The Opportunity to Break Through

May 3, 2011

Creativity. When I look back, that’s what I first loved about our industry, and it still thrills me. Finding an idea that’s truly new, fresh, bold. In a business, media, and cultural landscape that’s never been more complex and crowded, innovative thinking is now more important than ever. For me, that’s always been the challenge and, simply, the fun of it – the chance to break through.

The art and science of public relations have never been more sophisticated and effective. Or as we’ve called it in the past, “passion and precision.” Today, clients are looking for the big idea, and they are happy for it to come from anywhere. More often than in the past, those ideas that provide business impact are coming from public relations.

The Ketchum culture is rich with a restless and relentless spirit of creativity. A determination to see if we can’t turn something to the light in a different way, or to turn it on its head altogether, to drive positive perceptions – to inform, to surprise, to delight. Creativity has been in the Ketchum DNA from the beginning. Today, we are expanding that focus, in all directions, 360 degrees.

We match this with an equal focus on our left brain as well. Our analytical insight into every practice area is as deep as ever. Our leadership in measurement remains fundamental. The best idea in the world goes nowhere without flawless execution, the organizational skill to bring it to the world. We’re also acutely aware of the need to integrate what we do with every other internal and external player that contributes to what a brand, or a company, or an institution communicates about itself to the world.

Today, the words I mentioned – “break through” – are our core promise, and they’re also a series of eight striking images, which are available at Ketchum.com. A suitor on one knee represents “Earn engagement.” A kid frisking a British bobby, “Provoke searches.” A bird in flight composed entirely of other birds in flight, “Mobilize movements.” They are images we see as a kind of visual genetic code of who we are, and I think their humor and vitality show a bit of how much we love what we do, too. Indeed, the fact that the entire campaign was developed and designed by Ketchum people working across continents is better evidence of that than any.

I’ve been at Ketchum for nearly 30 years. It’s been an amazing journey, but never more so than right now. In the past few years, we’ve become a profoundly global agency, with the most significant step being our partnership with Pleon that formed Ketchum Pleon in Europe. I think that this decision, and other partnerships and acquisitions that have followed, exemplifies the kind of thinking on behalf of clients that is our past, present and future.

So many walls have come down, geographically, culturally. You can reach just about anyone, anywhere, but so can just about anyone else. The deluge of information in front of all of us, all the time, is in a sense a new wall. To break through it, you have to think in all directions. Any note of complacency – “This has always worked in the past, this is how we did it last time” – will not serve a client sufficiently. Experience counts, sure, knowing what’s worked in the past. But that’s just the ground under your feet. We want our clients to take off – to fly. To break through.

 

Ray started at Ketchum in 1983, was appointed CEO in 2000, and became its Chairman in 2012. During his tenure, he has overseen the expansion of the firm’s global client-service footprint, as well as the broadening and deepening of Ketchum’s offerings. He actively counsels clients, has been included in PRWeek’s Power List and serves in leadership positions across the industry.