Are We Ready for What’s Next in Marketing & Communication?

Public Relations industry leader and visionary Ray Kotcher joins Tim to talk about the current state of communications in the world with a particular focus on the role professional communicators play in the process of reshaping the conversation. Ray was the long-time president, CEO and Chairman of Ketchum, one of the largest PR firms in the world. Presently, he’s Professor of the Practice, Public Relations – at Boston University. On a personal note, he’s also Tim’s former boss.

As we enter 2020, we can expect continued upheaval in the communications landscape. For one, it’s an election year, and that always shapes the way the media not only covers the world but presents it.

Trends in media coverage of politics will spill over into the way the media covers just about everything else. The election is the elephant in the communications room.

At the same time, communications landscape continues to evolve rapidly. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube continue to dominate. Google and Amazon are expanding their presence into our daily lives, well beyond our recreational use of the Internet.

Lingering issues are starting to become more important. Data privacy. Antitrust. The spread of hate speech. The private regulation or control of speech.

These are just some of the issues.

Through it all, professional communicators will at once define and respond to the changes happening every day.

Ray Kotcher has a unique perspective on all of this. For decades, he has served as a leader and a visionary in the public relations field. He continues to give back in leadership of public relations professional organizations and as an educator at Boston University.

The PR Week/Boston University Bellwether State of the Industry Study

  • 1,633 participants responded to 128 questions.
  • PR Week, Boston University, Institute for Public Relations, PR Council, and the Public Relations Society of America

Areas Studied

  1. Agency disruption
  2. Key skills for next generation of communicators
  3. Industry shifts
  4. Today’s talent recruitment Agency disruption

Agency Disruption

  • 65% say communications is valued in their organizations
  • Most agencies now competing with consulting firms (not communications specialists)
  • Nature of the work: change management; research and measurement; other.

Industry shifts

  • Integration – 55% clients side said all more integrated as part of marketing.
  • 40% said corporate culture hinders ability to act with speed and agility
  • 79% management and boards’ demands for accountability have never been greater.
  • Applications of new tech is low (Blockchain; AR; VR; gaming)
  • Crisis support – Client side pros feel prepared (77%)
  • You’d think the crises we see would be better handled if this were true, right?
  • But only 65% feel their organizations are prepared.
  • 15% use agencies during crises.
  • Corporate pros see Communications are responsible for setting company ethical standards, particularly with regard to disinformation (72%)


About this Episode’s Guest Ray Kotcher

Ray Kotcher was the long-time President, CEO and Chairman of Ketchum, one of the largest public relations firms in the world, and one of the world’s most awarded firms.

Having received his MS in Public Relations from the college in 1983, he is presently the Professor of the Practice – Public Relations at Boston University.

Ray believes in service to the industry and has led or been a trustee of most every professional organization. He currently serves ex officio on the national board of directors of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) where his work focuses on supporting young professionals.

Ray is the recipient of the PRSA’s Gold Anvil and the Institute for Public Relations Alexander Hamilton Medal, those organizations’ highest honors for lifetime achievement. He recently was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame and is a distinguished alumnus of BU.