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Ketchum: Putting People First

Published on Nov. 30, 2022, at 2:25 p.m.
by Sophie Collins.

Founded in 1923, Ketchum Inc. is a global public relations firm that provides communication services to a variety of industries, such as food, government, health and technology. Since then, Ketchum has consistently won awards for its innovative campaigns and best practices, such as the “True Name” campaign for Mastercard, an initiative to support members of the LGBTQ community through a product where people can display their chosen name on the card. The firm is also the winner of 131 Cannes Lions, the awards given at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that celebrates creative communication efforts.

While these awards and honors are special, there is something else that Ketchum values more: its employees; at Ketchum, its “advantage” is its people. The firm strives for a strong sense of belonging amongst its employees, which allows for a positive workplace culture.

Photo by Israel Andrade via Unsplash

Katie Poedtke, an account coordinator at Ketchum’s Chicago location, said, “A core value at Ketchum is that we are people first, employees second. That encourages and inspires me to do great work, because I know I’m valued.” She also shared that the culture at Ketchum promotes an atmosphere of excitement and preparedness for their careers.

Emma Britt, an account coordinator at the New York office, agreed that Ketchum employees are hard workers. “Everyone is very driven. You don’t work at Ketchum if you aren’t willing to work hard,” she said.

Britt noted that she has seen Ketchum take strides in the past year and a half to value its people even more, especially with the launch of the firm’s newest specialty: Trauma-Informed Consultancy. Trauma-Informed Consultancy offers resources to help the Ketchum team and its clients navigate trauma in the workplace, and within their communities.

“From the pandemic to acts of violence and hate against marginalized communities, women’s and LGBTQ rights issues and much more, the news has been volatile, disturbing and nonstop over the last few years. Markets, businesses, governments and communities must address the repercussions of the collective trauma of recent events,” said Jim Joseph, CEO, U.S., Ketchum, in a news release. “We see a clear need to support our clients as they are looking for resources to respond to traumatic events — as well as address the effect it has on their own workforces.”

For Alexis Prather, an account coordinator at the Atlanta location, the culture at Ketchum means something different. “We live in a virtual world, and I think that Ketchum does a very good job of making sure the employees are staying connected,” Prather said. She further explained that since there is a physical office in Atlanta, there are various outings and events she is able to attend. Prather also shared that when she first joined Ketchum, she participated in team-bonding activities to get connected with her new team. “There is also a mentorship program, where we have a chance to connect with senior-level employees and grow in this large communications world,” Prather said.

Photo by Headway via Unsplash

Due to this unique and supportive culture, there are countless opportunities to succeed within the company. “I am consistently challenged to do great. For example, the HR team reminds us to let them know if we want to try a different specialty, and they will try to fold us into it,” Poedtke said. She also shared that her team encourages her to be challenged by letting her tackle analyses for Fortune 50 companies.

Not only does Ketchum value its full-time employees, but it also puts the same level of importance on its interns and part-time employees. Claire Dubreuil, a public relations student at The University of Alabama, participated in the summer fellowship program at Ketchum this past summer. During her time as a fellow, she worked in the purpose and financial communications sectors, specifically looking at the ethics of brands, she said. She shared that there was an intern-specific project she worked on, daily sessions to learn more about Ketchum and fun events for the fellows.

“The Ketchum culture is incredible,” Dubreuil said. She noted that she was able to see how much Ketchum values its employees, especially with the smaller things that lead to bigger connections.

“The last day I was at Ketchum, our D.C. manager, Patrick, said, ’It’s your last day! We need to do something special,’ and he bought lunch for me and two other interns,” Dubreuil said. She said that even though this 30-minute lunch was a relatively small gesture, it made her feel valued and appreciated, so much that she continues to do part-time work for the organization during the school year.

Photo by Logan Jeffrey via Unsplash

Dubreuil said she will get an email at the beginning of the week from one of her Ketchum team members asking if she can help out with a task. “It’s usually something small, like compiling a media list or conducting news monitoring,” she said. She explained that this experience is mutually beneficial, as she is able to continue to exercise her “real-world PR muscles” during the school year.

The Ketchum culture is one of the many attributes that continually make the business stand out. The question is: As Ketchum continues to set the standard, will its peers follow in this people-first attitude?

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