Behind the career: Nick Ragone
By Vanessa Small,
Position: The new partner and director of Ketchum’s Washington office. Ketchum is a global public relations firm.
In law school, Nick Ragone said his legal papers read more like narrative history. He soon realized his gift for writing and communicating complex ideas. After a short law stint, he dove into public relations as a financial media specialist in New York. After rising through the ranks and doing television and print commentary, he recently took a position that has brought him inside the Beltway.
You’ve written a few books and you mentioned your gift is writing complex ideas in a way your audience can understand. What are some of your strategies before you sit down to type?
When I’m writing a book, I find I have to write every single day. I will typically get up at 4 a.m. I try to write 500 words. I don’t take a day off because it’s a muscle and it keeps getting better and better. If I’m not writing a book, I try to write as many op-eds as I can, mostly on presidential history. I’ve probably written 15 to 20 op-eds in the last two months. If you stop, you lose what you learned about your writing style. It takes a long time to get it back.
What kind of culture do you want to create in the Washington office?
I’ve been the recipient of a lot of personal mentoring from senior people. It worked for me. I want to take that mentoring managerial style and bring it to the District. I also want to be that invested in our clients.
How will you do that?
It starts with listening. I also want to focus on being present. People take comfort when you work long hours — the first to arrive and the last to leave. I’m a big believer in 24/7 e-mail. If someone sends me an e-mail, I want to get back to them immediately and say, “I’m on it” or “let me think about it.” Also, I never shut my office door.
— Interview with Vanessa Small