A Tribute to Ray Kotcher: Mentor, Advocate & Hall of Famer

Ray KotcherFor as long as I have known Ray Kotcher, who is transitioning into a new role as Non-Executive Chairman, he has been unwavering in his passion for Ketchum and unmatched in his advocacy for the larger communications industry.

Ray joined Ketchum as Vice President in 1983, was appointed President of the agency in 1992, and in June 2000 was named CEO.

As CEO, Ray led the development of a spectrum of high-value communication products and services and the acquisition of a number of important, specialty strategic businesses. In 2009, Ray spearheaded one of the public relations industry’s largest-ever mergers when Ketchum and Pleon combined to create the leading communications consultancy in Europe. Under his leadership, Ketchum’s geographic client-service footprint also grew throughout China, India and the Middle East.

During his tenure, Ray worked hard to continually improve and professionalize our agency. Along the way, he helped Ketchum become a major industry player and the most award-winning agency in the business, including recognition for the agency by publications such as PRWeek, which honored Ketchum with Agency of the Year in both 2002 and 2012.

While CEO, Ray served as chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms. As chair, he helped raise the bar for the industry by sharing Ketchum’s own proprietary research and best practices with member firms and encouraged others to do the same. To ensure the highest ethical standards he donated our ethics training program and asked every member of the Council to sign a Statement of Principles, which all did—an industry first.

A huge believer in research, Ray also advocated for the fundamental importance of research in public relations both at Ketchum and as a trustee of the Institute for Public Relations. As a current member of the PRSA Foundation’s board of trustees, he promotes their mission to attract and retain under-represented minorities to careers in PR. Ray is a member of the PR Seminar and has been actively engaged in the Arthur W. Page Society, having served on the executive committee, board of trustees and as chair of the membership committee. I am pleased to be carrying on that tradition as a member of the executive committee and board of trustees of Page, and will continue as a trustee of the Institute of Public Relations.

Ray’s achievements are many, making it difficult to do his storied career justice—but I think his personal industry recognitions sums it up well: In 2011, he received the Holmes Group’s SABRE for individual achievement; in 2012, the Public Relations Society of America’s Gold Anvil for lifetime achievement; and in 2014, the Institute for Public Relations’ Alexander Hamilton Medal for lifetime contribution to the public relations profession. Just a few weeks ago, the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) inducted him into their Hall of Fame. Ray has also been honored twice by Boston University—once as a distinguished alumnus of the University and once by the College of Communication.

Ray has played a vital role and made an indelible mark on the industry—through his wisdom, thought-leadership, deep-rooted values and passion for the work. He has been a mentor and a valued friend to so many.

After more than three decades with Ketchum, Ray Kotcher has decided to transition from his role as the agency’s chairman. Ray will still be involved with Ketchum, consult with the DAS group of companies, and is in final talks to return to his alma mater to join the faculty as a professor. As he takes the next step in his journey, one thing is undeniable: the footprint he will leave in his wake. A legacy so rich with the highest achievements, a career steeped with trailblazing firsts and a commitment to client service that will echo throughout the walls of Ketchum for generations to come.

Thank you Ray, for your many years of outstanding leadership at Ketchum and our industry.

About Rob Flaherty

Rob Flaherty is Partner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ketchum, one of the world’s top communications firms and PRWeek’s 2012 Agency of the Year. Flaherty leads Ketchum’s 20 member Global Leadership Council to guide the strategy, client service and performance of the agency. Since joining Ketchum, Rob has been involved in all aspects of the firm’s business, including having successfully led its largest office, one of its global practices and several of its largest client engagements. In addition to his position at Ketchum, Rob is very active in the industry, serving on the executive committee of the board of the Institute for Public Relations, on the Agency Management Committee of the Council of Public Relations Firms, and on the advisory board of directors for Room to Read, Ketchum’s global pro bono partner. Follow Rob on Twitter at @flahertyrob.