Oral Histories

Ron Culp

Interview Segments on Topic: Arthur Page/Principles/Society/Center

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: Okay good. Well let’s talk about the centers. How important do you think centers such as the Plank Center at Alabama and the Page Center at Penn State. How important are these things to the industry and what should we be doing?

Culp: Funding them more than we are currently, to start. They are critically important, I think any time, this profession more than most is, is kind of going under its own momentum, but we haven’t done enough to build up an infrastructure, a base of knowledge that future leaders in this profession are going to be able to draw from. I’m constantly, you know, looking back at historical points in time. What happened back then? A lot of that doesn’t exist and just having resources to be able to say that I think I can tap into the Plank Center because I’ve got a leadership issue. Maybe an organizational issue that I’ve got to tackle as a leader in my organization, and what has happened historically there. So there are some resources out there, but there aren’t enough so the data and the knowledge that we are going to be pulling together through these two Centers, I think, are going to be critically important. Same thing for the Institute of Public Relations, they all should be encouraged. They are all under funded and we have to find ways of really beefing up what kind of support that they are getting.

Interviewer: Yeah I am hopeful in the future that the Plank Center and the Page Center will be able to collaborate on some things that. It’s very interesting here about the leadership. I think it was about, Jim Murphy was talking about the Plank Center there’s a booklet that they put together about leadership [inaudible]. And then of course the Page Center and the oral history collection that will be online and searchable by students and scholars. So hopefully we are beginning to build that base for the future.

Culp: Yeah, it’s very exciting, I think what both centers are going to be bringing to the profession and it’s just so critically important. That’s the other thing I try to tell the young people is go back. I know it’s going to be boring to you sometimes to go back and read about something as prehistoric as the Tylenol issue. But you do learn from it, and one thing you learn from it is, times were different. That was the most brilliantly handled crisis communications event of maybe a 20-year period of time. Well today, none of that would work in this environment. But you are going to understand what’s changed and you are going to better understand why it’s different today and why it has to be different if you understand the past.