Our Opportunity and Responsibility

July 5, 2012

Following the agency’s recent announcement about our leadership transition, Ray Kotcher and I had the opportunity to address our Ketchum colleagues via a virtual agency-wide staff meeting. As you can imagine, we were asked several interesting questions, including “What will be different at Ketchum in 15 years?” The answer I gave was, “Everything but our values and culture.”  This response prompted a great deal of positive feedback. As a result, I thought it was worth offering this expanded point of view.

I’m sure you’d agree that 15 years is a very long time in public relations or any business. So I believe that if we do our job well, 15 years from now Ketchum will have created new services that we can’t even anticipate now. Our way of working will have changed. Our physical place of work will have changed. The diversity and mix of talent will be different. The ambition, scale and scope of our client campaigns will be greater. Almost everything will have changed. But I hope that the collaborative culture and long-held values of respect, collegiality, integrity and accountability that differentiate this agency will remain the one constant.

Indeed I believe it is that collaborative culture and those values that will enable us to transform Ketchum in the future. Mutual respect and collegiality lead to more effective listening. We need to listen to each other and our clients to capture the value of ideas and anticipate the future.

We have 2,500 of some of the most talented people in communications, marketing and media in the world at Ketchum. If we tap their ideas and our clients’ best thinking about their future needs, we will develop new approaches that not only meet those needs but also anticipate them. We will look to harness technology, software and databases to automate more of our processes so that we can focus our energy on higher value advice and services. We will more fully take advantage of our presence in all 24 time zones to develop breakthrough ideas and monitor issues around the clock. We will offer the most progressive services in the world to develop social capital for brands and companies. We will be a respected source of counsel on how to eliminate the gap between a company’s brand promises and their actual delivery in the marketplace.

So here’s to embracing change in all its forms at Ketchum – except one. We promise to keep our values strong, while having some fun anticipating and shaping the changes to come.

 

Rob Flaherty is Chairman of Ketchum, the global communications consultancy with 130 offices and affiliates worldwide. He is on the board of the Arthur W. Page Society, the Institute for Public Relations and the advisory board of Room to Read, which focuses on literacy and girls education in developing nations. Follow Rob on Twitter at @flahertyrob.