seem unrelated to productivity, but competition is a huge motivator, and motivation increases productivity. When I look at clients’ competitors’ news coverage or social media activity, for example, I get motivated to work really hard and to come up with new ideas to stay at the top of our game. If you’re even the slightest bit competitive like me, you’ll find your competitor’s success a perfect productivity push.

Achieving and maintaining peak performance is a constantly moving target. Just when you think you’ve cracked the code, another distraction or challenge pops up and creates room for improvement. At KG, we’re always on the lookout for the next big thing, so let us know if there’s something that works for you that we should know about!