Meet Katie Adkisson


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Katie does not disappoint.

Not her friends. Not her family. And definitely not her clients.

If she says she’s going to do it, it gets done. Chalk it up to her motto, “Because I said I would.”

When she said she would join RPR, we were thrilled. Not only did we grab one of PR’s brightest talents, we also welcomed into the fold an old friend; her and Lauren’s relationship dates back many years to when Katie was just beginning her PR career.

Day to day, Katie manages client relationships while overseeing our accounts and account teams. She also works on new business development, which is where that megawatt smile sure comes in handy.

An added bonus: She can cut through any legalese thanks to substantial experience in business law. Our public affairs clients love that.

When she’s not working, she’s working out. Usually at BarreAmped. She’s cool with the couch, too. She’s versatile like that.

She has a pug named Brody that’s the love of her life so don’t even bother, guys.

Did we mention she also won Ms. Sugar & Spice back in 2003? We’re told it’s a big deal beauty pageant back in Katie’s hometown. Don’t get confused though, her impressive intellect stands in stark contrast to the tired stereotype of the ditzy pageant queen. Well, except for that one time she totaled her car in a parking lot…

That was a little disappointing, Katie.


May 23

For something that is discussed so frequently in marketing and public relations, it sure is difficult to know what makes content any good. “Content” refers to the subject or ideas contained in something written, said, created or represented, and any marketer has probably had the saying “content is king” drilled into their heads. We all know it is especially true in our profession, but how do we go from a generalized, vague definition to something that is truly strategic and impactful for our marketing goals?

While how much content you produce and how it gets distributed can be subjective, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure you are always creating qualitycontent.

Be Concise.

The human attention span is short and it’s only getting shorter with each generation as technology gives us more and more instant gratification. If you want to convey your message, whether it’s in an Instagram caption, blog post or instruction manual, the best way to do so is by being as brief as possible.

This doesn’t mean to leave out information. On the contrary, drafting content with brevity in mind helps you to be strategic about the channels you use and the information included. You may even find that the information you’re trying to impart might be better suited for another format. You’ll always be sure that you include only the most pertinent information if you keep conciseness at the top of your consciousness.

Be Relevant.

Relevance is another term that can be hard to define, but it is oh so important when it comes to having high quality content. When I think of relevance, I like to start with my audience and work backwards from there. Determining if something is relevant is all about the WIFM – What’s In It For Me? Or in this case it’s actually What’s In It For Them (WIFM)? I ask myself several questions before I even begin typing:

  • Who will be reading this?
  • What do I want them to take away?
  • Why does this matter to them?
  • How is what I’m creating differ from all the other messages they see every day?

Other things that make a subject or its content relevant for your audience might be that it’s timely. Sometimes it may make sense to tie a newsworthy theme into your content. Is everyone still talking about how they hated the Game of Thrones ending and you’re developing content around managing overbearing managers in the workplace? Go ahead and throw in a line or two about Daenerys to grab their attention. But if your content has nothing to do with a recent event or that story has gotten tired (GOT is on its way!), then it’s likely best to stick with your WIFT and keep it short and sweet.

Otherwise, you run the risk of being cliché or outdated and that’s the furthest thing from relevant. 

Be Interesting.

Finally, the most important thing you can do with your content is to make it interesting. What does that mean? It means you should have a point of view, be engaging and make your target audience WANT to read it.

In a world where we are inundated with content at each turn, it is critical to be unique. Developing content for the sake of SEO and having a presence gets you nowhere if you don’t have something of value to say and an interesting way to say it.

The key to successful content marketing is obvious – it starts with quality content. Determine who your audience is and make your content relevant to them, keep it concise so people can absorb the information and, please, please, please – for the love of good PR – keep it interesting!

It’s a crowded content world out there. Create thoughtfully.

By Katie Adkisson
Mar 20


The words “thought leadership” get tossed around a lot in our industry, but few people actually understand what it means or how to achieve thought leadership status.

Here’s a secret: it’s really not that complicated. A thought leader is just that—someone who is a leader of thought in their industry or field. You must have expertise that people want to hear or read about. Those “thoughts” are usually pretty niche, and you should have the skillset, degree or personal experience to back them up.

Become an expert.

To become a thought leader, start with your expertise. Did you invent the internet? Engineer the first self-driving car? Create microwavable popcorn? It’s OK if you didn’t.

You don’t have to be the first to do something in your field to be considered an expert, but you do have to have the technical skills and knowledge to back up the advice you’re dishing out. Our expertise lies in crafting the message and getting it noticed, but good thought leaders are able to bring real value and authenticity to their audiences.

Be willing to advise.

Being a thought leader takes courage. I have had a number of clients ask to be positioned as thought leaders, but when the time came for those articles or content to publish, they were hesitant because of others who might have differing opinions.

I totally get it. Putting your expertise out into the world is a scary thing. I say this as I’m actually doing it. But have some confidence in yourself. You can’t be a thought leader without voicing an opinion.

Lay a foundation. 

Once you’re a subject matter expert and feel you have something valuable to contribute, that’s when the magic can happen. Although, it’s not actually magic; there’s a strategy behind it.

A PR team or in-house PR manager should first work in your local market and with industry publications to establish credibility. In most cases, before landing the The New York Times, you have to start with the local daily or business publication. Any national reporter will immediately Google you if they receive a pitch and don’t recognize your name. When they do, you want them to find positive articles and clips of you sharing your expertise on a local or regional level. A baseline of relevant, local coverage paired with a skilled pitch and a timely angle can be just enough to pique a national outlet’s interest. 

Be patient. Keep trying.  

The final piece of the equation is one of the toughest: patience. Once you have a solid hold on your local media market, a PR team should continue to develop fresh angles and ideas to have your expertise included in bigger and bigger outlets. This might include tying your expertise into a current national trend or developing a column with a unique perspective.

Securing coverage can happen quickly if the timing is right, but it typically takes weeks or even months for print publications that have long lead times. The key is patience and continual outreach to boost your chances of a national feature.

Abra Cadabra.

If you are truly an expert, have quality content and establish a solid baseline of local coverage, you could be a thought leader! It won’t happen overnight, but when it does, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry can separate you from the competition and help build trust with your audiences.

Don’t forget that thought leadership is just one component of an overarching communications campaign. Whether establishing your expertise locally or working toward your next national feature, always be sure your thought leadership plan is strategic, measurable and aligns with the overall goals of your organization. With a little patience and a lot of perseverance, you’ll soon be fielding calls from reporters reaching out to you for insights and comments!

By Katie Adkisson
Jul 10

During the Dallas Spring Meeting for PRGN members of the Leadership Roundtable, we were given the opportunity to get out of the hotel conference center and explore one of Dallas’ top corporate headquarters (and a Three Box Strategic Communications client) – Topgolf. While the visit was a great opportunity to cut loose and have a little fun, it also served as an opportunity to learn from a top national brand and get a refresh on some basic PR principles we should be applying to our work each day.

Three Key Learnings from Topgolf that apply to all PR professionals

Your Message: It has to resonate with your audience(s).

This point is an oldie but goodie and it was nice to hear Topgolf reinforce it during our visit. We heard from director of corporate communications Adrienne Chance and she discussed the breadth of audiences that Topgolf has to reach with their message from millennia

ls and families with children to avid golfers and traveling businessmen. Each audience is unique, but the core message must stay the same.

As PR experts it’s our responsibility to ensure the message is aligned with the brand and resonates with each defined audience. However, we also can’t be everything to everyone so we must clearly define which audiences are most important and play to their pain points in our outreach and message.

Read the full article on the Public Relations Global Network blog.


By Katie Adkisson
Jan 15

As seen in the Nashville Business Journal.

Most everyone works with some sort of professional service providers to accomplish the goals of their organization – partners, vendors, suppliers, whatever we call them.

Anyone who provides a professional service likely understands the most important goal of client satisfaction is making certain the customer is happy and there is a good working relationship.

What many in a service-oriented environment tend to forget is perspective. Ultimately, we have to make our clients happy and not just do what we want. We have to do what our client wants and the way they want it done while still showing our value and expertise.

After working in the agency world for several years and then taking a leap in-house, I learned exactly how I wanted and didn’t want to be treated by those partners, giving me some invaluable lessons as I stepped back into agency life.


Be patient. They have a long list. 

While billable hours and moving the ball forward are what we focus on in an agency or professional services firm, our clients’ priorities aren’t always in line with that. We may only have one project we’re working on with our client, but they may have 10 others that come before it. Not to mention their boss may have other ideas about what’s important and should be done quickly.

That’s not to say that we should let things slide until a project fizzles, but striking the right balance between pestering and following up is key. Understanding that clients have other priorities and letting them know you’re aware of that will go a long way toward making them feel like you’re on their side.


Know their budget and where you fit into it.

Our clients often have large budgets, but our work may be just a fraction of that. When you know your client’s total budget and how you fit in, it helps you to understand where you fit in the line of priorities.

Some clients have extremely collaborative environments where multiple partners are brought in at a time. Others keep things in silos and control the pieces themselves. Whichever way a specific client likes to work, partners should seek to know all moving pieces and how their particular portion functions for the organization.

Ask clients about their current priorities to get a clear understanding of where you fall into their daily tasks and current projects so you can exceed their expectations.


Make it easy on them.

The best partners and vendors I had when I was in-house were the ones who made things easiest on me. How did they do this? At first, I didn’t realize it. But after working with several partners, I took notice of those who understood my priorities and went out of their way to make things clear and easy for me.

That included those partners who could lend their expertise and direction so I could just say yes or no, partners who gave me firm deadlines to ensure things were accomplished on time and partners who helped me showcase the work and goals accomplished to my boss/team.

As partners to clients, it’s our duty to make those contacts we work with look good and make their lives easier. When we understand what their world looks like, where they’re coming from and what their goals are we have a much better shot at making that happen.

By Katie Adkisson
Sep 02

You may not realize this, but transporting a miniature barnyard animal into a Midtown office space undetected is quite a feat. We thought we could keep it under wraps – until we were caught. That’s getting a little ahead of myself. I’ll start at the beginning.

At RPR we’re building a culture of being fun-loving while getting our s**t done. We get big wins and implement successful campaigns for our clients and, most importantly, we like to celebrate those wins.

Back in February we moved into our beloved new home on West End Avenue. We’re proud of our space and how it’s coming along, so naturally we wanted to share and celebrate it with everyone. The grand idea? Host an unforgettable Cinco de Mayo party in our new office.

Cinco de Mayo can be a busy holiday for many, with folks jumping from place to place to enjoy endless margaritas, chips and salsa and great music. And given that Cinco de Mayo fell on a Tuesday this year, we knew our party-goers would get plenty of other invitations. We had to set ourselves apart.

We mapped out the entire “film” – all 30 seconds of it. We’d bring in oversized margarita glasses, a piñata, party favors and trash our office to look like a scene of aftermath from the most epic Cinco de Mayo party ever. We knew that would get you all there. To top it off at the end we would pan to a donkey. That’s right. A donkey. In. Our. Office. Then we’d hit anyone who declined with the tagline: “Don’t be an ass. Come to our party.”

It was perfect. We loved it, and so we set about making this happen. But how does one get a donkey to an office in Nashville? Impeccable Googling skills. That’s how. The heads of RPR have other talents aside from running an agency. We can find anything on the Internet, even a miniature donkey in the Nashville area.

I gave Jeni – a donkey wrangler – a call and she had just the donkey for us. Brittany may have been a bit confused when someone called for me about a donkey. But we had our talent booked.

From there we lined up the shoot and, very carefully, brought the donkey to RPR. I may have only just told security we had this shoot lined up as we were bringing the donkey upstairs. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some moments of utter panic in me as we tried to lure Eeyore through the front doorway to our office building. He froze before making it to the elevator.

He planted his heels firmly on the tile and I grabbed Jack Henry, Lauren’s five-year-old son, as quickly as possible. (Side note: Of course, Jack Henry was there. When you rent a donkey for the day your kid skips preschool and visits the office.)

I just knew Eeyore was going to kick him in the head, giving him some permanent injury (or at least a black eye), I would be fired and our wonderful idea would become a nightmare.

Thankfully for me, and all of you that attended our party, that didn’t happen. With the help of a few cupcakes and tortilla chips, Eeyore made his way up to Suite 320. And the rest is history. La la bamba.

Oh that’s right, except our landlord stopped by our office the next day inquiring about a mule in our office. He stayed outside the door as if he was afraid he would discover the animal was still there 24 hours later. We gave our Girl Scout honor and said we would never do that again. It was totally worth it. See for yourself!

By Katie Adkisson
Aug 05

RPR recently completed a poll to find out more about millennials and their purchasing habits and attitudes toward companies.

Our initial research found that more than 85 percent of millennials surveyed would prefer to purchase from a brand that supports a charitable cause.

Comments included:

“I definitely pay more for companies that give back. I love Toms and Honest Company!”

“[I would] pay a slight bit more for a product from a company that gives back to help the community and its customers.”

The findings from our initial poll reaffirmed what many already know – that millennials believe in and support causes. We want to dive deeper into millennial attitudes and discover the driving forces behind this. That’s why we’ve created a new survey and will be hitting the streets soon to interview millennials on what motivates them.

We’ll answer questions such as what makes them accept a position and stay engaged, how they determine what causes to support and how they determine what companies gain their loyalty.

Does this interest you? With $200 billion in the U.S. economy’s annual buying power, we suspect it does. Stay tuned to our blog to find out more. You can also join our e-mail list to get our most up-to-date findings.

*I feel that because I am (barely) a millennial, it allows me to say “madness” in a non-offensive, non-derogatory way.

By Katie Adkisson
Apr 27

As featured in 12th & Broad:

What if Martin Luther King, Jr. had said, “I ‘kind of’ have a dream,” or Barack Obama had said “Yes, we ‘kind of’ can,” or the Terminator had said “I’ll ‘kind of’ be back?”

It “kind of” loses its impact, doesn’t it?

In a recent one-hour meeting with five women from my firm, the phrase “kind of” was said 15 times. We’re all experienced, college-educated, badass ladybosses. So why did we keep watering down our statements with these meaningless filler words? What does it say about how sure we are about our ideas, our work and our abilities? It definitely doesn’t instill confidence in our audience that we know what we’re talking about.

While confidence is an issue that almost everyone struggles with at some point in their careers, women seem to struggle with being seen as a strong, self-assured force more often than men.

A recent article in The Atlantic referred to this as “the confidence gap.” It’s not that women are less capable than men or that we have less ambition, but we tend to be naturally more cautious and less self-assured. Combine this with an environment that nurtures us to be “good little girls” in school and it’s a surefire way to end up with a less confident female.

And thus the pesky “kind of” is born. What is it doing for us and why do we keep saying it? If we speak up in a meeting with an idea, shouldn’t we present it in a way that others will listen and believe? Shouldn’t we be confident in what we’re saying?

The thing is, when we believe in what we’re saying, whether we’re right or not, others are more likely to believe in it too.

“Well, I ‘kind of’ had this idea, and I ‘kind of’ put together this great presentation. Also, I ‘kind of’ got this great result for my client.”

Did you or didn’t you? Of course you did! Stop discrediting yourself with the first sentence out of your mouth. If we question what we’re saying, why wouldn’t everyone else?

So I challenge you to remove those two little words from your vocabulary.

Instead, opt for phrases like “I recommend…” or “I have decided…” because that’s exactly what we’re doing and we want others to do the same. Try to catch yourself saying it and keep a tally. You might be “kind of” surprised how often that may be.

Katie Adkisson is Vice President of Account Services at Reed Public Relations. She was inspired to write this piece after listening to the Chamber’s “Bizaroo” panel about women business leaders.

By Katie Adkisson
Apr 08

I walked through my front door the other night and said to my boyfriend, “I never thought I’d send an email that says, ‘Can we reschedule? We have a donkey in the office today.’”

Rewind a few hours and there we were, phones out, taking behind-the-scenes shots of a farm animal donning a sombrero like it was just another Monday. Which, essentially, it was. At least at 1720 West End Avenue.

I’m thankful every day to work surrounded by sharp, driven women who know how to laugh, when to buckle down, and when it’s appropriate to order pizza.

Here are five reasons why you should join the team:

We’re a relaxed bunch and don’t take ourselves too seriously

The other week found us crowded around a laptop in yoga attire after a group class, laughing at the photos we took earlier and snacking on warm cookies from Jake’s Bakes. We’re the same group who nails down new business, wins PR awards and can rattle off the names of three perfect journalists when you come to us with a story idea. It’s a science.

We want to become something bigger than ourselves

You’ll learn more about this later. You might even want to read a bit about it in this national interview with Lauren. But we as an agency are looking beyond Nashville to make an impact on the world. It’s called Be The Good – keep an eye on this website for more details.

It was Gandhi who said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” We all give back in some way, whether it’s mission trips to Costa Rica, Big Brothers Big Sisters or the Junior League. We’re looking for people who want to do the same.

We’re a creative team who has some zany ideas

And sometimes they become something awesome {please see above for the donkey reference}. Lauren and I were driving down the highway in St. Louis when Be The Good was born, and were presenting it to Katie and Jennifer a week later. Some of my favorite moments are when we’re sitting around the table in our conference room and brainstorming. The idea that makes everyone pause and look at each other? That’s the one we want.

We’re a flexible office that realizes you’re a human

Cheaper to fly back a day after your vacation and want to work remotely? No big. Do you have a hectic commute in the afternoons and still need to grab that sassy kid of yours from school? Leave when it makes more sense. Just make sure your work gets done.

We have the benefit of working a flexible schedule that allows for the days where a 9-5 in the office doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean we work less – we just work smarter.

Oh, and we get more vacation days than the average office. And you’re encouraged to take them all. It’s as good as it sounds.

We’re rockstars at what we do and pat each other on the back when it happens

During our weekly meetings we make a point to recognize a team member who went above and beyond and exemplified one of our core values. This is not a competitive environment. We constantly support each other and are the first to shout out congratulations and ring bells when someone gets some stellar results or has big news. Which happens pretty often, to be honest.


By Katie Adkisson
Feb 20

The Nashville Business Journal recently ran a guest blog from Lauren on crisis communications. Enjoy!


You know the drill. It’s the start of a new year. The entire team is moving full speed ahead on new initiatives, presumably ones that involve your marketing plan. Social media! Media tours! Product launches! It’s all very exciting, and kudos to you for being proactive with your marketing efforts. Have you thought about your crisis communications plan, though? While admittedly less sexy than launching a new product, this key component is critical to have in place.

An astounding amount of businesses don’t have a crisis communications plan. Nobody expects to get a call that puts your company’s future in jeopardy. But things go wrong, incorrect information can go viral and the reputation of your brand can be at risk in a matter of minutes.

The steps to a crisis communications plan are not difficult, but they do require advance planning. I like to think of it as an insurance policy. I hope you’ll never use it, but you’ll sleep better knowing it’s there.

Here are some immediate steps you can take as a starting point to ensure continued integrity and protect your business in a time of crisis.

Establish the crisis management team.

In addition to the CEO, this should include key people from your PR team, legal counsel and human resources. Determine a spokesperson and a back-up, and make sure they’re media trained. Your first experience in front of a live TV camera does not need to be in a time of crisis.

Talk about what types of situations would threaten your organization.

What are your risk factors? This will vary by organization and there will likely be several. Discuss how you would respond. Write it down and develop messaging while you are thinking clearly. This will give you a much-appreciated headstart during a crisis.

Identify your stakeholders – and the best way to get in front of them.

This could include employees, your board, customers, suppliers, media outlets and local government officials. It’s not enough to just know who they are. How will you reach them? Who warrants a personal phone call – and from which member of the crisis team? Is e-mail the best way to reach your customers?

Remember, a plan will only work if it is current. Task someone on your team with reviewing this at least quarterly and addressing any necessary changes, such as replacing a member of the crisis management team that has left the company.

By Katie Adkisson