Tech-savvy Port native named to Milwaukee’s ‘40 Under 40’ listing
Port Washington High School graduate Katie Klein-Murphy would be the first to admit she didn’t have her career path carefully mapped out.
That didn’t keep her from gaining near-celebrity status as a social media marketing manager with Boelter + Lincoln Marketing Communications in Milwaukee and an on-air broadcast personality.
The infectious energy Klein-Murphy brings to her job recently earned her recognition as a Milwaukee Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” winner.
She was one of 265 nominees for the honor.
“I am humbled and awed by winning this award,” Klein-Murphy said.
In her professional capacity, Klein-Murphy helps clients develop marketing strategies that take advantage of the burgeoning field of social marketing.
“I have always had a passion and fascination with technology and the limitless potential that became available through the Internet,” she said. “Whenever something techy broke at home, I was the one my family asked to fix it.”
Katie Klein, as she was known in high school, is a 1997 graduate of Port High, who played the French horn in the school band and was on the soccer team.
“I grew up in a blue-collar family and learned quickly that nothing is given to you. I earned good grades and kept busy, but I also waited tables at Smith Bros. and was a park leader for Port Park and Rec,” she said.
Klein-Murphy went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, earning degrees in political science and international studies.
“I guess you could say I have a bit of a Type A personality, earning two degrees in four years,” she said.
Klein-Murphy also had an internship with the Milwaukee Wave professional indoor soccer club.
Finding work in her chosen fields was difficult.
“When you have degrees like I have, you either go to work for the FBI or go to grad school on the East Coast,” Klein-Murphy said.
“It was at my internship I fell in love with marketing and managing media relations. If I had learned about that earlier, it could have saved me years studying about the diplomatic process.”
After college, Klein-Murphy worked at a call center for a mutual fund company then became a project manager for the American Society for Quality, where she worked for four years.
It was in 2010 she began working for Boelter + Lincoln. Coincidentally, at that same time she began offering on-air insights on all matters trendy on WTMJ-TV, the Milwaukee NBC affiliate. Her regular contributions appear on a segment titled “What’s Hot.”
Klein-Murphy’s media exposure grew two years ago when she began weekly commentaries on lifestyle, technology and social media on WTMJ-AM radio.
The local broadcast outlets also tapped Klein-Murphy as a source for insights during the most recent gubernatorial and presidential elections.
Although she characterizes herself as an introvert by nature, Klein-Murphy said the broadcast exposure has pushed her into the public spotlight.
“I hate to say it, but I have had people come up to me and say, ‘I saw you on TV’ or ‘I really liked what you said on the radio,’” she said.
“I was at an event with my family when a couple came up to me and said, ‘You’re Katie, right? We think you are such a spark for Milwaukee.’ I blushed like a stoplight, but my dad couldn’t stop talking about it. He was so proud.”
Klein-Murphy said the job of a marketing manager is “a 24/7/365 assignment” that is surprisingly demanding.
“I don’t sleep much and I work weekends, but I love what I do. You have to be ready to respond whenever something happens with a client to avoid PR disasters,” she said.
Klein-Murphy said social media is overwhelmed with so-called marketing experts, but it takes expertise and experience to know how to use outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to their fullest potential.
“We have the data and knowledge of how to make content compelling and interactive, creating vivid imagery that people respond to much faster than the printed word,” she said.
As for aspiring social media mavens, even those who are introverts, Klein-Murphy offered some timeless advice.
“Work hard, find what you love and don’t be afraid to take chances. If I had chosen to stay in my comfort zone, I would have never had the chance to do the things I love now,” she said.