Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

Launched in 1968, O’Dwyer’s celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. Founder and publisher Jack O’Dwyer has been at the helm that entire time, and his impact on the PR field has been tremendous. His near-obsessive focus on our industry has made him one of its keenest and most insightful observers, and for that, everyone who works in public relations owes the man a major thank you.

He’s covered so much of the ups and downs of the PR industry, and considering the grueling industry media cycle, that’s no easy feat.

O’Dwyer got his start as a financial reporter at the New York-American before moving to the Chicago Tribune. After eight years in journalism, he took everything he’d learned about the financial sector and launched a newsletter which would soon grow into a monthly magazine devoured religiously by so many in the PR industry worldwide.

O'Dwyer's Jul. '18 50th Anniversary MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jul. '18 50th Anniversary Magazine

A vocal advocate for transparency and face-to-face industry relationships, O’Dwyer has spoken out against the increasingly impersonal nature of the PR business. In 2013, he also took the Public Relations Society of America to task for its closed-off policies and unwillingness to deal with the press or disclose its finances.

“They’ve totally alienated themselves from the membership,” said O’Dwyer in an interview with The Observer. “They’re all in hiding. They help accredited members; it’s all about rewarding insiders. They should be setting a shining example of transparency and disclosure. It’s the opposite. The PRSA will not let the press join. How can we cover the PRSA if we can’t see their finances?”

O’Dwyer has been a crusader for excellence in PR for five decades, praising the field whenever he can and loudly calling attention whenever scruples are lacking. Known for his willingness to go to the mat over his beliefs, O’Dwyer has stood up for what he believes.

With his sharp, incisive voice and unflagging persistence, O’Dwyer has influenced generations of PR reporting. His style set the standard for hard work in an increasingly automated and detached field, and even as the world of long business lunches and editorial powerhouses that gave him his start begins to fade, he remains a vibrant embodiment of everything exciting and valuable about its heyday.

Thank you, Jack O’Dwyer and the O’Dwyer Company, for all you have done for the public relations industry.

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Ronn Torossian is CEO & Founder of 5WPR.