When Ray Kotcher took over as chief executive of Ketchum in 2000, the firm was already riding high. For much of the previous decade, under the leadership of Kotcher’s predecessor Dave Drobis, the firm had been a consistent industry leader: an undisputed employer of choice, a pioneer in the use of research and evaluation, and the biggest winner in awards competitions. In other words, there didn’t seem to be much room for improvement.
But a little more than a decade later, it is clear that Kotcher was not content for the firm where he has spent almost 30 years to rest on its laurels. Under his leadership, Ketchum has been taken to a whole new level, tripling in size and evolving from a powerful force in the US to a genuine global contender, with 45 offices around the world.
That’s one reason why Kotcher will this year receive one of our SABRE Awards for Individual Achievement at the 2011 SABRE dinner, held May 10 in New York.
Much of that growth has come over the past two years, first with the integration of European powerhouse Pleon into the firm’s European operations and the acquisition of Russia’s Maslov PR—establishing Ketchum as the number one firm in the EMEA region in terms of headcount—and a series of acquisitions and strategic partnerships that have extended its Asian reach beyond Greater China to most of the region’s major markets.
The firm has also expanded its US footprint with the acquisition of consumer technology specialist Access Communications and the launch of spin-off firms such as Emanate and word-of-mouth specialist Zócalo Group.
Ketchum has also been a pioneer in the digital and social media realm. It launched its own intranet/extranet, MyKGN, in 2000, earning recognition from CIO magazine, and more recently the firm was the only public relations firms named among the top 250 business innovators by InformationWeek.
And all the while, Kotcher has continued two important agency traditions: first, winning more awards than other large firm (including Campaign of the Decade from this publication for its Dorito’s SuperBowl campaign and last year’s North American Agency of the Year trophy); and second, high-profile involvement in the industry and the wider PR community, serving two terms as head of the Council of PR Firms and developing its 10th anniversary Gives Back program, and leading Ketchum’s pro bono work with the World Economic Forum and the Copenhagen Climate Change conference.
Ray received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York at Geneseo and serves as a trustee of the Geneseo Foundation board. He has a Master of Science in public relations from Boston University's College of Communication, has been appointed to serve on the college’s executive committee, and has been honored by the university as a distinguished alumnus.