A Q&A With Katie Harvey, Part 2
Our founder highlights what sets this agency apart, and how that has made all the difference to our clients, industry, and business.
A Q&A with KGBTexas Founder Katie G. Harvey
Katie G. Harvey founded KGBTexas in 1994 at the age of 24. In part one of this two-interview series, she explained how she grew KGBTexas from one employee to 55, made it a full-service communications firm, and expanded the company from San Antonio to Houston. In part two, she shares the benefits she and her company bring to our clients, our industry, and our home state of Texas, and how they influence her in return.
Q: You are open about discussing your faith, a rare thing in business nowadays. Why is this important to you?
A: I started blogging about faith and leadership because many people are faithful but are hesitant to share their beliefs in a business setting. I’m trying to use my own journey to make others more comfortable in doing so. It has been incredibly rewarding and I feel so blessed that God provided this company to allow me the platform and influence to speak of my faith and His good word to those in our community. His word tells us to use our influence to share testimony with others. I take that very seriously. He also provides us the promise that our cups will overflow so that we may pour out to others. My cup has overflown exponentially and I enjoy sharing that with others as well.
Q: Can you tell us a success story you’re especially proud of?
A: I am proud of the work we did for VIA, our transit authority here in San Antonio. During COVID, we had to move fast to change how we were communicating with our riders, and we served a critical community role: Getting essential workers to their jobs. We had to make people feel safe about what used to be commonplace activities like getting on a bus and being in an enclosed environment. In fact, we were one of the first organizations to come out with a COVID-appropriate television campaign. Our team was actually shooting on the streets of San Antonio. (At that time, because we were still under shelter-in-place orders, we had to have police escorts in place.)
Q: What makes your approach to your clients so unique?
A: Four pillars stand at the heart of our organization. These separate us. It’s about being bold enough to bring out-of-the-box ideas to clients, ensuring they’re steeped in strategy, being entrepreneurial in everything we do, and being curious in all that we do. We also must be an agency capable of pausing and reflecting on behalf of our clients, especially when they don’t have the time to think about marketing solutions themselves.
Q: How does Texas culture influence your company?
A: We are unabashedly a business-friendly state. Without businesses, people aren’t employed, services aren’t funded, nonprofits aren’t taken care of. And it makes me angry when I hear business is bad, it’s greedy, it’s heavy handed. Without business, our communities and culture and everything about our ecosystem collapses. Texas is such a commercially inviting state because it’s so uniquely focused on economic development opportunities and incentives. In San Antonio, for example, we’re focused on workforce training and education, both pre-k through high school and higher education and two-year college programs. We’re undoubtedly building a diversified workforce to attract the jobs that are sustainable in sectors such as cybersecurity and biosciences. Also, when you enjoy a supportive workforce, you can attract businesses to your region. Thankfully, we have a lower cost of living than so many other states to aid in such courting. We also don’t have a state income tax. All these factors add up to make this such an attractive business environment.
Q: Can you offer any predictions as to the future of PR and marketing? What will it be like in the next 5, 10, 15—even 20 years?
A: I think the traditional PR or traditional media delivery model with reporters, newspapers, et cetera, will continue to dissolve. Everyone these days is a “media source.” All of us are basically disseminating information. Our very phones are sophisticated communication tools. Likewise, our computer is a tool. Our tablet is a tool. Due to such recent developments—and so many more exciting ones to come—we’re all content producers now. While these innovations provide tremendous new opportunities, our media landscape remains fragmented. In the coming years it may prove harder to connect with larger, more centralized audiences. Still, the power is in the consumer’s hands. Encouraging, this new reality requires greater imagination and creativity to impact the public in meaningful ways. Tomorrow’s winning brands will surely be those that connect deeply, defying the merely transactional.
Q: What advice do you have for young people, especially those just leaving college or high school who want to enter the marketing/PR field?
A: You can’t teach someone who doesn’t have a knack for this type of work. You can’t teach someone how to create a connection or to develop a story. You also can’t teach someone how to write if they don’t naturally know how to. Still, I’ve hired people possessing no formal communications background. To my great surprise, they knocked it out of the park. Why? They knew how to connect the dots and how to deliver on something. It feels like magic whenever this happens, reminding me what a great field I’m so privileged to be in.
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