In 1923 by George Ketchum formed Ketchum Communications as a Pittsburgh-based advertising company which later evolved to include a public relations practice.
In 1996 it became a subsidiary of the Omnicom Group with its work consolidated into five practice areas Brand Marketing, Corporate, Food & Nutrition, Healthcare and Technology.
In 1991 a leaked memo from Ketchum, hired by the Clorox Corporation to develop a crisis management plan, detailed proposed responses to a number of hypothetical scenarios, including a peaceful protest by Greenpeace at a Clorox factory. Among the recommended tactics was the launch of a "Stop Environmental Terrorism" public relations campaign.
Ketchum and the Armstrong Williams scandal
In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education signed a $700,000 contract with Ketchum to do "rankings of newspaper coverage of the No Child Left Behind law" and to produce a video news release (VNR) touting the law, which featured Education Secretary Rod Paige and promoted a tutoring program offered under the new law. The VNR, narrated by faux reporter Karen Ryan (actually a PR pro), generated controversy since it "comes across as a news story but fails to make clear the reporter involved was paid with taxpayer money." A similar VNR promoting the Bush Medicare law was found by the Government Accountability Office to be covert propaganda in violation of federal law. 
U.S. Government PR Contracts
According to the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, Ketchum received the following amounts per year, for federal PR contracts: 
- $1,692,000 in 1999
- $2,552,000 in 2000
- $3,657,000 in 2001
- $2,563,000 in 2002
- $31,163,457 in 2003
- $58,895,846 in 2004
The firm's website and the Public Relations Society of America's database of Silver Anvil Award Winners indicate that Ketchum has worked for the following federal agencies, in addition to its Education Department work:
- Internal Revenue Service, to promote 'Ten Minute Taxes' with Telefile;
- Department of Health and Human Services, to 'change the face of Medicare,' promote long-term health care planning, encourage preventative care, and raise awareness of home health care information; and
- U.S. Army, to 'reconnect the Army with the American people' and boost recruiting around its 225th birthday, in 2001.
In May 2005, a PR Week story on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services request for proposals on its outreach work over the next five years reported that, "Under the last umbrella contract ... Ketchum led a $25 million integrated marketing campaign to drive people to the Medicare (800) number and website." 
Despite the controversy over the Armstrong Williams contract, Ketchum won a a $25 million contract, including $2 million in fees, to manage the advertising campaign as part of a $300 million, three-year U.S. government effort encouraging seniors to sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug program.
Ketchum "produced a controversial series of prepackaged news stories," or video news releases (VNRs), for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). VNRs that Ketchum produced for the Department of Education were also recently found to be "covert propaganda."
The Washington Post reported, "HHS officials say Ketchum got the new work because it already had a multiyear contract to provide public relations services for the department. The firm promised the new ads will not cross the legal line." HHS's Kathleen Harrington said that seniors trust Medicare information more when it comes from the government, so "it's in the interest of our success ... to label everything appropriately." 
Ketchum's client list (most listings from O'Dwyers PR Daily) includes:
- Alberto Culver
- Almond Board of California
- American Iron & Steel Institute
- American Red Cross
- Bank One/First USA
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
- British Tourism Authority
- CMA German Agricultural Industries
- California Dried Plum Board
- Cardinal Health
- CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Cingular Wireless
- Combe Inc.
- Walt Disney
- Dixie International Brands
- Dow Chemical Company
- Duckling Council
- Elan Pharmaceutical
- Estee Lauder
- Federated Dept. Stores
- Fireman's Fund
- Florida State Board of Administration
- Hampton Inn
- HUGO (Human Genome Organization)
- Hyundai Motor America
- International Carwash Assn.
- International Truck & Engine (Navistar)
- Johnson & Johnson
- Kikkoman International
- Levi Strauss & Co.
- Liberty Alliance
- Lions Club International
- Master Foods
- Montefiore Medical Center
- National Cattlemen's Beef Assn.
- New York Stock Exchange
- Newport News
- OrthoMcNeil Pharmaceuticals
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Panamanian Tourist Board
- Pitney Bowes
- Potato Board
- Procter & Gamble
- Quaker Oats
- State of South Carolina
- The Clorox Co.
- The Home Depot
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
- UCB Pharma
- Universal Health Services
- Warner Home Video
- Water Pik Technologies Inc.
- Wendy's International
- Yahoo! en espanol
- Zapf Creation 
- David R. Drobis Chairman Emeritus
- Raymond L. Kotcher, Senior Partner/CEO
- Rob Flaherty Senior Partner/Global Practices Managing Director/New York
- Daniel R. Madia Senior Partner/Global Chief Administrative Officer
- Jerry Olszewski Senior Partner/International
- Lorraine Thelian Senior Partner/North America
- Dale Bornstein Partner/Director New York
- David Catlett Partner/Director Global Healthcare
- Barri Rafferty Partner/Director Atlanta
- Rob Lorfink Chief Financial Officer
- Chris Atkins Partner/Director of global corporate practice;
- Kim Sample Partner Associate Director
- Scott Proper Associate Director
- Gary Stromberg principal, Stromberg Consulting
- Charlotte Forbes principal, Stromberg Consulting
- Mindy Rubinstein Partner Director of Corporate Communications and Business development
711 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Case Studies and internal documents
- Ketchum tackles corporate responsibility
- Copy of Kethcum's Leaked Draft Clorox Crisis Management Plan (4.6MB Pdf file)
- Greenpeace USA Media Release on Copy of Kethcum's Leaked Draft Clorox Crisis Management Plan
Material from PR Watch
- Sheldon Rampton, "Ketchum (the UN's PR Firm) Tackles Corporate Responsibility", PR Watch, Volume 9, No. 3, 3rd quarter 2002.
- Sheldon Rampton, "Corporate Social Responsibility and the Crisis of Globalization", PR Watch, Volume 9, No. 3, 3rd quarter 2002.
- Sheldon Rampton, "Terrorism as Pretext", PR Watch, Fourth Quarter 2001, Volume 8, No. 4.
- "Flying the Koop: A Surgeon General's Reputation On the Line", PR Watch, Volume 5, No. 4, 4th Quarter 1998.
- "The Chlorine Industry's Secrets Exposed! #2, PR Watch, Volume 3, No. 2, 2nd Quarter 1996.
- Jonathan Nack, "Chlorine company targets Greenpeace", Green Left Weekly, 1991. (Originally published in the Guardian (US).
- Ravi Chandiramani, "Ketchum appoints director for its UK corporate practice", PR Week, February 23, 2004.
- Ketchum, The Building of a Top Ten Global Public Relations Agency, undated, accessed July 2004.
- Douglas Quenqua, "Ketchum faces inquiry of contract with Puerto Rico", PR Week, September 20, 2004.
- Ben Feller, "Bush ad appears to be news story," Associated Press, October 11, 2004.
- Fraser P. Seitel, "Ketchum Calamity Post Mortem", O'Dwyers PR Daily (sub. req'd.), January 24, 2005.
- Jack O'Dwyer, "PR Opinion", Jack O'Dwyers Newsletter (sub. req'd.), Internet Edition, January 26, 2005.
- Erica Iacono, "Spellings halts Ketchum work as Council polishes industry image", PR Week, February 07 2005. (Sub req'd).
- "Review of Formation Issues Regarding the Department of Education's Fiscal Year 2003 Contract with Ketchum, Inc. for Media Relations Services", Department of Education, April 15, 2005.
- "White House Is Impeding Armstrong Williams Probe, Dem. Lawmaker Says", Editor & Publisher, April 15, 2005.
- Brian Faler, "Hiring of Commentator Is Called Poor Judgment: Report: Education Dept. Broke No Law", Washington Post, April 16, 2005.
- Anne E. Kornblut, "Inquiry Finds Radio Host's Arrangement Raised Flags", April 16, 2005.
- "Warnings on Armstrong Williams ignored, report says", Seattle Times, April 16, 2005.
- Erica Iacono, "ANALYSIS Government Contracts: DoE contract report takes some heat off of Ketchum", PR Week, April 25, 2005. (Sub Req'd.)
- Erica Iacono, "DoE report cites a lack of ROI, not ethics", PR Week, April 25, 2005. (Sub req'd).
- Beth Herskovits, "Medicare/Medicaid throws majority of work up for bid," PR Week (sub. req'd.), May 23, 2005.
- Beth Herskovits, "Novartis and Arthur Frommer publish restroom guide for OAB sufferers", PR Week, June 15, 2005. (Sub req'd). (A brief report on a campaign for Novartis by Ketchum).
- Christopher Lee, "Medicare Drug Benefit Outlined in Campaign: As Enrollment Is Set to Begin, Ads and Other Outreach Seek to Educate Eligible Citizens", Washington Post, October 10, 2005.