Ketchum veteran Laura Ryan joins Cohn & Wolfe to lead US corporate practice

Ryan will report to US president David Herrick in the new role. She left Ketchum last week.

NEW YORK: Cohn & Wolfe has appointed Ketchum veteran Laura Ryan as MD of its US corporate practice, effective October 5.

Based in the firm’s New York headquarters, Ryan will report to Cohn & Wolfe’s newly minted US president David Herrick.

In the newly created role, Ryan is tasked with overseeing all day-to-day operations, cultivating client relationships, and providing senior strategic counsel. She is also responsible for driving the growth and development of the practice across Cohn & Wolfe’s US offices.

The WPP firm’s US corporate practice is focused on corporate reputation management, corporate brand building, executive visibility, thought leadership, crisis and issues management, internal communications, and corporate media relations, according to a statement from the firm.

Ryan did not disclose how many staffers she will oversee.

Previously, Josh Levin, SVP and US corporate co-lead, and corporate practice SVP Marie DiFrancesco oversaw the firm’s corporate practice in the US. Levin departed Cohn & Wolfe in October 2014. He is now CMO of Newlio Labs, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

DiFrancesco continues to be part of the US corporate practice leadership team at Cohn & Wolfe. She will report to Ryan.

"I have spent my career focused on corporate, across industries and disciplines," Ryan said. "I am a strong client leader and I hope I inspire that in others. I look forward to bringing that to Cohn & Wolfe, but I also look forward to building strong, great teams that work together."

She added that corporate communications has never been more valuable, describing it as the "common denominator" for any client relationship.

"Everyone is talking about thought leadership, and we are seeing dollars being put against thought leadership and the corporate area," Ryan explained. "So there has never been a better time to be in corporate."

Ryan departed Ketchum last week after an eight-year stint. Most recently, she served as SVP and group manager of the New York corporate practice as well as SVP and director of the Midwest corporate and healthcare practice.

At Ketchum, Ryan oversaw integrated communications campaigns for clients including the Cleveland Clinic, Dun & Bradstreet, 3M, Adecco, Monster.com, Morton Salt, and Time Warner Cable. She led more than 20 new business pitches over the past year, according to a statement from C&W.

A Ketchum representative was not immediately available for comment on Ryan’s departure.

Previously, Ryan was director of Burson-Marsteller’s corporate practice during an eight-year career at the agency in which she was global client leader for Thomson Reuters.

Earlier in her career, Ryan was manager of external communications for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and media relations manager for the American Osteopathic Association.

Cohn & Wolfe hired Herrick in June. He joined the firm from MWW, where he worked for five years.

C&W posted double-digit revenue growth in 2014, rebounding from a sluggish 2013. Revenue was up 16% year-over-year in the US and 11.5% globally last year.

Correction: This story was updated to correct that Levin was SVP and co-lead of the US corporate practice at Cohn & Wolfe, not US corporate affairs practice lead.

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