PRaising a life in PR

      51 Comments on PRaising a life in PR

Howard Blankman (1925-2017)

Most students probably never heard of Howard Blankman. Yet, as he passed away last week at age 91, it’s important to note and remember how much this one individual influenced so many PR “students,” particularly those, including me, who had the chance to work at his side.

I paid tribute to Howard in this blog in June 2015 after we celebrated his 90th birthday. “Like most PR veterans,” I wrote, “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 in theater, writing and producing plays, and eventually opened a PR firm, The Blankman Group, in 1968, with a diverse client list including Cablevision, King Kullen and MasterCard International.

In my previous post, Howard’s dear friend Bert Cunningham noted: “In many respects, Howard has been the career father to a number of PR pros on Long Island. He also fathered 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.”

Howard also spent countless hours volunteering his expertise to promote the arts and economic development on Long Island. In 1997, he was presented with Public Relations Professionals of Long Island‘s (PRPLI) Lifetime Achievement Award; notably, it was Howard who was instrumental in founding PRPLI after the Public Relations Society of America’s local chapter had folded. His vision to create an organization where Long Island PR pros could network and learn resulted in scores of lifelong friendships and mentors; PRPLI still serves to enhance our PR skills through its excellent professional development programs.

To his last days, Howard was actively writing, mentoring, and starting new projects. As a fitting tribute, PRPLI will introduce the Howard Blankman Mentor Award at its annual dinner in May. Howard’s former “students” and I will celebrate his life by always striving to be better PR people, just as he did. Your thoughts?

51 thoughts on “PRaising a life in PR

  1. Gabby Sully

    It’s always important to notice someone in your life or career that you know is going to help you get on the right track in your future. For me, it was my high school counselor, Nancy Campbell. Without her, myself nor any of my friends would have been able to get into college and succeed. She constantly kept in touch with her “end of the alphabet” graduates. Unfortunately, she passed away last summer, a few weeks after graduation for the class of 2016. My friends and I reminisced and all agreed that we would not be where we are now without her constant motivation and genuineness of wanting us to succeed, do things, and travel.

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  2. Jennifer Im

    I love learning about all of the great minds that came together to create the industry and environment we have today. Without individuals like Howard Blankman cultivating the Public Relations field on Long Island, we may not have this fantastic academic program at Hofstra University.

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  3. gafinlayson

    It is great to learn about people that have have made the PR industry what it is today, especially in the Long Island area. Howard seemed like he loved the work that he did and that he helped evolve the ever changing industry.

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  4. Whitney Shepherd

    I do not know much about Howard, but I can tell his passion is what set him apart from others in the industry. As I graduate and begin my career I can only hope that I am lucky and smart enough to find a job that fulfills my passions and allows me to teach and influence others in my work, just like Howard did to so many LI PR professionals.

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  5. Marielle McCartin

    Howard seems to have done great things to increase the credibility and reputation of the PR community. It is great to learn how the industry was shaped into what it is today because we will be part of the community very soon working as practitioners. His contributions to the PR community will live on for a long time and will always be remembered. Rest in peace

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  6. Bert Cunningham

    I had the pleasure and honor of knowing Howard for over 45 years. Yes, 45 years. From my earliest days in communications and PR on LI, I had the fortunate opportunity to benefit from Howard’s mentoring during every phase of my career. From things large and small, our countless conversations were mini tutorials on PR, life, the arts, politics, poetry, music, philosophy and people. Driving around with Howard was like mobile graduate and finishing school rolled into one. My advice to today’s student. Find a mentor or mentors during your career. Someone you can trust to tell you the truth when you need it most. And listen and learn. You will be a better PR Pro and a more complete person. RIP my good friend and mentor.

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  7. Kassara McElroy

    People like Howard Blankman are an example of how passion can take you far in PR. The fact that he has ties to Long Island makes his success even greater to acknowledge. You are lucky to have worked with him, and it shows through your own PR passion and teaching! I’m sure Howard Blankman would be honored to know that his legacy will live on through recognition by this blog and the PRPLI.

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  8. Tyler Weatherly

    Howard seemed to play an influential hand in the public relations community on Long Island. As he has influenced you and his many other ‘students’. I hope that emerging generations of public relations practitioners are able to have the same level of impact on others. It really is wonderful to see how his impact has inspired others and it continues to inspire us as YOUR pupils.

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  9. Sara Fox

    Like everyone else is reiterating, Howard Blankman was the type of PR professional we should all aspire to be like. He was passionate and went above and beyond to reach success, and to help others do so as well. Thanks to his time and devotion, Blankman will have a long lasting legacy in PR, especially on Long Island. I am glad I got to learn more about him through this post.

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  10. Daniela Gagliano

    This was a very beautiful post and did a great job of highlighting all of Howard Blankman’s successes, while also bringing his character and true spirit to life. I feel like the work that Howard accomplished is a great model for the kind of PR practitioner I aspire to be and wish to see in my colleagues around me in the future. The unique field is filled with a lot of different types of characters and it’s so easy to get caught up in short term goals while coincidentally losing sight of higher ambitions and moral codes. Howard sounds like the kind of guy who maintained a balance of his love and passion for the field and an understanding of the greater good for the profession as well.

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  11. Olivia H

    One of the things that sets people apart in this industry is passion. This shows in the quality of the work produced, but it also has an effect on how successful you are in the industry. Networking counts for so much in this line of work and when other professionals can see how passionate you are about the work, it can go a long way.

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  12. Jenna Morace

    I think it’s amazing how one individual could make such a huge impact on one specific field. He took the idea of PR and networking to another level, influencing so many people’s career’s and connecting people from all locations of Long Island. This PR community that he created is something that will live on forever.

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  13. liad zayit

    I did not have the pleasure of meeting Howard Blankman but he seemed like an incredible influencer in the PR field. He seemed as if he was very passionate, hard worker and dedicated to what he loved most which was PR. He inspires me to be the best PR practitioner I can be. We have certainly lost a great leader and I wish I had the opportunity to meet him. A mentor award helps other adults in field to aspire to be like Howard and even inspire the younger Public Relations generations.

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  14. Sydney Seligman

    Howard seems to have been an influential person in many peoples lives, not even just PR practitioners. Today, we see independent firms combining PR and Marketing as one idea, which was unheard of not very long ago. Involving these techniques at his firm tells us that he was always at the forefront of PR strategy, making himself better to become a better practitioner. I think that this message can be applied to all of us. At my catholic high school, we were often taught a franciscan quote: “Be who you are and be that well”. Howard’s life achievements and legacy are an example of that and a great reminder to be the best version of yourself.

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  15. Haley Moffatt

    People like Mr. Blankman give us a rare opportunity to look at ourselves and where we envision our lives going in the future and make sure its one of integrity and perseverance. Mr. Blankman i’m sure experienced many setbacks in his phenomenal career and he still managed to create a lasting legacy; people like him make me feel hopeful for how much the PR industry has changed, and how much it will continue to change- but in a good way! The impact he has left on the PR industry is powerful and one that will be studied and remembered for a very long time.

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  16. Julie Dietel

    In Public Relations, networking is one of the most important skill sets and it was clear that Howard Blankman knew how to do it. While I never got to meet him, I can understand from the tribute that he has been instrumental in changing the PR field. It is mentors such as Howard, who can have a lasting impact on the young PR professionals.

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    1. Alexandra Halbert

      Though I did not have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Howard Blackman, he certainly seemed like a wonderful man. Having a lasting impression on PR professionals and building an admirable reputation in the PR industry, I imagine Mr. Blackman was an inspiration to work alongside. That being said, I love to see that this dedicated PR icon was given such a beautiful tribute. I can only hope that young PR professionals can learn from Mr. Blackman’s successes and feel compelled to reach similar achievements.

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  17. Elliot Rubin

    While I did not have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Blankman, he seemed to both a great influence on the field, as well as a great role model. It is one thing to create opportunities in the PR field, it is another to use these same skills to help people starting out in the field get accustomed to the life of a PR practitioner. Howard Blankman seemed to be a true visionary in the field, as well as someone that others could look up to.

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  18. Emily Walsh

    This is an amazing tribute to a man who helped shape the public relations industry into what it is today. He was full of passion, love, hard work, and dedication – all qualities that the best public relations practitioners hold. He inspires me to be the best public relations professional I can be, and it makes me happy to know that PR is so beneficial and fulfilling. The world certainly lost a great leader and man, but we will carry on his great name in all that we do in public relations. Especially as I get ready to venture out into the real world of PR, I will take with me the great lessons that Howard put forth.

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  19. Briana Cunningham

    This is such a beautifully written tribute to a well-deserving man. Although I never had the pleasure of knowing Howard Blankman, I can tell that he was a wonderfully driven and innovative PR practitioner. I’m sure that I could learn a lot from his career and the path he took along the way. With all of the ethical mess happening in the industry presently, it is important to take the time to remember those who did their best to push the profession in a positive direction.

    I did not realize that he had such an influential role in constructing PRPLI. But after speaking to various members at the event last spring I must say I’m very glad that he did. It is important to have a place where professionals of all ages and business levels can convene and learn collectively about the industry. I can only hope that one day I will leave such a meaningful impact on a group of individuals.

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  20. Emily Barnes

    In a profession where networking is possibly the most resourceful tool, it’s great to see someone dedicate a significant part of his towards promoting this type of interconnectivity. I believe Howard Blankman’s legacy will live on in the PR world for many years to come as PR professionals continue to recognize the importance of creating effective relationships, friendships and mentor opportunities.

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  21. Stephanie Rubbino

    It makes me happy to see people like Howard who were so dedicated to their work. It makes it even better that he never stopped trying to influence the PR community. I can only hope that people in my generation get a feel for all he did in the PR community.

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  22. Emily Bravo

    Mentors like Howard Blankman should be in every field. Blankman seems to have been an honest, brilliant, helpful man. He helped people in the PR field and gave back to the community! He was an independent thinker. He started a new trend in Long Island, independent PR firms. I think a Mentor Award helps other adults in the field to aspire to be like Blankman, and inspire the younger PR generations.

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  23. Sam Bussell

    People like Howard Blankman are essential to all types of fields in the work force. They present themselves as a father figure to the industry and help the younger generation grow, learn and expand their minds in the field. Young Adults aspire to be like these people one day and have their type of work ethic and strive to do great. When you hear about the passing of someone that had such an impact it’s extremely hard to comprehend to hear the news that someone well known in a field is gone. It reminds me if someone in the film industry had died off and was so well known and did so much for the industry that if the person left us it would leave a huge hole in filmmakers hearts.

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  24. Brittany Liscoe

    I think that PR students learn a lot from PR professionals who made critical mistakes in their careers. We are taught what exactly they did wrong and how they could have done it better. However, its refreshing to be able to follow the example of a PR professional with such a positive impact on the industry. Instead of learning from his mistakes, he can strive to act like Howard Blankman.

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  25. Alyssa Scott

    Howard is no doubt an inspiration to all in this profession and may him rest in peace. It is so important to have someone to look up to and mentor you in any career. It is also refreshing to know that he breaks the stereotypes that PR professionals have because he sounds like such a genuine guy.

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  26. wendy timana

    It is very upsetting for young students like myself who missed our chance to work alongside professionals like Howard. However, we have the responsibility to study and appreciate the work done by influentials such as Mr. Blankman. He has paved a path for us to continue working in PR firms and to perhaps open a PR firm ourselves. His growth from growing up in Amish country to representing such big names is inspiring. As someone who comes from humble beginnings it is amazing to see what one can do with dedication and hard work.

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  27. Sarah Hanlon

    Howard sounds like a wonderful man! I love learning about influential people in Public Relations, especially those who live so close to home. It’s so important to recognize those PR practitioners who made an influence both in the community and in the field.

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  28. Hannah Thueson

    The only reason PR is where it is today is because of people like Howard who made it possible for us to continue the work. I think its incredibly important to know where we’ve come from and the people who have shaped our lives.

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  29. Erik Hansen

    Its important to have role models such as Howard in a field largely governed by ones personal ethics. In a job that lacks a central body to punish or condemn those who abuse the field of Public Relations, having people like Howard who show what one can accomplish within the field could possibly inspire practicioners of PR to remain dilligent in their tasks.

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  30. Samantha Storms

    In a time where organizations have become so widespread– almost detached– it’s wonderful to know that there exists a professional entity on Long Island that takes such great care to commemorate the individuals to whom they owe so much. Not being from New York, I’ve never heard of Howard Blankman. As I learn more and more about public relations, however, I’m beginning to understand the breadth of influence that went into making the profession what is has become known as today.

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  31. RHwang

    I can tell that Howard was very engaged in PR. It is amazing to see how his passion became a job and has continued to make progress until his last days. It is also nice to see how he is influencing many, such as myself. I would have been amazing to be working and learning from him and listening to his experiences and stories

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  32. Madeline Myslow

    In a profession where networking is vital to success, learning about successful professionals in the field can help us students learn important lessons from their experiences. It is evident that Mr. Blankman was an especially influential part of the public relations community and if we do any further research, there is probably much we can utilize from his experiences.

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  33. Madison Wright

    It’s really awesome to see one person make a lasting impact on a large field of PR practitioners on Long Island. He promoted his career and was driven to create a new way of connecting PR practitioners to one another. I hope that I can make a long lasting impact in my field of journalism just like he did for Public Relations

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  34. Christina Shackett

    It is always promising to hear of those in the public relations profession who have gone on to do exceptional things, especially when they influence those in the profession for years to come. Howard seemed like someone that moved beyond his job and continued on to impact those who were also looking to be substantial in the career. Especially influencing the Long Island area for public relations, Howard is an important name to know as someone being part of the profession in this area.

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  35. Elizabeth Giangarra

    Rest in Peace Howard, may positive memories live on forever. I always respect elderly people who continue to live their life to the fullest respect. I thought that Howard was a influential man and was a wonderful contributor of the PR community here on Long Island. He has had a huge influence on PR practitioners of my generation and a lasting positive impact on the PR industry.

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  36. Anwar Ahmad

    It’s really nice to see that an experienced and hard working man like Howard was able to influence so many people in the Public Relations field. He seems like he was extremely influential and really managed to establish a PR presence on Long Island. Adding marketing and advertising to the mix is very smart and explains why he was so successful.

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  37. Ben Martin

    I think that this serpentine route to establishing a career is an interesting concept that many great thinkers go through. Searching for your muse with so much going on around you is not an easy task. I believe that a takeaway from this story is to explore and find your passion and then pursue it full force. This man has clearly done amazing things for a variety of industries and continues to inspire new generations as people hear his tale. He will be remembered through his successes and his newfound award and that is all one can ask for in life.

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  38. Gabriella Johns

    This post was very interesting because I have never heard of Howard. From this post I have learned yet another person shinned PR professionals in a positive light. As a aspiring PR professional this inspires me because the media doesn’t always have a positive view on our profession.

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  39. Dianne Fallucca

    It’s inspiring to hear all of Howard’s accomplishments. He really exemplifies what we as PR people could achieve. I appreciate all of the avenues he took his talent down. Rest In Peace, Howard.

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  40. Brandi Hutchinson

    I can see why people looked up to Howard Blankman. He seemed like a nice, genuine guy who wanted to help each other out in making every single one of us better PR people. We need more people in life like Howard Blankman because we are starting to live in a country (if not world) where PR is seen in a negative light. I hope to inspire others like Howard in any aspect in life, not just PR. Rest in peace Howard.

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  41. Brandi Hutchinson

    I can see why many students, and even just people in general, admired Howard Blankman. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy who cared deeply about the art of Public Relations. He seemed to be that person who would do whatever it took to make sure someone used PR to it’s full advantage. It’s important to get to know people and network with one another. Howard stressed the idea behind helping each other out in order to become better PR people.

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  42. Nicole Lamanna

    Howard Blankman’s contributions to the PR community must never be forgotten. He seems like a very successful and interesting man. It is a real shame that the PR community lost such an influential person. He will definitely be missed.

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  43. Elana Delafraz

    Rest in Peace Howard, may positive memories live on forever. I always respect elderly people who continue to live their life to the fullest respects. Then they could continue to inspire students such as myself to keep a passion, like public relations, alive forever.

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  44. Michael Mastropierro

    He sounds like a very successful man who had an excellent career. The tributes by PRPLI are fitting and deserving. It sounds like he inspired many generations of students and he deserves to be commemorated for that. His legacy lives on through them.

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  45. Marli Delaney

    Although I hadn’t known Howard Blankman personally, from reading this post I can tell that Blankman was an inspirational local figure in the public relations community. I hope he rests peacefully, and I also hope that PR Practitioners today and in the future continue to follow his footsteps as great and influential people in the field and beyond.

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  46. Max Newman

    Howard Blankman sounded like a very smart man. He was multi-talented and that was essential in his PR career. It takes a vision to accomplish the things that he did and because of this vision he created different networks for PR professionals to connect with each other. It takes a bold character like Howard to make these strides in PR.

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  47. Glenn Goldberg

    A well-written and accurate portrayal, Jeff. As one who worked with Howard and Bert for several years, I have to say it was the most challenging public relations environment I’ve ever experienced. ‘Good enough’ was never good enough. The team was constantly challenged to think strategically, look at the end game, and leverage the concepts of cause-and-effect. It was the absolute best training ground for developing strategic PR skills. Was it an easy job? Not at all. But it was certainly the most fulfilling work I ever performed.

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  48. Courtney Grieco

    This is a very nice post as it differs from the theme of other posts. I believe it is important for aspiring PR professionals to know about the people that helped form the industry that it is today. He seems like an extremely influential person in the PR world and it must have been a great experience to have known him.

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  49. Neil A. Carousso

    All related fields in media seem to come down to networking and establishing relationships. Howard seemed to promote that during his career and influenced many to build mutually beneficial connections.

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  50. Haylee Pollack

    Howard seemed like a very influential man in the PR community here on Long Island. I look forward to seeing the impacts the PR practitioners of my generation make and I hope to be someone who leaves a lasting impact on public relations in a positive way just like Howard.

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