Sponsored By: Prospect

The Winner: John Bailey, Managing Director, Ketchum Singapore

John Bailey is Partner and Managing Director of Ketchum Singapore, an agency he launched in 2005 with a single employee. Since moving into communications consultancy in 1994, he has created and sold two successful businesses; helped to define global standards of “best practice” for the airline industry and for European football; and advised on major crises that dominated the global news agenda. More recently, he transformed the business model of the agency he sold to Ketchum to achieve a step-change in capabilities and profitability.

In 1998, John moved to Geneva to set up a franchised consultancy business with the International Air Transport Association. Its remit was to help the world’s airlines adapt their crisis communication strategies to the challenge of 24-hour rolling TV news and online portals. In six years, the IATA-branded service was engaged by more than 60 airlines, two of the three airline alliances and three manufacturers, and redefined “best practice” for the entire industry.

After selling the commercial rights to a disaster management company in 2004, John moved to Singapore to launch his own PR agency (ICON). He continued to provide crisis consultancy to numerous clients including UEFA, the governing body of European football, which in 2012 engaged him to draw up the first UEFA guidelines for responding to a major incident at a high-profile match. This became the standard for the 53 European national football associations, shared through workshops and online training.

Also in 2012, IATA asked John to codify best practice in dealing with aviation crises in the age of social media. The IATA document he produced was the first of its kind for the industry and outlines the responsibilities of all parties involved after an accident. It was updated in December 2016, and is amplified through a worldwide series of IATA conferences, at which John is a featured presenter. He regularly lectures at Universities and Academies in Singapore and internationally, including annually at the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Academy.

ICON opened in May 2005 and quickly attracted major clients including Boeing, Lufthansa Group, Hilton Worldwide and Siemens. The expertise John developed at IATA was an important differentiator and led to crisis work with more than 40 clients across Asia and globally, in hospitality, agrichemicals, manufacturing, logistics and FMCG. ICON won Specialist Consultancy of the Year in the 2012 Gold Standard Awards for its crisis management capabilities.

By then, ICON had become Singapore’s largest locally owned PR Agency, breaking $3 million in turnover within seven years and winning multiple awards. In 2008 Ketchum had appointed ICON as its exclusive affiliate and it acquired the business outright in November 2013. John stayed on to lead  the integration into Ketchum. By mid-2016, with growth flattening, He developed a strategy for achieving a step-change in capabilities and performance by repositioning Ketchum Singapore as a digital-first integrated consultancy with a strongly differentiated and scalable offer.


  • John Bailey, Managing Director, Ketchum Singapore
  • Sunil John, Chief Executive Officer, ASDA’A Burson Marsteller
  • Scott Kronick, President and CEO Asia Pacific, Ogilvy Public Relations