NEW YORK—David Drobis, senior partner and chairman of Ketchum, and one of the leaders of the public relations industry, will retire on December 31 after 36 years with the firm. Raymond Kotcher, the senior partner who succeeded Mr. Drobis as chief executive officer in June 2000, continues in that role. Drobis will assume the title of chairman emeritus and will continue to serve as a consultant to the agency.
In 2004, he will embark on an international tour of the agency to promote Ketchum values as part of the renowned Ketchum College learning-and-development program. He also will work with the agency’s leadership team to provide senior counsel to clients with whom he has longstanding relationships.
Drobis will continue to serve on the boards of two prominent public relations associations, the Arthur W. Page Society, where he will complete his two-year term as president at the end of the year; and the International Communications Consultancies Organization (ICCO), where he has been president for the past three years. He also will co-chair the capital fund campaign for the School of Communications of American University.
More than anyone else among today’s generation of agency executives, Drobis has found time to combine agency management—of one of the best-respected agencies in the business—with industry leadership. He was the prime mover behind the launch of the Council of Public Relations Firms and has evangelized on a range of key industry issues in which Ketchum was a leader, including research and evaluation; professional development; and corporate social responsibility.
According to Thomas Harrison, chairman and CEO of Omnicom Group’s Diversified Agency Services division, “Ketchum has been part of Omnicom since 1996. For all of that time it has been one of the most respected brands in the public relations industry at large. Its reputation is due, in large part, to the terrific leadership provided by Dave and Ray.
“Throughout his career, David has worked tirelessly to build Ketchum, and more recently, advance the state of the public relations industry. We thank David for his 36 years of extraordinary contributions and are pleased that he will remain associated with Ketchum. We wish him the very best.”
Since 2000, Kotcher has chaired the firm’s 10-member executive committee, which governs the agency, identifies and diagnoses challenges and opportunities and prescribes actions in accordance with the firm’s values. That group will continue to guide the agency’s direction.
“Dave has been a terrific mentor to me and others here at Ketchum,” Kotcher says. “On behalf of all of Ketchum, we will miss having him around on a regular basis. But I’m thankful that he will serve as chairman emeritus and keep up his association with us. In this way, he will continue to provide tremendous value. At this point, we have no plans for anyone to assume his prior role as chairman.”
In honor of his leadership tenure, Ketchum is creating the Drobis Client Excellence Award, which honor will be bestowed annually to a Ketchum colleague who has exhibited outstanding dedication to his or her clients and exemplary passion for the work.
“I have been fortunate to work at Ketchum. It is truly a special place,” says Drobis. “It attracts people who treasure their strong connections and understand they can count on each other—people with a commitment to setting the standard in client service.”
Drobis joined the 80-year-old agency when it was just a single office in Pittsburgh with a service office in New York.