Art Stevens
Art Stevens

Jack O’Dwyer. I always smile when I hear his name. Jack and I have been good friends for more than thirty years and have spoken on the phone countless times.

In some instances, our calls focused on news regarding my clients and staff. At other times it was about PRSA. It would be an understatement to say that Jack monitored the activities of PRSA closely and would call me to get my perspective. Jack always had a sense of the dramatic and his responses to PR issues were often Shakespearean.

We may not have agreed on our visions of the PR profession all the time, but we certainly always had lively conversations. I’m pleased to say that I was never on Jack’s drop-dead list. I always took his calls and responded to his emails. I held the view that Jack chronicled the comings and goings of the PR profession and I had an obligation to be responsive, even to tough questions. I always gave him a straight answer, and I believe Jack respected me for it.

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

Jack has left quite a legacy in our profession. He was the first to rate PR agencies. He was the first to publish hard news about PR and treat it as a vital profession and not a cottage industry. Every person of substance gravitated toward Jack to make sure they were on his good side.

Jack had a lot of power and authority. For the most part, he was an arbiter for what we do and where we’re going. I played both golf and tennis with Jack and enjoyed his company. You never knew what he was going to say. As a reporter, he was dead on and accurate. As an observer, he had that twinkle in his eye and aired on the part of some of our practitioners. He could be blunt, but he was also very wise. His grasp of the role of modern-day public relations was second to none. I sometimes ran into PR professionals who would castigate Jack for some of the positions he advocated. But they never missed a single issue of his newsletter. You simply went to O’Dwyer’s Newsletter for news and his directories for accurate information.

Jack is leaving his publications in good hands. He built a great team which will carry on his legacy. But the O’Dwyer name will always be a constant in the public relations industry.


Art Stevens, APR, Fellow PRSA, is managing partner of The Stevens Group consultants to the PR agency profession, focusing on mergers, acquisitions and management consulting. Before that, he was founder and CEO of LobsenzStevens. He is a member of the PRSA College of Fellows, a past officer of the PRSA national board, past president of PRSA-NY and recipient of the PRSA Patrick Jackson Award for lifetime achievement.