Karin Koser’s career started before she could even finish graduate school – and she’s been shooting higher ever since
Karin Koser will learn in June whether her firm’s video work for Shepherd Center will win one of the industry’s highest awards: a national Silver Anvil, for which their DVD series is a finalist in the Health Care Services category. They’ll be competing against other Atlanta and national broadcast and PR talent – something she’s been doing successfully since she was in graduate school.
In fact, a career opportunity so enticing knocked on her door while she was at the University of Georgia pursuing a graduate degree in broadcast journalism that she never finished her degree.
“I only had six to nine months to go to complete my degree when I saw a job posted on the bulletin board for the Georgia Department of Tourism to be a travel reporter on WAGA-Channel 5’s PM Magazine program,” Karin recalled Friday. She thought “this is the type of job I’d even quit my degree for – if I could possibly win the competition for it.” She did.
Splitting her time between the Tourism office and the TV station, she traveled the state for three years, writing, editing, producing and hosting video segments that aired on the highly rated program until it was bumped off the air by Wheel of Fortune. “My favorite stories were ‘fairy crosses‘ in Fannin County and sitting on the porch of the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island with Gogo Ferguson when a baby deer walked up and she fed it in her lap with a baby bottle.”
So she stayed on for a total of 14 years as PR Manager and later assistant director at the GA Dept. of Industry Trade & Tourism, traveling the world, helping raise media and tourist interest in the state and initiating the “Georgia On My Mind” campaign. As the Olympics approached, she was launching the Welcome South Visitors Center when Ken Willis, then at GCI, recruited her to the PR world.
“I was a senior account supervisor working with Shaw Industries and Lake Lanier Islands, but by that time I was also the proud mom of a young daughter and all those hours and travel weren’t compatible. So when a job as PR Director at Egleston came open, I knew that was closer to home and closer to my heart.” She stayed there more than three years, helping with the communications around the hospital’s merger with Scottish Rite hospital.
“I had been thinking of jumping off and starting my own business,” she said. “I was watching and being encouraged by folks such as Melissa Libby and Lee Echols and finally in January 2000, I did that. Fortunately, I talked to my bosses at (the newly merged) Children’s Healthcare and was able to serve them as a consultant for two years, continuing C-level PR strategy work and promoting healthcare breakthroughs and events like the Festival of Trees and Art of the Season. At the same time, I got a small contract with Connecting with Kids to produce short- and long-form videos about child and teen health.”
She’s led KPK & Co. for 12 years and branched off KPKinteractive in 2008 to take advantage of the interactive opportunities the Internet provided with video technology, and social media channels. Her firm’s video/interactive clients include Shepherd Center, with which she’s worked since 2002, Interface and DeKalb Medical Center. On the PR side, KPK & Co. works with Georgia State University and the American Craft Council’s annual event in Atlanta, among others.
Karin knew she wanted a career in PR after her freshman year at UGA when she was in Rome, Italy, with her mom. Karin’s European-born mother taught her conversational German growing up and took her on lots of trips – a benefit of her mom’s job with Lufthansa. On a bus tour of Rome, the tour guide slipped easily from English to German and Spanish while promoting the city with passion. Karin was impressed.
“Then it hit me, I could be passionate about promoting my own city and state and possibly make a career out of it,” she said.
In 2008, Karin and her team created the “Story of Hope” brand for Shepherd, profiling patients who came to the rehabilitation center and found it a life-changing experience. That led to the development of ShepherdTV.org and to a series of videos this past year informing families what to expect following a spinal cord or brain injury and the promise of eventual recovery and a better long-term life. The video programs were distributed nationally and are available at two new websites: braininjury101.org and spinalinjury101.org.
This campaign, consisting of two full-length videos, packaged as a DVD series with companion booklets, marketing materials and online, is the work that could land Shepherd Center and KPKinteractive a Silver Anvil in New York. Other independent Atlanta finalists in the awards are Jackson Spalding and Hipple & Co. Reputation Management.
“I think there is a story behind everything,” Karin said. “If we can connect the product or the service personally, it will resonate and be successful in reaching our client’s targets. Video, especially distributed interactively, is the best communication tool these days to reach people. We feel like we are at the right place at the right time and this is really the core of what we do. I’m personally passionate about health and wellness, higher ed, lifelong learning, arts/travel/culture and that is reflected in our client portfolio.”
– Chris Schroder