PR Legend: Ray Kotcher


This post is part of The Plank Center’s Legacies from Legends in PR Series that was begun in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Public Relations Student Society of America in 2007.Ray Kotcher

Professor of the Practice, Boston University’s (BU) College of Communication (COM). Non-Executive Chairman, Ketchum where he spent over 30 years – including 15 years as CEO and then chairman. Ray believes in service to the industry and has led or been a trustee of most every professional organization. He is a recipient of the PRSA’s Gold Anvil and the Institute for Public Relations’ Hamilton Medal. In 2016, he was inducted into the Page Society Hall of Fame and is a distinguished alum of BU and COM.

You are stepping out on the world stage at an amazing time.

But it’s a complicated time.

We are undergoing a revolution in human communication. In fact, it is a revolution in the human experience.

Amidst this all-encompassing change, in this era of open architecture and extreme and instantaneous choice, how will you realize your potential? And contribute?

How will you compel the world to step back? Take notice?

How are you going to continue to build upon your communications studies? Master the art and science of communication, develop your voice and make a difference in the world?

As communicators we need to do everything we have always done – but with greater skill, with greater speed and on a greater scale.

Ideas remain at the heart of what we do. It is our narratives that empower us.

One needs to be a master story teller. We can move an individual, whole organizations, whole communities to share a way of seeing the world. That’s an awesome power and responsibility and now, more than ever, it must be handled with care.

One needs to see all 360 degrees of the media universe. All the new platforms that are out there, as well as analog.

You also must have a working knowledge of media systems in countries around the world because it’s about understanding the world-wide conversation and being a part of it.

It’s also about keeping an ear to the ground. Listening for what’s coming.

There are powerful new tools to help us do that. Big listening tools that allow us to quantify immense amounts of information and understand conversations in real time; to help us drive the relevance of the stories we tell, in real time.

The new PR practitioner also must be visual – able to conceive an infographic as readily as a tweet and a video as readily as a byline; not only able to write an idea, but portray it in images.

And this is still very much a business.  One must understand the world of business and what keeps it spinning.

And finally, one needs to be bold. To light up a room sometimes you need to stand up and take a risk. We need to support the most adventurous young thinkers among us – those who bring a richness of perspective, those of diverse backgrounds, experiences, cultures, religions, languages.

There is one more thing. Something of supreme importance. Character counts. It’s about integrity.

In this constantly morphing landscape, a strong sense of integrity must be the core value of the work.

We are in a high-speed, high-stakes dialogue and the essential values in which we have always grounded our work are more important than ever. This is the clear path to continued, sustainable success for our great profession.

So as you consider this moment, as you work to define the future of communications and your place in it, make this commitment: Do it the right way for yourself, your generation, our profession and the commonwealth.

We look to you.









Published: June 13, 2017