About Barri Rafferty

Based in New York, Barri is CEO of North America for Ketchum, where she leads nine offices and oversees Ketchum Sports and Entertainment, Access Communications, and Harrison & Shriftman. She brings more than 20 years of public relations experience leading integrated communications, branding, and corporate reputation campaigns for some of the world’s most recognized brands. Barri is a member of the World Economic Forum’s sustainability taskforce and the Board of the California Women’s Conference; she is also a founding member of OmniWomen. Barri is a graduate of Boston University (M.A) and Tulane University and enjoys watching soccer, volleyball, and dance - especially when her son and daughter are involved! Follow her @barrirafferty.

Author Archive | Barri Rafferty

How to Achieve Success with Less Stress (Video)

How to Achieve Success with Less Stress (Video)

As Seen In PRWeek…

At this time of year, tips for managing our energy and reducing stress are always handy. With that spirit in mind, I recently had the pleasure of moderating a panel in Chicago comprised of some remarkable female leaders during Omnicom’s Omniwomen event.

The panel, “Intentional Living: Being more Proactive Under Stress,” featured Sharon Melnick, author of “Success Under Stress,” and fellow panelists: Morgan Flatley, CMO, Gatorade and Propel, Robin Shapiro, president and CCO, CAHG, and Tonise Paul, president and CEO, Energy BBDO. Janet Riccio, EVP Omnicom Group and leader of Omniwomen, introduced the panel.

The group gave many wonderful tips, relevant to everyone, but three insights I personally took away were…

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The Compelling Link Between Women, Communications and Leadership

“It’s better to be trusted than liked,” is a leadership mantra that I live by every day. Throughout my twenty-year career at Ketchum, I have worked hard to focus on modeling the expectations I have of others and inspiring team members to deliver “break through” results. Demonstrating my trust in others and empowering them to do their jobs has led to better team performance – creating a culture that supports this philosophy across Ketchum is what I aim to do.

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I Am Woman, Hear Me Board

Is your name William, Robert or James? According to Gerri Elliot (Director, Whirlpool, Bed Bath & Beyond, Charlotte Russe) men with these three names hold more board positions in total than all women combined, but they were not invited to the Fortune Most Powerful Women’s Conference.

When you put 400 powerful women in the same place for two days, what happens? I labeled it the Triple “H” Threat – honesty, hugs and humanity. The sharing of best practices and lessons learned in business were honest and overt; women supported one another professionally and had conversations that blended easily from how I manage in the office to how I manage life at home.

Relationships born in one day ended with hugs at the elevator and the promise of paths crossing again.

I observed many women who had both confidence and swagger. Women confident enough to admit the pace of business change is challenging in one breath, and in the next show genuine concern for women’s rights worldwide.

Here are four key takeaways from the conference…

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Judging Our Leaders Should Be Unbiased

As I was preparing to head to Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Conference, I happened to read Maureen Dowd’s column entitled, “Too Many Secrets, Not Enough Service.” It reminded me that, as businesswomen, we have made progress on one hand and, on the other, we are still moving slowly.

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The Magic Bean To Integrated Marketing

Today clients are in search of a magic bean they can plant to ensure their agencies work seamlessly to create results-driven, award-winning integrated programs. If only it was that easy. The question I seem to be asked most frequently lately is, “Who do you see that does integrated marketing well and what can we learn from them?”

I see many brands that do it well with different structures. It’s not the model that makes it work – it’s the talent. Team leaders on the agency side must have an appreciation for diverse disciplines, and the client must insist multiple disciplines present together. Those are the two most common threads to success.

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6 Steps Corporate America Must Take To Achieve Gender Parity

As seen in Forbes…

Thousands of articles, research papers, leaders, and experts have attempted to tackle the issue of corporate America’s serious lack of equal or near-equal representation of women at senior leadership levels. Yet effective solutions remain untapped for many thousands of organizations here in the U.S.

I remember sitting on the phone earlier this year with three HR heads (each in a different country) of a large, multinational information services organization, as they were exploring hiring me to offer leadership training to their female workforce.  Before we went any further, I asked, “Where in the pipeline are your emerging female leaders falling out, and why is it happening?” and there was dead silence on the phone.

No one, even at these top levels, knew the answer, and the organization had no plans to find out.  Discouraging to say the least. Leadership coaches and trainers like myself know that throwing a leadership training program “over the fence” to women isn’t going to move any needle if the organization isn’t seriously and continuously engaged in and committed to business and HR strategies that support more women to leadership.

There are certainly no simple answers or quick fixes for this challenge. It is complex and multi-faceted, touching on cultural, neurobiological, societal and gender role factors.  Easy or not, we need to continue our search for manageable, measurable and executable approaches that will open the pathway for equal representation of women at the top of both political and business affairs in our country (and world).

To explore this issue from a fresh perspective, I was excited to catch up with Ms. Barri Rafferty, North American CEO of Ketchum Inc. – one of the largest and most geographically diverse PR agencies in the world.  A member of the sustainability taskforce of the World Economic Forum, Barri is the first female North American CEO in Ketchum’s 90-year history, and one of the highest ranking female executives within the holding company Omnicom (NYSC: OMC), which netted revenues upwards of $14.6 billion in 2013. In her current role, Barri leads Ketchum’s nine offices in North America as well as Ketchum Digital and Ketchum Sports and Entertainment.

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Women and the Future of Global Leadership

Women and the Future of Global Leadership

I had the privilege of participating in a panel at the United Nations last week to talk about “Women and the Future of Global Leadership.” The event was hosted by IMPACT Leadership 21, a movement committed to transforming women’s global leadership at the highest level of influence in the 21st century.

Joining me in the discussion were a distinguished group of ladies, including Denise Evans, VP, Market Development of IBM Corporation; Michaela Walsh, Founder of Women’s World Banking and author of Founding a Movement; Liz Lyman, Managing Director of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ; and Michelle Patterson, President and CEO of Women Network/California Women’s Conference.

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Are You a Spouse? No, I’m a CEO

Are you a spouse? (Click to tweet)

Yes, I was asked that question more than once during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. In fact, the number of female spouses attending the event makes the 15 percent number of official female attendees seem much larger than it is. (Click to tweet)

While bias still exists, being there as a female CEO does allow you to participate and shape the agenda — an experience I cherish.

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Building the Case for Sustainability with Millennials

Everyone agrees now that sustainability is key to growing business, but how can companies engage consumers to embrace sustainable behavior? This was the question examined at the World Economic Forum in 2012, which led to three pilot initiatives in 2013 and 2014 that focused on Milliennial consumers.

One of the initiatives with which I was involved is called “Building the Consumer Case.” At this year’s meeting in Davos, Ketchum and the other partners behind this program delved into research about sustainability framing and language that Millennials respond to or reject. We realized early on that if we could gain a better understanding of how to communicate with this group about sustainability, it could really make a difference.

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8 Key Topics from the World Economic Forum

I recently returned from the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos, where I spent time among some of the world’s most influential people as they discussed the trends that will shape our future. With topics ranging from youth unemployment to sustainability to happiness, I thought it would be helpful to work with one of our Ketchum creatives to put together a visual depiction that at a glance summarizes the discussion. I look forward to sharing more in-depth insights in future blog posts and tracking where the trends go.

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