Three Lessons for Agency Leaders

Leadership concept, red pawn of chess, standing out from the crowd of black pawns. 3D Rendering

Being in public relations, let alone becoming an agency owner, was never something I aspired to be growing up.

After changing my major a few times during college, I chose public relations, and that decision was solidified when I joined Ketner Group and met founder Jeff Ketner. 

Over the last 20 years, I have worked and learned alongside Jeff, and his steadfast guidance and unwavering support have taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

As I transition to CEO, I’d like to highlight three lessons I've learned.


Good Vibes Are Integral to Success

PR is a people-first industry, with client and team relationships at the center of everything. It’s important that everyone you work with is treated with genuine respect and kindness.

At the creation of Ketner Group, Jeff wanted everyone – from interns to senior leadership – to have a voice.

Jeff thrives on building meaningful relationships.  I have seen the effects of taking the time to listen and get to know our clients both personally and professionally.

Because of this personal approach, we call many of these clients our friends, connect with them on social media and reach out to them to wish them well if a celebration is in order, or offer our condolences when needed. These small gestures are why we have a history of long-term client relationships.


Become an Expert, but Remain Curious

Our agency focuses 100% on retail technology clients. This niche has allowed us to double down and become experts in our industry. But, this space is always changing, so we must stay curious if we want to remain on top of our game.

Jeff has taught me that to continue earning our keep with clients, we must always be learning. We do this by reading retail technology newsletters, talking regularly with industry influencers, joining relevant webinars or listening to industry podcasts.


It’s Okay To Be a “Quiet Leader”

You don’t have to have a loud, boisterous personality to be an effective leader.

I’ve learned that listening first and remaining calm in any situation is always better than overacting and being the loudest one in the room. As a leader, a team looks to you for guidance and setting the tone; if you are calm then they are more likely to be calm.

The best thing I’ve learned from Jeff, however, is the joy of watching your team shine on centerstage while you beam with pride in the wings.

Being an agency founder is not an easy task. But I have been lucky to learn from someone who addresses all situations with grace, humor and objectivity.

Catherine Seeds is president and CEO of Ketner Group Communications