In our Headliners series of conversations, we get under the skin of PR and communications leaders around the world who have made PRovoke Media headlines recently, uncovering what they see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry, where they find inspiration (and how they switch off), what they’ve learned about themselves, as well as the creative campaigns they love and the work they are most proud of.

In this week's Q&A, we talk to former Ketchum global CEO and Wells Fargo comms head Barri Rafferty, who has joined Morrow Sodali as the firm's Americas CEO.


What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for the PR and communications industry over the next 12 months?

ESG backlash is in the headlines, and we can play a role as the conscience of a company to ensure it remains a priority. As this summer was the hottest on record, business decisions can either benefit the planet or continue to have adverse effects.

What is the best PR campaign you’ve seen recently and why?

Simple acts of kindness are driving powerful PR moments. Taylor Swift dominated the news sending fans gifts and presenting her tour truck drivers $100,000 bonuses. Beyonce went beyond for her fans (clients) in DC where her tour paid to keep the trains running after severe weather delayed the concert.

What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?

The last year I had the opportunity to lead C200 and our C-suite female executives conducted a reach out at universities imparting knowledge, mentoring young future business leaders, and distributing scholarships. The day was exhilarating to see the diversity, curiosity, and tenacity of these young women.

What have you learned about yourself over the past couple of years?

For the first time as a mature professional, I was job searching; it was humbling. I consciously “savored the journey” as I met new people every week. I assessed my priorities personally, professionally, spiritually, and physically. I tested my resilience to stay true to my values and open-minded about opportunities.

How do you switch off and maintain wellness?

Nature is my sanctuary, and I am lucky to live close to the Long Island Sound where I can take walks alone or with friends and family. I am also a huge fan of the yoga classes on the Peloton app and start many mornings each week with 20-30 minutes.

What cultural source (eg book/podcast/movie/TV show/music artist) has provided creative inspiration for you lately?

I found cultural inspiration this summer listening to Bruce fans belt Born in the USA in Paris and at Michael Franti’s Big Big Love Tour. Their ability to impart wisdom through their lyrics made me feel like we can find commonalities to transcend some of the divides in this world.

If I weren’t working in PR/comms I would be…

… a designer or decorator. I love the creative process and have enjoyed scouring the internet for lighting and collecting art during my travels to create a warm, eclectic home.