In Memoriam: Richard Weiner, APR, Fellow PRSA

February 7, 2014

Richard Weiner, APR, Fellow PRSA, a distinguished 50-plus year member of PRSA and a recipient of the Society’s prestigious Gold Anvil Award, died on Jan. 29 in Miami Beach, Fla. He was 86.

Weiner’s professional and volunteer achievements were varied and significant. He joined Ruder & Finn in 1953 at a salary of $100 a week, and later became a senior vice president and partner there.

In 1968, he founded his own firm, Richard Weiner, Inc., that by 1985 had become one of the 15 largest PR agencies in the United States. The firm was noted for product publicity on behalf of blue-chip clients, including several in the health care field, and launched such famous campaigns as the Cabbage Patch Kids introduction in the early 1980s.
In 1986, Weiner sold the company to the BBDO advertising agency, which then merged with Doyle Dane Bernbach and Needham Harper to form the Omnicom Group. Omnicom merged its three PR companies — Weiner (the largest), Doremus and Porter Novelli — and named the new entity Porter Novelli, where Weiner maintained an office until 2002 when he moved to Florida.
In addition to his consulting work, Weiner was the author of 23 books, and conducted more than 100 workshops for PRSA and other groups such as the National Institutes of Health. He taught public relations at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business, the first such offering for MBA students.

Weiner was one of the first PR professionals to be Accredited by PRSA, and in 1990 was inducted into the College of Fellows and awarded PRSA’s highest individual honor, the Gold Anvil. He received eight Silver Anvils for his work on behalf of clients.
His writing appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Writer’s Digest, among other publications. He contributed a monthly column to PR Tactics for more than five years called “Media Jargon.”

Most recently, he had been at work on a book about gossip, based on his research in the social sciences, and maintained The Gossip Book in addition to serving as a valued mentor to scores of professionals across the country.

Weiner was born on May 10, 1927, in Brooklyn, N.Y. After graduating from high school, he started at the University of Wisconsin at age 16.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Florence, a writer, and two daughters, Jessica Lampert and Stephanie Weiner, as well as four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.



Jim Lukaszewski says:

Barbara and I met Richard Weiner through Chester Burger when, in 1986, we came to work for Chet in New York. I remember being so surprised because, being an icon even then, he was so easy to talk with and so interested in what two kids from Robbinsdale Minnesota might be now doing in New York. He’d just finished one of his many dictionary projects and was all set to talk about that. Instead, He was all questions and talk about us and our future with Chet, and being in New York. Literally, for the rest of his life, every once in a while, a note would show up in my mail or in other ways commenting generously about something I'd written, was quoted as saying, or doing. I'm sure he was doing this for many others whose careers had come to his attention and who he felt connected to. What an amazing gift for me. Our profession has just a handful of these extraordinary people who inspire, instruct, and motivate by example. While writing this makes me sad, I did have almost 2 generations of his gentle intermittent inspiration. Who are the other rare and remarkable Richard Weiners of today and tomorrow?

Feb. 9, 2014

Rob Seitz says:

One of my few remaining links to the PR profession is the free subscription to O'Dwyer's Magazine. And so it was not until just now (March 15) that I read about the death of Dick. I've always said that he was my one true mentor in this love/hate business -- PR people can be either loved or hated, sometimes simultaneously. I have many fond memories of Dick, not the least of which was that he and his Sr. VP at the time, Gerry Goldberg, hired me right after I had been fired from a disastrous short-term gig from a firm with fancy Madison Ave. offices but otherwise paled by comparison to the less elegant but fare more humane working environment that Dick had cultivated. Working for Dick was like getting a master's degree in PR. I so well-remember his hand-written notes on press release envelopes returned by the USPS (this was, of course, pre-Internet and pre-e-mail, although we were one of the first firms to have a GIANT-size word processing machine!). Our failure to have the reporter's right address just cost the firm $0.15! And then Dick would further reinforce the gravity of our error by pointing out he had circulated a memo weeks earlier that the reporter had left his or her post or that the publication had moved its offices. Ooops! In fact, Dick had such a passion about the world of our media friends and antagonists that I sometimes thought he was clairvoyant, knowing even BEFORE the reporter or the publication knew that a job or address change was eminent! Unfortunately, the biggest mistake I made while working for Dick was resigning after just three years to take a job and promotion with what proved to be another short-lived gig. My condolences to his wife Chick, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren! No need to mourn what could have been with Dick as he clearly accomplished so much more than the average person and never let retirement or age slow him down.

March 15, 2014

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