A dePaRted mentor

      58 Comments on A dePaRted mentor
Brad O'Hearn (1942-2015)

Brad O’Hearn (1942-2015)

Bradford O’Hearn passed away this week at 74. Brad was a mentor to me and was at least partially responsible for my time in government PR. He was both a great journalist and public relations man, with solid ethics and lots of common sense.

Brad made the transition from journalism to PR look natural and easy; he was successful because he understood the roles of both professions, and also knew that by nurturing relationships and contacts, he’d get his stories written and his clients written about.

My links to Brad were many. While he was a Newsday reporter, I’d pitch him regularly. When he left Newsday after 20 years to serve as Suffolk County Executive Patrick Halpin’s press secretary, he recruited me to work in a similar role for the Town of Babylon. Later, I consulted for the Deer Park School District to help pass its budget, which had been rejected by voters for 10 straight years. My efforts were successful, and I eventually gave up the client and recommended the work to Brad. Deer Park’s budget has never failed to pass since we took it on.

As a PR man, Brad had numerous clients who counted on him to get their stories into the media. He also had an affinity and expertise on the subject of ethics, both in journalism and PR. He delivered presentations on ethics to members of the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI) and other groups, and frequently lectured on college campuses. His hypothetically-based case studies and participatory style became my template for teaching ethics years later; I’ve since emulated and implemented Brad’s approach.

Journalists like Brad O’Hearn often make very good PR people. Their ability to know a good story, put it into compelling words, and create an interesting experience for their audiences is what PR people are doing more and more in our “create your own content” and “be your own media” digital age. Brad’s move from reporter to public relations practitioner was a lesson on how to do it well. Rest in peace, old friend. Your thoughts?

58 thoughts on “A dePaRted mentor

  1. alyssaobrien

    Professor Morosoff, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what it will feel like the day that a trusted mentor and friend dies. Professional working relationships create bonds unlike other relationships. It seems like you were really impacted by Brad and I hope that you find support and comfort from your friends and family.

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  2. tacost2

    I’m very sorry for your loss. I applaud this man for making the decisions and taking the risks that he did to be happy and successful. I think it is great that he was such a personable individual. I have been fed the information that PR professionals need to be “suck-ups” or such, but to hear that he was genuine and personable is comforting.

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  3. Chris Hoffman

    I’m so sorry for your loss. One can tell from how you wrote about him just how close of a friend he was and how good of a person he was.
    I think PR professionals and journalists are often seen as “enemies” or adversaries, even though they do need each other and ultimately work together. If we are to go with the “enemy” image, however, we know that one of the best ways to get a jump on your enemy is by knowing their strategies or, even better, having an informant on the inside who’s able to tell you all of the enemy’s secrets. To this end, Brad was that perfect informant: he was familiar with how journalists feel and how they work, so he was able to understand how to work with them to create content and get things in print. He knew their thought processes, their approach to certain things, and how to get them to see things from a certain perspective, so he was a great asset to the PR world. It’s very helpful for those studying PR to take journalism classes to understand some things that may work to our advantage.

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  4. kenpow2012

    My condolences for your loss. He seems to have been a very intelligent figure in the works of public relations and a good mentor for someone working in the field. It’s incredible how many people in this field, who will have a very strong impact on our careers and life.

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  5. Grace Finlayson

    My condolences for your loss. Bradford O’Hearn sounded like a hard working man who loved what he was doing. I think it is great how he moved from Journalism to PR so seamlessly. Both of these professions have changed drastically with the internet and social media. There are more and more jobs in PR wanting them to create content for social media that will reach as many publics as possible. I also think it is amazing how he focused on the ethics of both Journalism and PR.

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  6. Williams Ekanem

    I did not get to meet Hearn, but the fact that he did what am in the process of doing presently, transiting from journalism to pr successfully makes me miss him too.
    Ability to nurture relationships has always been key in pr and a good tool for success.
    Adieu Hearn.

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  7. Cheyenne Padgett

    Making the switch from journalist to pr person is not easy for all people. It seem that this man really was a great example on how to do it. He seemed to understand how they are similar and most importantly how they are different and that is the most important part.

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  8. carsoncuevas

    I am sorry for your loss. Brad sounds like a real professional and someone who really made a difference. It is nice to hear about someone who understood both sides of communications, PR and journalism. Throughout all of our communications, we should constantly keep in mind what the other side is looking for in the material we prepare. It seems like Brad knew what needed to get done and then executed his plan effectively. We mustn’t forget to educate ourselves on all aspects of the field, regardless of our specific career.

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  9. Taylla Smith

    What a fantastic man and professional and I am sure he will be missed. He was intelligent and crafty in his field due to the fact that utilized one skill to merge into another. As a journalist moving into the public relations field would be useful because you know how to appeal to other reporters. This skill will be extremely useful and all future professionals should learn from O’Hearn’s ways.

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  10. Rachel Tyler

    I am sorry for your loss. I think that Brad was so successful in the PR field because of the of his work in the journalist field. He understood what journalist wanted to see therefore he knew how to pitch a story and get it picked up. I think it is important for anyone in the PR field to understand journalism and take journalism courses because we can learn what is expected from our work.

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  11. Jess Hershman

    My condolences for your loss. It seems like Bradford O’Hearn was very talented and had a lot of success in his field. I believe that bridging the gap between journalism and PR can be extremely helpful. Since journalists are the ones who receive pitch letters, and know how to write stories based on them, a journalist turned PR professional would have a wealth of knowledge on how to pitch stories.

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  12. Gabrielle Furman

    I’m sorry for your loss. it seemed like Brad was great at what he did. He was able to combine all of his knowledge to be as successful as he can be. He seemed like he really grasped what public relations is about. In addition, it seems like he confirmed your decision to be a public relations professor and you learned a lot from him.

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  13. Marc Carganilla

    PR is one of the more personal and emotional side of an industry. A man such as Brad O’Hearn should be praised for his lifetime of achievements, knowing this shows how PR has come to be the most human of all forms of business. They make a connection with the people they work with.

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  14. vfrazzzetto1

    My deepest condolences for your loss. Mr. O’Hearn’s memory will continue to live on through your teachings and the ways in which you touch lives yourself. Experience within journalism conditions one in the field of PR due to their deeper relationship within the media and personal experiences of what is attractive to reporters. Knowing what circumstances create an attractive piece to a reporter is crucial to a PR practitioner.

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  15. afairc1

    Sorry for your loss. I do agree that Journalists that go into PR have a great sense and ability to know a good story, are able to put it into compelling words, and create an interesting experience for their audiences. Since PR is becoming more and more a “create your own contents” and “be your own media” I think successful PR people do need to have some journalism experience under their belt.

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  16. Mike Cox

    I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mentor, Brad O’Hearn. These are the type of relationships that make PR so important. Without his knowledge and your relationship with him its obvious your life would be drastically different. I aim to conduct myself like Brad did and maintain important relationships that i hope will have positive effects on my life as well as those around me.

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  17. Nicholas Taddeo

    Firstly, my condolences to you and the O’Hearn family.

    Part of Brad’s success was due to his ability to put himself in his clients/audiences/reporters head. As you said, that came with his experience in both sides of the spectrum from Journalism to PR. Furthermore, I find when you take a step back and understand what the other person wants you can then better shape your message to cater their needs. I think that is something important for PR practitioners to understand when creating their own content.

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  18. Taylor Lawrence

    He seemed like a great person to be able to know. His ability to seamlessly switch from job to job is not something everybody can do. Being well rounded is necessary in the world of communications and I respect his abilities. I am sorry for your loss but you will always have the memories and are lucky to have known Mr. O’Hearn.

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  19. Tamara Russo

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss, Mr. O’Hearn sounds like an inspiration to all. PR and journalism go hand in hand. Being trained in both can only make your work stronger, increasing the knowledge of the field, and being a mentor to so many.

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  20. Olivia Hayum

    I can imagine what a difference it would make to be familiar with the realm of journalism when it comes to work in the PR field. Plenty of what we do relies on journalists and to be able to understand that aspect of what PR professionals, is invaluable. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  21. Dan Schaefer

    The mark of a good professional in any field is his or her ability to get things done. It certainly seems like Mr. O’Hearn possessed this trait. His ability to transition from journalist to public relations professional so smoothly is an indicator that he knew his profession inside and out. May he rest in peace.

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  22. Michele Colletti

    I am very sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was a wonderful man and mentor and to have the experience of the PR professional and the journalist is a huge leg up compared to many other PR professionals. Journalism and PR are very important to one another and to learn from someone who has experience in both fields is a huge advantage. You are very lucky to have had him as a mentor.

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  23. Abby Drapeau

    I’m sorry for you loss, from your words, he seemed like a great man. With journalists and public relations professionals having such a close relationship, it’s no wonder more journalists don’t take the same path as Brad. Transitioning into public relations, he probably had the advantage understanding what a journalist is looking for, and how to write in a language that they understand.

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  24. Christina Michael

    I am sorry for your loss professor. Brad sounds like he was a very talented man and a great mentor! I think it is very beneficial to have experience as a journalist/reporter when getting into the field of PR. The two fields are definitely related and this helps build relationships between the PR professional and the media to promote their client. The professional writing style of a journalist is helpful in the field of PR in terms of “creating content” and being able to capture the audience’s attention.

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  25. Katherine Hammer

    I send my condolences for your loss. This was a wonderful tribute to everything this man has done throughout his life, and how successful and influential he was to other people. It’s amazing how much he was able to pass along from his experience. Understanding audiences and how to communicate effectively in various professions is a true talent. I admire how he was able to use his journalism experience to help other public relations professionals and future pr professionals with different approaches on ethics. He leaves behind an inspiration for future public relations professionals. He will be greatly missed.

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  26. Heather Lanci

    Mr. O’Hearn sounds like a great man who really knew what he was doing in both journalism and PR. I never realized how important the link between PR and journalism is until this course. It seems that you really have to be both for either career, but especially PR. Without journalism, PR would be very difficult. It’s great to see how people like Brad, who are great at what they do, can make the transition between the two careers easily.

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  27. javendaily

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I feel like we really got a sense of his character and professionalism through this tribute. He seems like a man who had tremendous understanding of both fields which I think is important for all of us as public relations students to follow. I believe public relations professionals and journalists should have respect for each other and always keep good relationships. It is clear that we never know where our careers might take us. Journalists many times switch gears to PR and vice versa. Our professions are meant to serve the public and as long as we work professionally and ethically we can accomplish anything.

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  28. Marissa Slattery

    I think that it’s interesting when people note that journalists make great PR professionals, while it’s less common to hear the opposite. I believe that to be successful in either field, you must be able to tell a good story and to tell it well. A PR professional can promote a subject or topic until they are blue in the face, but if their pitch doesn’t resonate with their intended audience, they may as well have stayed silent. A journalist’s story must speak directly to their reader or else why ever put a pen to paper? Both professions must know what makes a good story and how to best reach (and grow) their audience. The ability to quickly create and distribute original material and content through our own channels now is a powerful tool, but quality writing and well placed messaging still must be present to be successful.

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  29. Priyanka Singh

    I’m sorry for your loss, Professor Morosoff. Mr. O”Hearn sounds like he’s left quite an imprint on your life and career and I think that just shows how powerful a nurtured professional relationship can be when you can collaborate and work together with people in your field. Communication is rooted in our abilities to nurture relationships in our lives and professional friendships between PR professionals and journalists can exist. I think it’s important for all of us entering the field to remember that we need to continue building bridges and fostering open communication with people that we can help and can help us.

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  30. Jazmin Quinci

    My condolences for your loss and to the family and friends of Mr. O’Hearn.

    One of the best ways to honor a person is by telling the world about them. I’m always impressed and amazed by the individuals that set precedence in a field. They pave paths for other professionals and the next generations by setting examples on conduct but also through instituting new approaches which change the course of how jobs are done. I wonder whether these adored individuals were truly aware of the impact they had? I pray they knew they’re loved, respected and that they made meaningful contributions in this life.

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  31. rrocha3

    It is truly beautiful to hear that one man’s life has touched so many others. As your mentor, he instilled so much in you, and as a mentor to all of us here at Hofstra, we get a blend of both of your teachings. I am sorry for your loss, it sounds like he was a great man and that any aspiring PR Professional or journalist would have greatly benefitted in knowing him.

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  32. msvonne88

    Sorry for your loss, I send my condolences to his family. This is a perfect example of how important it is to build and maintain relationships with the media. Having experience in journalism is an asset for any public relations practitioner. Brad sounded like he well versed in both fields and having the ability to mentor others is the greatest gift of all.

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  33. Elana

    I am so sorry for your loss and I thank you for sharing. I’ve always believed having a mentor is the best way to learn about something. Being inspired and learning from someone you trust and feel empowered by are very important. Needless to say, I believe you are one of the most inspiring PR professionals (and of course professors at Hofstra). It is extremely refreshing to see someone pursue their passions and teach what they love!

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  34. Jenn Pizzurro

    It is sad to hear about the passing of someone who has touched your life both professionally and personally. It is also so heartwarming to hear about all that he accomplished in his life and that his life’s work will live on in spirit through you. My condolences.

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  35. Jen OM

    I think that having a journalistic prospective is a great asset to the PR world. A PR practitioner often requires the assistance and cooperation of a journalist to get their message out there. What better way to accomplish this than being able to think the way the journalist his or herself most likely thinks? Rest peacefully, Mr. O’Hearn.

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  36. Kimberly Minto

    I’m very sorry for your loss. Bradford O’Hearn is the best example of what you have been teaching us all semester, it’s about relationships and making the reporter’s job easier. He seemed to embody everything that was respectable about both fields. I hope that I can be the type of person that impacts my field that deeply just like he did.

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  37. Rock(Shi Yan)

    I am so sorry about this. When I heard this news I don’t even know who is Bradford O’Hearn, then I checked his background on Google. He was a great reporter. He was a nice person. He reported a lot serious events. God will bless him forever.

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  38. Vanessa

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. Brad sounded like a wonderful person, and clearly left an impact on your life and the world of journalism. I think it is very important that all PR practitioners know how to write a compelling story and channel their inner journalist.

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  39. elizah9

    Bradford O’Hearn seems like he was an amazing man who had high morals. I am happy that you had the opportunity to be mentored by a man who was so driven and kind. Making any change in your life can be hard, but having someone to help guide you through it makes a huge difference. This man was able to make the transition from journalism to public relations a smooth one for you, which is something you will always remember. As a whole, it is always nice to read about a person who made such a great impact on another person’s life.

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  40. Cass Lang

    It seems Bradford O’Hearn had an incredible impact on your life. I’m extremely sorry for your loss, but I am glad that he was able to influence you as a person and as a professional. I think that it’s amazing he was able to merge all of his skills together while pursuing careers in both PR and journalism. It is so important for these professions to work together and it’s amazing that he was so successful in doing so.

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  41. Daylen Orlick

    My deepest condolences for your loss, Professor Morosoff. I agree that you can be a great PR practitioner even with a journalism background. Though a lot of journalists find it complicated to transition, there is most definitely a place in the PR world for those who can. Brad sounds like he was an unbelievable man, and it is incredible that he taught you so much which will be passed down to your classes. I am honored to learn from you the values and ethics that you learned from him, and it’s very honorable for you to dedicate this weeks post to him.

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  42. jheiden1

    It’s always nice to remember the lives of exceptional people. Though the passing of your friend is sad, it’s nice to have so many inspiring stories to share about him. He seems to have left quite a legacy and we should all hope to be as successful in our futures.

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  43. geow1

    I am very sorry for your loss and please accept my heartfelt condolences. The more I’ve read about him the more I realized what an impact he has contributed towards the field of journalism and PR. I believe that his contribution will influence many students in the future. May he rest in peace.

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  44. Ashley Fazio

    I am deeply sorry for your loss Professor. Mr. O’Hearn sounded to be successful in many ways. His ability to create relationships and build a bridge between journalism and PR is amazing and something all PR professionals aspire to do. You described him as a man with “solid ethics and lots of common sense”. These are crucial things in the business of PR and it sounds like he mastered it. It’s tragic to lose old friends, but the legacy and impact on those whose lives he has touched will live on forever.

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  45. s5n1el

    It is always sad to hear of the passing of a friend, but people need to more remember the legacy and effect on the world that they have left behind. This man sounds like a model example of success and skill. I would like to look more into his life and work.

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  46. Ariana Queenan

    I would like to express my condolences. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Every journalism student should be required to take PR 100 and every PR student should be required to take an introductory journalism course. It is so important for PR practitioners and journalist to know about the other profession because they are so interconnected. It is interesting that you friend was able to successfully navigate both professions so well.

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  47. Nicholas Mazzarella

    Professor Morosoff:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. As a journalism major who’s looking to gain knowledge about public relations, I admire that Brad was successful in both professions. Although many aspects of journalism and PR overlap, it definitely takes someone special to prosper in both fields since each one has its own unique characteristics.

    It’s nice to hear that Brad was so committed to ethics. His “hypothetically-based case studies and participatory style” that you used when teaching us about ethics allowed us to apply our knowledge to real-world examples and, in turn, were extremely effective.

    To make myself a more appealing job candidate, I hope to acquire the skills that are necessary to succeed in both journalism and PR – just like Brad did. The “create your own content” and “be your own media” digital age in which we live is definitely reducing the number of differences that exist between the two professions.

    -Nick Mazzarella

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  48. rebeccaanncosta

    I do not doubt that Mr. O’Hearn was successful in many ways. His ability to create relationships and build a bridge between journalism and PR is something to admire. It is hard to lose old friends, but how wonderful it is that he was able to leave such a legacy and impression on those whose lives he has touched. I am deeply sorry for your loss, Professor.

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  49. keyanamichelle13

    It’s very sad to read about the passing of your friend, but also heartwarming to see the cross between journalism and pr. A true pr professional knows both the journalist side and the publicist side of a story.

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  50. emilyrwalsh

    Professor Morosoff, I am deeply sorry for your loss. Bradford O’Hearn was certainly a talented man who did what few could-bring public relations and journalism together into one profession. He seemed like he was so multi-talented. Being able to understand audiences, pitch stories, write stories, and keep healthy relationships with contacts is no easy task. This wonderful man was able to do it all. We should learn and try to accomplish what he did. He set a wonderful example for us all and we we can now live out the path of journalism and public relations that he paved for us. He is in my thoughts and may he rest in peace.

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  51. pjze618

    My condolences for your loss. I definitely think Brad had a successful career in PR because of his previous journalism career. Because he was a journalist, he knew what they would and would not want to see from PR practitioners.

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  52. Nicole Romeo

    I am very sorry for your loss and my deepest condolences go out to you. As a man who was familiar with PR and journalism, this is someone that I would have looked up too. It is definitely important to have good ethics and morals especially when you are in a business such as PR and journalism.

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  53. Dianne Baumert-Moyik

    Jeff, what a wonderful tribute to a great friend and mentor. Brad’s passing is a loss for us all. I will always remember the first time we met — at the Long Island Press Club holiday party in 1988. His wit and charm is everlasting — not to mention his patchwork blazer worn with pride at the Long Island Press Corps St. Patrick’s day party in the Mineola Press Room!! His foundational skills In his career as a print reporter gave him tremendous credibility when he moved to public relations with Suffolk County, with Thompson and Associates and later as a sole practitioner. I will miss that sparkle in his mischievous eyes! He leaves behind a wonderful, fulfilling legacy that we all hope to achieve in our lives. May he rest in peace.

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  54. memlano1

    I am sorry for your loss. Brad’s career as a PR practitioner sounds very respectable and it seems as if he followed the PR “rule” of always doing the right thing and being honest, in regards to ethics. It’s great that he was able to bring his journalism skills into his PR work and could fully understand the roles of both professions.

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  55. gluisi

    I am very sorry for your loss of what seems like a great mentor. I think brad made had such success in the PR field because of his previous work as a journalist. He knew what the journalists were looking for and knew how to pitch it in an inciting way. because of his journalist background, it must have been essential for Brad to put himself in the journalists’ shoes he was pitching to.

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  56. Sarah Holzberg

    My deepest condolences for your loss. I agree that journalists turned PR people can have great success be chase they know how the journalism field works and know how to get what you want from them.

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  57. Bert Cunningham

    What a nice rememberance of a fine man who was a total professional as reporter an PR pro. Brad was also a good friend who enjoyed life and loved to laugh. I have fond memories of him as a solid reporter who asked tough question of the PR people he dealt with while getting the story. And, as a PR man himself who knew how to position those he represented in the best way possible. But, he never took himself too seriously. He knew that life was more than work. That it was also about family, friends, and savoring music, literature, good food and one’s heritage. I enjoyed his company often and will miss him. RIP, Brad.

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