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.

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Our Path to Unique Value

Our Path to Unique Value

This post originally appeared in the Council of Public Relations Firms blog, the Firm Voice. As strategy gurus have told us for years, any business will have difficulty thriving if it struggles to identify and deliver unique value to the marketplace. The same is true for entire business categories, such as public relations. For several decades the unique value PR brought to companies was media relations or, in today’s jargon, generating earned media coverage. Even long after agencies and internal departments expanded well beyond that important function, media relations was the one thing no one else did well or wanted to do.Fast forward to today. The PR discipline is defined much more broadly and integration with other marketing communications disciplines is required. So is it important to bring unique value? It’s more important than ever and here’s why: With the land grab going on around social media, PR runs the risk of getting lost in the mix as others attempt to influence “the conversation.” More importantly, brands run the risk of damaging their equity and reputation if they turn only to the paid media side of the house to engage with consumers. So what should be public relations’ unique value right now? A very compelling answer to that question came from Marc Pritchard, Global Marketing and Brand Building Officer of Procter & Gamble, last week at the Council’s Critical Issues Forum. P&G is the largest and one of the most influential marketers in the world, with a budget of $2.9 billion generating $80 billion in sales. Pritchard said that the PR function should “stake its claim” and own real-time marketing that targets communities while paid media continues to reach the masses. He called paid mass media “event-based marketing” (think the Super Bowl) and said the real action and traction for brands is at the more granular level reaching individuals and small communities in real time. 

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