Public Relations Tactics

Career Success Tips From Al Golin, Fellow PRSA

May 1, 2017

I was sorry to hear about the recent passing of Al Golin, Fellow PRSA, former chairman of GolinHarris (now Golin) and the 2005 recipient of PRSA’s highest individual award, the Gold Anvil. He died on April 8 in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 87.

He spent six decades working in public relations, most notably with McDonald’s, where he helped Ray Kroc turn the quick-serve restaurant into a global giant by emphasizing the importance of strong communication with customers and local organizations.

In the summer 2006 issue of our sister publication, The Strategist, Golin discussed how McDonald’s became his client.

“In 1957, I made a cold call to Ray Kroc, who had a small office at LaSalle and Wacker, here in Chicago,” he wrote. “At that time, they had only a handful of McDonald’s restaurants around the Chicago area. After about a half hour, he said, ‘OK, start Monday.’ And we did, for a fee of $500 a month.”

Upon the news of his death, McDonald’s tweeted on April 10: “Today we remember Al Golin, a man who had a vision for McDonald’s and made us proud to tell our story.” This was the first time that I recall a world-renowned brand praise a PR professional in such a generous fashion.

Golin also shared timeless principles for career success with The Strategist. Among them:

Trust isn’t everything; it’s the only thing. “Trust, to me, is both a process and an outcome. It’s at the heart of every tangible personal and business relationship.”

Don’t let high tech replace high touch. “Technology is terrific, but we need to humanize these kinds of technology before it’s too late.”

Walk the halls. “It’s dangerous for CEOs or executives to sit in their offices and think they know what’s going on in their companies. I always like to walk the halls to see everybody and talk about what is going on.”

If you’ve got it, don’t flaunt it. “More CEOs have gotten in trouble by being arrogant. Humility is a lot more appealing and long-lasting.”

Don’t overpromise. “We find that building long-term partnerships with clients can only be done with trust. Being energetic and enthusiastic is obviously important, but never overpromise, as it will haunt you later on.”

Love it or leave it. “A wise old man said to me, ‘Find a job that you like and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ That doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park, but we should all look forward to Monday mornings as well as Friday afternoons.” 

John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.


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