Ken Eudy shifting to chairman’s role at Capstrat

Ken Eudy, the co-founder and CEO of communications agency Capstrat, is moving into a new role as chairman. Karen Albritton, who has been the agency’s president since 2007, will take on the added role of CEO effective Jan. 1.

The Raleigh firm, which has more than 100 employees, announced Tuesday that Albritton will be responsible for agency strategy and operations. Eudy, whose new position continues to be full-time, will focus on counseling clients and contributing to strategy as part of the agency’s executive team.

Eudy said that after grooming Albritton for the CEO’s job for years, he decided it was time to hand over the reins.

“Karen is ready,” he said. “She understands really the workings of the business. She understands our clients. I think, more importantly, she understands this change that’s going on in the industry where everything is becoming digital and audiences, instead of mass audiences, it’s audience segmentation. ... She understands that in a way that I feel few people do.”

Eudy, 62, added that “we wanted to make sure we had a seamless change in leadership” while he continued to work. “I don’t want to retire. Ever,” he added.

Eudy co-founded Capstrat in 1994 along with Steve Meehan, who is no longer with the firm. Eudy is a former executive director of the state Democratic Party and worked as a news correspondent for TV stations in Raleigh and Charlotte and as a political reporter for The Charlotte Observer.

Prior to joining Capstrat in 2000, Albritton was managing director at marketing communication firm FGI and vice president and associate media director at McKinney + Silver.

When she was approached eight or nine years ago about being groomed for the CEO job she wasn’t interested at first, but ultimately changed her mind.

Albritton, 53, said that her initial reaction was influenced by her perception of herself as “a really great role player” and also a recognition that “while there are a lot of women in communications, there still has been a bit of a barrier to women in top leadership roles.”

“I saw the next CEO as somebody who would wear a pair of wing tips rather than a pair of pumps,” she added.

Capstrat provides public relations, advertising and public affairs services for a roster of clients that includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Deloitte Touche Tomatsu, Duke Energy, Lenovo, Quintiles and UNC Health Care.

Capstrat was an independent agency until 2013, when it was acquired by public relations giant Ketchum for an undisclosed sum. Ketchum is in turn part of New York-based Omnicon Group, a publicly traded advertising and marketing communications firm that generated $10.98 billion in worldwide revenue during the first nine months of this year.

Per Ketchum’s policy, Capstrat doesn’t disclose revenue numbers.

“I wish we could tell you, because we’re having a really great year,” said Eudy.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii