New hire Jane Kearney (pictured), who was most recently PR and media relations manager at live music promoter Festival Republic, will play a major role in the taskforce, which will be led by consumer brands MD Sophie Raine. Kearney has joined Ketchum in a senior client handling role in its consumer brands team, working on the Velux and Booking.com businesses.
The cross-practice taskforce will number about 10 people, with two from each division alongside representatives of the agency's social & influence and research & analytics functions.
Two former journalists are on the taskforce: Murray Wardrop (practice director, corporate reputation) who spent more than a decade as news editor and reporter at The Daily Telegraph and The Sun; and Richard Griffiths (director, strategic comms) who spent 13 years as a BBC journalist. Nina Vadjaraganian, who leads the agency's healthcare media relations efforts, is also part of the team.
The taskforce will focus on offering a more integrated approach to media relations, looking at being more efficient with the sell-in and measuring the impact of earned media. It will also focus on ‘co-creation’ - briefing target media in the planning stages to help shape campaigns.
Raine told PRWeek: "Strengthening our media relations efforts is a significant focal area for us as we emerge from the pandemic. Deep media relationships are more significant than ever and ultimately clients very much still value press coverage as a key success metric. Our media relations taskforce will set out to optimise our output, from story crafting all the way through to identifying ways to measure the impact of press coverage on our clients’ bottom line."
Kearney joined Festival Republic in 2015, and has overseen comms campaigns and strategy for 11 festivals including Reading and Leeds, Download, Latitude, and Wireless Festival. She previously worked at LD Communications.
Kearney was a client of Raine when the latter was at W Communications, working on the V and Wireless festival accounts.
Raine said: "When Jane was my client, it was clear she was a real taskmaster! It was also clear she was an exceptional operator with high standards who wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves. When I knew Jane was considering a move back to the agency world it was a no-brainer to offer her a role. She’s honed the craft of media relations over years of talking to national journalists every single day. There’s not a reporter Jane doesn’t know or a crisis she hasn’t averted. I can’t wait to see what she’ll achieve at Ketchum."
Kearney said: "I'm thrilled to be joining the team and jumping back into agency life. Ketchum is doing incredible things in terms of both the work and setting the bar for diversity and inclusion. There’s so much I feel I can apply from the last few years working on music festivals to my new clients and the brand community as a whole. I can’t wait to get stuck in."