That’s what the Durkin Agency, a top marketing and communications firm in New York, has been pledging to its clients since its founding in 2013. In addition to offering strategic planning, brand positioning, media and public relations, social media, content development, and media training like many other agencies, Karen Durkin also envisioned specializing in other special areas like sponsorship sales and fundraising when she launched her agency.
Durkin had more than 20 years of deep and diverse experience, not just in brand positioning and organization redesign, but also in the sports and nonprofit sectors before starting her agency. Prior to that, she was the CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation, founded by tennis great Billie Jean King. Before that, she served as EVP Communications and Strategy for the National Hockey League (NHL) and EVP/CMO for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Although Durkin got her start in New York with Cohn & Wolfe Public Relations, a Burson-Marseller, and Young & Rubicon company, much of her expertise is rooted in her past experience and success in the sports arena. At the LPGA, she was responsible for marketing/communications, as well as sponsorships, business development, and global retail licensing. After the LPGA celebrated its 50th anniversary, Durkin led a repositioning strategy that resulted in double-digit success, both in fan growth as well as sponsorships.
One of the branding tactics that led to that success was a “These Girls Rock” campaign that took the focus of the appearance of female golfers and perceptions that they didn’t look feminine and directed attention to their stellar play and positive images they portrayed. The campaign also revitalized the LPGA brand and helped unify the organization.
When Durkin joined the NHL, it was just after the 2004-05 lockout that resulted in the cancelation of the entire season. It was also the first time that a major sports league canceled an entire season because of a labor dispute. She worked successfully and directly with the NHL Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner on the league’s rebuilding strategy to get fans back in the stands.
While going for her Master of Science degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Durkin also worked for the school’s DC-based Medill News Service as a reporter for the Hilton Head Sun covering South Carolina elected officials like Senator Strom Thurman, as well as other Capitol Hill news. That experience prepared her to prepare her clients for interviews they might have with the news media.
Durkin is presently a board member of the Positive Coaching Alliance’s New York Chapter and serves on the event committee for the Wilderstein Historic Site in Rhinebeck, New York. She had previously served on the boards of the Susan G. Breast Cancer Foundation’s Central Florida Race for the Cure and the Executive Women’s Golf Association.
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