Ketchum unveiled its plans to evolve to a global communications consultancy model to efficiently drive individualized client approaches, innovation and growth. The future-forward structure places the client firmly at the center of its capabilities, leverages the depth and breadth of expertise at the firm, and supports borderless collaboration by organizing around industry sectors. The new approach is encapsulated in a new vision that speaks to Ketchum’s strengths as a firm that is equal parts strategic and creative, and operates without boundaries to consistently deliver award-winning work and results that impact clients’ businesses.
Most significantly, Ketchum will shift to a unified North American business comprised of 14 industries led by newly appointed managing directors, effective June 1. Clients will benefit from unencumbered access to the depth of talent in both industry sectors and communications specialty areas, while employees will benefit from enhanced career mobility and flexibility. This change allows Ketchum’s clients access to the great industry depth of a boutique firm married with the full suite of services that a large global firm can offer. It also provides an opportunity for clients’ project needs to be more easily fulfilled. The industry-focused model will be scaled globally in 2019.
Seamless Access to Experts
In a model that is inspired by management consulting firms and built on the strength of a global creative agency, each industry sector will be made up of individuals with deep industry proficiency who can now more easily and seamlessly draw on experts specializing in areas such as media, content, digital, influencer, analytics, change consulting, sports, entertainment, purpose, public affairs, financial communications, and issues and crisis management.
“As the public relations discipline continues to expand its core services and clients’ demands become more complex, we are seizing the moment to reorganize our business into a communications consultancy,” said Barri Rafferty, partner, president and CEO of Ketchum. “Ketchum always has been known for being creative, collaborative and generous. By knocking down our internal borders, our clients will receive more depth of expertise in their industry, limitless creativity, and the added benefit of more efficiently accessing the best talent.”
Pivot to a Communications Consultancy Begins in North America
With the strategic shift, North America partners and presidents Mike Doyle and Hilary Hanson McKean expand their scope of responsibility to oversee the 14 industries and North America-based clients. Each client will align under a Ketchum leader with deep experience in their particular industry, and their client teams will remain the same. Partner Denise Kaufmann, who recently returned to the U.S. as North America director of client development, will continue to work with the region’s largest clients to ensure their needs are being met in real time and across the full range of services offered.
The new industry managing directors are current employees of Ketchum, continuing the firm’s commitment to promoting from within. These managing directors were chosen for their dedication to client service, their proven track record in mentoring and growing talent, and for being innovators in their areas of expertise:
- CPG – Hilary Hanson McKean (interim managing director)
- Energy & Industry – Paul Cohen
- Financial & Professional Services – Tamara Norman
- Food – Bill Zucker
- Food Agriculture & Ingredient – Kim Essex
- Health – Tom Jones
- Home – Corinne Gudovic
- Public Sector & Government – Chris Handler
- Retail – Jamey Peters
- Snacks & Beverages – Courtney Perry
- Technology – Melissa Kinch (managing director) and Lisa Sullivan (director)
- Transportation – Kevin Oates
- Travel & Economic Development – Sara Garibaldi
- Wellness – Christy Salcido
In addition, the firm introduced two new segments within industries. Health Services, led by director Kelly Calabria, aligned with Health, and Cultivate, led by director Alison Borgmeyer, focused on natural and organic foods, aligned with Food.
Individuals who currently lead or co-lead offices also will transition to roles as marketplace leaders to continue to foster each geography’s strong sense of belonging to a community, internally and externally. The specialty areas will continue to be overseen by leaders already in place, and a North America chief innovation officer will be hired to help invent, incubate and scale new ideas, products and technology more quickly.
“We consistently hear from clients that they want an agency team that can think and move fast, comprised of dedicated client relationship managers, talent immersed in their industry and an array of specialists that can be tapped based on need or opportunity,” said Doyle. “While we are already doing that in some places, now we’re putting in a structure that makes it easy to consistently operate this way so we can deliver more for clients.”
Hanson McKean added, “Being recognized as North America Creative Agency of the Year is just the latest proof point of Ketchum’s ability to deliver highly creative, high-impact work for our clients around the world. Our new consultancy model opens up more possibilities for our people, and I can’t wait to see what great things they’ll do next.”
Building the Communications Consultancy of the Future
The pivot brings with it new and diverse career paths for talent, as managing directors take charge of how their industry sectors evolve. More training will be added to enhance both business knowledge and industry and specialty expertise. Similar to consulting firms, client demand will drive the creation of new industries and specialties within the region and, over time, internationally, fostering a culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation. New tools and technologies that streamline processes and personalize talent growth and development will support the shift.
Rafferty said, “As we move to this evolved model, we will focus on augmenting the training and development that has always been a hallmark here, giving our people opportunities to flourish and build on their passions. We also will continue our efforts to make Ketchum a place where everyone feels welcome and can bring their whole selves to work, be inspired and thrive.”
Ketchum is continuing to lean in to flexible work approaches and supporting talent working on virtual teams. New company values, created by employees, underscore the unique behaviors Ketchum is known for and those needed to be competitive today.
Global Leadership Shift
In a related move, partner Esty Pujadas assumes the newly created role of president for Ketchum’s Latin America, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions. Among her responsibilities, she will help lay the groundwork for the global rollout of the model.
Ketchum’s move to a communications consultancy model comes on the heels of its 95th anniversary. For nearly a century, Ketchum has been a leader in the communications industry and has evolved to meet the changing needs of its clients. The new agency vision and values were launched in conjunction with a new website.