Ketchum launches trauma informed consulting specialty

EVP and MD Michelle Baker (pictured) is leading the specialty.

Michelle Baker is EVP and MD of corporate strategic initiatives and public health.

NEW YORK: Ketchum has launched a trauma-informed consulting specialty, aimed at its own employees and clients.

Ketchum defines trauma as "any psychological injury that affects performance and wellbeing."

"A trauma-informed organization operates with an understanding of trauma and its negative effects on the organization's employees, clients and the communities it serves while working to mitigate those effects," said Michelle Baker, EVP and MD of corporate strategic initiatives and public health, who will lead the specialty.

The trauma-informed consulting specialty is part of Ketchum's suite of offerings that sit within its corporate reputation group.

Ketchum has enlisted three outside consultants with varying levels of expertise and insights to work on education and program development: Katharine Manning, an attorney specializing in issues of trauma and victimization for more than 25 years, including 15 years at the Justice Department; Dawn Shedrick, a clinical social worker and lecturer at Columbia University's School of Social Work; and Kate Licastro, a licensed psychologist and trauma-informed change management leader.

The agency has also conducted training on trauma-informed comms with 50 of its most senior leaders in the U.S.

The specialty will provide trauma-informed comms training to clients, tailored to sectors as needed; and consultancy counseling, in terms of putting together programs.

"It is important to be trauma-informed as a workplace but also trauma-informed in our work," said Baker. "So we are thinking of how we can support clients with counseling, comms services and training to build on what we have learned thus far."

The offering is "at the intersection of" public health, crisis comms, DEI, corp comms and change management, Baker said.

"There are so many different ways being trauma-informed can help resonate, whether it is a public health screening campaign or trying to reach out to marginalized communities in a new and impactful way," said Baker. "If [a campaign] is not factoring in the traumatic events and experiences over the last three years, it will have minimal impact."

Ketchum U.S. CEO Jim Joseph said that Ketchum is forming the specialty now because everyone is "living in a different world that is far more complicated and full of stress and triggers and issues that will not go away. If we are going to be good to our employees and clients, we need to be trauma informed."

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