The Laboratory Called Camp Ketchum

1853Camp Ketchum, which has been in existence since 1986, has always been a context to teach new techniques and best practices.  It has also always been a way for us to perpetuate our culture of collaboration, competitiveness and creativity.

But this year, more than any other, it was a laboratory in which to test, validate or invalidate our view of the future.  Our view of the future believes that it’s not enough to base a program on a well-researched strategy that engages audiences with break through creativity. While that’s been a winning formula for decades, we now believe our clients need more.

Specifically: 1. Brands need platforms that gain relevance because they are shaped around deep insights and human truths, and, 2. Effective campaigns must integrate across the full spectrum of paid, earned, shared and owned media (PESO).

So we used Camp and our client’s challenging brief to educate about insights and PESO-based campaigns.

The results were very, very encouraging. This year, the core campaign ideas were better than ever. To our usual emphasis on research, strategy and creativity, we added insights to form a new model.  The key difference in the quality of this year’s campaigns seemed to be tied to the value of really pushing to ladder the ideas up to a human truth based on deep insights.  I wish I could use the campers work as an example here — but I genuinely believe the ideas at Camp will be used by the client and we should leave it to them to reveal the ideas.

We also tried mightily to encourage a better understanding of what a PESO campaign looks like by increasing education around paid and owned options. It was gratifying to see the campers apply what they had learned during their educational sessions to their presentations for the client challenge. The result was really impressive integrated campaigns.

Having this fresh proof-of-concept will embolden us to accelerate our investments in insight services and more paid and owned capabilities. This new benefit is yet another great return on our investment in the employee enrichment programming that occurs during Camp Ketchum and something we will continue to emphasize in all of our client engagements going forward.

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.