Oral Histories

Ron Culp

Interview Segments on Topic: Counselor/Counseling Advisor

Ron Culp Biography

Ron Culp is the professional director of the Graduate PRAD program at DePaul University and an independent public relations consultant. He was the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of the Midwest operations of Ketchum, has a 30-year career that spans a broad range of communications activities in government and the business-to-business, consumer products, pharmaceutical and retailing industries. Most recently, he was Managing Director and Chairman of Citigate Sard Verbinnen, where he established the agency's highly successful Chicago office. Culp also served as SVP of PR, government affairs, communications, and community relations for Sears, Roebuck and Co. for 10 years.


Interviewer: You had mentioned your concern about clashes between the two organizations and the employees. Did you find that there was any kind of a clash conflict between you as the communicator who wants to get information out internally but also out to the media about what’s going on, and the corporate lawyers who maybe the totally opposite on that and want to kind of hush, hush. We don’t need to tell the media anything right now.

Culp: Well it’s good put because I’ve been in those situations. In this case, it really wasn’t. It didn’t operate that way. And I do contend, and what I always encourage investment bankers to do is bring the communications people in early. I said, you’ll avoid the conflict because the communicator is going to understand why they can’t. Sometimes, sometimes there is a legitimate reason why you can’t communicate something. Or the timing issues are all resolved. And importantly, the communicator being there. I’m able to say okay here’s what we need to do timing wise. They aren’t thinking of timing of communications. They just want to get the deal closed. So as a result of being there, it made a total difference. Because contrast that to other deals I’ve been in where the phone rings. “Oh by the way, we’re going to be acquiring a new company and you’ve got to put out a press release.” And then I’m full of 50 questions. And then my staff has 50 more and I don’t have the answers. And that is just not the way it should be done. So I think the opportunity to actually be on the front lines and even though it was excruciatingly painful to give up holiday weekends and the like, it was the smart thing to do in the end. It just, you knew what was happening. You knew the rational behind it and you were better able to articulate it to your own staff what they had to do. And then the staff loved it because they knew you had a seat at the table and that you were involved in all this discussion. You knew the characters that they were making these decisions. And if you need an answer, I got a call back a lot faster that they said somebody in PR is calling. Thanks.