Women’s History Month: Celebrating TEGNA’s Female Leaders with Joanie Kraus, Director of Sales at KARE 11

At TEGNA, we are fortunate to find good, smart female leaders at all levels of our organization. For Women’s History Month, we are celebrating some of our most fabulous female leaders, and this week we’re highlighting Joanie Kraus, Director of Sales at KARE 11.

Then: Talk about your career path, how you got to where you are today at TEGNA.

A wise person once told me to always look for doors that are opening. I previously worked in the financial industry, was a fitness competitor and part-time worked as a fashion stylist for my love of helping others. 

As a stylist, I had a client that was an LSM for the local station in Columbus, Ohio. She asked if I ever thought of doing media sales. I’m naturally curious, love people, and watching things grow, so I went through the interview process and was offered an entry-level AE position. When I took the job, I promised myself that I was going to use the discipline of my fitness days and make this opportunity my sport. Work hard, give it my all, and be the best me, I could be. A year later, I was the top new business AE in a corporation of 250+ stations.

From there, I moved to Minnesota to work at the CBS O&O, WCCO to be in a bigger market and further grow my career. I thought Minnesota was a layover but met my now husband and it became my home. 

I left WCCO to join TEGNA and the KARE 11 team because of the culture and how the corporation supports and invests in its people. I came to KARE 11 as an AE, handling a large share of its local business. I wanted to focus on the “we” instead of “me” and transitioned to an LSM. 

Now: What is your current role at TEGNA?

I’m currently the Director of Sales of an amazing team of people striving to help local businesses grow. Coming to KARE 11 and TEGNA was one of the best decisions, second to marrying my husband, that I’ve made in my life. I love what I do and who I do it for.

I’m part of a positive hard-working team of experts that are focused on delivering dynamic results in a supportive environment. The team consists of wonderful people that wake up every morning committed to being passionate, innovative, and elite. It has been a humbling privilege to be their leader.

My Halo Moment: What was the most rewarding project you’ve worked on at TEGNA?

I have three projects that stand out. They are each very different, but all showcase the impact of empowerment and collaboration. We get the opportunity to work with so many talented people at TEGNA. Together, we can do tremendous things.

  1. Super Bowl LVII & The Olympics – Hosting the Super Bowl in Minneapolis and having the Peyong Chang Winter Olympics was an epic experience, to say the least. It was a very special opportunity to work on some market-specific executions such as the warming house in downtown Minneapolis and the sponsored ice rink in our “backyard.”
  2. IDEA Academy – Collaborated with Katia Mahiddine, TEGNA’s Talent and Acquisition Manager, and Grady Tripp, our Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, to create a thought partnership for an internship program that promotes diversity and recruitment for TEGNA.
  3. Big Idea Task Force – KARE 11 broke team silos and sparked cross-departmental innovation with the Big Idea Task Force. In response to employee surveys, we divided employees who opted to participate, 75 in total, regardless of role and department into teams led by those who attended the innovation summit to ignite ideas that will grow our content, brand, and revenue.

Good Company: What does being in good company mean to you?

Regardless of our roles, we have a unique opportunity to be the voice in our community – to be difference makers. At KARE 11 and TEGNA, I can feel the great effort and pride in creating this place of belonging for our community, our clients, culture, and corporation.

Note to Self: What advice would you give yourself looking back on earlier days in your career? 

Don’t be afraid of failure. Stay vulnerable, humble, and a lifelong learner. Take care of your physical and mental health, take vacations, have a work-life balance. You will be a better leader and person if you do.

Tangible & Emotional Intelligence: What advice would you give to a young female looking to work in media/sales/marketing?

Start every day with gratitude and “the why” we are here. We get the honor to help businesses with strategies to help them grow and do big things. That takes tremendous trust for someone to do. Earn that trust by being a great listener that is committed to being an expert at your trade and provide client-centric solutions that drive results. 

Ask for feedback, be coachable, and the ultimate team player. You are going to spend just as much time with your coworkers as you do with your family. Treat them as such. Find a mentor (or two, it takes a village) and when it is time, pay that forward and become one.

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