Thank you so much for all the heartfelt remembrances of Jack.
--John, Christine & Lucille
Jack O'Dwyer, who launched his pioneering Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter 50 years ago, died Dec. 19 of a chronic lung issue. He was 85.
Respected and sometimes feared by leaders in the PR business, O'Dwyer took pride in his role as an old-school reporter dedicated to chasing down stories and revealing the good and bad of PR.
The New York Times and Washington Post lauded Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter, which was printed on distinctive yellow pages, as the "bible of PR."
O'Dwyer was a fierce advocate for transparency in PR. His annual financial rankings, which required the submission of financial proofs, chronicled the growth of the industry.
He believed the rankings contributed to the "professionalism" of PR, which helped the business earn the respect that is so richly deserved.
O'Dwyer was an advocate for the "little guy," and railed against the acquisition wave by conglomerates that not only reduced the number of independents in the business, but robbed it of some of its heart and soul.
He published the annual O'Dwyer Directory of PR Firms, which was found in every agency, library and career center throughout the country, and O'Dwyer's, a monthly magazine launched 32 years ago.
Jack is survived by his wife, Lucille; son John, publisher of O'Dwyer's, and daughter Christine, research editor of O'Dwyer's.
Comments from our readers:
O'Dwyer family and industry peers. This was such sad news to read. But Jack's impact on my career was profound, and therefore, I must share two of my most significant Jack O'Dwyer stories.
When I started working at Ketchum PR in 1993, it was clear who the industry voices were, and Jack O'Dwyer was always one of them. I was in my early 20's but he still thought my contribution to the industry was significant enough to give my efforts, on behalf of Ketchum, some ink in his newsletter when we launched Ketchum Boot Camp to introduce interested college-age African American practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to the agency business. He followed the program closely for the 5 years it lasted and continued to tout Ketchum as doing the exceptional thing when no other agency was putting forth programs to really change the look and feel of our industry through attracting and inviting diverse talent in. He saw it, and he applauded it.
What hits my heart even closer is when I left Ketchum in December of 2001 and by March of 2002 I had decided to launch my own firm. I decided to send out a press release about my decision like I had done for so many of my previous clients, and guess who picked it up! Jack O'Dwyer!! I was floored and so honored. I thought that maybe, since I was no longer with a global PR firm, it might not be "news" to him. But it was, and he published the fact that I was starting BLH Consulting, what I thought was just going to be a little freelance business where I could work on exactly what I wanted to work on. Well, his publishing of my story made me step up my game. I got a logo, a website, and brochures ready within 3 weeks. He published the article in his March 2002 edition, and by April 1, I was receiving phone calls from potential clients. His article helped me land my first client, the National CASA Association, through a partnership with Publicis Dialog, I landed this client because the director of the Seattle office of Publics read it and wanted to partner with me since one of my specialties is multicultural PR/Marketing. They did not have that point of view. So to this day, I credit Jack for helping me land my first six-figure client, giving me breathing room and a sign that this is what I was meant to do. And to that end, every year, I have supported the directory, even when the economy tanked, as a small way to pay him back for believing in me from the very beginning of my career, and at the launch of my boutique firm.
Jack, you will be missed. May your contributions to this industry be forever lasting, and let's do what Joe Honick says below: establish the JACK O'DWYER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC RELATIONS.
You were one of the good ones. You will always be. Forever Remembered, Betsy.
--Betsy Helgager Hughes
I owe a lot to Jack - he gave me my first job in journalism out of college. He was a great boss and mentor - I learned a lot about being a good reporter and editor, not to mention the "other side" of the PR industry. I truly got a better journalism education from Jack than in school. My condolences to the O'Dwyer family and staff.
What an amazing legacy. He will be missed!
I miss him. I respected Jack's ability to seek the truth, demand transparency and hold us all accountable. Jack hated spin and sadly, there is lots of spin and lies in our profession. RIP, my friend.
When my sister met Jack, our lives changed; and, nothing was ordinary. It was 1963. Suddenly we were reading the Journal American advertising and PR column by Jack O’Dwyer, headlined with his picture!
On weekends, advertisers would send Jack all kinds of things to "try." The whackiest was an amphibious car that he drove to our apartment in Bay Ridge Brooklyn one Friday night. He couldn’t wait to try it; and, he and Lucille took me along for more than a "ride." As we neared the dark waters of the Rockaway beaches that night, we did the natural thing; and, decided to test what the advertiser promised. Lucky for us, having closed all windows and locked doors; we went in the water, floated; and, quickly realized the danger amid admonitions from the beach patrol.
We relived that happening for years to come!
On the serious side, Jack had one of the best editors to work under:
Mentored by Leslie Gould, an "aggressive reporter who never shied away from controversy,’"Jack learned a lot about business; and, when things changed at the JA, he eventually started a newsletter, preferring to write about Public Relations.
I was his first employee
My first reporting event was a Revlon luncheon when a new promotion was being launched.
I went back with a thousand word report, which Jack trimmed down to a cool two sentences. Choose only the essential words. (He admired Annie Proulx and Ernest Hemingway.)
We had great fun typing the newsletter on our IBM Selectrics which had changeable type fonts, preferring the basic prestige elite; but, using bold and italics for greater emphasis. Rubber cement and "x-acto" knives were our other instruments. It was quite the norm to see us splice a word or whole sentence just before deadline.
What are the chances two sisters would marry husbands with the same birthday? While born years apart, as Leo’s, they were very similar.
My sister, Lucille, met Jack seven years before I met my husband, Dan. Before Dan met Jack, I cautioned him that my brother-in-law was different; and, if he loved me; he was going to have to love my brother-in-law; and, listen for hours about his latest lead story.
They became good buddies, especially since they had similar Leo temperaments. They loved competition and worked hard to win the senior golf flights in club championships, often finishing at dusk and winning. They had a knack for pulling off a win with their determination regardless of the odds; and, developed the OB system of scoring.Those two invented challenges, just for fun or maybe for their sanity.
Jack always made us and many laugh with only two jokes he told over the 55 years I knew him. It was the way he told them, the body language and his intense blue eyes that demanded attention. "How can I miss you, if you don’t go away?" And, "I’ll never forget, what’s her name."
Well Jack has gone away from us; yet, I feel his presence; and, will miss him.
His name is etched in PR history.
He was a rabid researcher and investigated the smallest detail, which ultimately could make the story better.
Every stone was turned and studied and questioned before he could complete his "story."
His routine was a 7 day work week; even on weekends when he did manage to take a break in the afternoons. He was always at his desk in a dress shirt, pursuing a scoop.
Jack had a nose for news; and, found a story everywhere he went, even on I 95 in Florida.
Having a story to investigate kept him going. It was his passion.
The written word lasts forever; and, we have that, along with the memories.
Jack saw enough in me to give me a shot with absolutely no experience in journalism or PR whatsoever. I still remember when I got the call from him, after applying to a classified he ran in the NYT, "well, you sound like you have a brain, and you have a good Irish name. What's your opinion of Alger Hiss..."
I just knew I had to meet this man.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the staff/family for a few years -- getting to know the fantastic Kevin McCauley, and having many crazy adventures on assignments at Jack's behest. The man never met a trade organization of which he wasn't suspicious!
It was glorious and opened the door to the big city for me. My condolences to family and staff, past and present. Jack gave me a start, a solid pathway and made a profound impact on my life. Always willing to take a shot and do what he thought was right. I, as well as many others, owe him a debt of gratitude not easily measured nor easily repaid.
A legend who advanced our industry in so many ways, not the least of which was regularly reminding us of the important role journalists play in the business discourse, and in our society. His sometimes tough, commonly fair approach made us all better. "Always return my phone call," he would say :-). RIP Jack. Thoughts are with the family.
It’s nice to see how many accolades Jack has received for his work in a field that deserves more credit than it receives. I just worked on a chapter of a book about PR with the son of the coiner of “Greener’s Rules” (including “never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel”) which are consistent with Jack's principles. So as I pay my respects to the man, I also pay respects to his principles.
He was a legend. My heart goes out to his friends and family.
I only knew Jack through his children, Christine and John, who remain lasting tributes to a great man!
Jack was a giant of the golden age of public relations; an age that is rapidly fading as the industry evolves. Will we ever see giants like him again?
Jack was one of the true giants on our industry. I’ll never forget the first of several times I had lunch with him where we spoke of some of the things he was passionate about: independent firms, transparency, senior execs at holding companies who hid behind Sarbanes-Oxley. All of us in the industry will miss him, but we are grateful you are carrying on his important work and legacy.
RIP you feisty old bulldog. When I started PRWatch and wrote Toxic Sludge Is Good for You, you were my favorite fan and supporter. Loved watching you box with the PRSA honchos. Miss you Jack, give em hell in heaven.
Rest in peace, Jack. I am so grateful for the work you did to try to protect the public from the health hazards of wireless technology. You shared that you were there in 1964 as a reporter when our U.S. Surgeon General finally held a press release announcing tobacco was toxic.
I admire your dogged determination in exposing the wireless industry for using the big tobacco playbook to bring to market toxic wireless products with no safety testing.You dove in and did the investigative journalism few are willing to do today.
You produced hundreds of articles challenging the status quo acceptance of wireless radiation. Your unapologetic quest for the truth to protect yourself, your loved ones and the rest of us was admirable and will be sorely missed in this world.
Rest in peace, Jack, it was an honor to collaborate with you these last few years.
Jack’s passing. Just because he was a pain doesn’t mean he won’t be missed. He will, and so will the back-and-forths he and I had. He made me better. You, too, I’d bet!
Very sorry to hear this news. We appreciated Jack's dedication to advancing understanding of the risks from electromagnetic fields, and supporting the activists work in this field. May he rest in peace, and very best wishes to the family.
I knew Jack from the days he was on the Journal American. He was a good reporter and a good friend after he started his newsletter. He will be missed.
Whether you respected him or disagreed with him Jack O'Dwyer has left behind the legacy of being a passionate journalist and steward who happed shape the PR profession as we know it. For me, it is a sad personal loss of a caring friend, and golfing buddy. For over three decades Jack and I would periodically have lunch and debate the issues of the day. We did not always agree, but over time I learned that behind the tough, determined journalist was a man with a huge heart who truly valued friendship. My heart goes out to Lucille, John, and Christine. RIP my friend. Enjoy the links in heaven.
I first met Jack O'Dwyer, founder and former editor of O'Dwyer's in the second part of the seventies of the last century in the home of Denny Griswold, founder and former editor of Public Relations News. They were fierce rivals and never much liked each other, but anyone who today is over fifty has maybe some-but-not-much difficulty in accepting that two rivals/competitors had respect fo each other. Social media and the Internet were not around and personal relationships, at least on my side of fence and albeit tons of hypocrisy, were fairly acceptable.
I last met Jack on my final trip to New York a couple of years ago when I visited him to say I was leaving for good after decades of back and forth, giving up my green card and university lectures in the US. When he asked why, I told him and he said something like, "I understand what you are saying but I can't say that I agree with you."
In all those years he never once refused to see me, he argued with me over many issues and was radically fair, candid and proactively interested in what I was doing.
Over the decades Jack for me became the most attractive symbol of an interpretation of the New York based public relations business and thinking process I never really aligned with, yet he always read my things, interacted, listened, sometimes shouted.
A very decent, reliable and passionately dedicated specialist of the highly relevant media relations part of the public relations profession.
RIP my old friend.
--Toni Muzi Falconi
We all want to say the virtually impossible in these days to recognize Jack's legacy. One such respectful recognition, I must say, is Kevin's tightly written obit that said so much so well....obviously sensitive and aware.
Surely the world of PR is a sadder place upon learning that industry fixture Jack O'Dwyer passed Dec. 19, aged 85.
“He was aggressive, demanding, skeptical and committed to being first," says Andy Gilman, president/CEO, CommCore Consulting Group. Gilman adds an understatement: "Jack O'Dwyer was one of a kind.”
O’Dwyer founded his newsletter 50 years ago. That led to the establishment of other publications, including O'Dwyer's Directory of PR Firms and O'Dwyer's, a monthly magazine launched 32 years ago.
Read rest of this story on https://www.prnewsonline.com/ODwyer-obituary
--Seth Arenstein, PR News
I am so very sorry to hear about the passing of Jack, an industry icon. I have fond memories of working on releases and rankings, and calling him frequently asking for extensions. Working with Rick Gould and your dad over the years too.
In fact, on February 26, 1996 I was pregnant and went into labor (water broke) while I was about to submit my 1995 O’Dwyer’s rankings for DeVries! I still may have the documents I was in the midst of faxing over, something I never have forgotten.
My deepest sympathy to the family at this time.
I was proud to have written for Jack in year's past.
Your work was and continues to be such a valuable resource! Thank you!
Thanks for keeping us informed all these years! Enjoy PR heaven, Jack.
There are no words to express the sadness I felt in hearing this morning that Jack had passed. He was a very special person who preferred to come across as a tough guy than to reveal his gentle, heart of gold. Having lost my wife to fighting a disease for two years, I am sure that the days since JOD stopped going into the office have been tough his family.
Jack has was always one of the most generous people I know -- with advice, information, help, time and most importantly his friendship and caring. I hope that his time "away from the office" was not painful for him (emotionally and physically). I've missed my weekend exchanges with him reviewing his Monday editorial drafts and trying to steer him in a direction that was appropriate and not suicidal. He always listened. Often he actually followed my suggestions and fixed typos.
I extend my sincerest sympathies to his entire family.
I was so saddened to learn of your Jack's passing. He was a force of nature, always questioning and like a dog with a bone when trying to get a story. There were days that we disagreed, but his ethic made us all better and for that we and the industry should all be thankful.
My deepest sympathies to his family.
“OD here…kid, what do you have for me?” – This was the way Jack O’Dwyer and I used to begin a telephone conversation. Today, I was sad to learn of Jack’s passing at age 85. This legend in the public relations industry impacted many lives over the last 50 years with Jack O’Dwyer’s Newsletter. Jack was a mentor, my friend, colleague and a role model to so many people in the public relations community. Hearing the tragic news of his passing today, here are thoughts, stories and heartfelt memories from some of the many people who Jack impacted… https://www.commpro.biz/jack-odwyer-the-passing-of-a-pr-legend/
--Fay Shapiro, Publisher, Commpro.biz
Jack O'Dwyer will be missed. He was a legend. Old school journalist. Fought for what he believed in. All of us in public relations owe him a lot. May he rest in peace and may his family remember his good deeds and actions.
A true loss to both the PR profession and journalism. I fought alongside Jack and against him, and was impressed and exasperated by him in both situations. It is hard to imagine the PR industry without his influence. A true journalist until the end. The continued success of his newsletter even after he stepped away from it is a testament to his vision. My condolences to John, his family, friends, and colleagues.
I was very sad to hear Jack O'Dwyer died because he was one of the good guys and there are not that many of them left. I first knew Jack when he was a media columnist for the New York World-Telegram and Sun in early 1966, the year the paper went down.
If I recall right, Jack made a smooth transition to publishing his O'Dwyer newsletter.
Jack was a pleasant, smiling muckraker, who always had something on his mind that bugged him. He always had something to do and he did it. Often he was in a frenzy, but in a good kind of way. Jack was cheerful, he smiled a lot and he loved the world of media. Jack never thought of himself as a hero in the PR world. To him he was just a guy from the 50s and 60s searching out stories, a guy who happened to have a good media business for 50 or so years. To me, he never gave the impression he was important. Jack was a bridge to the modern world, and will not be soon forgotten.
“Anybody can make history,” Oscar Wilde commented. “Only a great man can write it.” For the past 50 years, Jack O’Dwyer wrote the personal, financial, organizational and cultural history of the public relations industry...in real time.
Jack O’Dwyer’s Newsletter was in its 10th year when History Factory was founded. It was our primer. We knew our clients read it, so we read it. It was invaluable to us, a small band of academics and museum professionals, punching way above our weight class in the C-suites of corporate America. We learned who the thought leaders were, agency accounts won and lost, and industry trends. Most importantly, we learned the metrics and best practices of running an agency.
Over the years, as the Newsletter migrated online, we got to know Jack’s son, John, who couldn’t have been more gracious and supportive of History Factory. John recognized that History Factory’s focus on authentic content and creative deliverables positioned us squarely within the broader communication landscape, and odwyerpr.com covered us accordingly. I can remember thinking at the time: “Wow. We made O’Dwyer’s.
Oscar Wilde also observed that “history is merely gossip.” Obviously, as a historian, I wouldn’t go so far as to endorse Wilde’s assertion. But a healthy dose of reality—with perhaps a dollop of self-deprecation—never hurts. That’s one of things I enjoyed most about Jack O’Dwyer. He was a crusader. While I always knew where he stood on both important and not-so-important issues facing the industry, I got the impression that he saw himself David taking on Goliath. O’Dwyer gave me hope, as an industry outsider myself.
One thing I’ve learned in History Factory’s 40 years is that it isn’t always the person making history who’s necessarily remembered. Many times, it’s the person who records history whose memory endures. I’m confident that Jack O’Dwyer’s legacy is intact.
The global public relations industry lost a giant. Jack launched the information directories and newsletter updates which evolved into the bible of public relations.
Soon enough, he was among the early adopters of digital. It was in his former home in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, that he showed me the platform for the online version of odwyerpr.com. I shrugged, not understanding that the world was on the brick of changing. But, Jack knew.
That professional side was really just a small part of Jack.
What endeared him to us was that he was a man of myriad contradictions. That is, he was a character in the era of the colorless Organization Man/Organization Woman.
Despite being a business owner, for example, Jack remained an old-line journalist fighting for causes. He even managed to drag me into his feud with PRSA. I loved every minute of it. Next to Jack's arena for action, my own life is pretty dull.
There was also within Jack the guy with a big heart to help those of us starting out or struggling to put together a comeback.
When I hung out a shingle at the end of the 1980s, it was Jack who promoted it in his then-print newsletter. Wow! Clients did come.
More recently, Jack was available for an interview for a book I was ghostwriting on retirement. Few others wanted to be associated with the subject. Jack's stance on that was always: No, never retire.
He preached that the financial services industry, which has you handing over to them funds for your retirement, is a scam. And, as Jack advocated, he worked right up to the end.
Now, Jack won't be around to cover in his daily newsletter and magazines how public relations firms will be navigating the recession which financial experts howl is on its way. It could be a whopper. So, Jack won't be there to help out those public relations players mowed down by hard times.
I wish for those who loved Jack the strength to absorb this loss during what is supposed to be a special emotional time for human beings. What might remain special about the 2018 holiday season in our memory bank is that it was when Jack left us.
This is such a loss. Jack was so good to all of us in public relations. When I hung out a shingle he gave me space in his then-print newsletter.
I know his son John will bring the business to the next level. However, there will always be a hole where Jack's presence used to be.
Jack was always great to me and my firm and I take huge pride that I personally worked directly with Jack to create the "rules" for the ranking of PR firms, requiring CEO and CPA firm sign off on the ranking application and requiring W-3 and page 1 of tax return. Together we helped make accountability of the PR firms and their accountants a requirement, not an option.
I also authored the management column of O'Dwyer's Magazine for the first nine years, also an amazing experience, helping my former CPA firm become the only CPA firm in the U.S. specializing in the PR industry. To this day it is still the sole specialty of my M&A firm. I owe Jack a ton of gratitude and will be thinking of him as we mourn his passing.
He was an ICON and a Watchdog in PR. We all owe him for making PR a true profession.
I am deeply saddened by the news of Jack's passing. I had known and worked with him ever since I got into public relations. And that goes back many years.
Jack and I always got along. I played golf and tennis with him at Counselors Academy spring conferences. He was on panels I put together many times over the years. I always took his call and heard him vent on abuses taking place in our profession that he felt strongly about. The last time I saw him was a few years ago at a PRSA-NY panel I moderated that included Richard Edelman, Peter Finn and Ed Moed. Jack covered it and asked a number of questions at the end.
He was a consummate reporter and an acute observer of our industry. His newsletter was a breakthrough in our industry. No one had really covered news about the PR industry. His competition back then were puff pieces that shed no light on the comings and goings in our industry. Among my archives is a profile he did of my new firm in the seventies that I cherish to this day.
Jack was tough but fair. He didn't take guff from anyone and dug more deeply into our industry than any other reporter ever.
I enjoyed my years long relationship with Jack. He was never dull. He covered PR with a fine tooth comb and made it come alive. I truly believe that Jack O'Dwyer helped elevate the practice of public relations. He kept us all honest to a point.
God Speed, Jack. My condolences to you and your family.
With deepest respect, Art.
I have been reading O'Dwyer's since I joined the media relations profession a million years ago, and I'm certain I saved any copy that mentioned my name. Jack was a legend and a truth seeker for our profession. He will be missed. My condolences to Jack's family, friends and staff.
--Margaret Kirch Cohen
I've been a public relations professional for almost 35 years. And for all of those 35 years, there has been a constant, consistent, and at times, cantankerous voice at work in our profession -- one dedicated to making ours a better, more open and more noble way to make a living. Sympathies to you, John, and to the rest of Jack's family. And Jack: thank you. May God rest your soul.
This was a complete shock to me. Jack was a wonderful friend and the best friend the PR profession could ever have. No one ever did more for our profession as he did ... and for years. He always was truthful, out front, and called out unethical and unprofessional activities - some probably even illegal - that no other journalist would. I shame the critic he called out who did little for our PR profession. Jack O'Dwyer is a legacy and icon for PR. I am proud to have had his friendship for so many years. Jack, I will miss you so very much my good friend!
Jack was revered as one of the pillars of reporting in PR, and was relentless in his pursuit of the truth around key issues. It was always something special to be mentioned or featured in his newsletter. His rankings helped to shape the business developments efforts of many a firm. RIP Jack.
So sad to hear of Jack's passing - a huge loss for our industry, he was a pioneer, but I am sure his son will continue the tradition of excellence. My deepest sympathies to his family.
--Alicia V Nieva-Woodgate
Jack O'Dwyer was one of the most interesting and challenging characters anyone would ever meet. A solid journalist, yes, and someone who cared deeply about the profession. But, he could get hung up on a particular issue and cling to it long after any relevance it had was dead. At the same time, he was the kind of probing and skeptical reporter any profession needs to have credibility.
Jack, you and I had our agreements and disagreements together, but I always respected you and considered you a friend and a decent human being. You will be missed. This is a sad day for public relations professionals.
Jack and I knew each other since we were both very young. I was on the agency side and he was on the news side. I always respected him.
We just read about Jack’s passing. Please know that all of us at Fineman PR send our condolences to the family and to all of you at O’Dwyer’s. Jack was a giant in our professional lives for as long as I can remember being a public relations professional.
Very sorry to read of the passing of Jack. He was an institution in our profession. We are all fortunate to have known, and occasionally, to have been stung by him! His independent voice will be missed, but it's great that his son John and the family publication continues to live on and inform our profession.
Thank you Jack for the many things you did to make our industry better. You were the guy we needed, and you fought hard and won. Rest in peace, you are already missed.
I owe a lot to Jack and know him since the early 2000s when I was in NYC. He was a mentor - I learned a lot about being a good researcher on small topics. My sincere condolences and prayers to the O'Dwyer family and staff.
I will always remember Jack with fondness. We used to be golfing buddies at Counselor's Academy conferences when Jack attended those -- and we won many of our matches as partners. He loved our industry and was passionate about how he believed firms and public relations people should operate and also about industry injustices to him and others. He was one of a kind and will be sorely missed -- not only by his family but by those of us who admired his courage and yes, even his stubbornness when he felt he was right. RIP Jack. Hit' em straight!
John, I am so sorry for your loss. Your father has left such an amazing legacy.
Jack will be missed. He ruffled a lot of feathers along the way, but there was never a doubt, he did it because he cared about the business. He could be the toughest SOB and the warmest, sweetest guy the next minute. But he was always there, wherever something big PR was going on. And no matter how many years it had been since he last saw you, he always remembered who you were and the last five places you worked.
Jack was a legend in an industry he played a vital role in growing and evolving. His base of knowledge was unbelievable and he did not take prisoners. From his early newspaper background to the directory and newsletter, which spawned many products, Jack O’Dwyer was the social conscience of PR. A real gadfly and truly one of a kind. I, for one, considered Jack to be a friend. And, he will be missed sorely.
Jack did a lot for the PR profession and stood up for his beliefs, including journalism the way it should be reported. Much respect and my heartfelt condolences.
A pioneer, scrappy journalist, creative entrepreneur who always spoke (wrote) what was on his mind -- most of all he was a friend. He will be missed. RIP Jack. My condolences to his son John and the entire O'Dwyer family.
Jack O'Dwyer was a champion for our profession. Hoping that we can memorialize his life and good works through the Museum of Public Relations.
Jack O'Dwyer's passion for our profession is undeniable. I'll never forget his generous offer through my blog to make his directory available to students and recent graduates wanting to enter the profession. He recognized that the future of the industry required nurturing and mentoring young professionals.
Each in his own way below has expressed what is felt by not just an industry touched by Jack. While we of course mourn the passing of someone to whom so many felt so close, it is just as important to celebrate a life so fully lived that measuring it in words is not possible. Better to celebrate and appreciate how many other lives were touched and will continue to benefit from the doors and careers opened by Jack who never feared confronting issues or institutions of major proportions. The leaders mentioned by Greg will be in great company as Jack appears. Thanks both for the memories AND the legacy.
Jack was a great friend. He always had time for a conversation about the state of the business and I admired his tenacity in holding those who represent this industry accountable. My sincere condolences to Jack's family.
Little and big guys alike will benefit from the PR field that Jack O'Dwyer helped create.
As the market declines, the public is threatened by the PR see-saw: when the market goes down, public anger goes up. Companies are threatened by hearings and laws that are well-intended but ill-advised and bad for the public if passed.
Regs intended to protect the public may have a contrary effect by exposing the public to companies less free and less able to fight downturns in the economy by generating upturns in management skills and marketing technologies.
Jack helped promote Protective PR by emphasizing the basis of PR power--the truth--and by offering a directory for increasing PR power, his Directory of PR Firms.
We can expect to see corporate PR lynchings--mobs of activists who want government to "string 'em up," punish our companies that didn't cause our economic turmoil but can help right it.
Fortunately, since PR can use PR's power of truth to promote wise public decisions, Jack's work can help America in two increasingly important ways:
1. Using the PR firms directory and the O'Dwyer publications with ads from PR firms, bring in presentations from PR firms aggressive enough to advertise, not just wait for leads. It's like going to a doctor you know something about before flu season, or stocking up your home before a major storm.
2. Advertise in the publications Jack founded and formed. It's often true in life that those who try harder do better. Billions a year are spent for advertising because of the marketing reality that those who go for it are often more likely to get it.
Jack O'Dwyer tried very hard and did well for himself and for us. The wisdom and tools he gave us can help us, even in a time of corporate lynchings, to neither a lynched nor a lyncher be.
Rest in peace, Jack. A distinguished career that spanned the old world newsrooms of the Herald Tribune to the global reach of his online portal. He was one of a kind and a legend in PR - up there with Harold Burson, Dan Edelman, Ivy Lee and Ed Bernays, among the giants. No story was too big or small and refusing to answer a journalist's call was akin to treason. His legacy can't be measured in this industry.
Deepest condolences to the O'Dwyer family and colleagues. Words cannot express how much we will miss Jack.