A Q&A with Katie Harvey, Part 1

Our founder explains the start—and the heart—of our communications business.

Home Blog A Q&A with Katie Harvey, Part 1

KGBTexas founder Katie G. Harvey launched our marketing/PR agency when she was only 24. The year was 1994, and she had just one confident client to get started. Today, our diverse team includes top media professionals as well as emerging talent. Our growing organization agency boasts offices in San Antonio and Houston. Together, we serve some of the most successful, yet community-oriented companies in the nation. In part one of this two-part interview, our founder explains the start—and the heart—of our communications business.

Q: What drove you to start your own agency?

A: I think a lot of it is just being that age and not having all the responsibilities and financial/family obligations that come when we get older. I just went to my boss at the time and said, “I want to still work for you, but I want to do it in this new way.”

To her credit, she was gracious enough to allow me to start my company and come with me as my first client. The rest is (thankfully) history. Still, people ask, “What was your five-year plan back then?” Honestly, I didn’t have a plan. I was raised by loving parents who always believed in me. This empowered me to take big, bold risks. Failure wasn’t ever an option.

Q: Were either of your parents entrepreneurs as well?

A: Actually, both were entrepreneurs. My father was in the Arabian horse industry and was a marketing genius. And my mom developed a small side business that allowed her to stay at home and raise my brother and me.

Q: What was it like in those early days when your company was just starting out?

A: It was so different than it is now. When I rented our first office, the people that had been there before left some wicker furniture behind. I spray-painted the furniture a new color and used that as our initial waiting-room decor. As for startup activities, I sat down daily to write to those people I wanted to connect with, not to mention, things I needed to do to move the business forward. This was well before we all had computers, believe it or not. Elizabeth was my first employee, and we’d sometimes forward our phones to our cells. Then, we’d lay out by the pool if we didn’t have anything to work on that day.

Q: How has your business grown since then?

A: We really started off as a PR company. It started with the two of us. Then we added people. What happened is, a client would come on board with public relations and say, “Hey, can you also help me solve this problem over here?”

Before long, there were other tools in our communications and marketing box we could deploy, whether it involved creating partnerships, or bringing someone in-house to lead a division. We went from being strictly PR to advertising, then paid media, before delving into social media and digital. Eventually, we grew to where we are now: a full-service communications firm. We now employ 55 great people, making us the largest woman-owned agency in Texas.

Q: How has marketing and PR changed since when you first started?

A: It’s transformed exponentially. When I first started, there were four communication avenues: radio, print, television, and outdoor. That was it. Consequently, we spent most of our time determining the messaging concerning those mediums. Obviously now, it’s quite a complicated landscape. We’re chasing algorithms. We’re optimizing on a continual basis.

Also, back in the early days, brands essentially “told” you how to think about their product or service. This mentality doesn’t resonate with today’s consumers, especially the younger generation. They don’t want to be told what to think or do. Instead, savvy brands must meet them where they are, engaging with audiences in deeper, meaningful ways. Typically, this comes down to shared values. The question becomes: Does this brand hold the same values I possess—or my friends and loved ones? After all, a major amount of influence and brand credibility comes from what those you like and respect, think.

Q: Your agency has built a portfolio of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and regional market leaders. You’ve also grown beyond San Antonio and set up a second shop in Houston. What do you credit for your continued success?

A: It comes down to one simple word: God. God has blessed me with an agency that produces positive outcomes in the wonderful communities we serve. God has also enabled KGBTexas to be a force for good in the lives of our staff. (And though it’s uncommon to hear this type of answer in an age in which religion’s influence is waning, I must give all the credit where it’s due.)

Faith has been the defining feature in our success. We really do look at potential partners and ask, “Are they doing great work in our community? Are they making a difference?” If the answer’s yes, then we’re all in. If it’s no, it’s a hard pass. Thinking this way has changed the commitment our team has towards our clients. Everyone here knows when we get up in the morning, the work we do is meaningful. We’re not just selling a better shoe or bag of chips. We only work with brands who want to improve our world, brands with heart.


         We hope you found this content helpful. If you’d like to learn more about how partnering with KGBTexas can take your brand to the next level, please contact us today. Also, click here to learn more about joining our growing team.