SheBrand Superstar: Karen Murphy O’Brien

Karen Murphy O’Brien co-founded her eponymous PR firm, Murphy O’Brien, with partner, Brett O’Brien, in 1989, following a successful career in luxury, hospitality and entertainment public relations. She has cultivated relationships with top national media decision makers and has managed award-wining campaigns for an impressive collection of companies, many of whom have been loyal clients since the founding of the agency.

Karen has carefully assembled a team of the most talented industry professionals, and the agency is consistently rated among the top 10 places in Los Angeles to work by the Los Angeles Business Journal. In addition, she is deeply committed to her work with several charitable and philanthropic organizations, and serves as an active board member of Chrysalis, an organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for the economically disadvantaged. She lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband and partner, and two sons, aged 15 and 11. Her passions include travel, cooking, music (piano and guitar), wine, entertaining and hiking.

Name: Karen Murphy O’Brien

Occupation: Chairman & CEO of Murphy O’Brien Public Relations


Twitter Handle: @MurphyOBrienPR

1. What are three words that best describe you?

Engaging, Inspirational and Dependable.

2. Tell us why you’re awesome in two sentences or less?

I look at every day as a gift and, more importantly, the people that surround me in it. I give everything my all, try to lift others up and always look on the bright side.

3. What are your three biggest indulgences?

1) My 6 am latte made with love by my “Rock Star” husband of nearly 19 years
2) Reading piles of old fashioned magazines while drinking a Super Tuscan wine
3) Traveling to new and exotic destinations or lounging at old favorites, like Hualalai resort on the Big Island.

4. What’s currently your favorite…

Restaurant: Melisse . . . Chef Josiah Citrin never ceases to amaze me. We hosted our 50 person team there in December for our annual Holiday luncheon.

Shopping Destination: The designer outlet mall near Tuscany where I visited last summer or Malibu Country Mart since I am getting ready for warm weather travel!

Hangout: My home with my husband , two boys and our new puppy . . aka Villa Pacifica.

City: Rome . . . it is better than ever!

Food: Homemade pizza from my new Breville Pizza oven made with my 11 year old son, Christopher.

Cocktail: Always a martini, straight up with olives and no vermouth . . classic!

Book/Author: Gone, Girl . . Gillian Flynn (Can’t wait for the movie!) and Younger Next Year for Women!

Song/Artist: Let her go . . Passenger and my 15 year old son’s songs currently available on I-Tunes! Nicholas Murphy O’Brien . . Into the Dark and How to Fly

Website: Mine . . ha! Also, my friend, Bob Sherman, who is an amazing photographer and provides my “Daily Dose” every morning.

Magazine: Currently, Conde Nast Traveler since I have a client on the January cover . . Castello di Casole, Tuscany

5. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Simply, when people don’t do what they say they are going to do . . .

6. If you could have dinner with anyone (living or not) who would it be?

I would love to reunite all of my grandmothers, great and great grandmothers together and cook up an Irish and Italian feast and discover more about them and, ultimately, myself.

Also . . Ludwig van Beethoven . .. As a classically trained pianist, he was my muse growing up. I performed the first movement of his Pathetique Sonata for my college entrance exam. I was fascinated with him and thought that if we had lived in the same time frame, we would have collaborated together.

7. What does it mean to you to have a strong, engaging brand and how has having one helped you?

A strong brand doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years to emerge as a leader in your category. Murphy O’Brien is currently celebrating its 25th year in business. Currently we are the 4th largest PR firm in Los Angeles. I am most proud of our “Best Places to Work” award, designated by the Los Angeles Business Journal and voted on by our employees. People want to be associated with successful brands. Most of our clients come to us via referral because they want the same recognition and visibility the brands they admire receive from us.

8. What is your #1 tip for fellow women entrepreneurs?

Don’t ever look back as the best is yet to come!

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