How Will We Better Serve Each Other in 2018?

January 2, 2018

Today is my first day as CEO of Ketchum, and I’m incredibly excited to take on this role. It’s an honor to lead Ketchum. It’s a special agency and a place I have chosen to work for more than 20 years. Our talent continually drives me to be the best leader I can be, and to find ways to better serve our clients and my colleagues.  Their passion and dedication to servicing our clients always comes through at the top of our employee surveys.

Before leaving on a long-scheduled “bucket list” family vacation to start the year, I reached out to our network of colleagues to share a few words of advice on how they can cultivate their own talent, some of which I will share with you here so you can learn a little bit more about me, and what I believe is most important…

Demonstrate you care.
Any good communications counselor can come up with a smart idea or a fast solution, but building caring relationships with clients and colleagues trumps most things. It’s what any communications professional should strive for day in and day out – delivering an outstanding end-to-end client experience. If your clients and colleagues know you have their back, they will take more risks, which leads to better ideas. Make each of them a hero and you will thrive in return.

Get out of jail free.
One of the best gifts a client ever gave me is a card that simply read, “Get out of jail free.” I still have it on my desk seven years later as a reminder to practice forgiveness. We all need to have confidence every day to be ourselves and do our best, and the sentiment on that card made us all work harder knowing we could make a mistake and be forgiven. So expect a lot and hold one another accountable, but practice forgiveness when best efforts don’t lead to the results you want.

The more you know about the people around you, the better. An organization is defined as a collective, not by the actions or words of any one person. Share your thoughts and ideas with your leaders about how the company can improve. Share your brand pride on your social channels and with your teams. And, if you want to get to know a leader within your agency or at a client better, connect with them on social media. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more about my perspectives on business, our industry, and other general thought leadership.

Never leave vacation time on the table.
As demonstrated by the fact that I wrote this before leaving on a bucket list trip to Tanzania, I believe in taking vacations. We work in an exciting, fast-paced, demanding client service business, and if you feel burned out, your clients and your colleagues don’t get your best. As we welcome in the new year, follow my lead and figure out what recharges you, what helps you come up with new ideas and fresh perspectives, and find time to do it! You’ll be better off and our clients will benefit because of it.

Here’s to new beginnings, to setting and achieving new goals, and to an extraordinary 2018!


Barri Rafferty is CEO of Ketchum, one of the world’s top communication firms, with offices and affiliates in 130 markets in more than 70 countries.

Outside of Ketchum, she participates in a number of groups including the sustainability task-force for the World Economic Forum and is a member of Arthur W. Page Society Page Up program. Rafferty sits on the board of StepUp, an organization with the mission of empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused and she is also a member of the governing body of OmniWomen, Omnicom’s Leading Women’s Network, for which she holds quarterly panel discussions featuring prominent women. She is the recipient of the Plank Center Milestones in Mentoring Award.

Barri is a graduate of Boston University (M.A) and Tulane University and enjoys watching soccer, volleyball, and dance – especially when her son and daughter are involved! Connect with her on Twitter: @barrirafferty