Ketchum CEO Says PR Industry Must Grow and Change Together to Survive in 21st Century

May 09, 2000, 01:00 ET from Ketchum Public Relations

    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
        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 .
     Headquartered in New York, Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom Group Inc.
 (NYSE:   OMC) (, 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 .

SOURCE Ketchum Public Relations