Ketchum Without Borders

As Ketchum has expanded as a leader in global public relations, we have long recognized our responsibility to participate in – and, when called upon, to lead – many international organizations in our profession that have outreach and impact on international progress. This commitment, championed by Chairman Emeritus and former CEO Dave Drobis when, from 2000 to 2003, he chaired the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO), extends to today, as David Gallagher, Senior Partner and President, Ketchum Pleon, is a candidate for ICCO Vice President.

For quite some time, I, too, have been encouraged to “fly the Ketchum colors” in many parts of the world, sharing Ketchum’s culture, creativity and commitment to social harmony and progress — as well as bringing back insights often useful to colleagues and our clients. From Stockholm, Istanbul, and Dubai to Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Washington, and many points in between, I’ve seen Ketchum public relations principles at work. And they do work. They “break through” on many levels, in many places, including the most diverse societies. This is because Ketchum’s philosophy is based on a very simple premise: When people share ideas, information and interests, then mutual understanding, cooperation and reciprocal transactions often result. I call it, “Ketchum Without Borders.”

Here are a few of the international organizations Ketchum has been involved with in order to bring these principles to life:

  • The World Economic Forum – Ketchum’s relationship with the World Economic Forum is both long-standing and truly cooperative in that Ketchum has provided “secondment” account service personnel to the World Economic Forum while benefitting from this arrangement and from attendance at World Economic Forum conferences in Davos and other cities. In the most recent of these “secondments” (a British term denoting the temporary assignment of an employee to an external organization, benefitting both organizations through the exchange of skills, knowledge and practice), Abby Berg-Hammond, of Ketchum Midwest, is contributing her skills to the Forum’s media and communications team. In turn, her project areas, health and anticorruption, have generated networking opportunities for Ketchum and its clients on some of the most important current industry and cross-industry issues. This relationship had a bonus networking outcome in 2010. At Ketchum’s invitation, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Director Klaus Schwab addressed the Stockholm World Public Relations Forum sponsored by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (see below). In his keynote remarks, Mr. Schwab offered this appreciation of public relations: “Public relations have become even more crucial . . . provided global and other issues are addressed in the framework of the common interest of all stakeholders.”

  • United Nations Global Compact – The U.N. Global Compact was established by Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2000 as “a call to companies to align their strategies and operations with 10 universal principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anticorruption.” Some 6,000 companies around the world are now Global Compact members. Ketchum, a Compact member for 10 years, has participated in Compact activities on many levels. At the outset of the relationship, Ketchum contributed pro bono communications counsel and graphic design support for a series of Compact introductory materials. In later years, we have attended, or addressed, a number of Compact conferences on several continents. Ketchum has been particularly active in the Compact’s U.S. network, addressing its conferences at the Harvard University School of Business and U.N. Headquarters, among other locations. Our annual “Communication on Progress” report regularly details Ketchum’s many activities related to the Compact’s 10 principles, most notably the achievements of the Ketchum Social Responsibility program.

  • The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management – For six years, Ketchum has been active in the leadership of the Global Alliance – currently in my own role as 2009-2011 Chair. The Global Alliance is a confederation of public relations professional organizations in some 70 countries. Its dual mission is to continually improve the international standards of public relations education, research and practice, and to be the global advocate for the profession. Global Alliance leadership has provided an opportunity for Ketchum to share communications concepts not only important to public relations practitioners and their clients but also to global society in general. So Global Alliance messages have often centered on subjects such as the potential impact of professional public relations on the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (i.e., progress on international issues such health, education, natural resources, and gender equality). Also, the Global Alliance promotes “corporate social responsibility 3.0,” the latest iteration of private sector sustainable development.

As noted, ICCO and the three examples cited in greater detail here provide an introduction to Ketchum’s Ketchum Social Responsibility concept of world; a survey of our offices around the globe could surely add significantly to the list. However, even as an introduction to the Ketchum global footprint related to Ketchum Social Responsibility, they illustrate how we are addressing the famous epigram, “to those whom much has been given, much is expected.”