About Rob Flaherty

Rob Flaherty is chairman & CEO of Ketchum, one of the world’s top communication firms, with offices and affiliates in 130 markets in more than 70 countries. Rob leads Ketchum’s Global Leadership Council to guide the strategy, client service and performance of the agency. During Rob’s tenure as CEO, Ketchum has significantly expanded the firm’s social, digital and content capabilities, including opening real-time content marketing hubs called StoryWorks, in dozens of markets. Follow Rob on Twitter at @flahertyrob.

Author Archive | Rob Flaherty

Davos Dispatch 1: The World Economic Fishbowl

Transparency leaps out as a pervasive dynamic in Davos today. Perhaps it’s fitting as Hugette Labelle, chair of Transparency International, is one of the Annual Meeting co-chairs this year. But it’s more than that.

Davos was once a far more private affair. Sure, the world knew it was happening and there were always flag-draped photo ops. But only the big speeches could be covered by the press.

Now everyone is tweeting from every session — despite the still-published request to follow discreet Chatham House Rules.

This morning at a session on “The Social Technology Context,” Chan Yuenying, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, said that in China social media has created “an arms race between control and freedom.” I immediately thought of the sensitivity of that remark in China. But today her comment was immediately tweeted by people in the room.

Continue Reading

A Tribute to Dan Edelman

Today we mourn the passing of industry pioneer Dan Edelman, who died at 92 earlier today. Dan founded Edelman in 1952 and now the firm is among the most respected in our field.

A pioneer in the public relations industry for his vision of integrating public relations into marketing campaigns, he played a pivotal role in shaping the model for the modern day public relations agency and increasing the sophistication of our business.

Perhaps you have noticed that Edelman’s agency advertising campaign and its celebration of its 60th anniversary saluted Dan’s hard work, his ethics and his values. It was a smart and impressive way to honor Dan and enable him to see the impact he had. It also underscores what a huge loss this is to the family and to the firm.

Continue Reading

Unlocking the Brain’s Secrets About Creativity and Decision Making

During the Holmes Global PR Summit in Miami a couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of hosting a session called “Unlocking the Brain’s Secrets About Creativity and Decision Making” with esteemed neuroscientist and best-selling author, Dr. David Eagleman. Our session explored his theories about the extent to which subconscious perceptions inform our daily interactions, our approach to creativity as well as our purchasing decisions.

Continue Reading

Today News Finds You

Last week I had the privilege of serving as co-chair of the Public Relations Society of America’s 2012 International Conference in San Francisco and on a panel called The Agency of the Future with Jack Martin, Global Chairman and CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies; Janet Tyler, Co-CEO and Founder, Airfoil Public Relations; Fred Cook, CEO and President of Golin Harris, which was moderated by Peter Himler, founder of Flatiron Communications.

During the panel discussion, I shared the following observations on what I see as the changing definition of news. Years ago, when I was pursuing my journalism degree, I heard a simple, populist definition of news: “News is something that makes you say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that.’” But now, over the past year or so, I have been hearing an equally simple but profoundly current definition: “News is something important enough to find me.”

Continue Reading

As We Look Toward the Future, Recognizing Four Ketchum Leaders

Every day hundreds of clients rely on Ketchum to deliver for them: deliver great service, break through ideas and real results. As an established global agency, our clients expect Ketchum leaders to manage our agency effectively today and continue to develop the agency and its services for tomorrow.

It has been just over a month since Ray Kotcher became the Chairman of Ketchum and I assumed the role of CEO. Since then, in addition to extensive travel to meet with clients and teams, I have thought a lot about the leadership roles we need to manage the breadth and scope of the agency today and over the next few years of rapid change in our business.

Continue Reading

Mind the Gap

In the London Tube the signs are everywhere — Mind the Gap, don’t fall between the train and the platform.

Lately I’ve thought that should be a sign inside every corporate C-suite and brand manager’s office.

Almost every issue engulfing a company or serious complaint about a brand is as a result of a big gap between their stated promise and their actual delivery.

Continue Reading

Our Opportunity and Responsibility

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.

Continue Reading

Shaping a New Communications Model – Silence is Golden

This post was first published on CNBC.com.

It might sound heretical for a leader of a communications firm to suggest it, but lately I’ve been thinking that a lot of big brands and companies should take a vow of silence.

Not forever, but at key moments in time.

In this era of radical transparency, rather than trying to explain what you’re doing to fix a problem or poor performance or disappointing service, put all of that energy into fixing it first. Let people see the difference, then call in the communicators to amplify the actions you’ve taken.

Continue Reading

Davos Dispatch IV: Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger

This week, Ketchum President Rob Flaherty is attending the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum — which brings together 2,500 CEOs and government leaders in Davos, Switzerland — and is reporting his observations. On Jan. 31, he will host a special webinar open to the public, “Davos 2011: An Insider’s Guide to Key Insights,” in which he will recap his experiences.I can report that “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger has made as smooth a landing into the role of leadership guru as he did on New York’s icy river two years ago.Sullenberger in person is as reserved and disciplined as you’ve seen in interviews, but even more calm and dignified. The sense you get is that he knows he has unintentionally been thrust into the role of hero and role model, and now he has to live up to all of our rather high expectations for wisdom and integrity.

Continue Reading

Dispatch from Davos III: Tackling Unemployment

This week, Ketchum President Rob Flaherty is attending the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum — which brings together 2,500 CEOs and government leaders in Davos, Switzerland — and is reporting his observations. On Jan. 31, he will host a special webinar open to the public, “Davos 2011: An Insider’s Guide to Key Insights,” in which he will recap his experiences. Unemployment is so pervasive that I’m sure you, like me, know several people who have been or are still out of work during this recession.Recognizing this, the World Economic Forum and CNBC convened a televised debate hosted by Maria Bartiromo to hear solutions to “The Future of Employment.”

Continue Reading