Singer-Songwriter Night + Millennial Insight

The first (but certainly not last) KEEN Digital Summit is drawing nigh, and we hope you’ve been working on creating your personal agendas. We’ve added a couple new slots, such as Meghan Anderson from Hubspot who will be flying in from New York to wax poetic about SEO (and how you can keep up to snuff with all of Google’s algorithm changes) and the Song Team’s Jeff Jacob, who will use audience participation to discuss the importance of collaboration. Plus, we’ve nabbed a phenomenal new closing keynote, who we will tell you more about next week.But enough with business; let’s talk parties!

As previously noted, our Friday night closed event will take place at the Listening Room Café just around the block from the Omni. The Listening Room, brainchild of singer-songwriter Chris Blair, has been around since 2008 but recently relocated to the vibrant SoBro neighborhood. With regular entertainment, a large patio and a whole lot of delicious booze on tap, it’s definitely one of our favorite local spots!

And we’re thrilled that the live music venue is letting us take over for the evening for our KEEN Singer-Songwriter Night. This will be a closed event, only open to those with a full conference pass, so keep your Oct. 25 evening opening for even more late-night networking.

But what will be going down at this singer-songwriter soiree? Glad you asked. In typical Nashville fashion, performers will participate in what we like to call “a round” where they each play one of their songs—many of which you might have heard on the radio—and then rotate to the next artist.

The artists will come from our party sponsors: performing rights organizations SESAC and ASCAP. Doors open at 7pm with ASCAP taking the stage first at 7:30pm. Once their round is done, we’ll take a brief interlude at 9pm—during which you can top off your drinks and mingle—before SESAC’s artists take the stage from 9:30 to 11pm.

And spunky Southern belle—and CMT Radio host—Samantha Stephens will be on hand to emcee the whole shindig. (If you ask nicely, she might even play a song or two of her own.)

We’ll be featuring special deals from our sponsors Belle Meade Bourbon and Fat Bottom Brewing, so come thirsty! Food will also be available for purchase as well as a full cash bar.

Pack your cowboy boots and come jam with us on Oct. 25. We’ll be waiting by the bar.


Your KEEN Mates


Each newsletter, we like to highlight a speaker from a different industry, and this week’s spotlight is on Sarah Unger, VP and Creative Catalyst at Ketchum Public Relations in New York City. Sarah wears many hats but has carved a niche in the PR world as a “Millennial expert.” As such, she’ll be speaking on a panel on Oct. 26 about how to target those tricky Gen Yers. Take us on the journey that is your role at Ketchum. What is an average day like?

There’s no such thing as “average day” in my role—it’s constant variety, no such thing as boredom, and your mind doesn’t stop moving for a second. I work most often in trends and insights, but across many industries; adaptability is key. One hour I’ll be knee-deep in research about what Millennials want out of a fast food experience and then switch seamlessly to creating a creative brief for colleagues around the future of energy. What stays constant no matter the challenge is my psychology-driven approach to consumer insight and never-ending curiosity about the world. Take in relevant information and put out relevant insights. I always say in this role, one must be a “child of the universe.” Starry-eyed, but true.

How do you go about recruiting bloggers to participate in your campaigns?

Recruiting is not an accurate term for us. In public relations, we’re entirely relationship-based. It’s imperative to establish trust with our consumer, and the same goes for any of our media partners. Connections must be organic, and we work with bloggers genuinely inspired by our brands. FTC guidelines apply for any agency, and guide the nature of our interactions.

Where do you see bloggers fitting into a brand’s PR campaign?

Bloggers are one of the most authentic channels to guide consumer sentiment, often showcasing the consumer as editor, so-to-speak. In the current communications landscape, given that much news media either maintains affiliated blogs or looks to blogs for leads, we naturally treat them as we would other media: as compelling storytellers who share relevant messages to consumers the brand has a vested interest in.

Why is it important for marketers to look beyond print and target channels that Millennials pay attention to?

When asked about this, I love saying “Fish where the fish are swimming.” It’s not rocket science. Marketers clearly want to reach Millennials, so why ignore channels that capture Millennial attention? Some of these channels—even Facebook or Instagram—can feel risky, depending on the culture of the client, but there are ways to “swim” that appropriately mitigate risk while still being genuine. That’s where agency counsel comes in. We work with our clients to “speak Millennial” on a daily basis using tools like our own internal Ketchum Millennial Network and Mindfire to crowdsource insights, feedback, and creative ideas from some of the brightest university students around the world.

You like to “figure out Millennials” and discover what makes them tick. What are some surprising things you have learned about Generation Y?

Millennials are an over-analyzed generation—often discussed as a different species, rather than a large part of the population you are inevitably already interacting with on a daily basis. Constant contradicting reports on generational sentiment are (understandably) causing brands to spin their wheels about engagement approach. Personally, as an older millennial I take a more holistic, intuitive perspective and have a strong “BS” filter. Ketchum is very adept at cutting through the clutter. There are core traits that are undeniable: Millennials are more culturally and demographically diverse than any previous generations yet also more connected.

Coming of age as the digital revolution went en masse gave this cohort a louder, quicker microphone at an age when the spotlight and pressure is already strong. Every generation tends to get more scrutiny when they fall into the 18-34 range. Biggest “surprises” tend to be how pragmatic Millennials actually are, and that they are more open-minded than many give them credit for. Sure, they’re a tough crowd—there’s a lot of competition for their attention given the overwhelming speed and quantity of information and culture at their fingertips, but that just elevates the necessity of quality engagement on behalf of brands. Ketchum’s motto is “break through” and we recognize that Millennials are key in pushing the industry in that direction.


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