Ketchum Leaders Take the Stage at the World PR Forum

Public relations leaders from around the world gathered in Madrid recently for the World PR Forum.

The conference of more than 800 practitioners was hosted by the Global Alliance in conjunction with Dircom, the Spanish professional public relations association.

Several Ketchum leaders spoke about the future of the profession, covering a wide range of topics in support of the event.

Here are some key takeaways from a few of our speakers …

Rob Flaherty, Senior Partner, CEO & President

Public Relations as the Conscience of an Organization
In his keynote speech, Rob Flaherty called on practitioners to seize the higher purpose of public relations by becoming strategic advisors to the organizations that we serve.

“Pervasive always-on media means that it is no longer possible for a leader or organization to say one thing and do another. Any gap between what an organization says and does will be called out by the collective conscience of socially active citizens.”

“The role of PR is to spot the so called ‘say do gap’ and advise leaders to take action. We need to stop obsessing about getting a seat at the top table. Instead it needs to fixate on getting a seat at every table.”

“Public relations has the opportunity to become the conscience of an organization; it should be part of every department. There has never been a more exciting time to work in public relations.”


David Gallagher, Senior Partner, CEO, Europe & Chairman, London
President of the International Communications Consultancies Organization (ICCO)

Globalization and Agency Versatility
“Consultancy work is growing worldwide in the public relations business according to ICCO, fuelled by macroeconomics, demographics and client demand for help with social media. This doesn’t mean agency-client partnerships aren’t without challenges. Clients want more for less, and agencies guard against commoditization while looking for a slice of budgets once allocated to advertising.”

“Globalization stresses agency network structures, and clients want more choice in pricing and services than currently on offer in many markets. So new models are emerging, agencies are becoming versatile, forming ad hoc partnerships with all kinds of specialists, consultants and even other agencies. Clients are recognizing the potential of social business and looking to agencies for help in making the transformation.”


David Rockland, Partner and Managing Director, Ketchum Global Research
Global Chairman of the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC)

Measurement Remains a Work in Progress
“With the Barcelona Principles and Valid Metrics now common industry practices, you’d think we would have solved the measurement conundrum in PR. However, while we have accomplished a lot, the future looks blurry. What is on the horizon is integration in a major way, not just social and traditional media, or monitoring and measurement, but much more complex.”

“We need to consider measurement across the entire paid, earned, shared, and owned (PESO) spectrum of channels, and the use of enhanced analytical techniques against big data to tease out which channels and messages are most effective at driving organizational outcomes.”

“The various elements of integration now underway will lead to greater transparency in terms of what works and what doesn’t, whether it is public relations versus advertising, or marketing versus communications. This is both an opportunity and a challenge to public relations, as results so far do not indicate that earned media is always the winner.”


In addition, in my role as President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, I spoke about modernizing agency and communication team structures, but I’ll save that topic for another post.

If you are interested in what else happened at the conference, here’s a video with highlights by day.