Mr. Kotcher told Ad Age that the firm had been preparing for this transition for two years. "I believe that it's a leader's responsibility to make sure an organization is vigorous and an organization is vital," he said. "We want to make sure we maintain that . That's why we're making this change at this time."
Mr. Kotcher started at Ketchum in 1983. He was appointed president in 1992 and named CEO in 2000. During his tenure, Ketchum grew its brand in developing markets through acquisitions in China, India and Russia and a joint venture in the Middle East. It also recently expanded its footprint in Europe through the Ketchum-Pleon merger.
Mr. Flaherty joined Ketchum in 1989 and was named president in 2008. During his time at the firm, he led Ketchum's New York office as well as its global corporate practice. He has also worked closely with clients such as IBM, FedEx, Philips and Pfizer. He'll continue to report to Mr. Kotcher.
Dale Adams, president-CEO of Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services group, said in a statement: "As CEO, Ray developed the Ketchum brand into one of the most successful in the DAS group of companies and in the public-relations sector. I have great respect for Ray's leadership and many accomplishments and am pleased to have his continued commitment and involvement as chairman."
In a statement about Mr. Flaherty, he added: "Rob has a deep belief in the power of communications and its ability to affect change. I know that as CEO he will bring this passion to the firm, its people, clients and the industry and drive Ketchum's continued success."
Ketchum's sibling Porter Novelli also recently announced leadership changes. On Friday, Ad Age reported that the agency's CEO Gary Stockman was stepping down. The firm has yet to name a permanent replacement.