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.

Author Archive | Rob Flaherty

Welcome to 2016!

2016 is upon us. It seems like only yesterday we were predicting what was in store for 2015, and in the last 12 months we saw many of those trends come to fruition and then shape the ways we and our clients responded using different elements of the marketing mix. Anticipating the trends of 2015, we brought to bear offerings, like Ketchum 50+ and Engaging Gen Z to help our clients best reach their target audiences with the right expertise, backed by proprietary global studies like the New Man Code, Liquid Change and Innovation Kernel.

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Celebrating the Success of Ketchum’s Partner Room to Read

Students of the Kna Primary School celebrate Room to Read reaching 10 million children.

Room to Read set a bold goal fifteen years ago, at its inception, to reach 10 million children with its literacy and girls’ education programs by 2020. Ketchum CEO, Rob Flaherty and his wife Tammy joined the Room to Read founders and several donors at a ceremony outside Siem Reap, Cambodia to celebrate this major milestone, achieved well ahead of schedule. The visit included two days of visits to several schools and libraries established by Room to Read. Rob also provided communications training to the Room to Read board on how to best communicate their new five-year strategic plan. Below are Rob’s impressions of his time in Cambodia in support of Room to Read…

Portraits drawn by students were presented to Room to Read founders (from left): John Wood, Dinesh Shrestha and Erin Ganju.
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Celebrating the Near Win (Video)

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. –Thomas Edison

A few important questions to consider: Does your culture foster innovation and celebrate not just the wins, but also the bravery it takes to present bold new ideas – ideas that often run a higher risk of failure? Do you celebrate risk-takers, regardless of the outcome? Are near-wins within your company “blame-worthy” or “praise-worthy?” These questions, and the ramifications of their answers, are of critical importance within an always on, real-time communications landscape.

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Camp Ketchum: An Idea Ahead of its Time

Early Camp Ketchum group photo.

Prescient: To know beforehand; having foresight.

The original architects of Camp Ketchum 35 years ago couldn’t possibly have foreseen all of the dynamic change in our industry and how we work today. Yet the competitive team structure at Camp Ketchum, our week-long training program, is an ideal laboratory for the way we serve clients in today’s always-on, real-time marketing environment.

At Camp, the 80 Campers are divided into eight teams of 10 to address a real client brief and compete for the client assignment. Originally the intent was obvious: to train our people to be better at pitching new business.

Today that’s still one of the goals. But I think the greater benefit is that it is a rich context to improve our ability to work in our increasingly prevalent “liquid teams.”

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What the 2015 Cannes Sessions Say About Marketing Today

Our analysis of more than 150 of the sessions at next week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity reveals a lot about where marketing is today, and where it’s going tomorrow (click to tweet). The schedule tells us what marketers and agency leaders are excited about, what they’re worried about and what’s new.

The sessions, which span a full week, were grouped by us into seven categories that began to coalesce naturally: Creativity & Fine Art, Entertainment & Marketing, Social Media & Social Activism, Technology & Disruption, Content & Storytelling, Demographics & Segments and Leadership & Top Talent.

The rise of social technologies and social activism, as well as the role of human insights to drive ideas and achieve relevance with diverse audiences, shines through the schedule.

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The Evolving Role of PR

The contours of the public relations discipline are expanding rapidly due to the confluence of several factors, including the widespread adoption of social technologies, the democratization of the media, changing societal expectations and globalization. Here are four lenses through which to view the shift occurring within our field:

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Strong Leadership Communication Requires a Multifaceted Approach

As Seen In… Ketchum Perspectives

Over the course of my career, I have learned many lessons, but perhaps one of the most important is to keep your eye very closely on what I call the say-do gap. In fact, I believe all executives should have signs in their office that say “Mind the Gap” as a reminder. This is considerably more important now because so much of what leaders do is transparent to others the minute they do it. For example, CEOs today are being reviewed just as restaurants are, but the evaluation is on sites like Glassdoor and Vault. The result: You must make sure that your words and behavior align.

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American Bye

How striking that the announcements about two of America’s leading sources of news – Jon Stewart and Brian Williams – were made within hours of each other on the same day. It may be an overstatement to call it the death of news as we know it, but as a fan of both, it certainly is the end of an era.

So, to the tune of Don McLean’s American Pie…

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Income Disparity: Corporations Need to Act Now or Feel Pain Soon

As Seen In… The Huffington Post

“A problem well put is half solved,” said the great pragmatist John Dewey. But a problem ignored is an imminent crisis.

That seems to be the case with the pervasive problems that flow from income disparity. The crisis is near, but perhaps with pragmatic and courageous leadership we can change that.

First, though, there’s Mr. Dewey’s point of attacking the right problem. Despite the dramatic attention paid recently to wealth disparity, the primary problem we need to solve is not that a small number of people have a great deal of wealth. It matters much less that there are 1,600 billionaires in a world of 7.3-billion people than that there are 3 billion people who live in poverty, and almost as many who have no access to even rudimentary financial tools. And that real wages in developed nations are declining and youth unemployment is at record levels.

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Two Legends: Separated by Time and Space, But United in Their World View

For some reason, the World Economic Forum likes to present some of the biggest names in government and business in a relatively intimate setting. Rather than feature them in the plenary hall that accommodates 1,500 people – a room these world figures could easily fill – they schedule a session in a room called Agenda 2. It accommodates just 90 people in three rows around two chairs in the center.

Yesterday I was there as the New York Times’ Tom Friedman interviewed the legendary Israeli leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres. Today, CBS anchor Charlie Rose interviewed Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

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