Don’t Just Say It but Do It…Do It the Right Way

On Monday, October 15, Ray Kotcher, chairman of Ketchum, received the Public Relations Society of America’s highest individual honor, the Gold Anvil Award.

The award was presented earlier this week at the PRSA 2012 International Conference and is the organization’s lifetime achievement award. It is given annually to an individual whose work has significantly advanced the practice and standards of public relations. Included below is Ray’s acceptance speech for the award, which also serves as a call to action for the public relations industry.

To receive this year’s Gold Anvil and be included in a group of leaders who have accomplished so much – particularly for the industry – is indeed a great honor.

I most certainly owe my deepest gratitude to my wife, Betsy, who is here today and who I can never thank her enough for her lifetime of partnership, guidance and encouragement.

It is appropriate at this conference here in San Francisco – as we come together at this center of technological change – that we consider the future of our dynamic and important field.

Yet even with the profound changes that continue to take place in technology, media and the way our global society communicates, some things remain a constant.

I believe that it is still the power of the idea that matters – perhaps now more than ever. When you have a hand in conceiving of an idea, to see a story come alive and move a client’s business or brand – today seemingly instantly and often times globally – to me this remains one of the most exciting things about public relations.

Indeed, storytelling is fundamental to the way we as humans communicate – it’s a communal proposition – always has been, always will be. It is how great ideas – and sometimes not so great ideas – get passed on from person to person and community to community.

For roughly a century now, contemporary public relations has been at the center of how we – first as a country and now as a global society – communicate. For one hundred years, we have built and shaped powerful ideas and narratives that engender conversations that in turn drive attitudes, opinions, change and even movements.

Today, of course, we no longer are telling stories TO. We are telling stories WITH.

Importantly, today we also must do what we have always strived to do – develop ideas, content, narratives and stories that are worthy of EARNING attention in the right way. In a world of hyper-transparency this is particularly true.

We must be trusted and our work trustworthy. We must do it right.

Indeed, at this conference, as we consider the future of our field within the context of this profound revolution in human communication, high professional standards must remain our guiding principles. That is the clear path to the continued, sustainable success for this great profession.

At Ketchum a commitment to such principles is at our core. For nearly 30 years, I am fortunate to have worked at an agency where we demand this of ourselves and in our work for our clients. Indeed at Ketchum, as you look across our 89 years, our leadership, all 2,500 of us, you will find this abiding commitment to the highest standards. We believe this responsibility is incumbent on every one of us at the agency and in the field.

Today, nearly all of our partners are deeply involved in the industry and its organizations nearly everywhere around the world – working to continue to advance the profession and its standards. At Ketchum this is not something that we just SAY, it something that we DO.

So as you consider the future of public relations and your place in it, make this commitment: don’t just SAY IT but DO IT…DO IT the right way…for yourself, for your organization and for the common good of our field. Thank you again for this great honor.