Ketchum CEO Says PR Industry Must Grow and Change Together to Survive in 21st Century
TUCSON, Ariz., May 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Ketchum Senior Partner/CEO David Drobis told public relations leaders attending the PRSA's Counselors Academy conference that the future of the public relations business depends on the industry working together to strengthen its reputation, professional and ethical standards, and its value in today's global market. "Public relations is in danger of being marginalized like never before, but at the same time we are facing the greatest opportunities in our history. We must work together to build the stature, size and reputation of the business of public relations or someone else will take our roles, our fees and our business," said Drobis in his address at the Counselors Academy 2000 Spring Conference, "The Changing Dynamics of Leadership," in Tuscon, Arizona. A thirty-year veteran of the public relations business, Drobis expressed confidence in a successful future for public relations. With an overall theme of "change is here -- and we will change or we will not be here," he outlined five predictions for the industry that included practices it should adopt to strengthen service to clients and gain competitive advantage over other professional service firms. Drobis said: "Our future depends on our ability to globalize our thinking. It means morphing into the e-business world for our programming and business management; stretching our bandwidth to take advantage of our opportunities; broadening and diversifying our talent pool; and using ethics and quality standards to distinguish our business. If we work together to do this, we can build a better business and reputation around the world for what we do." The following are his five predictions: -- The world is our oyster. "Clients are changing to operate in the global economy, and we need to provide them with the leadership necessary to make this change, said Drobis. "This is our golden opportunity as most global issues are communications issues." Drobis predicted that Asia and Latin America will regain strength in the new global economy, and Europe will gain importance with a new management style where companies are committed to stockholders. He pointed out that public relations is vital in developing and changing countries such as those because trust and credibility are imperative. He also noted that "CEOs in this new world will have to upgrade their communications strategies. We have to help our client organizations be proactive in conveying to the public the efforts they are making to be good citizens." -- It's not just about what we know but what we will do with it. Drobis forecasted that the public relations industry will "either go e-business or out of business" in the next five years. "The web is not just another medium for our messages," he declared. "It is an enabler that allows us to structure our businesses more efficiently, share information quickly and easily across borders, and train and motivate our people more effectively." -- People really are our greatest asset. Recognizing that the most important action the industry can take to ensure its survival is to attract good people, Drobis challenged industry leaders to expand their talent pool by finding better and faster ways to recruit, assimilate, evaluate and educate people, particularly non-traditional hires and college students. "Public relations is an exciting business that offers tremendous rewards. So much of what we do is benefiting society, communities and individuals. For example, we educate the public about drugs that save lives. This type of work appeals to the altruistic generation of today, and it is a story we need to tell louder and more often," he said. -- Our integrity will make us different. Integrity will sustain public relations in the future, predicted Drobis. He does not call for an industry ethical code, which he says would be difficult to develop and enforce globally. "Each organization must set its own ethical code, make sure its people know and understand it and ensure it is enforced. Our future depends on our integrity," he said. As businesses globalize and technology spreads, moral judgment and respect for the individual is critical. He stressed that as long as the public relations industry continues to enforce strong codes of ethics and conduct, it is a great distinction that will help sustain its future success. -- We grow together or we die together. Drobis emphasized that the future of the industry lies in its ability to work together to set standards, share knowledge, and develop training. He urged the large American and European-based global agencies to take a leadership role in collaborating to move the business forward. "Sharing information and helping each other grow does not mean giving away competitive secrets. What it means is we will build credibility for our profession and the way we do business," he said. He praised the Counselors Academy for "taking a courageous step three years ago when it provided the impetus for the Council of Public Relations Firms." The Council, of which Drobis is chairman, is a trade association whose mission is to build the business of public relations by advocating that public relations is an effective and valuable strategic business tool and by assisting members and their clients in setting the standards for the profession. The oldest and largest professional interest section of PRSA, the Counselors Academy provides principals and senior managers of public relations firms with the resources to grow their firms and the counseling skills of their people. Additional Counselors Academy information can be found at http://www.prsa-counselors.org . Headquartered in New York, Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (http://www.omnicomgroup.com), is the seventh-largest public relations firm in the world with offices and affiliates in key capitals around the globe. Additional Ketchum information can be found at http://www.ketchum.com .
SOURCE Ketchum Public Relations
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