The Value of Ethics

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers, Journal Jar | Friday 5 April 2013 9:10 am

By: Melanie Rankin

Since before I can remember, my dad always told me two things: all you have is your word, and if you have five true, thick-n-thin friends in this world, then you’re lucky. As a teenager, I didn’t think too much of it because, let’s face it, when you’re a teenager you’ve clearly got it all figured out (I hope you sense my sarcasm). But as I’ve grown, I’ve figured out that he’s exactly right (go figure). Not only do these two morsels of wisdom apply to your personal life, they should filter into your work life.

Rather than call honesty and integrity ‘our word,’ in PR we call these values our ethics. Let me address the first valuable piece of advice from my dad: all you have is your word. It addresses how others view you and your trustworthiness. There’s a lot to be said for being where you say you’re going to be and letting people know what’s going on if there is an issue. If you say you can do something and you find you’ve double booked yourself, the last thing you should do is not say anything. If I’ve learned anything in PR it’s that constant communication is the only way to be successful.

The second piece of advice that my dad gave me has a lot to do with trusting others. I’ve learned in PR, and in life, that if it looks like a lie, seems like a lie, acts like a lie… it’s probably a lie. Who you surround yourself with can make or break your career. Remember, if you hold others to a standard of honesty and excellence, you must also keep yourself accountable and expect others to help you do so. If someone violates your trust, forgive and let go for friendship’s sake, but don’t necessarily forget. Don’t ever let yourself be fooled twice. People mess up, believe me, I’m the first to stand on the chopping block. To harm yourself by continually letting others intentionally cause you harm is a rookie mistake.

There aren’t too many things that are as important and widespread over any industry as ethics. Anywhere you work, there is some sort of code of ethics that should be followed. As PR practitioners, we have the PRSA Code of Ethics. Advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness are the attributes that we seek to uphold in PR. These values should be upheld throughout your life, regardless of your vocation.



Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers | Friday 16 November 2012 9:12 am

By: Alisha Washington

A few months ago I began my internship at KVBPR after finishing a great summer internship at another local firm.  At the start, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, it’s always nerve racking stepping into a new environment. However, I wanted to see what it was like to work at a smaller firm, to compare and contrast the work environment and the staff dynamics and interactions. Although there may be slight differences, the experience is invaluable. Throughout my time at KVBPR, I’ve improved my writing skills through drafting press releases and media advisories, updating newsletters and compiling posts for social media. Because of KVBPR I am also a well informed citizen on a variety of topics, from the dangers of food allergies to ways that I can remain active once I’ve become a senior citizen. At times, the writing assignments may seem random, but I enjoy them because of the rush I get whenever I construct a new press release or complete any other writing assignment. The time spent developing the piece to make sure it communicates the message effectively is always rewarding.

Although writing is a key component of public relations, it wasn’t my only task. Research was another element that I’ve recognized as an integral part of public relations in general. Research is necessary because the team constantly tries to find opportunities for clients to get their name out in the public sphere. One day I may be researching how companies handled a crisis and the next I’m searching for different walking events taking place in Tennessee. At KVBPR research is something I do frequently and as a result I’m learning something new every day. I think it is unique when a person can say that about his or her job.

Working downtown this semester also contributed to my increased love for the city. As a student at Vanderbilt, there’s a phrase we use: “stuck in the Vanderbubble.” The phrase describes Vanderbilt students who remain on campus, not exploring or truly experiencing the city. Working downtown allowed me to see everything Nashville has to offer: driving by Nashville trailers hoping to catch a glimpse of Connie Britton, trying local dining spots, telling my friends about events happening over the weekend and attending Nashville’s craft and cultural fair in celebration of Artober. I quickly discovered Nashville is much more than the stereotypical image I had of it when I first came here two years ago.

Truly celebrating Nashville and experiencing the city was definitely a perk of working at KVBPR. However, one of the most rewarding experiences about working at this firm was interacting with the staff. Everyone in the office took a genuine interest in wanting to help me improve professionally. I received constant feedback on how to improve a press release, and whenever I needed advice about professional development the staff was always willing to help.  Since interning here, I feel more confident in my ability to pitch a story to news outlets, something I had little experience with, and I’m more confident in and proud of the work I present. And whenever I have questions on an assignment, I don’t hesitate to seek clarification.

While there have been many highlights and rewarding experiences while working at KVBPR, it’s only natural to discuss lessons I’ve learned as an intern in order to grow as a professional. Below are a few of my “lessons learned.”

Lessons learned:

  • Each company culture is different; always ask questions to clarify the “do’s and don’ts” of the company.
  • Constant communication is important when it comes to public relations. It’s important to communicate with supervisors about progress on a project or assignment. This transcended into my school work and allowed me to become even more responsible about communicating with group members and peers about projects and meetings.
  • Stay organized.  It’s difficult trying to remember due dates, meeting times and practices all in your head, so invest time in getting organized. Google Calendar became my best friend this semester.

A Letter to Future Interns

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers | Friday 24 August 2012 10:15 am

By: Audrey Nelson

Sometime during my first week at KVBPR, I discovered a document titled “Notes for the next intern” on the company’s shared drive describing printer tips, important contacts and organizational tricks. As a KVBPR intern, the first week feels the most hectic with a slew of new projects, deadlines, faces and, of course, the downtown Nashville traffic. So it was a special relief to find a hidden note from a previous intern.  To close my summer internship here, I wanted to leave my own letter for the next intern with what I found were the most valuable lessons.

At KVBPR, you are treated like a full-time employee. You won’t be subjected to Dunn Bros coffee runs. Instead you will be expected to treat assignments with utmost professionalism and timeliness. I absolutely loved this aspect of the internship, because it gives you a real sense of what it’s like to be a PR professional. With this responsibility, you will be encouraged to find solutions on your own before asking a supervisor in order to learn self-sufficiency in the office. If you’re having a slow week of projects, trust me—ask for more and you shall receive! The staff at KVBPR is incredibly hard working and busy, and will always have a small or large project available. The opportunities to become involved seem endless with off-site event support, PR conferences for networking, and plenty of research and writing projects for days at the office.

A new habit for most interns at KVBPR will be tracking your time. After getting used to this system, I started to feel like T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock. Except, instead of measuring my life in coffee spoons, I’ve started to measure it in billable time increments (or was that a RENT lyric?).

One of the most surprising parts of this summer however is how quickly it flew by. Maybe that’s just the crux of summertime, but it is also a testament to the amount of experience and responsibility you are offered.

Since KVBPR avoids micromanaging interns, it really allows you to take initiative, strive to impress and be creative with your work. I have found the skills I learned here can be applied to more than just the PR world, too. At weekly internal meetings I’ve learned about small business growth, I have sat in on pitches to clients, I have learned the value of prioritizing and time management and, most importantly, I’ve learned how to become self-sufficient as an intern. These career skills are invaluable everywhere.

A strong work ethic and a thirst to learn everything you can are the most important things to bring to work each day. If you’ve done that, your opportunities at KVBPR will be limitless!

Good luck,


An Intern’s Day on the 21st Floor

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers, Journal Jar | Wednesday 8 August 2012 11:20 am

By: Audrey Nelson

The level of work I’ve been able to accomplish at KVBPR will be the most valuable and memorable part of my summer internship. But before I head back to school, I wanted to remember all of the little things that make a day at this firm special. From the kind people to the infuriating traffic, I’ve nevertheless grown to love the 21st floor and will be sad to leave it.

I was pleasantly surprised on my first day to receive an office as nice as the next one with a window, large desk, and all of the office essentials I could need. On most mornings, I will block out time to tackle a larger project. I have been given the opportunity to work directly with a client for a summer-long project to conduct interviews and write over a dozen articles. Another major project included phone interviews, web research, and even smartphone research. Working at a small firm gives interns an opportunity to work with all levels of colleagues, which I found to be an invaluable aspect of the job.

I love the space KVBPR gives interns, but that doesn’t mean the staff won’t lend a hand when I need one. Even in unexpected ways, I have found the advice here exceptional. One weekly meeting led to great PR advice for the college magazine I manage at school. We talked through ideas, implementations and success strategies to help bolster the magazine’s presence on campus. It was totally unexpected and completely appreciated! Also, everyone here has been more than willing to take the time to discuss their backgrounds, career paths and life as a PR professional with me. The insight I have received goes much deeper than just day-to-day tasks.

My favorite afternoons have been assisting at off-site events. For one event, we gathered at the Downtown Library to set up the venue, assist with organization, and generally keep the program running smoothly. It’s great to meet new people, learn about event planning, and see all of your preparation work in action.

At the end of the day, I tidy up my desk, count my billable hours to log into our system and make my way back to the garage.

I won’t forget the incredibly kind people I’ve met both in and out of the office. I’ve been able to accomplish and learn so much, and am grateful to have been invited into the KVBPR family for the summer. They say it’s the little things that count and, at KVBPR, it’s definitely true!


A Growing Passion for Work in PR and the Community

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers, Journal Jar | Thursday 5 July 2012 9:36 am

By: Audrey Nelson

Before I started my internship at KVBPR, I knew to expect certain things of my position: plenty of work, big-name clients, and learning from some of the best PR professionals in the area. What I didn’t expect was the commitment that each KVBPR employee has to the Nashville community. Every month, one of the members presents on his or her involvement with non-profits and charities. Many of the employees have board member and leadership positions with charities such as Hands on Nashville and Musicians on Call. After just a few weeks of working here, I realized that the KVBPR staff lives the Tennessee moniker, “The Volunteer State” in both their personal and professional lives.

Though most stay after hours and will often come in early, the employees at KVBPR still manage to balance their work schedules with non-profit positions. Their collective drive inspired me to reach out to a non-profit that I strongly connected with, Brown Dog Foundation. I come from a long lineage of animal lovers, and have been blessed to have a family that has helped several dogs from enduring a tough life. I’m a serious mutt-lover and cannot go to an animal shelter without falling in love, so when I heard about Brown Dog’s mission, I knew I wanted to be a part of their organization.

Brown Dog Foundation is a charity that helps struggling families pay expensive medical bills that could save the life of their pet. Carol Smock founded the organization in 2006 in memory of Chocolate Chip, her chocolate Labrador Retriever whose medical bills for chemotherapy exceeded Carol’s available funds. Though Chocolate Chip passed away, his life inspired Carol to build Brown Dog Foundation, and help families in similar situations save their pet’s life by funding the necessary healthcare.

I have been able to help Brown Dog in both public relations and social media campaigns this summer through the knowledge I’ve gained at KVBPR. It’s highly rewarding as an intern to see your work travel through the media, but it’s even more so knowing that you are making an impact on local families and their pets. I feel very fortunate to be able to give back to the community in which I was raised with the skills that I’ve developed as a PR intern.

Though my internship will have to come to a close in August, the skills I have learned here and my work with Brown Dog will continue to grow through my senior year of college. I knew I’d have the opportunity to work with one great Nashville organization this summer, and am so pleased that I’ve been able to work with two. It’s hard to believe that this experience is half-way over, but I can’t wait to see what the next part of summer has in store for me!

For more information on Brown Dog Foundation, visit their website at

*Pictured: Wagner, a success story from the Brown Dog Foundation. See more pets who have been saved since 2006.


Workin’ 9 to 5: A Typical Day of an Intern

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers | Tuesday 20 March 2012 2:05 pm

By: Jessica Varner

Interning at KVBPR has not only been an amazing learning experience, but very enjoyable as well. I love working on all of the different projects and the firsthand experience has taught me so much.

I wanted to write a blog post about what a typical day of interning at KVB looks like for me. I am a huge fan of song parodies so I decided to rewrite Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”. Since I do not have class on Fridays, I usually intern from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., giving me a taste of what a typical work day looks like.

I rewrote the lyrics of the chorus, feel free to turn on Dolly’s version in the background and sing along!

Internin’ nine to five
What a way to get some knowledge
Here at KVB
Using what you’ve learned in college
They help you use your mind
Getting paid and class credit
It’s enough to teach you
Good PR if you let it

Nine to five, for research and releases
And you know that my
Job skill sure increases
Working at a firm
With lots of different clients
The piles of projects can sometimes look like giants

The KVB team
Teach you what matters
Step by step
So you can climb that ladder
Using AP style each and every day

In the same boat with a lot of your friends
Waitin’ for the day called graduation
But you’ve got experience
So you know you’re gonna be a-okay


A Day in the Life of a KVBPR Intern

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers | Thursday 1 March 2012 10:55 am

By: Hayley Cook

Because I am both a student and an intern, my time is divided between the classroom and the office.

I spend my mornings getting organized, which I see as a moment of pure bliss. My orientation to detail is definitely something that attracted me to PR initially, and it comes in handy when I’m balancing multiple projects. In the mornings I spend time going over previous projects and their progress, checking my email, and discussing any new projects with KVB staff.

Then it’s time to get started. Some days, I start out with research projects for clients. This is something I do for staff frequently, and it usually involves creating a database of findings in Excel. Research can range from searching for numerous articles about a specific topic to compiling a list of awards for a certain field. Mostly, this takes some excellent Google skills and a little patience, which is something that I’ve learned primarily through experience in the field and researching information for class projects.

I also work quite frequently with media list building/editing and press release writing. A few days back, I sent out a press release for Metro Arts and their second phase of artistically-designed bike racks, which you can admire all over the Nashville area. Writing is something that I have honed tremendously while at Belmont. One of my very first classes as a PR major was Basic Newswriting (where my first assignment was to write a fake obituary for my professor, which naturally involved interviews with her elderly parents about their “deceased” daughter). “Basic” Newswriting, as it was so-called, was not basic in any sense of the word – it was rigorous and challenging, but I learned how to cut the fluff out of my PR and news writing. Through this coursework, I feel more confident in my writing, which is overall more concise and to-the-point than it was 4 years ago when I started college.

One of my favorite aspects of PR is event marketing, and I’m privileged to be working on some of that here! Event marketing was something I gained monumental experience in when I helped plan Nashville’s Fourth of July Hot Chicken Festival during my previous summer internship. At KVB, I’m working on a fundraising gala for one of our clients, and I’m so excited for my timeline to start taking shape. Moreover, media relations is a big part of event marketing, and it’s an aspect of PR I really enjoy.

In my PR Design & Production class, we’ve been talking a lot about knowing your brand and accurately conveying its message through design. The takeaway: in the end, YOU are responsible for your brand, not the graphic designer, or in this case, the media. The art of a press release is in sculpting your client’s brand and its message accurately. I’ve learned that this is an integral part of media relations and conveying your message to the general public through a medium.

I round out the day by finishing up projects, entering time, and readying myself for the next day. Connecting the dots between coursework and interning is something I’m excited to be doing, and I’m thankful to intern in an environment that encourages learning new things and skill building on a daily basis.


The Fat Letter: Make Sure It Helps Your Bottom (And Top) Line

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers, Healthcare | Wednesday 12 October 2011 11:31 am

By: Nan Allison, MS, RD, LDN

When I plopped down next to a colleague at a meeting the other day, she leaned over and whispered, “My employer is sending out the Fat Letter.” I gave her a puzzled look, wondering if people were getting fired, promoted or what. She acted like I should know. In fact, I should have known. You see, we both had worked on a project called “Got BMI?” in response to the public schools’ equivalent of her employer’s “Fat Letter,” telling her she was overweight. We dietitians designed the “Got BMI?” campaign, meaning: “You got your kid’s Body Mass Index (BMI) results from the school health screenings. Now what are you going to do?”

Similarly, we are concerned about and interested in what advice employers are offering along with their “Got BMI/Fat Letters” to employees to help address the problems of being overweight, having hypertension or high cholesterol. We see current practices using generalized answers and programs rather than individualized approaches at the executive and employee levels.

Often employees are told to join a gym, eat smaller portions, eat breakfast, not drink sodas, or walk more during the day. Everyone seems to be focused on weight, period – suggesting only the traditional resources typically offered up to deal with weight. These practices may be popular but they are only effective in the short term.

If employers want to get serious about reducing their costs and getting employees to eat better, they might consider encompassing the needs of the individuals and looking closely at what the company’s entire nutrition programming design should include.

In order for a “fat letter” to get employee attention and inspire action, make sure:

  • It is the right action and make the most of that letter.
  • It really helps your employee and doesn’t send him down the wrong path or frustrate her into taking no action.
  • It leads your employee to a healthier body and a more fulfilling experience with healthy eating, so that eating well becomes easier.

Be prepared to support your employees with an environment, culture and individual support system that will help them feel good, not bad, about themselves, so they don’t feel it is a struggle to do well.

Make the most of your investment in your employee wellness program. Use the services of an expert in nutrition at the corporate food delivery level and in medical nutrition therapy to design, assess and implement your program.

We’d love to know your thoughts:

  • Are you an employer who is sending or is contemplating sending letters to employees about the need to do something about their health?
  • Are you an employee that has received such a letter? If not, what would you think about getting such a letter?

Founding KVBPR: Drive for Success or Fear of Failure? Yes!

Posted by admin | Anniversaries, Guest Bloggers, Journal Jar | Friday 12 August 2011 10:51 am

By: Roy Vaughn, APR

I had three young sons when we founded KVBPR. How young?  Try 2 months, 4 years and 7 years. Now THAT is motivation to make it work. A few friends thought I’d lost it (thanks, guys).

It was a truly life changing time.

My youngest son was born with severe heart defects that required surgeries, and I was not sure we could get health coverage. If not, I was out. We found a way for us all to get covered through the efforts of Joann Denise and the full support of my future partners. We could go ahead with our plan.

Aileen, Greg and I were all confident that KVBPR could be successful from the start. By the close of 1996 we were in the black…no small feat for a start up of any flavor.  Before we knew it, we’d hit the five-year mark – another one of those business survival milestones – and we were still growing. Now there are 15 candles on the cake for my son Phillip and for KVBPR. Both are thriving…and I’m one proud papa.

We’ve all grown in different ways as time has passed. For instance, I’m writing a GUEST BLOG for KVBPR. Blogs didn’t exist, and I sure didn’t see myself on the client side, when we hung our shingle.

In 2007, I left KVBPR to join one of our clients, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Yes, health insurance has played a major role in my story with KVBPR. I’m happy to report I’m still at BlueCross…and the change has been really good for me and my family on many levels. Sometimes I’m asked about my relationship with KVBPR and I often joke that since I’m a client the partners have to treat me better now!

One thing has not changed at KVBPR — we founded the firm on the idea that strategic counsel, excellent work and high ethical standards make a difference for clients.

Of course, you can’t deliver on that promise without outstanding people. KVBPR can be proud of consistently attracting some of the best…talented, big-hearted professionals who’ve done great things at the firm and beyond. I hesitate to provide a list for fear of leaving someone out (but you know who you are). Man, it’s been so rewarding to work alongside you all!

To Aileen, Greg, Nancy and all KVBers, congratulations on the first 15 years.  It’s been fun seeing the firm grow up so well…almost as much as seeing my sons do so.

The Vaughns all grown up: Front - Laura; Back (L-R) - Jordan (21), Roy, Patrick (19) and Phillip (15). Roy's and Laura's ages were withheld upon request!


The Value of an Intern(ship)

Posted by admin | Guest Bloggers, Journal Jar | Monday 8 August 2011 1:56 pm

By: Kerie Kerstetter 

Back in May, I began my summer internship at KVBPR hoping to gain a little insight into the field of public relations. I was both eager and nervous. I expected the typical coffee runs and copy work, yet hoped that I’d be able to learn a few things about PR along the way. Little did I know I’d be exposed to so many facets of the industry and work as such an integral part of the KVBPR team. 

At the start of the summer, I began a blog called The Witty Intern (@TheWITTYintern) with the purpose of gleaning a little wisdom by reflecting on my experiences. I was the “witty” intern since the adjectives “savvy,” “clever” and “wise” had already been taken on Twitter; yet it came to be a tone I rather enjoyed writing in. I enjoyed journaling after a long day at work or a lesson learned. And by the end of the summer, I had a collective account of my experiences that was fun to read back through. 

It didn’t take me long to realize how fortunate I was to be interning at KVBPR. I had the privilege of working as a valued part of the agency and I was involved in every aspect of the PR process. I was included in everything from new client meetings and brainstorms to research and strategic planning. Co-workers always took the time to fill me in on client accounts or explain their reasoning behind tactics or campaigns. Employees encouraged my input and valued my creative suggestions. I gained experience writing articles and releases, talking to reporters, conducting research and crafting campaigns. I’m ending my internship with an over-flowing portfolio and a summer full of invaluable experiences. Not only that, but I’m ending my internship with the glorious revelation every college student yearns for (and every parent prays they find): Why yes, this IS exactly what I want to do with my life! 

I wanted to thank the KVBPR team for believing an intern could be such a valuable part of their agency. I attribute my amazing experience this summer to the confidence they put in my abilities and my potential. This may be the end of The Witty Intern, but perhaps the beginning of The Wise PR Professional!

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