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.


The Omni opens! + conference day passes

Hey, y’all! Less than three weeks from today, we’ll all be living it up and getting our digital on in Nashville. Where did summer go?

Omni Nashville

The biggest excitement of the week is that the Omni Nashville officially opened its doors on Monday, a whopping 27 months and 14 days after breaking ground. We were on site for the opening party—which featured addresses by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam—and got to test out all the fun features the hotel offers, such as the Biscuit Bar in Kitchen Notes restaurant (yes, indeed, that is a real thing) and the live music venue Barlines with the most delicious—and sinful—bourbon concoctions (we highly recommend sneaking away for a libation or two).

Omni Nashville

A few housekeeping things to address, and then next week we’ll give you the skinny on all the fun we have in store for our singer-songwriter night, which we’re just pleased as punch about.

  1. Many of you locals have asked about day passes because you weren’t available for all three days. Well, we listened and rolled out an option for Friday or Saturday that will admit you to all panels and presentations (but not to the nighttime events; you need the all-access pass for that).
  2. Our official Omni group rate expired earlier this week, but the hotel has been super considerate and extended the offer a little bit longer as long as there are rooms available. The hotel is already at 75% capacity for the nights of KEEN, so we don’t expect there to be many left for long. If you’ve procrastinated on booking, don’t wait much longer! Register here to receive our special $179 preferred rate.
  3. If you’re staying at the hotel, don’t forget to sign up for the free Omni Select Guest program, which entitles you to complimentary Wi-Fi, beverage service, daily newspapers, and more.
  4. There are still a few spaces left in our retail expo, which will take place in the lobby of the Omni’s second floor and will be open to the public. If you’re interested, email us at by Monday, as we’ll be locking down final numbers next week.

That about wraps it up for now.

Your KEEN mates

Images courtesy of Omni Hotels.



Jairek RobbinsPerformance coach Jairek Robbins will be opening the weekend with a talk about getting the most out of your online relationships. Here, he gives us the lowdown on how digital media influences his own business, including his popular Rapid Results Retreats.

With your business model, how do you utilize digital media?

My current business model is built around digital media: staying consistently digitally connected to our community. We run a weekly YouTube show, publish an online newsletter, and stay actively associated to our community through a variety of social media channels.

Our core business is one-on-one personal performance coaching and keynote speaking, and we also have a couple different digital coaching programs online. Just last year we introduced our Rapid Results Retreat, which allows us to take people on the journey of a lifetime. We call it a “vacation with a purpose”—mixing a personal development course with a 16-day, seven-country voyage through Central and South America.

What’s your next personal goal, and what road map do you plan to follow to get there?

In my opinion, today’s entrepreneurs need to be able to tap into the old school and new school mind-set, tools, and style of starting and running a business.

Old school: Numbers can kill you, in business. If you do not master accounting and bookkeeping and keep a solid amount of o’ cash on hand, you can easily sink a company of any size. A few other “old school” characteristics that are still needed today: the love of hard work, persistence, passion, vision, consistency, the ability to stay focused, guts, and a powerful and positive mind-set.

New school: You must also be willing to let go of the office building with your name on it, tons of employees, and high overhead. In today’s digital world, we have the opportunity to run an international organization from a laptop on a small remote beach. You can lose all the overhead and run lean, giving you and your team the ability to invest the money saved into more ways to reach a broader audience and make even more of a difference. Some “new school” characteristics needed: flexibility, inner peace, and the ability to enjoy the entire journey (not just the results waiting for you at the end).

My next personal goal is making sure my fiancée and I have an amazing year of travel and adventure leading up to our wedding in October 2014. We have decided to spend the year running our business from a laptop and traveling the world together and are in the process of moving from San Diego down to Costa Rica for a few months to kick off the journey.

Everyone has his or her own challenges. What is one of yours and how do you overcome it?

A big challenge I have consistently had to face is differentiating myself from my father, who is a mogul in the personal development industry. Growing up around him and his events is one of the greatest advantages I have had, yet it’s also one of the biggest challenges I face when trying to build a brand of my own.

There was an event produced by Oneness University that was the catalyst to helping me find my own voice and true, authentic self. They asked five simple questions that helped me learn so much about myself and why I was doing what I’m doing and helped create a crystal-clear road map to develop my own personal message and voice:

  1. Who did you want love from the most when you were a child?
  2. Who did you think you needed to be in order to receive their love?
  3. Who could you never be around them?
  4. Who are you today?
  5. What would you need to shift in who you are today…to be 100% authentically yourself?

What are some of the highlights of your new Rapid Results workshop?

Taking time for my students to find their true authentic self, identifying their “ideal day” vision, and creating a personal and professional game plan for the next five, ten, twenty years to turn that vision into reality.



“higher than a Georgia pine”

If you’re grooving haphazardly to the goth-rock tunes of Katelyn Epperly at KEEN’s opening party and someone tells you that you look “higher than a Georgia pine,” they’re not implying you’re tall or even that you’ve been partaking in certain illicit activities. Rather, they think—perhaps accurately—that you’ve had too much of that complimentary Absolut Tune we’re handing out at the bar and are feeling real nice. (In other words, you’re drunk. Watch yourself now.) Cheers!

The full schedule is up! + new keynote + opening party details

It’s fall in Tennessee, y’all, which means a significant drop in the mercury, fall foliage is just around the corner and football season has fully consumed the South.

Fall colors

It also means just five weeks and change until KEEN Digital Summit has its first ever conference! (Get excited; we certainly are.)

We’ve made some significant additions to the lineup, such as motivational speaker and performance coach Jairek Robbins—yes, as in the son of that other Robbins, Tony—who will be taking over our opening keynote spot to talk about getting the most out of your digital relationships. Jairek typically attracts crowds by the thousands to hear him speak, so we’re stoked for him to kick off our weekend’s content portion the morning of Friday, Oct. 25. (Make your plans accordingly!)

Jairek Robbins

Speaking of the schedule, did you notice it’s up in all its glory? The full agenda will live on a separate Sched platform so you can go in and have some fun creating a profile and building out what you want from KEEN, but we also will integrate into our main site later this week. We’ll still be tweaking exact time slots and making changes as the weeks progress, but for now, we hope you’ll start your own Sched profile, bookmark sessions that pique your interest and share it with friends so they can plan their own conference agendas. Be sure to click around a bit and see what all’s going on; we have a lot plan.

And now onto the (even more) fun stuff: parties! We’re happy to announce that our opening night kick-off party for all attendees will take place at aVenue, just three short, very walkable blocks from the Omni.


Southern goth rocker Katelyn Epperly will be crooning a mix of soulful covers and bluesy originals. Katelyn, who first got “noticed” on season 9 of American Idol, has fully immersed herself in the social media and fashion worlds of Nashville, leveraging her digital presence via Twitter and Instagram to bring awareness to up-and-coming brands she partners with as a model, spokesperson, stylist and, of course, singer.

Kateyln Epperly

And our last bit of exciting news: The Omni Nashville has decided to extend the preferred rate—$179 for a single, $189 for a double and so forth—up until the conference date, subject to availability. That means as long as there are rooms open, you can book them. (Yay, Omni! KEEN salutes you and thanks you for your support.) Still, you should book ASAP as October is a busy month in Nashville, and you don’t want to be left out on the street to fend for yourselves.

 More info to come,

 Your KEEN Team