About Rob Flaherty

Rob Flaherty is Chairman of Ketchum, a top-five, global PR firm, and member of Ketchum's 19-member Global Leadership Council that guides the strategy, client service and performance of the agency. Since joining Ketchum in 1989, Flaherty 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. As a client counselor, Rob specializes in corporate positioning and issues management. He has helped companies prepare for and respond to challenging situations ranging from product liability and airline accidents to data breaches and antitrust litigation. He also has played a lead role in growing the firm’s client base. Flaherty became President of the agency in 2008, CEO in 2012 and today, as Chairman, is one of the industry’s most sought-after client counselors. Flaherty was named Global PR Leader of the Year in 2016 by the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO). Follow Rob on Twitter at @flahertyrob.

Author Archive | Rob Flaherty

Are We Providing “Exquisite Answers to the Wrong Problems?”

Last year Harold Burson did an interview with Boston University Professor Don Wright in which he said that a critical fault in our field is that we provide “exquisite answers to the wrong problems.” 

Intrigued by this phrase, I emailed the 97-year-old founder of Burson-Marsteller and asked him what he meant. He explained in the video below that client teams are sent in to an organization, ask a set of questions and deliver an exquisite creative campaign that, ultimately, does not solve the business problem because the right questions were never asked. He said that there should be much more formal research at the beginning of the process to get a legitimate view of what the affected people really feel about the issue. This rings painfully true to me. 

Continue Reading

Does Influencing People Still Matter? More Than Ever.

In a world dominated by algorithms and data, and a diminishing of traditional media’s reach and impact on the general public, does influencing people still matter? I recently had the pleasure of tackling this subject on stage at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal with The Economist’s Gady Epstein. My answer: Yes. More than ever.

Here’s the video, along with a few of the moments from our discussion that I believe resonated with our audience most.

Continue Reading

Evolving for the Future: Barri Rafferty Named CEO

Today is an exciting day for all the colleagues at Ketchum, for our clients and also for our industry. Today, we named Barri Rafferty Chief Executive Officer at Ketchum, effective January 1, with me continuing as Chairman.

Continue Reading

The Power of Influence

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – The Talmud

It was with this quote that I began a fascinating discussion with neuroscientist, author and professor Tali Sharot. In this era of technology-fueled confirmation bias, particularly how the proliferation of alternative facts shape our decision-making process, I was interested in taking a deeper dive into the science behind our collective motives and actions. Specifically, how held beliefs, and the resistance to new ideas, are motivated by our need to reaffirm preexisting notions of the world and topics we’re most passionate about.

Continue Reading

Ketchum@Cannes

On a personal level, I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling Cannes Lions experience this year. From introducing Laura Dern, Grace Helbig and our Marcus Peterzell in Classic Hollywood Meets the YouTube Generation on the big stage, to accepting Lions with some of our most valued colleagues, agency partners and clients, to learning from passionate thought leaders and evolving my own perspective on an array of subjects and disciplines, this year certainly stood out in more ways than one.

Continue Reading

The Courage to Take the Next Step

On Sunday, I was honored to speak at my alma mater, Utica College in beautiful Upstate New York. Being back on campus brought back a flood of memories of a very special time during which I learned the fundamentals of communication, established enduring relationships and had a heck of a lot of fun. It also took me back to being a brand new graduate with my whole adult life ahead of me, and all the hopes, dreams and apprehension that came along with that.

In my remarks, I reflected back over my career and offered my thoughts on what I’ve learned and perspective I’ve gained since graduating from college: The Courage to Take the Next Step. While I wrote it for young people about to enter the workforce, I hope you’ll find the advice useful no matter where you are in your career.

Here is my commencement address to Utica’s Class of 2017.

Continue Reading

From Cicero’s Wisdom: An Aspiration and Inspiration for Us All

If you follow the PR Council’s blog, you might have read a post recently published on the responsibility organizations have to be transparent with their publics. Within it, I close with one of the most inspiring and aspirational pieces of content I have read this year, which happens to come from a pretty unlikely source. In 44 B.C. the Roman philosopher Marcus Cicero wrote, in his treatise on friendship, the simple yet powerful phrase, “To be, rather than to seem.”

I instantly liked it in relation to our business and our agency, and find it to be an aspirational purpose on many levels. Here are some of the reasons why:

Continue Reading

What Responsibility Do Organizations Have to Be Transparent with Their Publics?

If an organization wants a strong reputation, and all of the benefits that come with it, then it has a significant responsibility to be transparent. Why — what’s the business case?

Interestingly, transparency is not a responsibility that has always been a fundamental requirement for a company. In the past, it was fine for a company to tightly control the information it revealed. Years ago, many companies treated the public like mushrooms: they kept them in the dark.

Continue Reading

Trends 2017: The New Normal Is That There Isn’t One

It’s human nature to expect things to stay the same – it’s how our brains cope with complexity. But 2016 showed how faulty that assumption can be, with shift after tectonic shift in how the world is. And not just in the political sphere. The world saw transformational change taking place in sectors as diverse as technology, automotive, food, healthcare, retail and sports.

Continue Reading

Video: Purpose as the New Bottom Line

“Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession.” – Gabriel Bernstein

Communicators are being asked to play an even more pivotal role in shaping the way organizations operate, and are collectively presented with the unique opportunity to encourage organizations to question long-standing beliefs, and embolden them to make a difference by focusing on purpose as well as profit.

Continue Reading