President of the Denver strategy, branding and digital agency AOR, Inc., Matt Keeney brings energy and enthusiasm to every venture he undertakes, be it business, his volunteer work with nonprofit groups, or his tennis and golf matches.
In September, he co-chaired the Denver Zoo’s Flock Party, a rare nonprofit fundraising gala to be held this year with 700+ patrons on site. Calling it “A Safe + Socially Dis-tanced Gathering for Good,” Keeney and the organizers planned it so they could creatively offer food and pre-mixed cocktails, live music and animal experiences, spaced out over the zoo's 84 acres.
With more than 25 years of agency, sales, marketing and customer satisfaction experience, Keeney works with clients in such fields as technology, development and construction, civic and municipal organizations, and hospitality and travel. He combines his creativity with a solid business sense to keep the agency on track to meet its cultural and financial goals amidst a competitive landscape.
Keeney grew up in Denver and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and French at Lake Forest College in Illinois. As a college student, he lived in Paris and China; the experience launched a wanderlust that hasn’t diminished. While the global pandemic has kept his passport idle, he discovered a new passport to fill with stamps: the National Parks and Monument Passport. He’s spent the downtime planning trips for when travel restrictions ease.
Where do you call home today?
How do people describe you?
Gregarious, outgoing, personable.
Who do you most admire?
What’s your favorite Colorado restaurant?
The Capital Grille – best, most consistent service ever!
What was the last great book you read?
I don’t read very fast so I stick with magazine and newspaper articles.
You’re known as a sartorial standout, but what is your biggest fashion faux pas?
Black on black when the blacks don't match.
What is one thing that you absolutely can’t live without?
Laughter. Oh, and Twizzlers.
What was your last major purchase?
The condo next door to connect the two.
What gadget can you not live without?
What are your hobbies?
Travel, Legos and COVID coin collecting.
What is your most memorable Colorado experience?
Jazz Aspen Snowmass.
What took you down this career path?
My father invited me to sit on his office sofa at age 5 to watch the advertising agencies pitch for his business. I thought, “That looks like fun—I should do that!”
What one word describes Coloradans to you?
What is your favorite spot in Colorado to visit?
The Zapata Ranch for an afternoon bison tour at the base of the Great Sand Dunes.
You’ve traveled the world – where do you want to go when it’s safe to travel again?
Anywhere! In truth, we are looking at a couple of remote options in the near future—the Irish countryside, Antarctica and the Maldives (happy to quarantine in a villa above the water).
How have the nonprofits you support and work with coped during the pandemic?
As we work with many nonprofits, all have been faring as expected. We have certainly done what we can, in kind, to help their efforts at a time when so much revenue has been lost and manpower has been reduced. The interesting result is that many have received record donations from the community, thankfully, but not enough to offset months of zero attendance.
How have you managed the business disruptions that COVID-19 has brought to AOR? Is your staff still working remotely?
We went remote about a week before it was mandated by the city. Fortunately, with great internet, we were able to seamlessly maintain our process and workflow. There have been some difficulties maintaining morale and positivity, but we have succeeded by focusing
on communication and frequent one-on-one chats. Only those departments that require an office presence (our printing department) continue to go into the office.
What industries that you serve had to undergo the most work to change or regroup due to the pandemic?
It is very interesting watching the world evolve. Of course, many of our hospitality and tourism clients and partners are struggling and were forced to radically reinvent themselves. However, some of our technology clients are having record years while their competitors are slashing budgets and headcounts. It is wildly random. Even municipality initiatives are erratic–it all depends on the funding sources. We challenge our own processes to strive to help in any way possible.
What do you think the long-term effects of the pandemic will be on business?
Short-term, it will change the way we interact with current and new clients. We need to be more flexible than ever to accommodate smaller budgets and faster timelines. We believe that, in spite of our fortunate successes, we have given more of our time, talent, and resources to help our clients and community get through these times.
Name: Matthew Keeney
Marital status: Single, Partnered
Career: Advertising and marketing
Suzanne S. Brown is managing editor of Colorado Expression.
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