Father's Day PRaise for Howard

(Standing, l. to r.) Glenn Goldberg, Don Miller, Laurie Bloom, Ken Young, Jeff Morosoff, Wendy O'Neill, (seated, l. to r.) Louise Cassano, Rich Torrenzano, Howard Blankman, Bert Cunningham, and Gary Lewi.

(Standing, l. to r.) Glenn Goldberg, Don Miller, Laurie Bloom, Ken Young, me, Wendy O’Neill, (seated, l. to r.) Louise Cassano, Rich Torrenzano, Howard Blankman, Bert Cunningham, and Gary Lewi.

There we were: 10 public relations practitioners with about 400 years of experience among us, celebrating the life of Howard Blankman, the consummate PR professional. Glenn Goldberg of Parallel Communications Group, freelancer Don Miller, Astoria Bank’s Wendy O’Neill, Louise Cassano of LuCas Communications, Rich Torrenzano of The Torrenzano Group, consultant Bert Cunningham, Gary Lewi of Rubenstein PR, plus Rivkin Radler’s Laurie Bloom and Ken Young of Molloy College (both adjunct Hofstra PR professors) and I paid tribute to the man on his 90th birthday. We shared stories, some very humorous and some poignant, about how much this one individual helped us become PR professionals, too.

Like most PR veterans, Howard took a serpentine route to a public relations career. A Jewish kid who grew up in Amish country, he was a young bandleader, a playwright, and later became a “Tonight Show” writer. He worked on Broadway, wrote and produced plays, and eventually opened a PR firm. Howard shared wonderful stories with fond detail about his fascinating career.

And how appropriate for this event to happen just before Father’s Day, Bert Cunningham noted. “In many respects, Howard has been the career father to a number of PR pros on Long Island,” Bert said. “He also fathered, in 1968, the concept of an independent, full-service PR firm that also used advertising and marketing techniques to support PR. At that time the vast majority of PR was done in-house. The independent outside PR consultant was a fairly new service on Long Island.”

Two decades ago, Howard Blankman was presented with Public Relations Professionals of Long Island‘s Lifetime Achievement Award. Notably, it was Howard who stepped up and fathered PRPLI after the Public Relations Society of America’s Long Island chapter had folded. Gary, Don, Bert, and I would later receive that same award because of Howard’s vision of an organization where Long Island PR pros could network and learn.

Always active, still writing, ever mentoring, still dispensing fatherly advice, Howard Blankman continues to be a vital and admired PR guy. Joining with my mentors and colleagues to celebrate his life was truly a privilege. Your thoughts?

5 thoughts on “Father's Day PRaise for Howard

  1. Pingback: PRaising a life in PR – hnalvn14

  2. lpc29

    I reflected that day on how Howard’s influence on so many individuals was the conduit to my post college, post newspaper career, early days in PR. I listened to the conversations that often took place in my presence and learned from so many of Howard’s mentees and, of course, from Howard himself. To be able to pass on your knowledge earned through experience is the true definition of being a mentor.

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  3. savetheanimalsxo1

    pI was just talking to my friend about how PR is the most versatile and vague career. Hence the ability to practice it, and not be bored. It is also underrated how much a publicist can do and move a company. From reading this, it shows me another example about how PR can move a brand and expand your audience for whatever skill you are practicing.

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  4. torisucci

    This just goes to show how versatile this field is. A man who wrote scripts to produced plays, can also be one of the most influential public relations professionals. You can really do anything with this field as long as your put your mind to it.

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  5. Bert Cunningham

    Not possible to describe how much Howard has meant to me in developing my PR career and in helping me become a more polished professional over the last 43 years. Just about every moment spent with him was a customized tutorial. Not just on the finer points of developing the skills necessary to be a successful PR Pro, but in music, theatre, literature, and life. There was no down time to learning. A car ride always had a lesson in it on one topic or another, whether one realized it at the time or later when what was said finally sunk in. Howard is unique and he’s had a unique impact on my life both professional and personal. I truly hope that today’s PR students and young professionals can find a mentor like Howard. You will be blessed, if you do. While the words that conclude this post are not unique they are offered to Howard with all my heart and gratitude: Thank You!

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