About Barri Rafferty

Based in New York, Barri is CEO of North America for Ketchum, where she leads Ketchum’s nine offices in North America, as well as Ketchum Digital and Ketchum Sports and Entertainment (KSE). In addition, she oversees the complementary businesses, Access Communications and Harrison & Shriftman. Barri 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. Outside of Ketchum, she participates in a number of groups including the sustainability taskforce for the World Economic Forum and is a member of Arthur W. Page Society Page Up program. Rafferty sits on the board of StepUp, an organization with the mission of empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused and she is also a member of the governing body of OmniWomen, Omnicom’s Leading Women’s Network, for which she holds quarterly panel discussions featuring prominent women. 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

Networking: How I Became a “Hunter”

Someone recently asked me, “How can I become a stronger networker and turn relationships into business?” I thought about the question for a while before answering. What have I gained from the multitude of events and professional mixers I have attended through the years? It was not always easy for me to network, how did it become so natural?

The answer? Networking is work and a skill that takes practice. And it’s not unlike working out.

I had weak abs before I decided to focus on them. Now I can do 200 sit ups. It was hard at first, but I kept at it. Networking is no different. You have to keep working that muscle. Keep walking into that room full of people you don’t know, tamp down that anxiety. Start small. Make milestones. “I will meet five new people today.” Then 7, then 10.

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FOMO vs. LOOI: What Compels Us to Be Social?

My family consists of myself, my husband, my college-aged son and high school-aged daughter — each of us addicted to our mobile devices in varying degrees. My husband ranks at the bottom of the scale — and we could argue over which of the remaining three holds the top spot as mobile monarch.

I have certainly read my share of articles on content, experiential, social, etc. and what fuels those eye-popping engagement numbers. Many experts are using the term FOMO (fear of missing out) as the underlying driver that keeps us all connected to our devices. But I’m not sure if that tells the whole story. As I look at my own family, it’s hard to identify any one driver underlying our mobile/social use across the board. Are we truly afraid of missing out, or are we just taking part in a fast-moving society where your online reputation comes from being in-the-know? And at the end of the day, does it really matter? (click to tweet) 

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Omniwomen: Defining Your Brand (Video)

A few years ago we began a panel discussion series for women leaders. And with each panel I moderate, I realize how much there is to cover and how much I have to learn from the women leaders on the panel as well as those in the audience.

For a variety of reasons, this year I have been thinking about how important it is for women to recognize the power of their personal brand. So much so, that we decided to devote one of our Omniwomen panels to the topic and brought together a few esteemed businesswomen for the discussion. During our conversation we explored topics that included finding your own online voice, why authenticity and humanity are crucial to social sharing and how to define your personal brand (click to tweet).

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On Giving Back

Last night, I was honored and privileged to receive the John W. Hill award at the annual Big Apple Awards hosted by the New York Chapter of the Public Relation Society of America. It was a humbling experience and a moment to reflect on my career and what is important to me.

My role models at Ketchum, Ray Kotcher, Rob Flaherty, John Paluszek, Ron Culp, and David Drobis, all instilled in me the importance of giving back to the industry.  The latter three were esteemed winners of the John W. Hill award.

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Men Must Lend Their Voice to Gender Disparity Debate

As seen in PRWeek…

How can governments, companies, and individual leaders shatter the glass ceiling and pave a better path for gender equality? As Vincent Molinari, CEO Gate Global Impact, put it, “The channels need to be created and trails need to be blazed.”

His comment was part of a discussion at the United Nations on a topic that’s very important to me: conversations with men about helping women reach leadership positions. The event was hosted at the United Nations by Impact Leadership 21, an organization committed to transforming women’s global leadership at the highest level of influence.

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A Conversation with Men About Gender Disparity

This week, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel at the United Nations on a topic that’s very important to me: conversations with men about helping women reach leadership positions. The event was hosted at the United Nations (UN) by IMPACT Leadership 21, an organization committed to transforming women’s global leadership at the highest level of influence.

Joining me in the lively discussion was a panel of distinguished men and women – all of whom share the vision of a world that sees gender equality as a given, and who also share the belief that it requires the participation of both sexes.

The panelists included: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund; Michael Drexel, Senior Director, Head of Investors Industries, World Economic Forum; Vincent Molinari, CEO Gate Global Impact; and Douglas Ellenoff, Partner at Ellenoff, Grossmen & Scholle LLP.

The conversation began and evolved around the concept of how governments, companies, and individual leaders can be the figures to shatter the glass ceiling and pave a better path for gender equality. As Vincent Molinari put it, “The channels need to be created and trails need to be blazed.”

What follows are four key learnings, and the potential solutions offered by the panelists, in an effort to evolve our understanding of gender disparity.

1. Gender equality is improving, but there’s still more progress to be made.
“Gender equality isn’t as bad as it used to be 50-70 years ago, but there’s still a long way to go,” Michael Drexler said. The number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 has reached a record-high—but that’s only 24 out of the 500 CEOs. Osotimehin agreed, and said, “We must make encourage men to embrace gender equality principles. If the tone isn’t set at the top, then people will find a way around it.” Progress can only be made in this area if we work together. It will take the combined efforts of women and men to end gender inequality.

2. Men need to have this conversation with other men.
“I’m looking into the room here and where are the men?” Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said. “We’re talking to ourselves now. We need men to sit here so we can have a proper conversation. I want to tell my daughters that they’re equal to men and they’re not inferior to anyone. In order to achieve that, men need to shed the fear of having this conversation and embrace the possibilities.” This brought up an interesting thought: Should we approach men or should men approach us with this conversation?

3. Don’t fight the tribe, be a part of it.
“Instead of clashing with the ‘boys club’ stereotype, let’s make it a goal to become a valuable member of the organization. Everyone has something different to offer and they need to demonstrate it, regardless of gender,” Drexler stated. You have to think about how you’ll get to the top and if people are there to support you. If not, focus on a company that will, and don’t overlook entrepreneurship. “Talented women are entrepreneurs now and they’re planting the seeds for others,” Ellenoff said. He continued, “…women are raising money for other women entrepreneurs and are creating an environment where we don’t have to keep going back to the ‘boys clubs’ around the world.” Once you’ve become a cultural leader, you’re establishing a new path for other women to follow and succeed.

During the session, Michael Drexler said, “Diversity in every organization is huge and makes it more successful.” I agree, and gender equality is a key part of the diversity mix. In fact, a recent study found that the companies with the best financial performance are those with greater numbers of women in leadership. It has been predicted, judging from the historic rate, that it will take 50 years for gender equality in government, and 81 years for gender equality in the economy. That is an unacceptable rate of change. It is the responsibility of every man and woman to shift the paradigm. Some argue that policies and quotas are the only way to bring about change. I would say that while policies and quotas can play a role, until attitudes have shifted there will not be true progress.

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Expect Big Changes in PR: 2015 and Beyond

As Seen in… The Access Point

Content remains king! That’s just one of the key takeaways Access learned from a recent 1:1 with Ketchum CEO Barri Rafferty. Barri visited both the Access SF and NY offices in January to share what’s next for Ketchum North America, and the PR industry as a whole. In addition to content, Barri was candid about our field, and where and how our services will evolve in the months and years ahead.

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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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