NEW YORK, USA // Karen Strauss leads strategy and creativity at Ketchum, one of the world’s largest communications firms with 2,400 colleagues across 70+ countries. She is an evangelist for courage and creativity in communications. A torchbearer for creative culture, she inspires teams to think beyond traditional public relations and directs some of Ketchum’s most powerful campaigns. Credited with networking Ketchum’s global creative community, Karen mobilizes colleagues from across the globe to share inspirational ideas, discuss thought-provoking work, and build imaginative new campaigns with digital at their core. The success of these endeavors is reflected in Ketchum’s outstanding awards performance.
Karen oversees Ketchum’s campaign planning model that puts strategy, creativity, and the smart use of digital channels at the heart of the agency’s work. Called RISC for Research, Insight, Strategy and Creative, it requires every Ketchum campaign to lead with a singular idea that translates across paid, earned, shared and owned media.
She helped develop a host of idea-generating tools that have elevated Ketchum’s reputation. Mindfire connects employees to university students so they can work together to solve real client challenges. The platform won the Holmes Report PR Product of the Year Award. IdeaShop is a searchable database of idea-starters to disrupt and stimulate client discussions. It snagged a spot on Information Week’s list of “20 Ideas to Steal.” Karen also created Ide8 and IM-storms, tools for insights and ideation. Karen also developed the Ketchum Media Optimizer, the first media planning discipline for the public relations industry.
A professional facilitator, she enjoys catalyzing and synthesizing strategic and creative thinking in groups. A champion of blending strategic planning and informed creativity, Karen has inspired a host of award-winning campaigns and helps shape client programs for entry into competitions. She is currently the Strategic and Creative Director for several accounts. For Pfizer, she is the planner for the company’s women’s health franchise; for Chase, she leads planning across the consumer bank, and for Kohler, she leads strategic planning.
Karen’s current passion is guiding companies and brands to connect with “the longevity generation,” the enormously lucrative population of Americans 50+ whose loyalties and relationships are in steady flux. She has completed two rounds of research that examines this cohort and launched Ketchum 50+, a specialty dedicated to striking the right chord with this frequently ignored and misunderstood segment. Karen has also been featured on the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity stage for two successive years, speaking on the topic of age agnostic marketing.
A vigilant trainer, Karen teaches strategic planning, creative facilitation and compelling writing. Outside of Ketchum, she is an industry contributor, speaker, panelist and writer. Karen is also an experienced awards juror, having judged the One Show, CLIOS, PRSA Silver Anvils, the PR Week Awards, and the SABRES.
Karen attends the leading innovation and trend-watching conferences, is a member of Women in Communications and PRSA, and earned her B.A. degree in History cum laude from Yale University, where she won the John Addison Porter American History Prize. She is a Yale Alumni interviewer, college essay coach, and proud mother of two grown daughters, Liza and Juliet. She also serves on the board of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).