Kevin Miner, strategist at R/GA Austin, discusses brainstorms, working with creatives and growing a brand's voice in a natural way
"I believe that the best thinking often comes out of collaboration." says Kevin Miner, strategist at R/GA Austin. Here, he discusses his career path, strategies and what he does in his free time.
Q - Tell me about your career path. What brought you to R/GA?
I graduated from Louisiana State University in 2018 and immediately came into the strategy internship in Austin. I majored in public relations and previously interned at Ketchum in Chicago, but a friend of mine suggested that I look into advertising, R/GA specifically.
It became clear to me early on that R/GA trusts in the abilities of its employees, and as an intern, I had the opportunity to do research for a professional basketball team, community management for a major snack brand, and campaign planning for a local nonprofit organisation. Over time, community management turned into content management and strategy for a luxury auto brand, which entailed crafting monthly content briefs, real-time content creation, day-to-day management of social platforms and various projects like making brand love briefs and planning campaign roll outs. Today, I focus on content strategy across two accounts and jump onto pitches when I can!
Q - What do you enjoy most about working in strategy?
What I like most about working in strategy is the breadth of work that we cover. Within a year I’ve been able to do multiple forms of research, brand strategy, content strategy, and connections. I thoroughly enjoy coming to work each day, looking at new problems, and creating solutions.
Q - Where do you get all your information about market, industry trends and competitors?
I’d be lying if I said I read every trend or market research email that graces my inbox. While various publications, sites, and Slack groups can be great resources, I find that the most useful pieces of information I learn come from coworkers and fellow strategy team members.
Q - What makes you the most excited about a project you are working on/have worked on?
To get really specific, I love brainstorms. I get most excited when I’m on pitches and we are staring at a blank wall, throwing ideas onto a whiteboard. I believe that the best thinking often comes out of collaboration, and there’s nothing that exemplifies this more than piggy-backing or building off someone’s thought to get to an even better solution.
However, it’s not every day that we get to work on pitches, so I try to leverage the element of collaboration as much as possible in my day to day work. Recently I have been focused on building and optimising the relationship with the creative team on an account where we own community management. An associate creative director and I set up multiple check-ins each week where we review the brand’s current social opportunities and brainstorm real-time organic content together. As a result, our online presence has improved dramatically, and we’ve been able to grow the brand’s voice in a natural way and reach an entirely new audience that was previously a ‘missed opportunity.’
Q - What are some of the biggest growth moments for you?
My biggest growth moments at R/GA have come when the team that I’m on has made a mistake. It’s easy to blame clients or external factors for failures or disconnects, but I’ve learned the most when I admit that we were wrong and identify the things that we could have done better. No one likes to be the one at fault, and you grow just from owning it.
Obviously, you can still learn without making major mistakes. Times when I jumped into an unfamiliar project or new situation with full confidence in myself also yielded growth. Toward the end of the summer, I was helping out on a connections strategy for a pitch when the connections group director left to go out of town. I had the opportunity to step up and craft the bulk of the connections strategy with the help of two junior analysts. In the end, we put together a cohesive connections framework and the thinking behind it had a lot of implications on the general strategy.
Q - Do you have any passion projects outside of work?
I rap. As a kid, I used to write a lot of poetry, and when I first heard hip-hop music everything just clicked. It started off as freestyling with friends after class in high school, then I began releasing singles in college, and now I just dropped my first EP Long Story Short about a month ago.
My first experience performing was at an LSU talent show during my Sophomore year; I won, and as a result, I appeared and performed on Baton Rouge’s leading radio station Max 94.1. The Max 94.1 DJ and I grew to become great friends, and a lot of opportunities to perform in Southern Louisiana came about through that friendship. When I moved to Austin, I consistently performed at a local venue called Scratchouse on Tuesday night, but the shows would end SUPER late, like 1, 2 a.m. So, I took a step back from the live performances and weird weeknight hours to focus on Long Story Short, but I still do the occasional freestyle jam with a live band on Rainey Street in Austin.
The release of Long Story Short went well, and I am extremely grateful for all of the folks that helped me make the project and the people that have listened. I specifically want to shout out Emily Stetzer, an R/GA Art Director in New York, who helped bring my vision for the EP’s cover art to life. We still haven’t met the streaming goal for the project, but we over-indexed on media placements by 300% and have a music video in the works. Also, the strategy team at R/GA threw a release party for me with a cake and everything, so I really don’t know how things could have gone any better. I feel so blessed to work at an agency that not only embraces but helps foster my creative energy and ambition.