The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting begins tomorrow in Davos, Switzerland, and I have the privilege of once again representing Ketchum at the week-long gathering of approximately 2500 company CEOs, heads of state and NGO leaders.
Five Ketchum senior partners have attended Davos over the years and several other Ketchum leaders have been delegates at major regional WEF meetings.
So why do we attend and what is the benefit to Ketchum and any organization that sends a leader or delegation? In other words, why do we WEF?
First, a little background. This year marks a decade that Ketchum has been a pro bono communications partner of the Forum. In addition to some of our offices supporting WEF initiatives throughout the year, a large part of our commitment is that we appoint one of our best and brightest for a full year to work on communications at WEF headquarters in Geneva.
By virtue of this commitment (and the status of our parent company Omnicom as a strategic partner) we are offered one all-access delegate pass to the annual meeting in Davos and three regional meetings in such places as Tianjin and Delhi.
So what are the benefits to our agency and, by extension, PR firms in general?
1. An unprecedented opportunity to meet with our C-suite clients to discuss today’s pressing business challenges and ways to improve and build our businesses. This week I will be in meetings and sessions with the CEOs of Ketchum clients including Philips, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, MasterCard, the US Centers for Disease Control and Cleveland Clinic, as well as dozens of leaders of companies we would like to count as our clients.
2. An opportunity to develop relationships with top government and NGO leaders, which can help our clients to build bridges to these groups, which can otherwise be critics and regulators. Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know leaders from such diverse NGOs as the World Health Organization, the United Nations, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Transparency International.
3. A chance to have a central role in shaping agendas and policies that have a profound impact on our clients. My greatest area of involvement over the years has been facilitating the creation of alliances and charters that guide policy related to chronic illnesses, mental health and workplace wellness. These polices can have sweeping impact on our food, healthcare, technology, brand marketing and corporate clients.
4. A great opportunity to learn more about societal issues and lift our heads above the day-to-day urgent concerns and focus on the wider needs of society. We spend the rest of the year focused on urgent client needs and our quarterly performance as a company. Smart companies also focus on the needs of communities, employees, the environment and those less fortunate. Davos is a global nexus of stakeholders we should all care about as business leaders and individuals.
Rob Flaherty is global CEO of Ketchum.
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