Ketchum has announced the move to promote Barri Rafferty from her role of global president to chief executive, effective January 1.
Once Rafferty assumes her role, she will be the first woman to head a top-five global public relations firm. The long-time Ketchum employee replaces current chairman and chief executive Rob Flaherty in this move; Flaherty will retain his role as chairman.
Rafferty had been part of Ketchum since 1994, in various strategic roles for the public relations firm, most recently as global president. During her time at Ketchum, she held the role of chief executive officer for North America, headed the New York office, launched Ketchum’s first digital offerings and led the agency’s global brand marketing practice.
Karen von Bergen, Omnicom Public Relations Group’s chief executive officer spoke on Rafferty’s promotion: “Barri brings strong business acumen, a passion for operational excellence, and a deep belief in the importance of talent, especially the critical role of diversity, equity and inclusion. I know these skills will help her lead the agency forward,” said van Bergen. “Ketchum has a history of smooth leadership transitions and is known for growing leaders from within, and I’m so pleased to have Barri take on the leadership reins at Ketchum as Rob continues as chairman.”
On Rob Flaherty’s tenure as chief executive, von Bergen said that Ketchum experienced many firsts, “including having the strongest year in its 94-year history and being the most awarded PR agency at the Cannes Lions Festival.” Flaherty, who joined Ketchum in 1989, was named president in 2008 and chief executive officer for five years.
Said Rafferty on her new role: “I am incredibly grateful to Rob for all he has done for Ketchum, our talent and our clients. I have learned a lot from him, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate on the agency’s growth and its evolution. The depth of talent, culture and amazing client roster at Ketchum are a point of pride for Rob and for me, and I am honored to step into the role of CEO on the heels of one of our best creative years in the agency’s history.”